DVDBeaver Newsletter - November 3rd, 2008

Asujutidli! - 14 new reviews this newsletter - marginally better than last week's selection, plus we have a spanking new article by J. Rosenbaum, a new contest, some news, the Feature DVD of the Month announced, some interesting Calendar releases - stuff like that. Enjoy... 

P.S. Boetticher coverage is coming soon - I promise.



NOVEMBER 3rd CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win un-opened Blu-rays of both Live and Let Die + For Your Eyes Only. Best of luck all!

NEW ARTICLE: My Dozen Favorite Non-Region-1 (Part 2 - Single-disc DVDs) by Jonathan Rosenbaum

NEWS: Defective MGM Hitchcock Premiere Collections - Reports are coming in by the droves about the MGM Hitchcock Premiere Collection. We do not yet own the entire set and have only covered Notorious and Rebecca which played without issue on my Malata - but we understand many individual's players are having problems with all, or selective transfers from the set. These represent faults such as the disc wobbling in the tray, unsubstantiated noise in playback, freezing and chapter skips. If you own the set please verify if you too have these problems and report them to the outlet you purchased them or MGM directly. Lars tells us why HERE

BIG THANKS!: DVDBeaver would not exist without the support of many patrons - those who generously donate, and especially those who use our Amazon and YesAsia links. That's it. When you go to Amazon - PLEASE use one of our links to get there (they are on every page - top and bottom - and we have 5000 webpages). It costs you absolutely nothing and we get a small commission on items you purchase. This helps pay our bills - in fact it's the only thing that pays our bills.

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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!):

Zabriskie Point (Michelangelo Antonioni, 1970) R2 FR Warner Home Video in 2.35!

I Served the King of England (Jirí Menzel, 2006) R2 UK Arrow

The Red Balloon/White Mane (2008) Criterion

Michael Powell Double Feature (A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Age of Consent (1969) - Sony Pictures

Pineapple Express (David Gordon Green, 2008) - Sony Pictures

The Wackness (Jonathan Levine, 2008) Sony Pictures

Tell No One (Guillaume Canet, 2006) Music Box Films

The Enforcer (Corey Yuen, 1995) Weinzstein - Dragon Dynasty

Columbo: Mystery Movie Collection 1990 - Columbo Goes to College, Caution: Murder Can be Hazardous to Your Health, The Murder of a Rock Star, It's All in the Game, Butterfly in Shades of Grey and Undercover - Universal


Time and Winds (Reha Erdem, 2006) R2 UK Artificial Eye

Neil Young Archives Volume 1 [Blu-ray] (1963 - 1972)(10 Disc Blue-Ray) Reprise Records

Pineapple Express [Blu-ray] (David Gordon Green, 2008) - Sony Pictures

The Wackness [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Levine, 2008) Sony Pictures

The Ipcress File [Blu-ray] (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) RB UK ITV DVD

Raging Bull [Blu-ray] (Martin Scorsese, 1980) MGM Entertainment

The French Connection [Blu-ray] (William Friedkin, 1971) 20th Century Fox

The Passion of the Christ [Blu-ray] (Mel Gibson, 2004) 20th Century Fox

French Connection II [Blu-ray] (John Frankenheimer, 1975) 20th Century Fox

Vanishing Point [Blu-ray] (Richard C. Sarafian, 1971) 20th Century Fox

Little Miss Sunshine [Blu-ray] (Jonathan Dayton + Valerie Faris, 2006) 20th Century Fox

Donnie Darko [Blu-ray] (Richard Kelly, 2001) 20th Century Fox

Sideways [Blu-ray] (Alexander Payne, 2004) 20th Century Fox



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Some films you just don't debate about a getting an upgrade - and Sunset Boulevard is one of them. Yes, it could have been better and many will incur redundant double dipping but The Gregory Peck Film Collection has some great films in the boxset. Period. Planet of the Apes BR is one of the more stacked Blu-rays out there, although sometimes I prefer the musical, "Stop the Planet of the Apes, I Want to Get Off!". Monster's Ball BR is a great movie with a stunning transfer. I enjoy Futurama as much as most - but suggest you will be satisfied with the SD-DVD this time around. The Shawshank Redemption BR is essential, but may as well wait for the Region 'A' unless you have no choice in the matter. With a kind of Saturday afternoon feel The Final Countdown BR - may be worthy to some. Region 'B' folk may wish to indulge in Night of the Living Dead BR. I really liked Superman Returns BR although some were ambivalent.          

