DVDBeaver Newsletter for Oct 27th, 2005
Hello again - a great week with lots of uncovered gems.... I'm reasonably content with DVDBeaver these days - we are just making enough to may the bills and I am satisfied with the direction of our content. Thanks to all our supporters!
For those with unsociable mail clients - you may read our newsletter via the web HERE.
This weeks newsletter has 21 new items - 8 of which are comparisons. We stretch from classic Hollywood (and silent) to contemporary Asian and flirt with a Scandinavian master... these are good days for DVD!
We are continuing to update our YesAsia recommendations page HERE. They are an e-tailor stocked with rare treasured film releases on DVD - ex. Ballad Of Narayama DVD and more added to our YesAsia links page HERE which includes A Century of Japanese Cinema, Japanese Movies With English subtitles and Movies of Ozu Yasujiro
CONTEST: First correct 100 entries get a chance of winning a sealed copy of the new Criterion "Wages of Fear". Email me HERE, with the film names of the 28 orange lettered screen captures in our new Masterlist or Reviews listing (they are the same). The first 10 correct entries will get 10 chances EACH in the lottery, the next 10 will get 9 chances each etc. etc. One entry per email address and you will not be told whether you are correct or not - the answers will be posted after the contest has ended. When we have 100 correct entries I will electronically draw one name and that person will receive a brand new sealed copy of Henri-Georges Clouzot's film on a the new Criterion DVD. NOTE: Good luck!... ohhh, and please no questions - only the winner will be contacted and listed here (if they agree).
RECOMMENDATIONS: Almost too much to indulge yourself this week: a Buster Keaton Boxset seems like a must-own proposition. All three of the November Fox Studio Classic Series are obvious buys - The Rains Came, Two For the Road, Orchestra Wives. You may want to peer at the Wages of Fear comparison to see if an upgrade is worthy, but the extras alone will convince real fans of the film. We'll soon stop selling you on the Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection Boxset - but Vertigo alone should be enough incentive. I haven't seen it but I trust Per-Olaf's opinion on Van Gogh. Deitrich fans should snap up Morocco without thinking twice. Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees is like Asian Shakespeare - far too good to ignore. NOTE: Our review of the Barbara Stanwyck Screen Goddess Boxset HERE is forthcoming - its stacked with good films (Double Indemnity / The Lady Eve / Bitter Tea of General Yen / Golden Boy / The Miracle Woman / All I Desire) - lets hope the transfers are acceptable! Stay tuned!
Any interest in Pre-Code films? see HERE.
Most Recent Reviews
Buster Keaton Boxset - MK2 (10 DVD) PAL Boxset Includes: College / Battling Butler / Our Hospitality / Seven Chances / The Navigator / Sherlock, Jr. / Go West / Three Ages / Steamboat Bill, Jr. / The General / Three Ages, College and Steamboat Bill got a digital High Definition restoration as The General got earlier (HERE). These are definitely is the definitive DVDs of Keaton's work
The Keys to the House - A love story about a man and his son, "The Keys to the House" is the kind of quietly unassuming tear-jerker that works its way into your heart despite the occasional cries of protest emanating from your head.
The Last Horror Movie - Like a combination of 'Funny Games' (1997), 'The Vanishing' (1988), and especially 'Man Bites Dog' (1992), Julian Richards' film is all about discomfiting the ready complicity of the viewer - by turns disturbing, funny, and grim, it cuts much deeper than your average slasher.
Fireworks (Hana-bi) - didn't realize how much I'd missed Japanese movies until I saw Takeshi Kitano's Hana-Bi… Here was a film, in the unlikely form of a violent crime thriller crossed with a domestic melodrama, that captured a sense of sublime transcendency not much felt since the golden age of Mizoguchi, Ozu and Naruse. 5 page liner notes essay in the Madman DVD from our own DVDBeaver reviewer Henrik Sylow ! Congrats Henrik !
