DVDBeaver Newsletter - October 20th, 2008

Jyasmä! - 22 new reviews this week - Let's see... Hitchcock, Welles, Nicholas Ray, Ophuls, Sam Fuller, Hou Hsiao-hsien, Jacques Tourneur, Blu-ray Bond-o-mania, Edward G., Bogie, Bette Davis,  A Spinach-eating sailor and a great big green protagonist... and new Criterions listed for pre-order savings. It's a stacked week - and we're pretty happy you have decided to join us! 


OCTOBER 20th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win an unwatched DVD of Elia Kazan's Boomerang. Best of luck all!

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Easiest way to catch up is simply read the new Newsletter Archive HERE.

LATEST Additions to the Release Calendar (PRE-ORDER and save!):

Magnificent Obsession (Douglas Sirk, 1954) – Criterion

Eclipse Series 14: Rossellini’s History Films Renaissance and Enlightenment (The Age of the Medici, 1973 - Blaise Pascal, 1972 - Cartesius, 1974)- Criterion

El Norte (Gregory Nava, 1983) – Criterion

El Norte [Blu-ray] (Gregory Nava, 1983) – Criterion

The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966) – Criterion

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (Marina Zenovich, 2008) Velocity / Thinkfilm

Pinocchio [Blu-ray] (Ben Sharpsteen, Hamilton Luske - 1940) Walt Disney Video

Natalie Wood Signature Collection (Splendor in the Grass, The Gypsy, Sex and the Single Girl, Bombers B-52 and The Cash McCall) Warner Home Video

Zodiac [Blu-ray] (David Fincher, 2007) Paramount

Being There [Blu-ray] (Hal Ashby, 1979) Warner Home Video

Partner (Bernardo Bertolucci , 1968) R2 UK BFI

Waterloo Bridge (Mervyn LeRoy, 1940) Warner

The Yellow Rolls Royce (Anthony Asquith, 1965) Warner Home Video

Battlestar Galactica - Season 4.0 - Universal Studios

Vicky Cristina Barcelona [Blu-ray] (Woody Allen, 2008) Weinstein Company

The Notebook [Blu-ray] (Nick Cassavetes, 2004) NewLine Home Video

Jet Li's Fearless [Blu-ray] (Ronny Yu, 2006) Universal Studios

The Invaders - The Second Season (1967) – Paramount

The Boondock Saints [Blu-ray] (Troy Duffy, 2000) Fox/MGM

The Pink Panther [Blu-ray] (Blake Edwards, 1963) MGM

Antwone Fisher [Blu-ray] (Denzel Washington, 2002) 20th Century Fox



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Personally, I don't see substantial savings in getting the entire James Bond Blu-ray Collection Three-Pack's in BR.  I suggest just buying the specific editions that you want. Since I'm a Connery 007 fan thru-and-thru, that means From Russia With Love, Thunderball, and Dr. No. These older film definitely look the most-improved - they are actually quite stunning. Easy decisions (but they should be out in Blu-ray) are Psycho and Touch of Evil. They are improved transfers with stacked, new, supplements. For Ophuls-minded cinephiles, La Signora Di Tutti, is one of the more important DVD finds of the year. And speaking of European DVDs - Fuller's Verboten! , Tourneur's Easy Living and possibly Nick Ray's Born to be Bad, should be picked-up as well next shop-stop to Amazon France. Warner's Gangsters 4 Collection also has strong appeal for the vintage film fan. An imperfect transfer but a delightful film is Hou's Flight of the Red Balloon. I'm already anticipating Volume 4 - so highly recommend Popeye the Sailor Volume 3 - 1941-1943. I found Icons of Horror - Hammer Films to have great value - just don't look at The Gorgon less'in you want to turn to... stone! Although not to my personal taste - I can surely respect the incredible effort that went into Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street BR. You could spend worse evenings that watching Edward Norton as The Incredible Hulk BR. I'll end with an unusual selection (for me anyway) - I found myself greatly enjoying Constantine BR  especially Keanu Reeves as the chain-smoking, bad-ass exorcist. If I'm not already out - I'm sure I'll be swiftly and surreptitiously shown the door at the next film-snob league meeting. Sigh...       

