DVDBeaver Newsletter - October 27th, 2008

Sveiki gyvi! - 17 new reviews this week - What is happening to DVDBeaver? Let's not mince words - WORST WEEK EVER! (sound like the fat Comic Book store guy on The Simpsons?). This newsletter begs the question 'Why are there so many bad films on Blu-ray?' Anyway - please don't blame the messenger and we'll have better fare next week (how could we be worse?) There are a few bright spots - Master of Cinema, a Criterion 10-disc boxset, a massive classic comic-duo collection and a few others worthy of mentioning. 


OCTOBER 27th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win a brand new package of Popeye the Sailor: 1941-1943, Vol. 3. Best of luck all!

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

Criterions available for Pre-order: 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 and The Taking of Power by Louis XIV (Roberto Rossellini, 1966) – Criterion

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

Quo Vadis [Blu-ray] (Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann, 1951) Warner Home Video

Goodbye, Mr. Chips (Herbert Ross, 1969) Warner Home Video

Douglas Fairbanks: A Modern Musketeer (5-disc) - His Picture In The Papers (1916), Mystery Of The Leaping Fish (1916), Flirting With Fate (1916), And The Matrimaniac (1916); A Modern Musketeer (1917) and more - Flicker Alley

Souls at Sea (Henry Hathaway, 1937) R2 UK Eureka

Any Given Sunday [Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1999) Warner

Three Short Films By Werner Herzog - New Yorker

Blind Mountain (Li Yang, 2007) Kino

Eden Lake [Blu-ray] (James Watkins, 2008) Weinstein

Taxi Blues (Pavel Lungin, 1990) Koch Lorber

Finding Nemo [Blu-ray] (Andrew Stanton, 2003) RB UK Walt Disney

Futurama - Into The Wild Green Yonder [Blu-ray] - RB UK 20th Century Fox


ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): A horde of terrible films on Blu-ray this week (Zombie Strippers BR, Black Christmas (2006) BR, Journey to the Center of the Earth BR, Diary of the Dead BR, Hell Ride BR - note: I didn't dislike the latter as much as Leonard) but there are still a few bright spots overall. Amounting to $3/film the Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection is an easy recommendation, but check out the content of 10 Years of Rialto Pictures 10 Discs Box Set - a cineaste's dream! Probably the best stand-alone film this week is Zinnemann's The Search. - and a beautiful transfer to boot. Noir lover may enjoy Powell's Split Second. Baraka BR is reference quality from an 8K source. I liked Vexille BR but I know very little of this Japanese sci-fi anime genre - it also looks mighty impressive. I LOVED the film La Vie En Rose BR but the TVA transfer is imperfect. Standard Operating Procedure BR should be seen in high or standard definition. creating a bit of a controversy Master of Cinema's Mad Detective BR has given our first Blu-ray comparison a big eye-opener. Ohhh... finally pass on Brian Cox in Red. Highly forgettable.         

New Reviews:

Black Christmas (2006) BR - Actually, this sorority-house slasher flick is a remake of the granddaddy of the genre, 1974's "Black Christmas," which was directed by Bob Clark before he went on to fashion a proper holiday classic in "A Christmas Story." The original starred a young Margot Kidder, Olivia Hussey, and Andrea Martin before the latter went on to comedy fame as a founding member of SCTV, and was notable for a killer who was never identified. All right, history lesson's over. How's the new one? About what you'd expect from a director, Glen Morgan, who wrote the "Final Destination" movies: silly, obvious, clumsy, and just gruesome enough to keep jaded genre fans from angrily throwing popcorn at the screen. Blu-ray Release date: October 28th, 2008


Abbott and Costello: The Complete Universal Pictures Collection - all 28 films produced during the height of their popularity at Universal Pictures are available in one collection. Featuring their most popular movies such as Buck Privates, Who Done It? and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein, this collection is filled with some of the most hilarious routines of all-time including “Who’s on First?” Loaded with hours of bonus features and an exclusive collectible book, this is the ultimate tribute to two of the funniest, and most enduring, comedians of all time! DVD Release Date: October 28th, 2008

Kit Kittredge - All American Girl BR - They say that they don't make movies like they used to – and for the most part that's true, for better and worse. But Kit Kittredge is one such movie. A throwback to movies from the 1930s and 40s like the Nancy Drew series with Bonita Granville, Kit Kittredge is set in the American Depression where foreclosures, soup kitchens and hobos are commonplace. The Kittredge family is barely scraping by. They live in a nice home, but how close they are to the grim specter of resorting to selling eggs is not something that young Kit is hardly aware of as she merrily skates through her daily routine of school and secret ceremonies in her tree house with her closest friends. She does have one trait that sets her apart: her desire to become a reporter for the Cincinnati Register. Blu-ray Release date: October 28, 2008

