DVDBeaver Newsletter for February 24th, 2006
Hello! Just yesterday I was sitting with a good friend, another DVD/Cinema-ophile, we were reminding each other of how lucky we are - this is absolutely the best time to be a film fan. This newsletter is stacked - 7 comparisons - films on DVD by De Sica (2), Wyler, Zhang Yimou, Kieslowski, Godard, Miyazaki... and so many more.
NOTE: DVDBeaver have communicated our dislike of the 'pictureboxing' experiment (Kind Hearts and Coronets, La Bete Humaine and The Virgin Spring) in phone conversations to Criterion president Peter Becker. I suspect we have made a strong impact.
The upcoming The Passenger DVD has been pushed back to April 24th, but it has a 35% discount for PRE-ORDERS and the cover is now visible HERE. It still includes the European (longer) version - running approx. 126 min - and feature a commentary track by Aurora Irvine and producer Mark Peploe.
Check out what is coming out of France very soon:
RECOMMENDATIONS... I'll just mention some things I liked:
Loved the MK2 DVD of The Double Life of Veronique, and the new Arrow's of The Bicycle Thieves, and Miracle in Milan, MoC's Twenty-Four Eyes, and Claire Dolan but I suspect the MK2 edition HERE is the superior transfer to the NY'er. . The Heiress is a great Wyler film.
I'm disappointed in MGM's shoddy treatment of Midnight Cowboy and likewise Razor's supper sloppy and overpriced Raise The Red Lantern (if you must own then buy the superior ERA edition for 1/3 the price HERE). Pass on North Country - its really nothing worth viewing.
Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:
The Heiress - A soberly dramatic and
polished version of Henry James's novel Washington Square, this shows some of
its theatrical origins in situation and dialogue, having arrived via the
Broadway adaptation by Ruth and Augustus Goetz. However, there are pleasures in
the designs, score by Copland (winning an Academy Award) and performances.
Oscar-winning de Havilland's portrayal of a plain-jane spinster who comes to the
painful realization that her suitor's intentions are more mercenary than
romantic is spine-chilling.
The Double Life of Veronique - Krzysztof
Kieslowski's focuses on identity using naturalistic and sultry actress Irene
Jacobs in the dual role of French music teacher Veronique and Polish soprano
Weronika - both born on the same day. The director's use of music and atmosphere
again appears unmatched in the modern era of film. Overall, an ambiguous and
enigmatic offering, this is a film that clings to you for years after viewing. A
true masterpiece of cinema.
Miracle in Milan - Following The Bicycle Thief De Sica casts a spell over the viewer with a Capra-esque fantasy fable instilling a healthy dose of social relevance. A baby found in a cabbage patch grows up to unite Milan's poverty stricken and homeless leading the construction of a shanty town. If this isn't a masterpiece... then its pretty darn close.
The Killing Fields - is a tale of friendship and suffering, set against the Khmer Rouge’s takeover of Cambodia in 1975. One of the finest films of British Cinema of the 80s, "The Killing Fields" is a tale about men with conviction, dedication and a sense of commitment, that goes beyond definition.
Pom Poko - A very politically and ecologically conscious film, "Pom Poko" tells the story of how a group of raccoons fight against humans expansion and destruction of their environment, and is in a sense to be seen as a continuum of the motifs of "Princess Mononoke".
Porco Rosso - is the compelling story only Miyazaki can tell. On the other side, "Porco Rosso" allows some interesting political readings, especially Rosso, who can be seen as a personification of the pigheadedness to join fascist Italy and its military. Miyazaki also continues his motif of female emancipation, his obsession with planes and his minute detailing of environment
Keep Your Right Up - Basically an episodic comedy, Jean-Luc Godard's Soigne ta droite a French-Swiss co production, features Godard himself as the comic lead, rehearsals of the rock group Rita Mitsouko, a good many gags (some involving golf and travel), and a lot of cameos from well-known French actors, including Jane Birkin, Bernadette Lafont, and Jacques Villeret. The biggest surprise here though is Godard's modification of his own persona: in contrast to the grumpy, would-be sages of First Name: Carmen and King Lear, his benign and ethereal character is positively Keatonian, with echoes of Tati's Monsieur Hulot as well.
Wolf Creek - Where many horror films at the moment substitute story with sadism, "Wolf Creek" can be said to do the same, but thanks to some rather inventive story elements, the second part of the film is almost up to par with "Texas Chainsaw Massacre". Very wisely McLean never explains the killers motifs. He is just someone who kills.
