DVDBeaver Newsletter for Oct 13th, 2005
Hi film appreciators through the digital versatile disc format!
For those with temperamental mail clients - you may read our newsletter via the web HERE.
This weeks newsletter is reporting 20 new items - 4 of which are from the new Val Lewton Boxset and 6 of which are comparisons. This week we do have some very critically dividing cinema but if you want to join the fight you should join our ListServe HERE. We are stocked with important directors again though... Hitchcock, Ozu, Coen brothers, Tourneur, Makk, Ki-duk Kim, Sang-soo Hong, Wise ... ummm Miranda July!?
Our Director's Chair is taking a much needed break after we have added Ulmer to our list. You can see the 33-strong group at the Search page HERE.
This is getting tougher and tougher as I strive not to simply post my own opinion, but here it goes: Lifeboat is an obvious masterpiece and must-own DVD. The Lewton set, even with the flaws, is also important and essential cinema (see Cat People, Curse of the Cat People, The Leopard Man, The Ghost Ship). I thought extremely highly of Me and You and Everyone We Know but you may not. I thought The Bow was beautiful, but hollow - Ki-duk Kim fans may defend it to the moon though. I honestly think The Big Lebowski is a masterpiece about tolerance - I love it to pieces. I don't think we will get too many arguments that Ozu's A Hen in the Wind is another of his classics. Lastly On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate is a very wonderful viewing experience which I also recommend most emphatically.
Most Recent Reviews
Lifeboat - Alfred Hitchcock's 1944 film was one of the sound cinema's first experiments with minimalism: the entire picture takes place in a small boat, as the survivors of a torpedoed luxury liner find themselves cast adrift with the captain of the U-boat that sank them. Masterpiece!
The Mark of Zorro (1940) - In a role that perfectly combines his
fey-ness and machismo, Tyrone Power is marvelous as the fop by day and brave
avenger by night. The new DVD edition gives you the black + white Studio
Classics edition and a new, very sharp, colorized print on the opposite side of
the disc. Take a look!
Cat People - Producer Lewton always put his own touch to a film, and this his first, shows it more clearly and effectively than his later efforts. This is an atmosphere picture, which, while not truly terrifying, is totally gripping; the absorbing imagery will not allow you to remove your gaze from the screen.
Curse of the Cat People - Officially a sequel to Lewton's 1942 chiller classic Cat People, this has some of the same characters as the previous film but offers a completely different perspective - that of a child. Carter is the disturbed little girl who lives in a dream world, conjuring up an imaginary playmate.
The Leopard Man - A superior horror film from the partnership of
producer Val Lewton and director Tourneur. A traveling zoo loses a leopard after
a publicity stunt in a New Mexico town, and soon after there are a series of
The Ghost Ship - The least known, though far from least interesting, of producer Val Lewton's exemplary, poetic B-films, withdrawn from circulation for nearly half a century due to an unjust plagiarism suit that Lewton had the misfortune to lose.
Me and You and Everyone We Know - Miranda July's directorial debut (winner of Camera d'or) focuses on a separated, but calmly centered, shoe salesman (John Hawkes) and an eccentric square-peg performance artist (played by director/writer July). They connect with parallel stories of children... Some who intensely disliked the film - I loved it.
The Bow - divisive director, Ki-duk Kim - The Bow tells the story of a sixty year old man who has been raising a young girl since she was just a child. The two live on a boat in the middle of the sea, yet despite the harsh conditions, the girl lives a somewhat happy existence. Totally charmed by her, the elderly man desperately hopes to marry her once she is of legal age.
Ma mère - It is a pretty salacious film with one of my favorites - the enigmatic Isabelle Huppert performing at her usual high standard. It certainly isn't hard to determine the core of the film's narrative, so if you are offended by it, surely avoid. Critically panned but you may not think it as hollow as some film journalists. I presume its weaknesses are intended to reflect the emptiness of its central characters.
The Big Lebowski - The Coen brothers film centers around the confluence of divergent U.S. cultural anomalies that are defined by the essential qualities of two decades. We meet characters that are stuck in the 70's and who are unable or unwilling to adapt to the 90's. It is the Coen's masterpiece!
