DVDBeaver Newsletter - November 17th, 2008

Salam aleykum! - 19 new reviews this week - Sirk and Murnau comparisons, 2 vintage Warner boxsets,  Disney, Oliver Stone, a Spaghetti Western and lots of Blu-ray. Plus some calendar updates, sales, announcements and much more...

NOVEMBER 17th CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win a brand new Blu-ray of Kung Fu Panda Best of luck all!

The Exterminating Angel, The Luis Buñuel, 1962, Simon of the Desert, Luis Buñuel, 1965, Shadows, John Cassavetes, 1959, Faces, John Cassavetes, 1968 and Hobson's Choice, David Lean, 1954

Criterion Blues - Criterion have pushed back the dates for their Blu-rays... :

DECEMBER 16th: Chungking Express [Blu-ray] (Wong Kar-wai, 1994),The Third Man [Blu-ray] (Carol Reed, 1949), Bottle Rocket [Blu-ray] (Wes Anderson, 1996)  and The Man Who Fell to Earth [Blu-ray] (Nicolas Roeg, 1976)

JANUARY 6th: The Last Emperor [Blu-ray] (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1987)

Amazon and Sony are offering incredible values on high definition products such as Blu-ray players and movies, as well as PlayStation 3 consoles, games, and accessories. HERE


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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!):

Bangkok Dangerous [Blu-ray] (Danny Pang, 2008) Lions Gate

PTU [Blu-ray] (Johnny To, 2003) Mei Ah

King Kong [Blu-ray] (Peter Jackson, 2005) Universal

The Paradine Case (Alfred Hitchcock, 1947) MGM

Friday Night Lights [Blu-ray] (Peter Berg + Josh Pate, 2004) Universal Studios

Infernal Affairs I II III (3pc) [Blu-ray] - Mega Star

The Outrage (Martin Ritt, 1964) Warner

Tropic Thunder (Unrated Director's Cut)(Ben Stiller, 2008) Dreamworks Video

Tropic Thunder [Blu-ray] (Unrated Director's Cut)(Ben Stiller, 2008) Dreamworks Video

Silence of The Sea (Vahid Mousaian, 2004) Pathfinder

The Quare Fellow (Arthur Dreifuss, 1962) VM Inc.

Ghost in the Shell, Vol. 2: Innocence [Blu-ray] (Mamoru Oshii, 2004) Bandai

Iowa (Matt Farnsworth, 2005) Koch Vision

The Sea Inside (Alejandro Amenábar, 2004) New Line Home Video

Diary (Oxide Pang Chun, 2006) Image Entertainment

Days and Clouds (Silvio Soldini, 2007) Film Movement

The Masterworks Of Rokuro Mochizuki – Artsmagic

Becoming Charley Chase (4-disc) – Facets

The Family Way (Roy Boulting, 1966) Wham! USA

What Just Happened? (Barry Levinson, 2008) Magnolia

What Just Happened? [Blu-ray]  (Barry Levinson, 2008) Magnolia

S.P.L. [Blu-ray] (Wilson Yip, 2005) Deltamac

Hulk Vs. [Blu-ray] – LionsGate

Erendira Ikikunari (Juan Mora Catlett, 2006) Facets

Humboldt County (Darren Grodsky, 2008) Magnolia

My Name Is Bruce [Blu-ray] (Bruce Campbell, 2007) Image Entertainment



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): There were a few items that we were really keen on this week. The Warner Homefront Collection  is a gosh-golly-neat-o nostalgic Americana package with singing, dancing and RARARA!. Yes, worthy of the exhausting hype is WALL•E BR. Restored and now in 1080P, A Fistful of Dollars BR, is a very desirable transfer. Encounters at the End of the World BR looks so impressive and is a super Herzog documentary. Sirk's The Tarnished Angels looks better than ever in the new Carlotta edition - plus some extras in English! Like the film itself the package of Stone's JFK BR is filled to the brim with endless information to sift through.