Split Second - Stephen McNally and Paul Kelly are escaped cons who travel through the desert to their hideout, a ghost town situated in the middle of an atomic bomb testing site, set to detonate the next morning. As the cons travel to the ghost town, they pick up a variety of characters to hijack their cars and to keep them as hostages. The hostages: Jan Sterling is the tough talking dame who's been around, Keith Andes as the newspaper reporter, Alexis Smith as the self-centered wife in Nevada for a divorce, Robert Paige as her current squeeze, and Arthur Hunnicutt as a desert miner who adds a touch of humor to the film. DVD Release Date: September 16th, 2008

Vexille BR - The year is 2077, and Japan has been accused of conducting illegal robotics research. As a result, the leaders of Japan have decided to construct a massive electromagnetic field known as RACE to prevent any further meddling in their domestic affairs. Meanwhile, back in the United States, an elite commando unit dubbed SWORD launches a surprise attack on a powerful Nipponese conglomerate known as Daiwa Heavy Industries and nearly captures primary android Saito (voice of Akio Otsuka). Blu-ray Release date: November 4th, 2008

La Vie En Rose BR - With the notable exception of 32 Short Films About Glenn Gould — a movie every bit as singular and uncompromising as its subject — every musical biopic ever made looks more or less the same. Humble origins, early opportunity, creation of signature sound, rise to fame, relationship hassles, loneliness of the road, substance abuse, death and/or decline with optional comeback. La Vie en Rose, Olivier Dahan's long, extravagant portrait of Edith Piaf, only demonstrates that French music-hall warblers lived through the exact same clichés as their hard-rocking counterparts in Britain and America. Dahan does his best to shake things up by opening with the "elderly" Piaf — she died at forty-seven, looking a good twenty years older — and then skipping back and forth in time, juxtaposing the struggling nobody with the ailing legend. But this approach only underlines the genre's inherent shapelessness, making each scene feel like a self-contained factoid (crippling conjunctivitis! car accident! accused of conspiracy in a gangland murder!) rather than part of any dramatic or even thematic progression. Sony/TVA Blu-ray Release Date: October 28th, 2008

Hell Ride BR - A jumble of influences, “Hell Ride” borrows its jump-around-in-time structure and absurdist wordplay from Quentin Tarantino (who apparently doesn’t hold a grudge; he’s credited as executive producer) and its sense of empty spaces and hovering doom from Sergio Leone. All that’s missing is those directors’ talent. Blu-ray Release date: October 28, 2008

Journey to the Center of the Earth BR - You know you're in trouble when you long for Pat Boone and a goose instead of Brendan Fraser. Fraser's about an amiable an actor as you'll find these days, but very little about this very latency age-targeted movie got my attention. Correct that: I certainly sat up when a T-Rex came out of nowhere to try his little hands and drooling jaws on our hapless heroes. I wondered: where, in all this desert, he (or she) had been feeding for lo these millennia? Blu-ray Release date: October 28, 2008

Zombie Strippers BR - The world's most famous adult film star, Jenna Jameson stars in this thrilling zombie adventure. In the not too distant future a secret government re-animation chemo-virus gets released into conservative Sartre, Nebraska and lands in an underground strip club. As the virus begins to spread, turning the strippers into "Super Zombie Strippers" the girls struggle with whether or not to conform to the new "fad" even if it means there's no turning back. They're not just strippers...They're Zombie Strippers! Blu-ray Release date: October 28th, 2008

Hot Moves - One of the first generation of R-rated teenage sex comedies (before they were replaced with PG-13 ones in the nineties and then the second wave of R-rated and unrated ones now), HOT MOVES tells the familiar story of a group of friends who make it their mission to lose their virginity over the summer. All four have comic failed encounters with beach bimbos, waitresses, and a transvestite (probably considered raunchy in the eighties but far less vulgar than anything in contemporary examples of the genre) while the main guy has faces temptation from other women while trying to get into the pants of his sensitive girlfriend (eighties teen crush Jill Schoelen) who wants more from their relationship. Some funny bits, nude jogging in slow motion set to the theme from CHARIOTS OF FIRE, a ton of Venice Beach location footage to pad the running time, lots of eye-straining eighties fashions, and songs from unknown artists that run the gamut from cheesy to excruciating to quite catchy. DVD Release Date: October 21st, 2008

10 Years of Rialto Pictures 10 Discs Box Set - Since 1997, Rialto Pictures has been helping to keep classic cinema alive and invigorated by bringing the world’s greatest films to theaters across the United States, in phenomenal restored 35 mm prints. This special gift box set, in celebration of Rialto’s tenth anniversary, features ten films that display the breadth of its collection, including works by Rialto favorites, Jean-Luc Godard, Robert Bresson, Luis Buñuel, and Jean-Pierre Melville. DVD Release Date: October 28th, 2008

