DVDBeaver Newsletter - December 1st, 2008

Okonia! - 15 new reviews this week - Criterions, Masters of Cinema, Michael Haneke, Samuel Fuller, Lars von Trier, 2 radically different films from Olivier Assayas, a silent masterpiece, a 50's sci-fi classic...plus some calendar updates, sales, announcements and much more...

IN THE NEXT 7 DAYS? : Stay tuned for comparisons with Casablanca Blu-ray, The Day the Earth Stood Still Blu-ray, Planet Terror Blu-ray,... and we'll do our best to complete our review of Murnau, Borzage, & Fox Boxset !!! (yes, that's 3 exclamation points)

DECEMBER 1st CONTEST - identify this CLIP to win a brand new Criterion White Dog Best of luck all!


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


BIG THANKS!: DVDBeaver would not exist without the support of many patrons - those who generously donate, and especially those who use our Amazon, CD Japan 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.

STRATEGIES: The best way to take full advantage of Amazon is to use PRE-ORDERs - lock in at the discount price by ORDERING - if perchance you decide against the purchase you have until the release date to cancel - at no charge.

AND  if you will purchase more than 35 DVDs (or anything) in a 365 day period (and live in the Continental US) it makes excellent financial sense to subscribe to Amazon Prime! You will get Free 2-day shipping on your purchases!


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

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

The Bourne Trilogy [Blu-ray] (The Bourne Identity | The Bourne Supremacy | The Bourne Ultimatum) - Universal Studios

Flash of Genius (Marc Abraham, 2008) Universal Studios

Eagle Eye (D.J. Caruso, 2008) Dreamworks Video

Eagle Eye [Blu-ray] (D.J. Caruso, 2008) Dreamworks Video

The Pelican Brief [Blu-ray] (Alan J. Pakula, 1993) Warner

A Time to Kill [Blu-ray] (Joel Schumacher, 1996) Warner

Miracle at St. Anna (Spike Lee, 2008) Touchstone / Disney

The Express (Gary Fleder, 2008) Universal Studios

The Express [Blu-ray] (Gary Fleder, 2008) Universal Studios

Miracle at St. Anna [Blu-ray] (Spike Lee, 2008) Touchstone / Disney

The Alec Guinness Collection - Lions Gate Home Ent.

Appaloosa (Ed Harris, 2008) Warner Home Video

Appaloosa [Blu-ray] (Ed Harris, 2008) Warner Home Video

Supercop (Stanley Tong, 1992) Dragon Dynasty

Holly (Guy Moshe, 2006) WEA

Argento Dario-Four Flies on Grey Velvet (Dario Argento, 1971) Wea-Des Moines Video

Nuns of St. Archangel (Domenico Paolella, 1973) Media Blasters

Igor (Anthony Leondis, 2008) MGM

Igor [Blu-ray] (Anthony Leondis, 2008) MGM

Baghead (Duplass bros., 2008) Sony Pictures

Towelhead (Alan Ball, 2007) Warner Home Video

The Lucky Ones (Neil Burger, 2008) Lions Gate

Blindness (Fernando Meirelles, 2008) Miramax

La Strada (Federico Fellini, 1954) Criterion

Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952) Criterion

The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger, 1943) Criterion

Martial Club (Lau Kar-leung, 1981) Tokyo Shock

Requiem for a Vampire (Jean Rollin, 1971) Wea



ONE VOICE (not Ellsworth Monkton Toohey): Some very worthy discs this week - I'd wanted to re-watch Fuller's White Dog and Criterion came through. It's probably my pick for the week. While across the pond Masters of Cinema really made many cinephiles rejoice with Marcel L'Herbier's silent gem L'Argent.  I'll continue to be able to give The Shawshank Redemption BR repeat viewings for the rest of my life. Assayas really impressed me with Summer Hours. Haneke's Hidden BR improves each time I see it. Leonard was high on both Space Chimps BR and Lost Season 4 BR. Europa is one of those important film releases that come along so infrequently - it seems. I think I'm hooked on La Femme Nikita BR. Let's not forget Irma Vep for, at least, the extras.

PATIENCE GRASSHOPPER: Nothing to write home about in the new DVD transfer of The Day the Earth Stood Still. We'll have news on the Blu-ray soon!


