DVDBeaver Newsletter for February 15th, 2006


Hello! Goodness gracious but this is exciting times for film/DVD fans - the increase in great films recently released or coming soon, as compared to previous years, is... astounding! This week we review - well, lets just name some of the directors - Zhang (2), Lumet (2), Fassbinder, René Clair, Wenders, Mamoulian, Watkins, - 3 films with Dietrich, 3 1950's sci-fi endurables, 3 mid 70's controversial classics - it just goes on and on - wonderful days indeed!


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


Zhang Yimou NEWS: Beware: Reports proven!: Razor Digital's editions of "Raise the Red Lantern" and "Ju Dou" (SEE HERE) have atrocious video. They look worse than our screen shots of the ERA and Pioneer discs. Steer clear - these guys are bad news!

Our review of Zhang's newest film, Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles is now posted HERE!.


The upcoming The Passenger DVD will include the European (longer) version - running approx. 126 min - and feature a commentary track by Aurora Irvine and producer Mark Peploe.


RECOMMENDATIONS... I high on many items in this newsletter - I am totally impressed with the BFI Godzilla package - even if you have no interest in the big lizard it is completely enriching. The Warner Controversial Classics, Vol. 2 - The Power of Media Boxset with All the President's Men, Dog Day Afternoon, and Network are such a vast improvement over the original releases that it demands attention - almost as much as the films do. One of the more inventive and unforgettable sci-fi classic, penned by the legendary Richard Matheson is The Incredible Shrinking Man sand I think it deserves a few viewings. Even Dietrich without Sternberg can cast the most luminescent glow over her every scene that these un-manipulated film-like gems are ripe for buying - The Song of Songs, Golden Earrings, and The Flame of New Orleans. The DVD is a bit questionable but the price is right for a Zhang Yimou charming melodrama - Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles is a damn fine film. For those who mlove art (and I'll wager that is all of you) - Edvard Munch is steeped in unique beauty and realism - we strongly recommend.         


Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:

Godzilla - Considering its reputation and the variable character of the franchise it spawned, the original Godzilla is a pretty sobering film. Many will be familiar with Godzilla from the later stuntmen in rubber suits fisticuffs, or the ridiculous Hanna-Barbara cartoon series from 1978. Even if they have seen the first film, originally released in 1954, it's likely to have been the American version, which consisted of the Japanese film trimmed substantially and altered by the inclusion of new scenes featuring Raymond Burr as an American reporter. In the original Japanese cut, the theme of atomic weapons testing and the dangers of weapons of mass destruction is more explicit. DVD Release Date: February 13th, 2006

Until the End of the World - In "Until the End of the World," German director Wim Wenders concocts his own uniquely personal brand of poetic science fiction. Set in 1999, as the world teeters on the brink of the millennium, with a rogue nuclear satellite circling threateningly above, this tantalizing, masterly film presents us with a vision not of tomorrow, but of the day after tomorrow, a vision that seems at once oddly familiar and at the same time just beyond the reach of our outstretched fingers. It's the first movie in which we can actually feel the future pressing in on us. It has the shock of the new.

All the President's Men - In the Watergate Building, lights go on and four burglars are caught in the act. That night triggered revelations that drive a U.S. President from office. Washington reporters Bob Woodward (Robert Redford) and Carl Bernstein (Dustin Hoffman) grabbed the story and stayed with it through doubts, denials and discouragement. All the President's Men is their story. The new Special Edition is a must-own. DVD Release Date: February 21st, 2006

The Incredible Shrinking Man - Director Arnold came to science fiction from a background of documentary-making (he later moved again, to comedies), and his sparse direction allows the tension to build naturally so that the terror and poignancy of the story work their way into the audience's brain without being forced. A total classic. DVD Release Date: February 6th, 2006

The Second Civil War - What happens when Governor Farley of Idaho (Beau Bridges) decides to close his state’s borders rather than allow a planeload of immigrant orphans to make it their home? The answer is hilarious, frightening, scandalous – and may well be the start of The Second Civil War