Interrogation - Filled with atmospheres of locked prison cells and dimly lit holding areas with claustrophobic overtones, director Ryszard Bugajski's bleak offering was promptly banned by the Polish authorities for over 8 years. A fascinating, if harrowing and exhaustive film.
A Hen in the Wind - Ozu's shots of barren empty rooms and the masterful elliptical approach to disguise and convey marital conflicts gives a further acceptance of the climatic scenes which lend themselves to recall the cinema of Mikio Naruse. Corollaries to post-war Japan are evident but unnecessary for appreciation of this, another Ozu, masterpiece.
The Crazy Stranger - Endearingly shaggy comedy-drama, improvised around the thinnest wisp of plot: genial, wild-haired young Frenchman Stephane (Romain Duris) arrives in a remote Romanian village in search of Nora Luca, a Gypsy singer much loved by his late father.
The Spiral Staircase - it certainly has all the Noir elements, - old, dark, New England mansion with gothic shadows in every corner. A murderer is targeting disabled young women and Helen (Dorothy McGuire), a mute servant, is terrified she may be next.
Another Way - Second Run DVD are giving me a clinic in the cinema of Károly Makk - A corollary for the politics of the time, carefully skirting much of the 1956 uprising against Communism, but reflected in the rebelliousness of the two clandestine lesbians - Eva (Jankowska-Cieslak) an intriguing high-brow and Livia (Szapolowska) a healthy blonde fighting against her possessive and controlling marriage.
The Man With Nine Lives - . Tim Morgan (Roger Pryor) is a scientist working on curing cancer with cryogenic freezing therapy. But after extensive work with limited results, he seeks out Dr. Leon Kravaal (Boris Karloff), another radical colleague who mysteriously disappeared almost a decade before. Mystery / sci-fi from the 40's. If you are into this genre, then you may consider this quintessential.
Cinderella - reference-quality DVD of the classic Disney's 1950 animated adaptation of the Cinderella fairytale.
Hondo - Let me tell you, this is an amazing DVD for the money... stupendous actually. Cursory glances never give Wayne the acting credit he deserved. Easily cited as an essential western - quite violent in parts and a little epic it even has an intermission! BUY!
The Big Combo - With cameraman John Alton’s cinematography mapping its highlights this flick is unmistakably noir. Its plot turn to unearth the meaning behind one whispered name – ‘Alicia’ - is not only explicitly Kane-esque, but in tune with noir ’s preoccupation with memory and buried secrets.
On the Occasion of Remembering the Turning Gate - The expressed tone featuring 'lack of communication' and failure to find true intimacy, is another strong theme of Antonioni, Tsai etc. The title reference of "Turning gate" comes from a legend that seems to duplicate itself in the characters lifestyles. A beautiful, under-mentioned film...
Upcoming releases (next 2 weeks)
Black and White (Craig Lahiff, 2002) Image Entertainment
The Big Lebowski (Widescreen Collector's Edition) (Coen Brothers 1998) Universal Studios
Raw Deal (1948, Anthony Mann) - Sony
Le Samouraï (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967) Criterion
T-Men (1948, Anthony Mann) - Sony
Detective Story (William Wyler - 1951) Paramount Home Video
Jerry Lewis: Legendary Jerry Collection (10pc) Paramount
Kill! (Kihachi Okamoto, 1968) Criterion
Mysterious Skin (Gregg Araki - 2004) TLA Entertainment Group
Partner - (Bernard Bertolucci) - NoShame Film - Wea Corp
- Sixties Swordplay Classics (Criterion
Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi, 1967) Criterion
Samurai Spy (Masahiro Shinoda, 1965) Criterion
Sword of the Beast (Hideo Gosha, 1965) Criterion
The Wages of Fear (Henri-Georges Clouzot, 1953 - Restored Edition) Criterion
P.S. We will be flogging 2 new Malata region-free DVD player models at the lowest price possible. A stand-alone with LCD display in front, and THIS exciting portable with 7' TFT screen, 3-hour rechargeable battery, AC or DC (car).. A great gift item for the holidays. I'm still playing with it but so far I am impressed. Reviews to be done asap. Stay tuned...