New Reviews:

Fearless BR - Jet Li, at 43, was hardly over the hill when he made this movie, but he had slowed down and was no longer quite capable of the dynamic action he was once famous for (vide: Fist of Legend.) But, even though this story is about the man who would go on to found the Jingwu Sports Federation, I didn’t find it all that necessary for the actor to be all that he once was. There is a second act where his character retires to the country after descending to the depths of his misery and vowing to fight no more. I expected him to be not at par when he finally reentered the ring, so his liability became, for me, a credit. Blu-ray Release date: December 9th, 2008


Summer Hours - Assayas’s most fully satisfying film for some while, this is a warm, wise drama about the tensions and mysteries of family life. With a seemingly loose but meticulously assembled narrative in the style of his earlier ensemble piece ‘Late August, Early September’, it chronicles the interactions between the various characters with psychological subtlety and precision, even as it explores the changing roles played by art, property, work and blood-ties in an increasingly globalised world. DVD Release Date: November 24th, 2008

The Contract BR - The only thing standing between an assassin and his target is a father who must protect his son. While on a hiking trip to reconnect with his son after the death of his wife, Ray Keene (John Cusack) stumbles into a nightmare scenario of paid assassins and ex-military guns-for-hire. Frank Cardin (Morgan Freeman) is attempting to fulfill a contract to assassinate a high profile businessman when things go awry and he ends up in the custody of the U.S. Marshalls. Blu-ray Release date: December 2nd, 2008

Lost Season 4 BR - For those who watch the show as aired, no synopsis is necessary; for those who wait for the video, none is warranted; and for those who haven’t yet become addicted, suffice to say that the series is a mind-bending mix of science fiction and “Survivor.” In an effort to say as little as possible, what we do know by the end of Season 3 is that Locke is more convinced than ever that rescue is a bad idea and has knifed the recently arrived Naomi in the back to demonstrate his commitment to that idea. As the first episodes of the new season unfold, Locke manages to divide the survivors into those that agree with him and those that don’t. While Lock’s group retreats into hiding, the latter group, under Jack’s leadership, continues to try to make contact with the offshore freighter as more of Naomi’s group parachute onto the island. Blu-ray Release date: December 9th, 2008

Space Chimps BR - "Space Chimps" is delightful from beginning to end: A goofy space opera that sends three U.S. chimptronauts rocketing to a galaxy, as they say, far, far away. Although it's aimed at a younger market and isn't in the same science-fiction league as "WALL*E," it's successful at what it wants to do: Take us to an alien planet and present us with a large assortment of bug-eyed monsters, not to mention a little charmer nicknamed Kilowatt, who lights up when she gets excited, or afraid, or just about anything else. Blu-ray Release date: November 25, 2008

Meet Dave BR - Eddie Murphy — was that Oscar nominated performance in Dreamgirls just something I imagined? — continues to trash his very real talent with bottomfeeding material. In Meet Dave, Murphy limits himself to two roles (none human). He plays a pint-sized alien from outer space and the spacecraft he rode in on. If you think I'm going to explain that lame premise, think again. But know this: Murphy, teaming again with his Norbit director Brian Robbins, is assuming we'll all line up for lazyass toilet jokes and pay for the privilege. Blu-ray Release date: November 25, 2008

The Day the Earth Stood Still - Robert Wise (The original Haunting, West Side Story, The Sound of Music and Star Trek: The Motion Picture are among his credits) knew how to make a film. Devoid of the multitude of CGI and special effects that seem necessary for today's fans, The Day the Earth Stood Still is quite a landmark in sci-fi films, especially for the 1950's. It bases its interest in suspense and the personality of the 'invading alien' as Michael Rennie's timeless character of Klaatu. Poignant dialogue is reflected in a positive absolute of our civilization and growth as a species as well as purporting our realization of not being alone in vastness of space. A marvelous and intelligent film that deserves its large fan base and place in cinema history. DVD Release Date: December 2nd, 2008

Hidden BR - A master of the icy yet visceral shock, Austrian-born Michael Haneke often turns his formidably unpleasant imagination to the movie equivalent of a cruel prank. But in CACHE ("Hidden"), the subject matter is worthy of his nastiness: What first appears to be a subtly sadistic campaign of terror against one annoyingly smug, bourgeois French intellectual proves rooted in global discontents, national character and personal responsibility. Middle-age TV personality Georges (Daniel Auteuil), host of a literary roundtable program, lives with his wife, Anne (Juliette Binoche), and their 12-year-old (Lester Makedonsky) in a handsome apartment filled with books, art and cultured knickknacks. Cocooned in a world of brittle conversation and middle-class comfort, they're deeply unsettled when a videotape appears outside their front door, one that consists of a lengthy surveillance shot of their building. If it's a joke, neither Anne nor Georges can figure out the punch line. If it's a threat, they're both baffled by its nature and origin. Blu-ray Release Date: October 27th, 2008