IF YOU LEAN THAT WAY: Tropic Thunder BR is very amusing and looks exceptional. I'm not adamantly against the 'upgrade' to the old Star Trek Season Three. Unique, cool and very watchable is I'm a Cyborg, But That's Okay BR. Leonard is endorsing Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh. An imperfect transfer but Memento BR has never looked better. An imperfect film, IMO, Awake BR has some merit.

PASS: Sex Machine is really just rubbish with a naked Asian gal (who isn't Sora Aoi), and with the lack of extras and weak interlaced transfer of Holiday Affair, one may wish to think twice about Warner Classic Holiday DVD Collection Vol.  Murnau fans should move on from Kino's version of The Last Laugh. MoC is the way to go...

New Reviews:

Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 BR - Four women of different backgrounds (and shapes, near as I can tell) met in college in the first movie and now they are about to head off into their separate odysseys. A single pair of well worn jeans that all of them can fit into is shipped from one to the other to be worn as good luck and a reminder of their sisterhood, something that being caught up in their various dramas can get in the way of. Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

Encounters at the End of the World BR - Welcome to Antarctica – like you’ve never experienced it. You’ve seen the extraordinary marine life, the retreating glaciers and, of course, the penguins, but leave it to award-winning iconoclastic filmmaker Werner Herzog to be the first to explore the South Pole’s most fascinating inhabitants … humans. In this one-of-a-kind documentary, Herzog turns his camera on a group of remarkable individuals, “professional dreamers” who work, play and struggle to survive in a harsh landscape of mesmerizing, otherworldly beauty – perhaps the last frontier on earth. Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

Firefly - the Complete Series BR - After Richard Blaine ran guns for the losing side against the Nazi's in Ethiopia, then fought on the side of the Loyalists in Spain – he spent a=some while in Paris until the Germans marched in. Licking his political and emotional wounds, he opened a saloon in Casablanca where he expected to sit out the rest of the war as a certified cynic. Malcolm Reynolds fought on the losing side in a civil war 500 years from now, and after the Alliance put everything back in order - albeit an insidious, bureaucratic order, with more than a whiff of fascism about it – Mal became a criminal. While Nathan Fillion is no Bogart, and Joss Whedon, as much as I admire him, is not the Epsteins, the resemblance, even if unconscious, is both a plus and a liability. We tend to root for the underdog, and when the hero is a little vague about his own moral convictions – that makes him all the more interesting. Blu-ray Release date: November 11th, 2008

Sex Machine - This comedic Pink film (Japanese softcore) is filled with wild, athletic sex and absurd slapstick. It tells the story of a freeloading slacker who moves in with his very limber, single-mom girlfriend only to have duel it out with her jealous ex in a fierce bout of cricket wrestling. DVD Release Date: November 18th, 2008

Star Trek 'original' Season Three - When Star Trek debuted on NBC in 1966, it was not an immediate hit; ratings were low and advertising revenue was lackluster. Even prior to the end of the first season of Star Trek, there were already calls in the network for the cancellation of the series due to its low Nielsen ratings. Bay area Creature Feature host John Stanley in his memoir I Was a TV Horror Host relates how Desilu head Lucille Ball at that time "single-handedly kept Star Trek from being dumped from the NBC-TV lineup." DVD Release Date: November 18th, 2008

Warner Homefront Collection - Headlining the collection is the first-ever WHV release of one of the biggest box-office hits of the era, Irving Berlin’s This is the Army, starring Ronald Reagan, George Murphy and Mr. Berlin himself, presented in its original roadshow format for the first time since its opening engagements. The collection also contains the long-awaited DVD debuts of two irresistible musical cavalcades featuring the biggest WB stars trying their hands at musical entertainment in Thank Your Lucky Stars and Hollywood Canteen. DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2008

I'm a Cyborg, But That's Okay BR - With his masterful, multi-award-winning vengeance trilogy, Park Chan Wook won accolades at home and abroad, and became the object of cult for many film fans, from the grindhouse aficionado to the arthouse purist. Following the anger and violence of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance, and Old Boy, however, Park was ready for something new - a romantic comedy, albeit one like no other. For his whimsically titled I'm a Cyborg, But That's OK, the director enlisted versatile actress Lim Soo Jung (Lump Sugar, Tale of Two Sisters) and film newcomer Jung Ji Hoon, better known to fans across Asia as Rain, as his mentally ill romantic leads. A cyborg romantic comedy starring Rain? If anyone can pull it off, it's Park Chan Wook!