New Reviews:

James Bond Blu-ray Collection Three-Pack, Vol. 1 BR - The Good, the Bad, but never Ugly James Bond movies, from 1962 to infinity and beyond: The fabulous Bond Girls; the exotic international locales; the great gadgets, often based on the latest technological development; the remarkable lack of investigation needed to find or bring to justice some of the nuttiest criminals and most grasping of corporate entities; the awesome stunts that beg topping in each succeeding Bond movie; James' dinner jackets that rarely get ruffled – like his belief in the righteousness of the British Empire; the rampant, but comical sexism and racism. It was pretty much all there from the first, regardless of the actor playing the part. Blu-ray Release Date: October 21st, 2008

James Bond Blu-ray Collection Three-Pack, Vol. 2 BR - As a group, the titles in Volume 2 are higher quality than Volume 1, but both must-haves for the Bond aficionado. The earlier films benefit most from their restorations, already evident in the Ultimate DVDs, but the extra vivid dimensionality – that reach out and touch it feeling we get with a high definition image is worth the investment. It's also nice that all the titles come with their original audio tracks for the purists among us, though I found myself preferring to the uncompressed audio, despite its being exaggerated in moments of excitement. Thumbs Up. Blu-ray Release Date: October 21st, 2008

Popeye the Sailor Volume 3 - 1941-1943 - Popeye is not your typical superhero: He is old. He is bald. He is short. He only has one eye. He constantly smokes his corncob pipe. He does not have teeth. He has tattooed, bulging forearms. He is illiterate and unrefined. Yet, these oddly unique qualities have helped this simple straight-talking, hard-hitting sailor win the hearts of many generations around the world. Popeye was a true hero of his time. By the mid-1930s, he surpassed even Disney's Mickey Mouse in popularity. With his charming "I Yam What I Yam" philosophy, the one-eyed sailor proudly expressed his genuineness, integrity, and take-charge personality, which made him stand out during the Depression era. DVD Release Date: November 4th, 2008

Easy Living - Scripted by Charles Schnee (The Bad and the Beautiful, Two Weeks in Another Town) from an Irwin Shaw story, this might have been another Sweet Smell of Success with a lowdown angle on professional sport. Tourneur does his best (always concisely, sometimes brilliantly) as Mature's ageing football star gambles his life to ensure security while his wife (Scott) turns the screw on his troubles by ruthlessly pursuing fame as a designer. But studio interference and script compromises (notably in begging the question of whether the wife screws her way to success, and in treating her ambitions with routine bias) sugar the sourness. DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2008

Tinker Bell BR - Though Tinker Bell might have played second fiddle to Peter Pan and Captain Hook in Disney's 1953 classic, the beloved fairy gets top billing--and a speaking role--with this animated adventure. In TINKER BELL, young audiences can journey to Pixie Hollow, the home of the fairies in Never Land. The spirited sprite is joined by a number of her magical friends: Iridessa the light fairy, Rosetta the garden fairy, Fawn the animal fairy, Silvermist the water fairy, and Clank and Bobbie the tinker fairies. Fans of the Disney Princess series will find much to like in this offering that introduces characters that children can identify with. Blu-ray Release date: October 28th, 2008

Verboten! - "Their love was Verboten!" screamed the ads in 1959, and this sleazy masterwork by Sam Fuller is no less shrill, beginning with a sniper being tracked down to the strains of Beethoven's Fifth and continuing with the romance of an American soldier and an off-limits fraulein in occupied Germany. Sweaty, claustrophobic, occasionally frenzied, and often brilliant, in a thoroughly iconoclastic (and marginally psychotic) way. DVD Release Date: September 17th, 2008