Red - After his dog Red is killed for no reason by the leader of three teenage goons, Avery Ludlow simply cannot wrap his head around why the kid did it, or why he laughed while he did it, or why he doesn’t care one bit about the incident afterwards. The kid’s brother, not as goonish as the other two in the gang, seems to care, but not the shooter himself, not the guy who actually pulled the trigger. What was a soul destroying moment for Avery is a non-event to the shooter, barely worth thinking about. Avery doesn’t want to sue for money or prosecute for jail time. Instead he wants the kid to genuinely show remorse. Wait a minute. I’m making this sound good aren’t I? Sorry for the confusion, because it isn’t good. In fact, it’s jaw-droppingly bad. DVD Release Date: October 28th, 2008

Mad Detective BR - Last year’s largest grossing film at the Hong Kong box office – the smash-hit Mad Detective – is one of the freshest and most satisfying films from that country in a decade. The traditional Hong Kong police film is turned on its head: the imaginative twist being our hero – Detective Bun (a role created for Lau Ching Wan) – who has the ability to ‘see’ people’s inner personalities or “hidden ghosts”. Breaking new ground and establishing new cinematic rules, Johnnie To’s latest giddily entertaining collaboration with Wai Ka Fai radically raises the level of storytelling in modern film. MoC DVD and Blu-ray Released: November 3rd, 2008

The Search - Out of the stuff of one of the saddest and most arresting human dramas of our times—that is the fate of the children of Europe whose homes were wrecked and whose lives were damaged by the war—Lazar Wechsler, a Swiss film producer, has made a picture which may prudently be said to be as fine, as moving, and as challenging as any the contemporary screen provides. The Search is its American title, and it opened at the Victoria last night. Our earnest wish is that it might be seen by every adult in the United States. DVD Release Date: December 5th, 2007

Standard Operating Procedure BR - Errol Morris' "Standard Operating Procedure," based on the infamous prison torture photographs from Abu Ghraib, is completely unlike anything I was expecting from such a film -- more disturbing, analytical and morose. This is not a "political" film nor yet another screed about the Bush administration or the war in Iraq. It is driven simply, powerfully, by the desire to understand those photographs. Blu-ray Release date: October 14th, 2008

Baraka BR - Just how far things have progressed is demonstrated by "Baraka," an awesome cinematic world tour directed and photographed by Ron Fricke, which opens today at the Plaza. Shot on 6 continents and in 24 countries, the 70-millimeter film, which has a portentous world-music score by Michael Stearns and no dialogue, is an aggressively spectacular exercise in planetary consciousness-raising. Blu-ray Release date: October 28th, 2008

Diary of the Dead BR - In his brief extra feature, The Roots, George A. Romero talked about a kind of zombie saturation that have taken over as his Dead films have progressed, so he decided to go back to the beginning and start over. Diary of the Dead isn't nearly as clever a title as the one that his protagonist uses for the documentary he is filming as the dead come back to life. Jason Creed is out in the boonies someplace shooting a student zombie flic when news of the dead coming back to life hits. Most of his University of Pittsburg friends stick together as they try to get back to their various homes. But first they have to negotiate the walking and waking dead. Blu-ray Release date: October 21, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

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

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 [
] (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

Yesterday Girl (Alexander Kluge, 1966) - Facets

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


Week of November 3rd, 2008

Budd Boetticher Box Set 5-disc (The Tall T., Decision at Sundown, Buchanan Rides Alone, Ride Lonesome and Comanche Station) Sony

Futurama: Bender's Game - 20th Century Fox
Futurama: Bender's Game [
Blu-ray] - 20th Century Fox

Gregory Peck Film Collection (To Kill A Mockingbird, Cape Fear, Arabesque, Mirage, Captain Newman, M.D., The World In His Arms) Universal

Henry Poole Is Here [Blu-ray] (Mark Pellington, 2008) Starz / Anchor Bay

I Dream of Jeannie: Complete Series (20pc) (Jon Anderson, 1965) Sony

Mad Detective (Johnny To, Ka-Fai Wai ) R2 UK - Masters of Cinema

Mad Detective [Blu-ray] (Johnny To, Ka-Fai Wai ) RB UK - Masters of Cinema

Milarepa (Neten Chokling, 2006) Cinequest

Monster's Ball [Blu-ray] (Marc Forster, 2001) Lions Gate Home Entertainment

Outer Limits Original Series Complete Box Set - MGM

Planet of the Apes (40th Anniversary Edition) [Blu-ray] (Franklin J. Schaffner, 1968) 20th Century Fox

Planet of the Apes 40th Anniversary Collection [Blu-ray] ('Planet Of The Apes', 'Beneath The Planet Of The Apes', 'Escape From The Planet Of The Apes', 'Conquest Of The Planet Of The Apes', and 'Battle For The Planet Of The Apes' - US unrated version of 'Conquest of the Planet of the Apes') 20th Century Fox

Vexille [Blu-ray] (Fumihiko Sori, 2007) Funimation

"Employ thy time well, if thou meanest to get leisure." - Benjamin Franklin