The Constant Gardner - But not just the direction of Meirelles or the cinematography of Charlone marks personal best. Ralph Finnes gives his best performance since “Quiz Show” and Rachel Weisz, who one wouldn’t think much of after seeing her in “The Mummy”, emerges as one of this years best actresses, making Tessa completely woman, giving Tessa a soul. One of the best films of 2005, “The Constant Gardener” is a film not to be missed.
Raise The Red Lantern - A masterpiece. The historical dramas of Zhang Yimou, a master "Fifth Generation" filmmaker who emerged from the reopened Beijing Film Academy during the liberal climate of the early 1980s, resonate with subtexts of repression, resistance and retribution. Though Zhang's screenplay for RAISE THE RED LANTERN (based on the 1989 novel Wives and Concubines by Su Tong) got a stamp of approval from the Chinese censors, the finished production was banned at home while playing to great praise abroad.
The Bicycle Thieves - Vittorio De Sica's remarkable 1947 drama of desperation and survival in Italy's devastating post-war depression earned a special Oscar for its affecting power. Shot in the streets and alleys of Rome, De Sica uses the real-life environment of contemporary life to frame his moving drama of a desperate father whose new job delivering cinema posters is threatened when a street thief steals his bicycle. Too poor to buy another, he and his son take to the streets in an impossible search for his bike.
Midnight Cowboy - John Voight portrays Joe Buck, a real (or unreal) 'Cowboy', who, as a young man, relocates to New York with dreams of being a gigolo to wealthy older women - as he describes it a 'hustla'. The big city quickly eats up the small town boy and spits him out in the direction of Enrico Salvatore 'Ratso' Rizzo (Dustin Hoffman) - a character formed by the harsh realities and required survival traits to exist in the Big Apple. A budding friendship akin to 'Laurel and Hardy' evolves - two bumblers who we can't help but develop a huge soft spot for. Their struggle becomes ours as they seek the necessities of life and dare to dream of a better existence.
Twenty-Four Eyes - A marvelous film chronicling twenty years in the life of a young schoolteacher and her pupils on a remote Japanese island beginning in 1928. The "24 eyes" are her twelve 6-year-old pupils living in a quiet and peaceful Inland Sea village whose harmony is shattered by the war.
Claire Dolan - This production has a lot going for it. An English language film, set in New York/New Jersey, but it has decidedly European influences. The subject matter is very dour and the plot simple - there are gratuitous sex scenes....the films conclusion is precise and abrupt unlike Hollywood's over-played out dramas. I'm extremely impressed with Kerrigan's direction and Katrin Cartlidge's acting and stoic demeanor. It is a film focusing on the monetary exchanges of human interaction - unfortunately it hold many truisms.
Three... Extremes - Three Asian directors (Fruit Chan, Park Chan-wook and Takashi Miike) from Hong Kong, Korea, and Japan, join forces to create an omnibus horror film, Three...Extremes, a sequel of sorts to the 2002 Hong Kong/Korean/Thai production Three.
SPL - Hong Kong martial arts superstars Donnie Yen and Sammo Hung star in this explosive crime thriller from director Wilson Yip. Inspector Chan (Simon Yam) has a grudge to bear and a personal vendetta against local mob boss Wong Po (Sammo Hung). Seemingly untouchable and surrounded by an army of faceless young hoodlums, Wong Po holds the city in a vice-like grip. For any discernible fan of action, Asian or martial arts movies, cop thrillers, bullet ballets or heroic bloodshed operatics, SPL is the movie you have been waiting for.
September 12th - I assume this could be made into a very complete stage play as it is strongly character driven with minimal locations required. We only really meet four major characters - and how the death of a girl, Lori Riga, is remembered by her brother, her fiancé and his would be new love interest (very brief), and a stranger - a lawyer - who met her on the fateful day in question. It is quite moving and finishes exceptionally well. Yes, I suspect many will get something out of this with the decent performances (by the leads) and a devastatingly sharp and poignant finale.
Traffic - Intertwining vignettes frame this tale of America's escalating War on Drugs. Rarely has a film so energetic and suspenseful presented a more complex and nuanced view of an issue of such international importance. Instantly recognized as a classic, Traffic appeared on more than 200 critics’ ten-best lists, and earned 5 Academy Award nominations. Of course, I never really understood what ll the fuss was about...
North Country - Well, again Hollywood has left me unimpressed with another vacuous 'human-interest' film that is essentially hollow. I mean, how dumb are we?... or rather how dumb are the characters in this movie? A working class hero tries in vain to steer her fellow colleague lemmings to a more just system - one where presently all the women are harassed, both verbally and physically, they are sexually molested and if they don't comply with the chauvinist hierarchy then they have raw sewage dumped over them. Enough already - we know the good from the bad with a simple roadmap - we don't need a GPS. The obviousness of cinema like this is its downfall - treating the viewer like their are simpletons and liberally adopting a 'true story' to suit their formulaic happy ending.