New Reviews:

The Gregory Peck Film Collection (7-disc) - "The World in His Arms" (1952) stars Gregory Peck as a seal hunter enlisted by Russian countess Ann Blyth to take her to Alaska so she can evade marrying a Russian diplomat. When Blyth is kidnapped, Peck and rival Anthony Quinn race to save her. Sig Rumann, John McIntire co-star. Peck portrays WWII military psychiatrist "Captain Newman, M.D." (1963) in this acclaimed comedy-drama, administering help to the battle fatigued. With Tony Curtis, Angie Dickinson, and Robert Duvall. Peck is an amnesia victim whose attempts to discover his identity may also turn up a murder plot, in the gripping "Mirage" (1965). With Diane Baker, Walter Matthau. In director Stanley Donen's James-Bondian thriller "Arabesque" (1966), Peck plays a language professor hired to decipher a secret code, scrambling to outwit hired gunmen and save the life of an Arab prime minister. Sophia Loren, George Coulouris co-star. Seven-disc set also includes the Special Edition of "To Kill a Mockingbird" and "Cape Fear" (1962). DVD Release Date: November 4th, 2008

Kung Fu Panda BR - Kung Fu Panda adopts a different, less zany tone than one might expect from a movie with that title, especially considering that Jack Black has been brought on board to provide the lead voice. While it would be unfair to say that the movie doesn't present its share of comedic moments, the animated production as a whole jettisons non-stop jokiness in favor of something a little more serious. Blu-ray Release date: November 4th, 2008

Futurama: Bender's Game BR - With fuel prices skyrocketing, the Planet Express crew sets off on a dangerous mission: to infiltrate the world's only dark-matter mine, source of all spaceship fuel. But deep beneath the surface lies a far stranger place... a medieval land of dragons and sorcery and intoxicated knights who look suspiciously like Bender. So park your hover-car and saddle up your unicorn for Futurama's grandest adventure yet: BENDER'S GAME! Blu-ray Release date: November 4th, 2008

Planet of the Apes BR - Planet of the Apes was released on April 3, 1968, the day before the assassination of Martin Luther King, two months before the murder of Robert Kennedy, and in the midst of the Tet Offensive – the bloodiest phase of America's Vietnam War. Its star, Charlton Heston, was generally associated with iconic movie roles that championed freedom (Moses, Ben-Hur, El Cid). But in this movie Heston is cast as the last cynical apolitical American narcissist – an archetype that, by the end of the film, is turned on its head: Taylor is transformed into a prophet for the end of the world – a self-fulfilling, self-piloting, automatically repeating prophet who, like the River Kwai's Col. Nicholson, has more than a hand in bringing about its own conclusion. Blu-ray Release date: November 4th, 2008

Sukiyaki Western Django BR - For the two or three of you out there who are not up on your Japanese cult action flix, here's a brief rundown: Sukiyaki Western Django is the brainchild of Takashi Miike (Ichi the Killer, City of Lost Souls, The Bird People in China). The first things we notice about it – in rapid succession – are the highly stylized production design, especially as regards color and light; the fact that, except for the exceedingly bizarre presence of Quentin Tarantino, the cast is Japanese, all of whom are speaking English – and rather badly at that; and its resemblance to Kurasawa's Yojimbo and Sergio Corbucci's 1996 Django. Blu-ray Release date: November 11th, 2008

Transsiberian BR - Written and directed by Brad Anderson (The Machinist), the story takes place over several days along the Transsiberian Railway from Beijing to Moscow. Jessie (Emily Mortimer [Redbelt, Lars and the Real Girl]) and her husband Roy (Woody Harrelson) have just wound up a Christian retreat in China's capital. They decide to take the cross-country route so that Roy can indulge his love of trains. Emily is described as having something of a wild past and, even though married, is still testing the waters before making a commitment to settling down. Blu-ray Release date: November 4th, 2008

Superman Returns BR - With the inspired appropriation of John Williams’ majestic 1978 theme music raising acres of gooseflesh, Superman flies again, bringing mankind what Marlon Brando’s Jor-El called "the light to show the way". Like the flag-waving hero of Richard Donner’s Superman movies, the boy from Krypton comes bathed in nostalgia, reverence and oodles of religious symbolism. The result is that most beatific of superhero’s most magnificent screen incarnation yet.