Flight of the Red Balloon - If the luscious red orb that sails through “Flight of the Red Balloon” like an airborne cherry looks as if it flew in from another movie, in some ways it did. The film, the latest wonderment from the Taiwanese master Hou Hsiao-hsien, takes as one of its inspirations Albert Lamorisse’s 1956 classic, “The Red Balloon,” about a young boy and the talismanic sphere that follows him through the gray streets of Paris like a dog, a lover, a ghost — as much a reminder of the precariousness of life as an emblem of innocence. DVD Release Date: October 21st, 2008

Dr. No BR - With DR. NO the first of the James Bond films director Terence Young and leading man Sean Connery set the precedent for what would become one of the most popular influential and long-lasting series ever made. Bond makes his first famous introduction "Bond James Bond" in an upscale casino to a saucy brunette named Slyvia Trench (Eunice Gayson) who he promptly coaxes into a dinner date. Back at Secret Service Headquarters M (Bernard Lee) assigns Bond to a mission in Jamaica. Blu-ray Release Date: October 21st, 2008

Born to be Bad - Born to Be Bad was the fourth film directed by Ray, who had made an auspicious debut the previous year with the powerful They Live by Night (1949). Already, though, Ray had demonstrated a strikingly original visual style, and an ability to convey emotional intensity even when working with the most banal material. The opening scenes in Born to Be Bad are a bravura exercise in style, as he introduces the main characters preparing for and attending a party at the apartment of Leslie's character. The brilliantly choreographed and lit movement through the apartment hallway with many doors leading off it provides a visual metaphor for the characters' tangled relationships. The work of cinematographer Nicholas Musuraca, who had been working in films since the early 1920s, and whose work on Out of the Past (1947) helped define film noir, is stunning in this sequence. DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2008

Constantine BR - Lucifer's minions are illegally "crossing over" to Earth and taking possession of human bodies in preparation for the arrival of the Devil's son, who will institute chaos in the world. Our only defense: Constantine, played by Keanu Reeves, whose body looks more streamlined than ever. A long time ago, Constantine attempted suicide but escaped the grip of Hell (he was dead for two minutes but revived), and now he owes God a favor or two. The Lord's servant performs exorcisms and sends the crossover devils back to their fiery home. As the apocalypse approaches, Reeves whispers his fears to Rachel Weisz's Los Angeles cop, and she whispers back. The movie is reverently quiet even as all Hell is (literally) breaking loose. There is an extraordinary amount of digital mess and violence-gucky melting flesh and many revelations, transformations, and immersions, as well as satanic rats and large cockroaches. Blu-ray Release date: October 14th, 2008

Warner's Gangsters 4 Collection - The fourth collection in this series includes the films The Amazing Doctor Clitterhouse, Little Giant, Larceny Incorporated, Invisible Stripes, Kid Galahad, and a bonus disc featuring a new documentary, Public Enemies: The Golden Age of Gangster Film. Edward G Robinson stars and there are 3 supporting roles for Humprey Bogart and lets not forget Miss Bette Davis. DVD Release Date: October 21st, 2008

Sweeney Todd: Demon Barber of Fleet Street BR - Johnny Depp and Tim Burton join forces again in a big-screen adaptation of Stephen Sondheim's award-winning musical thriller "Sweeney Todd." Depp stars in the title role as a man unjustly sent to prison who vows revenge not only for that cruel punishment but for the devastating consequences of what happened to his wife and daughter. When he returns to reopen his barber shop Sweeney Todd becomes the Demon Barber of Fleet Street who "shaved the heads of gentlemen who never thereafter were heard from again." Joining Depp is Helena Bonham Carter as Mrs. Lovett Sweeney's amorous accomplice who creates diabolical meat pies. Blu-ray Release date: October 21st, 2008


Thunderball BR - The fourth Bond, marking the point at which spectacular hardware began to dominate the series. Sleek and quite fun all the same, with SPECTRE holding the world to ransom after stealing a couple of nuclear bombs, Bond almost getting his in the villain's shark-infested swimming pool, and a cleverly choreographed underwater battle to provide the icing on the mix. Blu-ray Release Date: October 21st, 2008