The Rains Came - An exotic romantic melodrama details the hardships of the people of the fictitious Indian province of Ranchipur. Super sexy Myrna Loy stars as a bored Englishwoman trapped in a loveless marriage with a wealthy, middle-aged businessman. One of 3 excellent Fox Studio Classic DVDs that all contain commentaries. and are $10/each). This transfer is particularly incredible.
Two For the Road - a couple (Audrey Hepburn and Albert Finey) have been married for 12 years and things clearly haven't been 'happily ever after'. Evidently tired of each other, they struggle to even hold a conversation, let alone hold together a marriage. What follows is a deconstruction of their relationship as the film flashes back, via some quirky visual transitions. Stanley Donen commentary included.
Orchestra Wives - Glenn Miller vehicle directed by Archie Mayo and reflected the 'whitening' of jazz during the swing era. The second motion picture built to showcase the Glenn Miller Orchestra (following 1941's Sun Valley Serenade), Orchestra Wives concentrates on the performance space of swing era jazz as a site for social mixing of the genders.
Wet Asphalt - Definitely a poor quality DVD - from an analog source with extensive combing, no extras, a very poor English dub over original German dialogue (that is not offered as an option)... and the worst cover I have ever seen (ditto for menus). So far this ranks as the worst DVD of the Year. Its only saving grace is that when you see Gert Fröbe, you can pretend you are watching "Goldfinger". Pass - save your money for the three films/DVDs listed directly above.
Wages of Fear - One of the most nerve-wracking and exciting films ever made, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s masterpiece won the Grand Prize at the 1953 Cannes Film Festival. An American oil company enlists four tough drifters for a high-paying suicide mission—transporting explosives across the rough terrain of Central America. See how the new Criterion restoration stacks up against their original release.
The War of the Worlds - The daring grandfather of more modern day alien attack films such as Independence Day and still giving a mutated birth to, most recently, Mr. Spielberg's imprint of the same name (well minus the "The"). The mere existence of this classic just goes to prove that there is very little from the past that won't be absconded and re-shaped with a current twist - or that there are very few new idea ventures in the cultural void of Hollywood. Great 50's sci-fi nostalgia! and the new DVD is stacked!
Adventures of Superman (Season One) - Season One outshines the other years most assuredly. We bond with the one-dimensional characters over multiple episodes with the good natured Jimmy Olson, cantankerous editor Perry White, career-oriented Lois Lane and sharp but prudent Clark. It is funny how addictive and nostalgic these shows were. Aaahhhhh TV of the 50's - pure, gentle and lovable.
Vertigo - has taken its deserved place as Alfred Hitchcock's greatest, most spellbinding, most deeply personal achievement. A film about obsession that has evoked obesession in viewers. The new 16X9 DVD's mono track is reason enough to get the Hitchcock masterpiece boxset... ohhh and you get 13 more of the Master's greatest films too.
Summer With Monika - Bergman's tender yet unsentimental account of a love affair that turns sour. Harriet Andersson gives a precociously assured performance as a wild, feckless girl from Stockholm's poorer quarter who falls in love with a 19-year-old youth.
The Man Who Fell to Earth - a daring exploration of science fiction as an art form. The story of an alien on an elaborate rescue mission provides the launching pad for Nicolas Roeg’s visual tour de force, a formally adventurous examination of alienation in contemporary life. Rock legend David Bowie completely embodies the title role. See how the old Anchor Bay DVD stacks up against the new Criterion.
From the Life of the Marionettes - Filmed in Germany, during Bergman's tax-related exile with a predominantly German cast and crew, From the Life of the Marionettes continues the story of Katarina and Peter Egermann, the feuding, childless, professional couple who appear in Scenes From A Marriage.
The King of Masks - tells a tale steeped in ancient tradition, simultaneously challenging the sociosexual inequity still plaguing China today. On the streets of Szechuan Province in the 1930s, the aged King of Masks, sole living master of "change-face" opera, delights and frightens audiences with the secret art of lightning-quick mask-shifting. His fondest wish is to pass on his skill to a male heir before he dies. Still no worthy DVD out... but still, you MUST see this film!
