DVDBeaver Newsletter for January 5th, 2006
Happy 2006 to all - it appears as though things are returning to normalcy after the Holiday festivities. We have picked up our eclectic cinema journey with DVDs from all over the board - an Armenian romantic comedy, a dark Mexican dramatization, 3 rousing black Hollywood efforts, a 30's western who-done-it, a Japanese counter-culture foray and more...
Coming soon - our review of Bergman's Saraband will surface very soon and there will also be more additions to our YesAsia picks. I'll also be reviewing some of those French Dietrich DVD's! Stay tuned!
of the MONTH (JANUARY)
A superbly shot critique of the suffocating conformity, repression and materialism at the heart of middle-class life. It may not be as well known to audiences as Rebel Without A Cause and In A Lonely Place, but Nicholas Ray's BIGGER THAN LIFE allegorical domestic melodrama lays claim to being the maverick American director's finest and most subversive work. Reviewed HERE Buy HERE
Are you aware of Warner's upcoming Films of Faith Collection? including "The Nun's Story", "The Miracle of Our Lady of Fatima" and "The Shoes of the Fisherman" or The Busby Berkeley Collection (Footlight Parade / Gold Diggers of 1933 / Dames / Gold Diggers of 1935 / 42nd Street) or Lubitsch and Preminger's A Royal Scandal (1945) or Vittorio De Sica's Miracle In Milan (1951) or the Burton / Bujold gem Anne of the Thousand Days (1969) ? - Then perhaps you should be looking at our RELEASE CALENDAR!
RECOMMENDATIONS... Another relatively inconsequential week but I'll go with Henrik's recommendations of both Yes and Gus van Sant's Last Days. I am, as always keen on Toy Story 2 which, thanks to my son Kyle, I feel I have memorized. Although Kamikaze Girls may find an audience with some of you, it definitely does not have universal appeal - advice is buy the Hong Kong edition first. Of the three 'black celebration' titles by Fox I lean hardest toward Stormy Weather for the musical numbers but probably Pinky for its historical significance.
April 2006 Criterions are Listed HERE
***Preliminary Reports may indicated that Gaumont's much anticipated 'Godard's Histoire (s) du Cinéma' has been shelved, telling patrons through email "la parution de l'article suivant a ete annulee" (the release of this item has been cancelled). It's no longer for sale on the site HERE, BUT NOTE: We have been now told it is put back to April (not cancelled)!
Most Recent Reviews
Toy Story 2 (SE)
- arguable it may prove to be the most enduring film made in the 90's, Pixar
Animation's masterpiece and at its most basic root, the universal interaction of
children and toys - their imaginative communication and playful reflections and
musings as adults. It is this development of imagination that molds children
into the people that we now are. It can instill compassion and respect and no
film in the history of cinema has expressed that importance better than the Toy
Story films. What makes them so wonderful are the ability to appeal to both
and adults. I easily put Toy Story 2 in my Top 100 DVDs of all time.... and is
the most played DVD in my household.
The Fighting Westerner - An unusual 'who-done-it' western from 1935 with the stalwart Randolph Scott and a fine supporting cast trudging through rather clunky dialogue. But this film does have the simple charm of others made in this era - innocent production values and limited adventure. It was very interesting seeing Ann Sheridan even in such an early minor role. Classic film fans will get a lot out of this, but anyone else will throw in the towel even before the 65 minute running time concludes. This DVD has the most unrelated extra feature ever!
Kamikaze Girls - A frenetic, candy-colored odyssey through the netherworlds of Japanese popular culture, Kamikaze Girls opens with a dazzlingly inventive sequence in which the heroine, a frilly-dressed "Lolita" played by Kyôko Fukada, introduces herself. Through a blistering montage sequence—replete with freeze-frames, fourth-wall asides, sudden splashes of animation, and a decorous flashback to 18th-century France—Fukada reveals the following information: She was conceived the night her father, a failed yakuza wannabe, met her mother, who was projectile-vomiting outside a nightclub; she adores the carefree, decadent rococo style of 18th-century Versailles and dresses accordingly; and she's woefully out of place in a backwater village where the residents all shop for bargain fashions at a Costco-like behemoth department store.
Yes - An extraordinary work of beauty and poetry, “Yes!” is Potters most accomplished and best film to date. One never feels as if the actors are acting, even when speaking in verse. Potters sets her scene with so much tenderness and precision, that everything comes together into great art, both cinematic and literary. More than that, Potter takes full advantages of this being cinema, creating contexts by having the protagonists thoughts be spoken out at the same time as they speak their lines, showing the differences between what one says. This simple devices is used to full effect in the break-up scene, where the thoughts of She for the first time is equal to what she says. Perhaps a naïve romantic, Potter has still created a work of pure poetic bliss. Her mise-en-scene is breathtaking, her words melt in the mouths of her actors, and goes straight to the heart. She allows both her actors and her audience to feel her mind and to think with their hearts.