From Russia With Love BR - From Russia with Love, along with its successor, Goldfinger, represents Bond at his best. Although the series has run for more than thirty years with seventeen "official" entries, it has yet to better, or even equal, what it achieved in 1963-1964 with the release of these two films. By combining solid storylines, tightly-paced action sequences, memorable villains, and Sean Connery in top form, Russia and Goldfinger mark the cinematic apex for Ian Fleming's 007. Blu-ray Release Date: October 21st, 2008

The Incredible Hulk BR - The movie's success or failure rests on two things: the realization of Hulk as both flesh and comic and the casting of Edward Norton as Banner. I liked both Bixby and Bana for different reasons, and I admit that Norton's slight, boyish presence took some getting used to. Once past that, it is clear how much Norton's skills as an actor bring to the part: We really feel both his determination to gain control of the monster within and his frustration in being unable to do so. The transitions from the one to the other are well handled by Leterrier and his FX team. As the years have ticked by, the discrepancy in size and abilities between Banner and Hulk have grown – which is a good thing, actually, as it helps accept the comic book monstrous nature of the superhero within, and vice-versa. There were times when I liked and felt completely convinced by the FX Hulk, and other times when he seemed more of an effect than a presence. Blu-ray Release date: October 21st, 2008

Halloween BR - There is something particularly creepy about Carpenter's Michael simply because he is so primitive, so inexplicable. Our identification is with his victims because they are innocent. Not so in Zombie's film. Though no one deserves to die at his hands, most of his victims – with a few exceptions of the ones we have some acquaintance – are just nasty enough that we find ourselves rooting for Michael as a sort of avenging angel, however criminally psychopathic he may be. This may be an uncomfortable place to live in, even for two hours, and it may or may not have been Zombie's intent, but I found the feeling fascinating to sort out. All the same, I think it gets in the way of coherency. Blu-ray Release date: October 21st, 2008

La Signora Di Tutti - Max Ophuls made this melodrama in Italy in 1934, following his flight from Germany. With its large-scale, operatic effects and aggressively experimental style, it is clearly a young man's film, yet contains more of the mature Ophuls than any early work of his I have seen: the elaborate flashback structure employed to tell this tale of a movie star's romantic entanglements anticipates Lola Montes, and the cold, static beauty of lead actress Isa Miranda suggests the sublime emptiness of Danielle Darrieux' Madame de. Ophuls's camera glides and glides, as it always would, yet at this early point the camera movements don't have quite the emotional refinement they would acquire later on. Technique, in Ophuls's case, seems to precede specific meaning, but the emotional outlines are clear. DVD Release Date: June, 2008

Icons of Horror - Hammer Films - Though perhaps not as iconic as their Dracula and Frankenstein pictures, this quartet of fright flicks from England's Hammer Films deliver enough Saturday afternoon creature feature thrills to please devotees of the legendary studio's output and vintage horror fans alike. 1964's The Gorgon will be the title to attract the most immediate attention due to the presence of Hammer's biggest stars, Christopher Lee and Peter Cushing, in its cast, and its most celebrated director, Terence Fisher, behind the camera. It's an atmospheric and offbeat entry in the Hammer canon, with one of its most unusual villains: a snake-haired fiend from Greek mythology who turns men into stone. Cushing and Lee are typically fine (both are on the side of the angels for once), and the picture's sole stumbling block is the lackluster makeup for its monster. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), The Curse of the Mummy's Tomb (1964), The Gorgon (1964) and Scream of Fear (1961). DVD Release Date: October 14th, 2008

Cosmic Voyage / Destiny in Space BR - Cosmic Journey in IMAX - this Academy Award Nominee combines live action with state-of-the-art computer-generated imagery to pinpoint where humans fit in our every-expanding universe. Highlighting this journey is a 'cosmic zoom' based on the powers of 10 extending from the surface of the earth to the largest observable structures of our universe and then back to the sub-nuclear realm - a guided tour across 42 orders of magnitude (narrated by Morgan Freeman)... Blu-ray Release date: October 14th, 2008