Ju Dou - This early Zhang Yimou film quite expectantly has his color-infused emotional links, his political interpretations, it is steeped in melodrama along with other prime examples of his cinematic signature. Truly Ju Dou is a masterpiece and for those discovering Zhang as an auteur, this viewing is the first piece of the larger puzzle - and it is easily identifiable once you are indoctrinated with his film style. To varying degrees I love this and all his films. DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2006

The Song of Songs - Dietrich abandons mentor Von Sternberg in favour of Mamoulian's drama, starring as a German peasant girl turned life model who strikes up a romance with the sculptor for whom she poses, only to abandon him for a wealthy baron by way of improving her social standing. Dietrich does a good job as the naive girl trying to better herself, but her performance far outweighs the other elements of the film.

Lost Embrace - Set in Buenos Aires’ vibrant Jewish community, Lost Embrace conjures up an irresistible ensemble of engaging and quirky characters that pursue their dreams with humor, passion and an infectious generosity of spirit. Ariel is a recent college dropout with hopes of escaping a career at his mother’s lingerie store in a multi-cultural shopping mall. DVD Release Date: February 14th, 2006

The Flesh Eaters - The Flesh Eaters is exactly why people subject themselves to bad sci-fi films. Every once and a while you come across a gem that elicits such sheer enjoyment, you are willing to forgive the previous five or six duds you sat through. This is a camp film of the highest order. Featuring some of the sharpest Z-grade dialogue this side of Ed Wood Jr. and an utterly absurd “suspense sequence” about traversing a two-foot span of rocks that simply has to be seen to be believed, this is the epitome of a bad drive-in picture.

Satan's Brew - Fassbinder and Artaud seem like a match made in heaven (or is it hell?), and this absurdist comedy, which has Fassbinder paying homage to Antonin Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty, turns out to be a vital part of the Fassbinder canon. The story goes something like this: A blocked writer (who may or may not be a gay poet as well) lives in an apartment building of misfits, and struggles to make ends meet as he tries to find inspiration.

Riding Alone For Thousands of Miles - Zhang Yimou has gone back to his simplistic realism narratives departing from the fantasy swordplay and martial arts of the popular Hero and House of Flying Daggers films. His bold melodramatic ploys, reminiscent of classic Hollywood's golden age, fearlessly and gratuitously utilize music (in this case - traditional Chinese music) at pivotal moments in the storyline. His cinema layers itself in a kind of subtle sophistication whilst simultaneously bumping head-on into Chinese culture roots.

Edvard Munch - Following a rough chronology from 1884 to 1894, when Norwegian artist Edvard Munch began expressionism and established himself as northern Europe's most maligned and controversial artist, the film also flashes back to the death from consumption of his mother, when he was five, his sister's death, and his near death at 13 from pulmonary disease. The film finds enduring significance in Munch's brief affair with "Mrs. Heiberg" and his participation in the society of anarchist Hans Jaeger in Christiania and later in Berlin with Strindberg. Through it all comes Munch's melancholy and his desire to render on canvas, cardboard, paper, stone, and wood his innermost feelings. DVD Release Date: February 21st, 2006

The Flame of New Orleans - Dietrich without mystery, in a 1941 vehicle typical of her Universal period. After Sternberg, her scripts got heavier and her costumes skimpier, and Dietrich turned from a teasingly complex femme fatale into a leggy pinup girl with a penchant for sailors. Here it's a steamboat captain (Bruce Cabot) whose he-manliness distracts Dietrich from her gold-digging efforts with fey Roland Young. Exiled Frenchman Rene Clair directed, although the continental charm the producers must have hoped for didn't materialize.

Golden Earrings - Dietrich's sexuality seems un-restrainable even in a miscast role and covered with dark grease-makeup and rags. This pre-war vignette focuses on a British officer (Ray Milland) making his escape from a German prison with the aid of an uncultured gypsy (Marlene Dietrich). The pair have a strong onscreen chemistry (despite volatility off). It clicks on many fronts but misfires on a couple too. Still for classic cinema aficionados and Dietrich fans its a must-see.