MirrorMask BR - The White Queen sleeps and will not wake. Black shadows have fallen across her kingdom. The balance between Dark and Light is broken and only the MIRRORMASK can restore it. So Helena, a stranger in a strange land, embarks on an epic quest to find the missing charm before darkness envelops the Dreamworld forever. Written by award-winning fantasy writer Neil Gaiman, MirrorMask is a phantasmagorical treat for the eyes and mind, a wondrous blend of live action and CG animation, where strange, magical creatures dwell in a fantasy world of unbridled imagination and scope, as told through the spectacular, cutting-edge visuals of designer/director Dave McKean... Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

A Fistful of Dollars BR - Clint Eastwood's legendary "Man With No Name" makes his powerful debut in this thrilling, action-packed "new breed of western" (Motion Picture Herald) from the acclaimed director of The Good, the Bad and the Ugly and For a Few Dollars More. Exploding with blistering shootouts, dynamic performances and atmospheric cinematography, it's an undisputed classic of the genre. A mysterious gunman (Eastwood) has just arrived in San Miguel, a grim, dusty border town where two rival bands of smugglers are terrorizing the impoverished citizens. A master of the "quick-draw,"the stranger soon receives offers of employment from each gang. But his loyalty cannot be bought; he accepts both jobs...and sets in motion a plan to destroy both groups of criminals, pitting one against the other in a series of brilliantly orchestrated setups, showdowns and deadly confrontations... Blu-ray Release date: October 7th, 2008

JFK BR - Well, do you know anyone who believes Lee Harvey Oswald acted all by himself in killing Kennedy? I don't. I've been reading the books and articles for the last 25 years, and I've not found a single convincing defense of the Warren Commission report, which arrived at that reassuring conclusion. It's impossible to believe the Warren report because the physical evidence makes its key conclusion impossible: One man with one rifle could not physically have caused what happened on Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas. If one man could not have, then there must have been two. Therefore, there was a conspiracy... Blu-ray Release date: November 11th, 2008

Tropic Thunder BR - Pampered action superstar Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller) is cast in the biggest, most expensive war movie ever produced. He sets out to Southeast Asia with a "Who's Who" of celebrity co- stars. They include Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), an intense, three-time Oscar-winning actor; Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), star of the popular gross-out comedy franchise "The Fatties"; multi-platinum hip-hop-star-turned-entrepreneur-turned-actor Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson); and first-timer Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel). Soon after the production begins the actors are thrown into a real-life situation and are forced to become the fighting unit they're portraying, in order to find a way out of the jungle in one piece. Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

WALL•E BR - I think you'll agree that Pixar is not only the leading American animation studio in purely technical terms, but ­ and this goes some way to explain that assertion ­ it assumes the most mature audience. By "mature" I do not necessary mean "adult." I mean " grown-up" - you know: when a person of just about any age whose head is not stuck in the toilet nor requires that challenges be met across a line drawn in the sand. It also means that character ­ in both senses of the word ­ is as important as the story. This is why Dumbo and Pinocchio are the classics they are, and it is why Wall-E may someday join them. Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

Warner Classic Holiday DVD Collection Vol. 2 - Four more yuletide classics from Warner Brothers. In Blossoms in the Dust (Mervyn LeRoy, 1941, 99 mins.), an Oscar-nominated tear jerker, Greer Garson founds an orphanage with her boundless love after losing her husband and child. It Happened on 5th Avenue (Roy Del Ruth, 1947, 116 mins.), stars Victor Moore as a tramp who takes refuge from the cold New York streets in a Fifth Avenue mansion while the family is away. Feeling benevolent, he opens the doors to a hard-up vet (Don DeFore) and a runaway (Gale Storm). Good old screwball fun ensues. Next up, Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh star in Holiday Affair (Don Hartman, 1949, 86 mins.), a sentimental romance about a war widow with a young son who finds herself torn between the affections of two men. Lastly, Rex Thompson and Patty McCormack appear in All Mine to Give (Allen Reisner, 1957, 103 mins.), a quiet family film about an orphaned boy who must overcome his family's tragedy in order to find homes for his siblings during the cold Wisconsin winter. DVD Release Date: November 11th, 2008