Sweet Sixteen - Melissa (Aleisha Shirley) is the new girl at school in a small town (her father [a slumming Patrick Macnee] is an archaeologist excavating a local Indian burial ground) and having a hard time fitting in (despite some frontal nudity in the film's opening shower scene). It seems that every guy who takes an interest in her winds up getting offed (most of the film's victims are men). While the local sheriff (Bo Hopkins) thinks he has a psycho-killer on the loose and also has to deal with racial tensions, his daughter Marci (Dana Kimmel, FRIDAY THE 13TH 3-D) decides to play Nancy Drew. Things come to a head when Melissa's mother (a slumming Susan Strasberg) invites everyone to Melissa's Sweet Sixteen party. Though advertised then and now as a slasher film, SWEET SIXTEEN plays more like a small-town mystery thriller. DVD Release Date: October 14th, 2008

Touch of Evil - In December 1956, Welles was offered the role of the villain in a Universal thriller about a crooked cop. But the movie's star, Charlton Heston, thought that Welles was to direct the picture, and from the acorn of that misunderstanding emerged a splendid oak. With all due respect to the truncated Magnificent Ambersons, blighted Othello, and mossy Chimes at Midnight, Touch of Evil is the tallest tree in the wilderness of Welles's post-Kane career. "Unimaginably pleasurable to make," the maestro told Peter Bogdanovich. It shows. DVD Release Date: October 7th, 2008

Psycho - So Alfred Hitchcock told Francois Truffaut about "Psycho," adding that it "belongs to filmmakers, to you and me." Hitchcock deliberately wanted "Psycho" to look like a cheap exploitation film. He shot it not with his usual expensive feature crew (which had just finished "North by Northwest") but with the crew he used for his television show. He filmed in black and white. Long passages contained no dialogue. His budget, $800,000, was cheap even by 1960 standards; the Bates Motel and mansion were built on the back lot at Universal. In its visceral feel, "Psycho" has more in common with noir quickies like "Detour" than with elegant Hitchcock thrillers like "Rear Window" or "Vertigo." DVD Release Date: October 7th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:


Week of October 20th, 2008

The Best Man (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1964) R2 UK Optimum

Bride of the Monster - colorized and B/W (Edward D. Wood Jr., 1955) Legend Films

Casino Royale (Collector's Edition, 2 discs) [Blu-ray] (Martin Campbell, 2006) Sony

The Clouded Yellow (Ralph Thomas, 1951) R2 UK Eureka Entertainment

Creature from the Haunted Sea - colorized + B/W (Roger Corman, 1961) Legend Films

Die Another Day [Blu-ray] (Lee Tamahori, 2002) Fox/MGM

Dr. No [Blu-ray] (Terence Young, 1962) Fox/MGM

Eclipse Series 13 Kenji Mizoguchi's Fallen Women 4DVD set (Naniwa erejî, 1936 - Gion no shimai, 1936 - Akasen chitai, 1956 - Yoru no onnatachi, 1948) Criterion

Family Guy, Vol. 6 - 20th Century Fox

Family Guy - The Complete Collection (Amazon.com Exclusive) Twentieth Century Fox

Flight of the Red Balloon (Hsiao-hsien Hou, 2007) IFC

For Your Eyes Only [Blu-ray] (John Glen, 1981) Fox/MGM

From Russia with Love [Blu-ray] (Terence Young, 1963) Fox/MGM

Incredible Hulk 3 Disc Special Edition (Louis Leterrier, 2008) Universal Studios

Incredible Hulk [Blu-ray] (Louis Leterrier, 2008) Universal Studios

The Incredible Hulk: The Complete Series - Universal

James Bond Blu-ray Collection Three-Pack, Vol. 1 [Blu-ray] (Dr. No / Die Another Day / Live and Let Die) [Blu-ray] (2008) MGM
James Bond Blu-ray Collection Three-Pack, Vol.2 [
Blu-ray] (For Your Eyes Only / From Russia with Love / Thunderball) [Blu-ray] (2008) MGM