The Duelist - The characters and setting of this movie belong in a comic book, and that may be why the movie’s had the reaction it's gotten. Nevertheless, it's a great piece of cinema. At the very least you have pretty pictures to look at. The people inside it may not seem important, but they do have goals and desires. They end up being real people. The detective, like the old man in the beginning, is looking for something she can't have. She's running after something she'll never get.
The Mysterians - Really, I have so much fun with this genre - films that are far too easy to pick apart. Rise above it and let your hair down and I can't possibly see how you cannot help but enjoy this to bits - the innocent production values, the bad special effects, the hokey costumes... superlatives can be used liberally. It's a blast!
Kind Hearts and Coronets - Director Robert Hamer’s fiendishly funny Kind Hearts and Coronets stands as one of Ealing Studios’ greatest triumphs, and one of the most wickedly black comedies ever made. Dennis Price is sublime as an embittered young commoner determined to avenge his mother’s unjust disinheritance by ascending to the dukedom. Unfortunately, eight family members—all played by the incomparable Alec Guinness—must be eliminated before he can do so.
Next 2 week - keep your eye on our Calendar for more !
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) Warner
Follow Me Quietly (Richard Fleischer , 1949) Éditions Montparnasse - France
'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)
The Girl Friend (Edward Buzzell, 1935) Gaumont - France R2
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
Rendez-Vous (André Téchiné, 1985) Second Sight R2 UK
A Royal Scandal (Ernst Lubitsch, Otto Preminger 1945) Gaumont - CTHV - France PAL
The Spanish Main (Frank Borzage, 1945) Éditions Montparnasse - France
The Woman on the Beach (Jean Renoir , 1947) Éditions Montparnasse - France
All the Mornings of the World (Tous les matins du monde) Two-Disc Edition (Alain Corneau, 1991) Koch Lorber Films
Buster Keaton: 65th Anniversary Collection (2pc) - Sony Pictures
Charulata (Satyajit Ray, 1964) [R2-UK]
Les Demoiselles De Rochefort (Jacques Demy, 1967) Momentum Pictures Home R2 UK
Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger -1945)
The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, 1951)
I Walk the Line (John Frankenheimer, 1970) Sony Pictures
Jarhead (Widescreen Edition) (Sam Mendes , 2005) Mca Home Video
Kagero-Za (Seijun Suzuki, 1991) Kino Video
Mahapurush (The Saint) (Satyajit Ray, 1965) [R2-UK]
My Neighbor Totoro (2-Disc Set) (Hayao Miyazaki ,1988) Walt Disney Video
No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz1950)
Party Girl (Nicholas Ray , 1958) Warner Home Vidéo - France
The Picture of Dorian Gray (Albert Lewin , 1945) France R2 Warner Home Vidéo
Prix de beauté (Miss Europe) (Augusto Genina, 1930) Kino International
Shanghai Gesture (Josef von Sternberg, 1942) Image Entertainment
Yumeji (Seijun Suzuki, 1991) Kino Video
Zigeunerweisen (Seijun Suzuki, 1981) Kino Video
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 , Delicatessen , Sympathy For Mr Vengeance , Mirror , Abigail's Party , The Last Metro , Three Colours Blue , Three Colours White , Three Colours Red , Persona , Lovers Of The Arctic Circle , The Gospel According To St. Matthew , Ivan's Childhood , Jamon Jamon , The Magician , Code Unknown , A Short Film About Killing , To Joy , Crisis , Beau Travail , Summer Interlude , The Terrorist , The Wicker Man  and many more!
P.P.S. - Save your money! -
Macho Madness on May 23rd from Fox:Compulsion (Richard Fleischer, 1959) 20th Century Fox, Decision Before Dawn (Anatole Litvak, 1951) 20th Century Fox, Guns at Batasi (John Guillermin, 1964) 20th Century Fox, Immortal Sergeant (John M. Stahl, 1943) 20th Century Fox, The Last Wagon (Delmer Daves, 1956) 20th Century Fox, The Longest Day (Ken Annakin , 1962) 2-disc SE - 20th Century Fox, Murder, Inc. (Burt Balaban, 1960) 20th Century Fox, The Proud Ones (Robert D. Webb, 1956) 20th Century Fox, The Seven-Ups (Philip D'Antoni, 1973) 20th Century Fox, Tora! Tora! Tora! (Richard Fleischer , Kinji Fukasaku 1970) 2-disc SE - 20th Century Fox, Yellow Sky (William A. Wellman , 1949) 20th Century Fox