The Tarnished Angels - Douglas Sirk took a vacation from Ross Hunter and Technicolor for this 1958 production, though he retained Rock Hudson, who turns in an astonishingly good performance as a journalist who finds himself fascinated by the sordid lives of a trio of professional stunt fliers (Robert Stack, Dorothy Malone, and Jack Carson). Based on a minor novel by William Faulkner (Pylon), the film betters the book in every way, from the quality of characterization to the development of the dark, searing imagery. Made in black-and-white CinemaScope, the film doesn't survive on television; it should be seen in a theater or not at all. Carlotta DVD Release Date: November 2nd, 2008

Memento BR - Point blank in the head a man shoots another. In flashbacks, each one earlier in time than what we've just seen, the two men's past unfolds. Leonard, as a result of a blow to the head during an assault on his wife, has no short-term memory. He's looking for his wife's killer, compensating for his disability by taking Polaroids, annotating them, and tattooing important facts on his body. We meet the loquacious Teddy and the seductive Natalie (a barmaid who promises to help), and we glimpse Leonard's wife through memories from before the assault. Leonard also talks about Sammy Jankis, a man he knew with a similar condition. Has Leonard found the killer? What's going on?...

The Last Laugh - A landmark work in the history of the cinema, Der letzte Mann represents a breakthrough on a number of fronts. Firstly, it introduced a method of purely visual storytelling in which all intertitles and dialogue were jettisoned, setting the stage for a seamless interaction between film-world and viewer. Secondly, it put to use a panoply of technical innovations that continue to point distinct ways forward for cinematic expression nearly a century later. It guides the silent cinema’s melodramatic brio to its lowest abject abyss — before disposing of the tragic arc altogether. The lesson in all this? That a film can be anything it wants to be… but only Der letzte Mann (and a few unforgettable others) were lucky enough to issue forth into the world under the brilliant command of master director F. W. Murnau. Kino DVD package release Date: September 30th, 2008

Awake BR - Do not believe anything you hear about “Awake,” do not talk to anyone about it, and above all do not even glance at the poster or ads, which criminally reveal a crucial plot twist. This movie, which was withheld from critics, and has scored a pitiful 13 percent on the Tomatometer from those few who were able to see it, is a surprisingly effective thriller. I went to a regular theater to see it Friday afternoon, knowing nothing about it except that the buzz was lethal, and sat there completely absorbed... Blu-ray Release date: November 18, 2008

Dr. Syn: The Scarecrow of Romney Marsh - It must have been that 15 year period when I swore off TV that I missed this adventure originally produced by Disney in the UK for his Wonderful World of Color television show on NBC (having moved there from ABC for just that reason). In fact, Dr. Syn, in both this TV movie and the feature film cut that came out several years later, slipped under my radar altogether. The cool thing is that in this new DVD edition, we are able to see the TV version (some 53 minutes longer – and not a lame moment among them) in 1.66:1 as it was originally shot and a 5.1 mix created for this DVD. Both cuts of the movie are included on this 2-disc set, and one that I can recommend without reservation. DVD Release date: November 11, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of November 17th, 2008

Abraham Lincoln (1931) / The Struggle (1931) (D.W. Griffith) Kino

The Avenging Conscience (D.W. Griffith, 1914) Kino

Awake [Blu-ray] (Joby Harold, 2007) Weinstein Company

The Bird People of China [Blu-ray] (Takashi Miike, 1998) Arts Magic
Chungking Express (Wong Kar-wai, 1994) Criterion