The Joseph Losey Collection (The Go Between, The Servant, Accident, The Criminal, Eva, and Mr. Klein) R2 UK Optimum Home Entertainment

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977) R2 UK BFI

The Last Man on Earth - colorized and B/W (Ubaldo Ragona, 1964) Legend Films

The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane (Nicolas Gessner, 1976) R2 UK Optimum

Live and Let Die [Blu-ray] (Guy Hamilton, 1973) Fox/MGM

Looney Tunes: Golden Collection, Vol. 6 - Warner Home Video

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. - The Complete Series (Eddie Saeta, James Goldstone, 1964) Warner Home Video

Mondays in the Sun (Fernando León de Aranoa, 2002) Lions Gate

Missing (Costa-Gavras, 1982) Criterion

The Offence (Sidney Lumet, 1972) R2 UK Optimum

The Paul Naschy Collection (Exorcism, Blue Eyes of the Broken Doll, Human Beasts, Horror Rises from the Tomb, Vengeance of the Zombies) Navarre Corporation

Sweeney Todd [Blu-ray] (Tim Burton, 2007) - Dreamworks Video

Thunderball [Blu-ray] (Terence Young, 1965) Fox/MGM

The Voyage (Vittorio De Sica, 1974) R2 UK Optimum

Warner Gangsters Collection, Vol. 4 (The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse / The Little Giant / Larceny, Inc. / Invisible Stripes / Kid Galahad / The Golden Age of the Gangster Film) - Warner

What? (Roman Polanski, 1972) R2 UK Severin


Week of October 27th, 2008

Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection (15-disc) - Universal Studios

Baraka [Blu-ray] (Ron Fricke, 1993) Mpi Home Video

Beat the Devil [Blu-ray] (John Huston, 1953) ABC

The Bird People of China [Blu-ray] (Takashi Miike, 1998) Arts Magic

Camp de Thiaroye (Ousmane Sembene + Thierno Faty Sow, 1987) New Yorker

Couscous (Abdel Kechiche, 2007) R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Final Countdown [Blu-ray] (Don Taylor, 1980) - Blue Underground

The Flintstones: The Complete Series - Turner Home Ent.

Hell Ride (Larry Bishop, 2008) Weinstein
Hell Ride [
Blu-ray] (Larry Bishop, 2008) Weinstein

Hidden [Blu-ray] (Michael Haneke, 2005) RB UK Artificial Eye

Jesus Christ Vampire Hunter [Blu-ray] (Lee Demarbre, 2001) MVD Visual

Journey to the Center of Earth [Blu-ray]  (Limited-Edition 2-D and 3-D with Glasses) (Eric Brevig, 2008) New Line Home Video

Little Rascals: The Complete Collection - Weinstein

Red (Trygve Allister Diesen, Lucky McKee - 2008) Magnolia

The Red Desert (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) R2 UK BFI
The Red Desert [
Blu-ray] (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1964) RB UK BFI

Six in Paris (Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, Eric Rohmer - 1965) New Yorker Video

10 Years of Rialto Pictures 10 Discs Box Set - Army of Shadows (1969) , Au hasard Balthazar (1966) , Band of Outsiders (1964) , Billy Liar (1963) , The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (1972), Mafioso (1962), Murderous Maids (2000), Rififi (1955), The Third Man (1949) and Touchez pas au grisbi (1954) - Criterion

One Who Set Forth - Wim Wenders' Early Years - R2 UK Axiom

Woman on The Beach (Sang-soo Hong, 2006) New Yorker Video

Yesterday Girl (Alexander Kluge, 1966) - Facets

Zatoichi [Blu-ray] (Takeshi Kitano, 2003) RB UK Artificial Eye

"If you're walking down the right path, and you're willing to keep walking, eventually you'll make progress." - Barack Obama

Best regards!