Futurama: Bender's Game - At once a merciless skewering of all things fanboy and an extremely satisfying addition to the Futurama franchise, Bender's Game is among the best of the animated series' feature length adventures. The game in question is Dungeons and Dragons, and Bender wants in--only robots aren't programmed with the necessary imagination. Naturally, Bender's plans to develop one go completely awry and land him in an android asylum. The role-playing plotline later re-emerges--in typically convoluted Futurama fashion--via a subplot involving Professor Farnsworth's conversion of dark matter into spaceship fuel, which created a key to a very D&D-influenced universe where our hapless heroes eventually find themselves. DVD Release Date: November 4th, 2008

Roman Holiday - "Though Wyler generally liked to stick to the script, the location shooting allowed a great deal of room for spontaneity in order to take advantage of any wonderful new discoveries he happened to come across. “Filming in Rome in those days was marvelous,” said Wyler. “There were practically no automobiles, only Vespas. For every scene I could have had six locations, and each one was better than the other.” When he wasn’t making use of the beautiful Roman outdoors, Wyler used the newly renovated Cinecitta studios to shoot interiors. DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2002

Monster's Ball BR - The cinematography by Roberto Schaefer and mood of this film is brilliantly distanced, caught in the heat of Louisiana, underlined by a meditative and ethereal soundtrack of minimalist perfection. The acting is bravura. Halle Berry provides a performance of devastating emotional depth and truly deserved her Oscar. Billy Bob Thornton is great as well and its a shame that he wasn't even nominated for an Academy Award. The supporting cast is convincing and strong all the way, but it was really Halle Berry who made me cry and feel the pain of her character. Blu-ray Release Date: November 4th, 2008

Sunset Boulevard - One of Wilder's finest, and certainly the blackest of all Hollywood's scab-scratching accounts of itself, this establishes its relentless acidity in the opening scene by having the story related by a corpse floating face-down in a Hollywood swimming-pool. What follows in flashback is a tale of humiliation, exploitation, and dashed dreams, as a feckless, bankrupt screenwriter (Holden) pulls into a crumbling mansion in search of refuge from his creditors, and becomes inextricably entangled in the possessive web woven by a faded star of the silents (Swanson), who is high on hopes of a comeback and heading for outright insanity. The performances are suitably sordid, the direction precise, the camerawork appropriately noir, and the memorably sour script sounds bitter-sweet echoes of the Golden Age of Tinseltown (with has-beens Keaton, HB Warner and Anna Q Nilsson appearing in a brief card-game scene). It's all deliriously dark and nightmarish, its only shortcoming being its cynical lack of faith in humanity: only von Stroheim, superb as Swanson's devotedly watchful butler Max, manages to make us feel the tragedy on view. DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2002

Night of the Living Dead BR - In 1968, a small group of friends in the business of making commercials and industrial shorts wanted to try their hands at “real” movie-making. Given the recent explosion of the exploitation and horror film market, led in the USA by godfather of gore, Herschel Gordon Lewis, it was decided that a horror film stood the best chance of being seen and maybe even making some money. George Romero and John Russo came up with an idea, and the group scraped together just over $100,000 and got started. With money tight, they used local talent, friends, and even investors in the film as actors. One of the investors was a butcher who provided the blood n’ guts for the operation. No one could have guessed that from these humble beginnings would emerge what is, arguably, the greatest of American horror films. A movie who’s negative was once stored in the basement of a Pittsburgh ad agency, now resides in the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. Blu-ray Release Date: September 29th, 2008

The Final Countdown BR - In the late 1970's one of Kirk Douglas' sons, Peter Vincent Douglas, began his career as a producer with a project based on a fantastic scenario; what if one of America's contemporary nuclear-powered aircraft carriers was catapulted back in time via a freak electrical storm and appeared in the Pacific Ocean just hours before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor? His producer credits would go on to include Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), and Fletch (1985), but what sets The Final Countdown (1980) aside from those popular films is a complicity between the Hollywood dream factory and the U.S. military to create a work that would entertain the masses and also act as a recruiting tool for the Navy. Blu-ray Release Date: November 4th, 2008