David Lynch The Lime Green Set (Eraserhead remastered, The Short Films of David Lynch, Blue Velvet (remixed 5.1), Wild at Heart, The Elephant Man, Dumbland, Industrial Symphony No. 1: The Dream of the Broken Hearted, Mystery Disc) - Synapse Films

Derek Jarman Collection (Sebastiane / The Tempest / War Requiem / Derek) Kino

Encounters at the End of the World [Blu-ray] (Werner Herzog, 2007) Image Entertainment

The Fan (Otto Preminger, 1949) R2 UK BFI

Fanfan la Tulipe (Christian-Jaque, 1952) Criterion

Forgotten Noir & Crime Vol 4: Counterspy Meets Scotland Yard; Radar Secret Service; Motor Patrol, Mr. District Attorney (1941); Western Pacific Agent; Highway 13, Treasure of Monte Cristo: Roaring City: Sky Liner - VCI

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Mamoru Hosoda, 2006) Bandai

Griffith Masterworks 2 ( Abraham Lincoln (1931) / The Struggle (1931), Way Down East, Sally Of The Sawdust, The Avenging Conscience and D.W. Griffith: Father Of Film) Kino

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

Lucky Number Slevin [Blu-ray] (Paul McGuigan, 2006) Weinstein Company

Mirrormask [Blu-ray] (Dave McKean, 2005) Sony

The Complete Monty Pythons Flying Circus - Collectors Edition Megaset - A&E Home Video

Paris, je t'aime [Blu-ray] (Olivier Assayas, 2006) First Look Pictures

Partner (Bernardo Bertolucci , 1968) R2 UK BFI

Priceless [Blu-ray] (Pierre Salvadori, 2006) First Look Pictures

Pride & Prejudice [Blu-ray] (1995 Mini-Series) A&E Home Video

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

Sally Of The Sawdust (D.W. Griffith, 1925) Kino

Star Trek: The Original Series Season Three Remastered - Paramount

The Stendhal Syndrome [Blu-ray] (Dario Argento, 1996) Blue Underground

Tropic Thunder (Unrated Director's Cut) (Ben Stiller, 2008) Dreamworks Video

Tropic Thunder [Blu-ray] (Unrated Director's Cut) (Ben Stiller, 2008) Dreamworks Video

Up the Yangtze (Yung Chang, 2007) Zeitgeist

Wall-E (2pc) [Blu-ray] (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Disney
Wall-E (3pc) [
Blu-ray] (Andrew Stanton, 2008) Disney

Way Down East (D.W. Griffith, 1920) Kino


Week of November 24th, 2008

L'Argent (Marcel L'Herbier, 1928) R2 UK Masters of Cinema

Becket [Blu-ray] (Peter Glenville, 1964) Mpi Home Video
Bottle Rocket (Wes Anderson, 1996) Criterion

Diebuster [Blu-ray] (Kazuya Tsurumaki, 2004) Bandai

Hancock (Unrated) [Blu-ray] (Peter Berg, 2008) Sony Pictures

Jarhead [Blu-ray] (Sam Mendes, 2005) Universal

Just Sex and Nothing Else (Krisztina Goda, 2006) Bunyik

The Kingdom [Blu-ray] (Peter Berg, 2007) Universal

Lady with the Dog (Iosif Kheifits, 1960) Facets

Live at Monterey [Blu-ray] Experience Hendrix

Mahabharata (B.R. Chopra, Ravi Chopra, 1988) Image Entertainment

The Mark of Cain (Marc Munden, 2007) Revolver Entertainment

Moses und Aron (Danièle Huillet + Jean-Marie Straub, 1975) New Yorker

Pink Panther Ultimate Collection (18pc) MGM

Silence of The Sea (Vahid Mousaian, 2004) Pathfinder

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (Martin Ritt, 1965) Criterion

Straw Dogs [Blu-ray] (Sam Peckinpah,1971) RB UK Fremantle Home Entertainment

Summer Hours (Olivier Assayas, 2008) R2 UK Artificial Eye

"Only a life lived for others is a life worthwhile." Albert Einstein
Best to YOU this week!