L'Argent - Adapted from Émile Zola's novel of the same name, Marcel L'Herbier's L'Argent [Money] is an opulent classic of late-silent era cinema. Filmed in part on location at the Paris stock exchange, it reveals a world of intrigue, greed, decadence, and ultimately corruption and scandal when business dealings and amorous deceit combine. Business tycoons Saccard and Gunderman lock horns when the former attempts to raise capital for his faltering bank. To inflate the price of his stock, Saccard concocts a duplicitous publicity stunt involving the unwitting aviator Hamelin and a flight across the Atlantic to drill for oil, much to the dismay of his wife Line. While Hamelin is away, the lascivious Saccard attempts to seduce Line, whose own temptation by the allure of money puts herself and her husband in danger pawns in a high-stakes chess game played out by unscrupulous speculators. With an all-star cast (Brigitte Helm and Alfred Abel, fresh from Fritz Lang's Metropolis, alongside Pierre Alcover, Yvette Guilbert, and luminary of the French avant-garde Antonin Artaud) and a mammoth budget, L'Argent is comparable in period and scale with other celebrated epics of the silent era, such as Abel Gance's Napoléon. DVD Release Date: November 24th, 2008

Zatoichi BR - While changing just about every element of Zatoichi, the biggest and boldest change was the ending. Normal for jidei-geki is that the peasants will celebrate their freedom at the end. Kitano took this and made it into an almost ten minutes tap dance sequence, where not only the peasants dance, but the cast joins them. The dance itself is a contemporized version of Takatsuki, a classical Kabuki tap form, where the dancers originally wore Japanese wood clogs. Not only of incredible emotional force, this ending is also a wonderful homage to both jidei-geki and Kabuki theatre. A stroke of genius, this shows why Kitano is amongst the greatest living filmmakers. Blu-ray Release Date: October 27th, 2008

Europa - “Europa”, later renamed “Zentropa”, tells the story of a young naïve American, who comes to Germany after the war, to help rebuild the country, but ends up as a conductor in a sleeping wagon, and is slowly drawn into the shame and guilt of the nation. Lars von Trier’s first masterpiece, one of the most visually innovative and beautifully films ever made, the film only received three prices at Cannes, Best Artistic Contribution, Grand Prix du Technique and Grand Prix de Jury, but not the Palme d’Or, which he so desperately wanted, that he, when receiving his award, gave the finger to the jury. DVD Release Date: December 9th, 2008

Irma Vep - Not unlike Feuillade, director Assayas has captured the mystique of Paris and bottled it onscreen. Irma Vep is an enjoyable fictional making-of film which exposes Cheung's magnetic charisma (as if it were possible to restrain). Her allure overtakes the entire screen and as opposed to fighting it, the camera and script seem to succumb to her grace and beauty. This movie is filled with French charm with its sexual indifference, Parisian culture, film-making introspection and her, Maggie Cheung. My personal highlight of the film is when Maggie, alone in her hotel room, gets into character; she dons her latex costume and tip-toes through the hotel corridors, spies a distressed and abandoned lover (played by Atom Egoyan's wife Arsinée Khanjian!), naked in her room and steals some of her jewelry. She then flees to the rooftop and in the rain disposes of her prizes over the edge. Magnificent is all I can say. I do think my admiration and enjoyment of Feuillade's film only exemplified my positive feelings toward Irma Vep. Like conceptual art, this film is unapologetic of its focus and ideals - it has no exclusivity, but either you are open to its charm ... or you are not. "Eccentric" is an apt description... "Supercool" might also fit. DVD Release Date: December 9th, 2008

La Femme Nikita BR - Here is a version of the "Pygmalion" legend for our own violent times - the story of a young woman who is transformed from a killer in the streets to a government assassin. "La Femme Nikita" is a smart, hard-edged, psycho-romantic thriller by the young French director Luc Besson ("Subway"), who follows a condemned woman as she exchanges one doom for another. The woman is played by Anne Parillaud, who projects a feral hostility in the opening scenes, as she joins a crowd of drug-addled friends in holding up a drugstore. Cornered by the police, she takes advantage of a cop's momentary lapse of attention to grab his gun and shoot him point-blank in the face. Blu-ray Release Date: December 2nd, 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: December 2nd, 2008