The Shawshank Redemption BR - In 1946 a young New England banker, Andy Dufresne (Robbins), is convicted of murdering his wife and her lover and sentenced to life at the Shawshank State Prison - twice over. Quiet and introspective, he gradually strikes up a friendship with the prison 'fixer', Red (Freeman), and over the next two decades wins the trust of the governor and guards, but in his heart, he still yearns for freedom. Darabont's adaptation of a Stephen King novella is a throwback to the kind of serious, literate drama Hollywood used to make (Birdman of Alcatraz, say) though the big spiritual resolution takes some swallowing - ditto the colour-blind relationships within the prison and the violent disavowal of any homosexual implications. Against this weighs the pleasure of discovering a first-time director with evident respect for the intelligence of his audience, brave enough to let character details accumulate without recourse to the fast-forward button. Darabont plays the long game and wins: this is an engrossing, superbly acted yarn, while the Shawshank itself is a truly formidable mausoleum. Blu-ray Release date: September 29th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

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

Caligula [Blu-ray] (Tinto Brass, 1979) Image Entertainment

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

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

The Red Balloon/White Mane (2008) Criterion

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


Week of November 10th, 2008

All Mine to Give (Allen Reisner, 1957) Turner

Band of Brothers [Blu-ray] - HBO

Black Christmas [Blu-ray] (Bob Clark, 1974) Somerville

Blood And Bones (Yoichi Sai, 2004) Kino

The Boys in the Band (William Friedkin, 1970) Paramount

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

Change My Life (Change Moi Ma Vie) (Liria Begeja, 2001) Synkronized

The Chronological Donald Vol 4 (1951-1961) - Buena Vista Home Video

Dr Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh - 1964 (2-disc) - Walt Disney Video

Fighters / Real Money (2 disc set) 1991 - R2 UK Second Run

Firefly - The Complete Series [Blu-ray] (Joss Whedon, 2002) 20th Century Fox

The General (The Ultimate 2-Disc Edition) (Clyde Bruckman, 1926) Kino

Harry Potter Years 1-5 [Blu-ray] (2008) - Warner Home Video

The Homefront Collection (Irving Berlin's This Is the Army (1943), Thank Your Lucky Stars (1943), Hollywood Canteen (1944) ) - Warner Home Video

The Ipcress File [Blu-ray] (Sidney J. Furie, 1965) RB UK ITV DVD

It Happened on 5th Avenue (Roy Del Ruth, 1947) - Warner Home Video

JFK (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Oliver Stone, 1991) Warner Home Video
Blu-ray] (Oliver Stone, 1991) Warner Home Video

Kung Fu Panda [Blu-ray] (Mark Osborne + John Stevenson, 2008) Paramount

Lone Ranger: 75th Anniversary - Seasons 1 and 2 (1949) Classic Media

M Squad - The Complete Series 16-disc (Lee Marvin, Angie Dickinson) - Timeless

Madame Bovary (Claude Chabrol, 1991) Koch

Mother Earth [Blu-ray] (5 IMAX films - Africa: The Serengeti, Alaska: Spirit of the Wild, Antarctica, Australia and Ocean Oasis) Razor

Opium: Diary of a Madwoman (Janos Szasz, 2007) Koch

Planet B-Boy (Benson Lee, 2007) Arts Alliance America

Postmen in the Mountains (Jianqi Huo, 1999) Razor

Quo Vadis (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Mervyn LeRoy, Anthony Mann, 1951) Warner Home Video

Roberto Rossellini (Directors Series) - Era Notte a Roma (Escape by Night) and Dov’e la liberta (Where is Freedom?) Lions Gate

Roman Holiday 2-disc SE (William Wyler, 1953) Paramount

Sabrina 2-disc SE (Billy Wilder, 1954) Paramount

The Shawshank Redemption [Blu-ray] (Frank Darabont, 1994) RB UK ITV DVD

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

Sounder (Martin Ritt, 1972) Koch

Star Wars: The Clone Wars (David Filioni, 2008) Warner Home Video
Star Wars: The Clone Wars [
Blu-ray] (David Filioni, 2008) Warner Home Video

Still Life (Jia Zhang Ke, 2006) New Yorker

The Story Of O [Blu-ray] (Just Jaeckin, 1975) Somerville

Sukiyaki Western Django [Blu-ray] (Takashi Miike, 2007) First Look Pictures

Sunset Boulevard (2pc) (Rmst) (Billy Wilder, 1950) Paramount

The Thunderbolt Fist (Yi Hu Chang, 1972) Image Entertainment

Warner Bros. Classic Holiday Collection Vol. 2 (All Mine to Give, Holiday Affair and It Happened on 5th Avenue, Blossoms in the Dust) Warner

"Our economy, I think, is still -- the fundamentals of our economy are strong." --Senator John McCain, Jacksonville, Fla., Sept. 15th, 2008
Let's 'celebrate' this week...