Kitty Foyle - Known for light comedies and her partnership with Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers stepped off the dance floor and into 1940's Oscar spotlight with her Best Actress turn as Kitty, an indomitable working-class girl who endures the rejection of Philadelphia society, makes her own way as a single woman and ultimately chooses between an unmarried arrangement with Main Line scion Wynnewood Strafford VI (Dennis Morgan) or marriage to a struggling physician (James Craig). Rogers' deserved Academy Award confirmed she was more than a dance star - a fact humorously underscored when she returned to the studio and was greeted by staffers and actors in top hats and tails.

Dog Day Afternoon - Sidney Lumet’s talent for making films set in one location, lacking a musical score and heavily reliant on brilliant script writing and incredible acting, is once again on show here. Al Pacino was in his prime playing Sonny, the “brains” behind the botched operation. Sonny holds up a bank with his friend Sal in order to steal money for his gay lover’s sex change operation. Needless to say, the robbery does not go to plan and ends up in a hostage situation surrounded by a myriad of policemen which subsequently turns into a media frenzy. Homosexuality, anti-establishment sentiment, the media phenomenon, Stockholm syndrome (as Sonny’s hostages grow to sympathize with their captor) are all dealt with and brought together by Lumet’s steady directorial hand. DVD Release Date: February 28th, 2006

Network - Howard Beale (Finch) is the embittered broadcaster whose life and ratings are in freefall. When his contract is terminated he announces he'll kill himself on air two weeks hence. Ratings soar and ruthless exec Diane Christiansen (Dunaway) is keen to exploit Beale's sudden popularity, but not even suicidal news readers can bolster viewing figures for ever. DVD Release Date: February 28th, 2006

Significant Upcoming releases - keep your eye on our Calendar for more !:


Tickets (Abbas Kiarostami/Ken Loach/Ermanno Olmi, 2005) Artificial Eye [R2-UK]

Tennessee Williams Film Collection (A Streetcar Named Desire 1951 Two-Disc Special Edition / Cat on a Hot Tin Roof 1958 Deluxe Edition / Sweet Bird of Youth / The Night of the Iguana / Baby Doll / The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone) (1958) Warner Home Video

Shakha Proshakha (Satyajit Ray, 1990) Seven 7 R2 France

The World (Zhang Ke Jia, 2004) Zeitgeist Films

The Lost Highway (David Lynch, 1996) Cinema Club [R2-UK]

The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) Arrow [R2-UK]

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) Criterion

Three...Extremes (Fruit Chan/Takashi Miike/Park Chan-wook, 2004) Lions Gate

Lovers of the Arctic Circle (Julio Medem, 1998) Home Vision

Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964) [R2-UK]

La Double vie de Véronique (Kieslowski, 1991) mk2 [R2-France]

Mahapurush (The Saint) (Satyajit Ray, 1965) [R2-UK]

Fantômas contre Fantômas (Louis Feuillade , 1914) AE UK R2

Miracle In Milan (Vittorio De Sica, 1951) Arrow Film UK R2

Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) Magnolia

The Prisoner of Shark Island (John Ford, 1936) Eureka MoC

No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz1950)

Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger -1945)

Goto, Island Of Love (Walerian Borowczyk , 1968) Cult Epics

Toni (Jean Renoir, 1934) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]

Next 2 weeks:


All the President's Men (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Alan J. Pakula, 1976) Warner Home Video

Anne of the Thousand Days (Charles Jarrott, 1969) Universal Pictures France PAL

Battle in Heaven (Carlos Reygadas, 2005) Tartan R2 UK

The Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica, 1948) Arrow [R2-UK]

Daddy Long Legs (Jean Negulesco, 1955) 20th Century Fox

Death in Gaza (James Miller, 2003) HBO
Death in Gaza (James Miller, 2003) Warner [R2-UK]

La Double vie de Véronique (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1991) mk2 [R2-France]