White Dog - Samuel Fuller’s throat-grabbing exposé on American racism was misunderstood and withheld from release when it was made in the early eighties; today, the notorious film is lauded for its daring metaphor and gripping pulp filmmaking. Kristy McNichol stars as a young actress who adopts a lost German shepherd, only to discover through a series of horrifying incidents that the dog has been trained to attack black people, and Paul Winfield plays the animal trainer who tries to cure him. A snarling, uncompromising vision, White Dog is a tragic portrait of the evil done by that most corruptible of animals: the human being. DVD Release Date: December 2nd, 2008

Fred Claus BR - The burden of having a famous sibling seems fraught with comedic possibilities, but whatever potential existed has been squandered and then some in “Fred Claus,” dumping coal into everyone’s holiday stocking. Although promoted as a comedy, this reunion of “Wedding Crashers” star Vince Vaughn and director David Dobkin alternates between unpleasantness and Hallmark-sweet sappiness. Blu-ray Release date: November 25th, 2008

Next 2 weeks on the Calendar:

Week of December 1st, 2008

Assault on Precinct 13 [Blu-ray] (John Carpenter, 2005) Image Entertainment

Austin Powers Collection: Shagadelic Edition Loaded With Extra Mojo [Blu-ray] - New Line Home Video

Casablanca [Blu-ray] 2-disc - Ultimate Collector's Edition (Michael Curtiz, 1942) Warner

Children of Men [Blu-ray] (Alfonso Cuarón, 2006) 101 Distribution

Complete InuYasha Series (Naoya Aoki, Yasunao Aoki, 2000) - Amazon Exclusive VIZ Video

The Day the Earth Stood Still - Special Edition (Robert Wise, 1951) Fox Home Entertainment

The Day the Earth Stood Still [Blu-ray] - Special Edition (Robert Wise, 1951) Fox Home Entertainment

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

La Femme Nikita [Blu-ray] (Luc Besson, 1990) Sony Pictures

Life Gamble [Blu-ray] (Cheh Chang, 1979) Navarre

Opium and the Kung Fu [Blu-ray] (Chia Tang, 1984) Navarre

Perry Mason - The Third Season - Vol. 2 - Paramount

The Shawshank Redemption [Blu-ray] (Frank Darabont, 1994) Warner

Stranger Than Fiction [Blu-ray] (Marc Forster, 2006) Sony Pictures

Wanted [Blu-ray] (Timur Bekmambetov, 2008) Universal

White Dog (Samuel Fuller, 1982) Criterion

The X-Files - Fight the Future [Blu-ray] (Rob Bowman, 1998) 20th Century Fox

The X-Files Movie 2-Pack (I Want to Believe / Fight the Future) [Blu-ray] 20th Century Fox

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


Week of December 8th, 2008

Ahlaam (Mohamed Al Daradji, 2005) Pathfinder

The Dardenne Brothers Collection R2 UK Artificial Eye

The Dark Knight (single-disc) (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner
The Dark Knight (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner
The Dark Knight [Blu-ray] (Christopher Nolan, 2008) Warner

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

Europa (Lars von Trier, 1991 ) Criterion

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

From Dusk Till Dawn [Blu-ray] (Robert Rodriguez, 1996) 101 Distribution

Get Smart - The Complete Series Gift Set - HBO

Great Directors: Volume 1 (Dersu Uzala / The Mirror / Les Bonnes Femmes / Il Grido / Circle of Deceit) Kino

Horton Hears a Who! (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition) (Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino
2008) Fox Home Video
Horton Hears a Who! [Blu-ray] (Jimmy Hayward, Steve Martino 2008) Fox Home Video

Irma Vep (Essential Edition) (Olivier Assayas, 1996) Zeitgeist

It Happened One Night (Remastered) (Frank Capra, 1934) Sony

The Mask [Blu-ray] (Chuck Russell, 1994) Warner Home Video

Mr. Deeds Goes to Town - Special Edition (Frank Capra, 1936) Sony
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington - Special Edition (Frank Capra, 1939) Sony

Murnau, Borzage, & Fox Boxset (12-disc) - Sunrise (1927), City Girl (1930), Borzage films: Lazybones (1925), Seventh Heaven (1928), Street Angel (1928), Lucky Star (1929), They Had to See Paris (1929), Liliom (1930), Song O' My Heart (1930), Bad Girl (1931), After Tomorrow (1932) and Young America (1932) - Fox Home Entertainment

Man on Wire (James Marsh, 2008) Magnolia

Samurai 7 [Blu-ray] (Toshifumi Takizawa, 2004) Funimation

Three Short Films By Werner Herzog - New Yorker

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

You Can't Take It with You (Frank Capra, 1938) Sony Pictures

"When one of your dreams come true, you begin to look at the others more carefully."
Stay warm!