Van Gogh - Reviewer Per-Olaf says 'I haven't been so enthused for any film this year so much than for this one. It's one of the most beautiful and magic films I've seen! And for this DVD, even tough the French release has more extras, it's one of the best DVD's this year!'
Morocco - Dietrich vamps it up again as the mysterious Amy Jolly who runs away from her past with a one-way ticket to Morocco. Menjou is the poor sap around whom she runs rings, and Cooper gives a subtle performance as the Foreign Legionnaire she really loves. OK, so the plot is pure melodrama, but it's Dietrich the eye is drawn to. This German DVD is reasonably prioced and the only one of this film that we know.
Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees - We are introduced to some well-defined characters - a sexually manipulative, abducted new wife, simple and lust induced criminal husband and a historic pageant of tragedy, irony and some supernatural dramaturgical twists utilizing magnificent cinematography. This is an amazing film for many reasons. We strongly recommend!
Vengeance is Mine - transcends the limitations of run-of-the-mill criminal studies by presenting a portrait of a killer imbued with a poignant, tragic banality. Shohei Imamura established his own independent production company, Imamura Productions, to allow himself more freedom away from the major studios, to choose riskier subject matter, and explore greater stylistic experimentation without compromise... and this is it.
Hitchcock 1929 - 1931' - Studio Canal (France) have put together three (in total) magnificent boxsets of "The Masters" early films. This 'talkie' set has Blackmail (1929), The Skin Game (1931), Murder (1930). Although the French subs are mandatory on most players - they are easily removed with a standard PC - see our tutorial HERE.
Upcoming releases (next 3 weeks)
(Federico Fellini - 1976) Fremantle (2-disc) UK
Fox Film Noir Collection (Call Northside 777, House of Bamboo, House on 92nd Street, Laura, Nightmare Alley, Panic in the Streets, Somewhere in The Night, A Street with No Name, Whirlpool) Fox Home Entertainment
Orchestra Wives ( Archie Mayo - 1942) Fox Studio Classics
The Rains Came (Clarence Brown - 1939) Fox Studio Classics
Seopyeonje (Kwon-taek Im, 1993) - Spectrum DVD - Region 0 - NTSC
Star Wars, Episode III - Revenge of the Sith (Lucas, 2005) Twentieth Century Fox Home Video
Straight To Hell / Death And The Compass (Alex Cox) - BFI - UK
Two For The Road (Stanley Donen - 1967) - Fox Studio Classics
Wet Asphalt (Frank Wisbar - 1958) MPI Media
9 Songs (Michael Winterbottom, 2005) TLA Releasing
Burn! (Gillo Pontecorvo, 1969) MGM
Cet amour-là (Josée Dayan - 2001) New Yorker Video
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (Tim Burton - 2005) Two-Disc Deluxe Edition) Warner
Christmas in Connecticut (Peter Godfrey - 1945) Warner Home Video
Edward Scissorhands (Tim Burton -1990 - Collectible Tin Anniversary Edition) - Fox Home Entertainment
The Fallen Idol (Carol Reed, 1948) Optimum [R2-UK]
The General's Son (Kwon-taek Im, 1993) - Spectrum DVD - Region 0 - NTSC
Hammett (Frederic Forrest, 1982) Paramount Home Video
Pickpocket (Robert Bresson, 1959) Criterion
Ugetsu Monogatari (Kenji Mizoguchi, 1954) Criterion
Warner Bros.Classic Holiday Collection (Boys Town / A Christmas Carol 1938 / Christmas in Connecticut)
Almodóvar Vol 1 Box Set: Dark Habits/Matador/Law of Desire/Women of the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown/Kika/The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodóvar) Optimum [R2-UK]
Almodóvar Vol. 2: Matador/Law of Desire/Kika/The Flower of My Secret (Pedro Almodóvar) Optimum [R2-UK]
The Idiot (Akira Kurosawa, 1951) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]
Take some long walks if you can and think of all those misfortunates under the relentless power of Mother Nature's fury these days,