Edvard Munch (Peter Watkins , 1974) New Yorker

Familia rodante (Pablo Trapero - 2004) Artificial Eye R2 UK

Fantômas contre Fantômas (Louis Feuillade , 1914) Artificial Eye UK R2

The Heiress (William Wyler, 1949) Universal Pictures Video R2 UK

Midnight Cowboy (Two Disc Collector's Edition) (John Schlesinger, 1969) MGM

Miracle In Milan (Vittorio De Sica, 1951) Arrow Film Distributors UK R2

Mixed Blood (Paul Morrissey, 1985) Image Entertainment

The Orson Welles Collection (The Stranger/ King Lear/ David and Goliath/ The Trial) Passport Int'l

Pin Up Girl (H. Bruce Humberstone , 1944) 20th Century Fox

Pulse (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001) Magnolia

The Prisoner of Shark Island (John Ford, 1936) Eureka MoC

Twenty-four Eyes (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1954) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]

Angel Hearts (Yin-Ping Chu, 1995) Tai Seng

Beverly Hillbillies: Ultimate Collection, Vol. 2 Mpi Home Video

Buster Keaton: A Hard Act to Follow (1987, Brownlow) R2-UK, Network

The Buster Keaton Collection (6-disc)  R2-UK, Network

Controversial Classics, Vol. 2 - The Power of Media (All the President's Men / Network / Dog Day Afternoon) (Two-Disc Special Edition) - Warner Home Video

Dog Day Afternoon (Two-Disc Special Edition) (Sidney Lumet, 1975) Warne

'Free Cinema' DVD set contains:O Dreamland (1956 - Lindsay Anderson), Momma Don't Allow (1955 - Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz), Together (1956 - Lorenza Mazzetti and Denis Horne), Wakefield Express (1952 - Lindsay Anderson), Nice Time (1957 - Alain Tanner and Claude Goretta), The Singing Street (1957 - Norton Park Film Unit), Everyday Except Christmas (1957 - Lindsay Anderson), Refuge England (1959 - Robert Vas), Enginemen (1959 - Michael Grigsby), We Are The Lambeth Boys (1959 - Karel Reisz), Food For A Bush (1959 - Elizabeth Russell), One Potato, Two Potato (1957 - Leslie Daiken), The Vanishing Street (1962 - Robert Vas), Tomorrow's Saturday (1962 - Michael Grigsby), and Gala Day (1963 - John Irvin) BFI R2 (UK)

Goto, Island Of Love (Walerian Borowczyk , 1968) Cult Epics

The Horseman On The Roof (Jean-Paul Rappeneau, 1995) Second Sight R2 UK

Lady and the Tramp (Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson Rating, 50th Anniversary Edition) (1955) Walt Disney Video

Kind Hearts and Coronets (Robert Hamer, 1949) Criterion
Master of the House (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1925) bfi [R2-UK]
Ordet (Carl Theodor Dreyer, 1954) bfi [R2-UK]

Rendez-Vous (André Téchiné, 1985) Second Sight R2 UK

A Royal Scandal (Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger 1945) Gaumont - CTHV - France PAL

Three...Extremes (Fruit Chan/Takashi Miike/Park Chan-wook, 2004) Lions Gate
Werckmeiser Harmonies (Béla Tarr, 2000) Facets


Happy belated Valentines Day - hope you didn't forget your sweety!,



P.S. I'm still picking up many deals with this sale...

Amazon.UK - £ 7.97 or less - Some of the notables include:

Etre Et Avoir [2002], Delicatessen [1991], Sympathy For Mr Vengeance [2002], Mirror [1974], Abigail's Party [1977], The Last Metro [1980], Three Colours Blue [1993], Three Colours White [1993], Three Colours Red [1994], Persona [1966], Lovers Of The Arctic Circle [2000], The Gospel According To St. Matthew [1964], Ivan's Childhood [1962], Jamon Jamon [1992], The Magician [1958], Code Unknown [2001], A Short Film About Killing [1988], To Joy [1949], Crisis [1946], Beau Travail [1999], Summer Interlude [1950], The Terrorist [1998], The Wicker Man [1973]  and many more!