Stormy Weather - Dancing great Bill 'Williamson' sees his face on the cover of Theatre World magazine and reminisces: just back from World War I, he meets lovely singer Selina Rogers at a soldiers' ball and promises to come back to her when he "gets to be somebody." Years go by, and Bill and Selina's rising careers intersect only briefly, since Selina is unwilling to "settle down." Will she ever change her mind? Concludes with a big all-star show hosted by Cab Calloway. Perhaps more of a hyper-paced lavish musical revue with a love story embedded but still an awesome celebration of black musical talent of the era including Robinson, Horne, Fats Waller, Cab Calloway and Nat King Cole.
Pinky - Racial overtones with romantic aspirations - produced at a time when Hollywood was measured in their discrimination efforts. Eli Kazan took over as director after the first day of shooting when John Ford had to be replaced due to illness. Lena Horne initially campaigned to play the title role (she is light enough to photograph "white"), but in the end, the movie studio felt white American audiences would feel more comfortable with a white actress, especially since love scenes with a white actor were involved. The film held my interest from a historical standpoint and its melodramatic flair never seemed to supersede that. We recommend.
Island in the Sun - Set on a fictitious island in the Caribbean during colonial British rule. It focuses on the life of a young charismatic and handsome black male with political aspirations. He finds himself confused on returning home when his romantic liaison with a white female tends to conflict with his political views. As rumor has it an interracial screen kiss caused quite a commotion in the U.S. when the film was released. The plot is further strengthened by a look at the lives of a white ex-pat family also living on the island. The family has to deal with problems of infidelity, racism and murder.
Who's Got the Black Box? - One of the most outrageous films from Chabrol's first 'commercial' period, before Les Biches renewed critical interest in the wayward New Wave instigator. Released here cut, dubbed and lacking an essential prologue featuring a mad illusionist, lumbered with the title Who's Got the Black Box? in the States, it's a wonderfully maddening mix of clattering allusions (to Greek tragedy and Hitchcock), characteristic black humour, and stunning visual irrelevancies, all poured into the deliberately banal mould of the spy thriller. 'I do not ask you to believe it, but I suggest that you dream about it' runs the film's opening epigraph. 'The silliness was more important than the spying' runs Chabrol's own retrospective line.
Non ti muovere (aka 'Don't Move')- Long haunted by the memory of a passionate love affair that ended in tragedy, Dr Timoteo Rossi is forced to confront his past when Angela, his teenage daughter, goes into a coma after a near fatal accident. This crisis forces him to weigh the value of his daughter's life and his own. This spark leads us into his past affair with Italia, a tender but damaged soul who works as a hotel maid, and on whom Timoteo risks his marriage to Elsa, a beautiful journalist. Seemingly unaware of her husband's affair, Elsa lets Timoteo lead his double life, until that is, she gets pregnant and he has to make a choice -- a decision that will break both his and Italia's hearts. However, Angela, the light of his life, was born from this tragic tale, and it is she who has made his life worth living.
Last Days - A definitive masterpiece of cinema, "Last Days" is a film that demands attention and further study, not only its mise-en-scene, to the possible significance of van Sant’s calling his protagonist Blake (as in William Blake?), but also to it being the last of van Sant’s Death-Trilogy, especially its religions allusions (wandering of into the desert in "Gerry", the slaughter of the innocents in "Elephant", and self sacrifice in "Last Days"), and its existential context and relations to Camus, who said, “Our life must have meaning for us to value it. If we accept that life has no meaning and therefore no value, should we kill ourselves?”
Deep Crimson - Set in 1940s northern Mexico, this film re-tells the story of "The Lonely Hearts Killers", a famous couple of murderers who made victims of lonely and wealthy widows in the USA. Coral (Orozco) is a rotund and passionate nurse who knows handsome gigolo Nicolas Estrella (Gimenez Cacho) and falls for him immediately. Nicolas rejects her because she's not rich, but Coral is determined to get him at any cost. She abandons her children and follows the man in spite of his way of living. Together they will scheme to swindle and murder women who look for love and companions writing letters to a sentimental courier.
Vodka Lemon - In a remote, isolated village in post-Soviet Armenia, Hamo, a widower with a pitiful pension and three worthless sons, travels daily to his wife's grave. There he meets the lovely Nina, who is communing with her late husband. The two are penniless--she works in a local bar that is about to close down, while he has been forced to start selling his meager possessions. All seems hopelessly bleak, yet as Hamo begins to court Nina, their unexpected union revitalizes them.
The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) Criterion Collection
Ballad of Cable Hogue - Warner Home Video
Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli - 1943) Warner Home VideoBallad of Cable Hogue - Warner Home Video
Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2004) Sony
Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone - 1943) - Fox Home Entertainment
The Gunfighter (Henry King , 1950) 20th Century Fox UK PAL
Best to you settling into a prosperous and rewarding 2006 routine,
P.S. The AMAZON UK SALE is still booming! Take advantage while you can...
(CLICK TITLES FOR MORE) including Blind Chance, A Short Film About Killing, No End, Camera Buff, The Scar, Three colors (all), Bresson: L'Argent, Haneke: The Piano Teacher, Haneke: Code Unknown, Kitano: Zatoichi, Kitano: Dolls, Sokurov: Russian Ark, Dardenne: The Son PLUS MANY MORE!