DVDBeaver Newsletter for November 10th, 2005


Hello friends  - this weeks newsletter has some Holiday offerings from Warner, some pre-code fun, a couple of Criterion releases, choosy avant garde cinema and a healthy does of Asian classics!


The discussion group are having a go at simply listing all the potential candidates for DVD of the Year 2005 (remember 2004 HERE?)- my (only mine) choices, so far, are L'Eclisse (Criterion), Hitchcock Masterpiece boxset - Universal, Ugetsu (Criterion), Metropolis (MoC) - technically came out in January 2005, Eric Rohmer Box (Arrow Films), Black Narcissus (Network), Lifeboat - Fox, Val Lewton Boxset - Warner, Joan Crawford Boxset - Warner, 3 Films de Robert Bresson - MK2, Pickpocket - Criterion, The Brown Bunny (either uncensored version), Many Ozus - There Was A Father, The Only Son, Tokyo Twilight - Panorama, Hammer Horror Series - Universal, Ben Hur, Wizard of Oz, Columbo Boxset # 3, Miracle of Morgan's Creek, Garbo Box - Warner, Gangsters Boxset - Warner, The Studio Canal Hitchcock Boxes (France), Keaton Box (fr), Other MoC releases - Francesco, Giullare Di Dio, The Naked Island, Onibaba
and stuff I haven't seen, but suspect may be in the running: The Harold Lloyd Box, King Kong, the UK Barbara Stanwyck Box (love that gal), Godard's Histoire de Cinema etc.  


For those with uncooperative mail clients - you may read our newsletter via the web HERE.


Quote of the Month (yes at times we are film snobs!)

"Bluntly put, to not get Bresson is to not get the idea of motion pictures - it's to have missed that train the Lumiére brothers filmed arriving at Lyon station 110 years ago." - J. Hoberman - The Village Voice


EVERYONE LOVES THE NEW Region Free DVD Player: the Malata DVD-856 Region Free (brand new model) - its the best region-free machine I have seen. CHECK HERE for details and pictures.


NEWS snippets:

It's been confirmed that Artificial Eye (UK) are also releasing Histoire de Cinema. More details to follow!
BFI's Upcoming Winter DVD Releases (WOW!):
1. Eija Liisa Ahtila, "The Cinematic Works of Eija Liisa Ahtila" 2. Hiroshi Teshigahara, "Woman of the Dunes" 3. Ishiro Honda, "Godzilla" & "The Mysterians";4. Jules Dassin, "Night and the City" 5. Arnold Glassman, "Visions of Light" 6. Nicholas Ray, "Bigger than Life";7. Henry Hathaway, "Kiss of Death";8. Richard Siodmak, "Cry of the City";9. Chris Wellsby 10. Frank Borzage, "7th Heaven", "Street Angel", & "Lucky Star" 11. Charles Musser, "Before the Nickelodeon: The Cinema of Edwin S. Porter".


Our YesAsia recommendations page HERE is always being updated. Check it out and give them a try if you are not a seasoned purchaser there already.


RECOMMENDATIONS... or NOT: I am high on a few items this week - and not as keen on some others. Yea's to A Christmas Carol, Boys Town, and Christmas in Connecticut, - so my advice is too, obviously, buy the Warner boxset for some Holiday warmth. As far as the BFI Alex Cox films go - Three Businessmen and Highway Patrolman are great films!... but I'm not so keen on the other set; Straight to Hell and Death and the Compass - good news is that he has commentaries for all 4 films. Fox doesn't appear to have done too much on their Edward Scissorhands - only decent thing is the price of the widescreen edition. MGM really messed up The Fugitive Kind (thumbs down to the transfer), but for some positives - three incomparable DVD titles that we give strong recommendation to - Lubitch's Trouble In Paradise by Criterion, Dassin's Thieves' Highway that I loved. Steeped in historical depth: Unseen Cinema - Early American Avant Garde Film 1894-1941. Lets not leave out three excellent Asian releases - Tony Takitani is one of the better films of 2004 - Imamura's Ballad of Narayama, is a great deal for the $'s and Korean gem - Seopyeonje.


Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:

A Christmas Carol (1938) - The story is an integral a part of Christmas, and like a good sermon, simply reminds you to put our endless desire for the almighty dollar into check.... for at least a couple of weeks. I had not seen this version for a while and it stacks up with the 58 classic 'Scrooge'.

Boys Town - Tracy won his second Oscar here playing the Catholic priest Father Flannigan who set up a school and home for juvenile boys. The film documents how he is touched by the plight of the young thugs around him and decides to offer them a chance in life and looks at the relationship he builds up with tough kid Whitey (18-year-old Rooney) who shows weakness only when he sees his best friend hit by a car. Classic Holiday stuff!

Christmas in Connecticut - Ahhhh Barbara Stanwyck...Journalist Elizabeth Lane (Stanwyck) is one of the country's most famous food writers. In her columns, she describes herself as a hard working farm woman, taking care of her children and being an excellent cook. But this is all lies. In reality she is an umarried New Yorker who can't even boil an egg. What ever you do stay clear of the Schwarzenegger directed remake of 92'.

Vengeance is Mine - well we know the Eureka (Masters of Cinema #17) edition is perfection - so lets see how it stacks up against the old Region 3 Panorama.

Trouble In Paradise - Perhaps Ernst Lubitsch's greatest film - and reportedly his own personal favorite of his entire extensively lauded oeuvre. The pinnacle of the sophisticated romantic comedy, loaded with sparkling dialogue, witty innuendo, and elegant comic invention.... and Pre-Code naughtiness too.

Edward Scissorhands - Quirky and stylistic seem to go hand-in-hand when discussing director Tim Burton. This film is by no means a masterpiece but it certainly helped establish Burton as a viable and offbeat mainstream force in Hollywood and the film definitely has things to say... much of which is interpretational but not exceedingly poignant.

Three Businessmen - Alex Cox directed this comedy-fantasy screenplay by Tod Davies in a variety of locations (American Southwest, Hong Kong, Rotterdam). With a plot premise reminiscent of Martin Scorsese's After Hours, this is a fun ride.
Highway Patrolman - An episodic look at a young man's life in Mexico's national highway patrol. We follow Pedro Rojas from cadet training and his rookie assignment in a northern border area, to his quick courtship, his taking of bribes ("la mordida"), and his slow exposure to drug smuggling. Rojas re-forms his idealism as youthful naivete gives way to an adult's complicated choices. Paired on a DVD with the above Cox film

Straight to Hell - Written in three days and shot in three weeks, Alex Cox's (director of "Repo Man" and "Sid and Nancy" fame) film title, Straight to Hell, is more akin to the viewing experience than anything else. It sounds like it must have been a lark to shoot with culture icons like Joe Strummer (founding member of the Clash), Elvis Costello, Jim Jarmusch, Courtney Love as well as cameos by Dennis Hopper and Grace Jones... Ohh and don't forget the music by the Pogues.
Death and the Compass - In a nightmare city inhabited only by criminals and police... a mystic detective finds a tool to catch a villainous outlaw. I didn't get much out of this film, but some might - it is paired with Straight to Hell above on a BFI DVD two-pack.

Unseen Cinema - Early American Avant Garde Film 1894-1941 - This collection, curated by Anthology Film Archive’s Bruce Posner and produced for home video by David Shepard, presents us with an abundance of experimental films from the period 1894-1941, with the vast majority of them never available before for home viewing. these films warrant multiple viewings and you have a box set that’s not only a document to be studied and analyzed, but also an endless source of visual pleasure and just plain fun.

Thieves' Highway - A searing Film Noir melodrama from master Jules Dassin. Perhaps some of my pleasure, and also how memorable I find this film, stems from Dassin's ability to keep us constantly off balance. Even if what you suspect will happen actually transpires - it is usually contrary to what one might consider to have occurred with expected film language.

The Fugitive Kind - Southern Gothic "sizzler" based on the Tennessee Williams play Orpheus Descending. Brilliant performances and characterizations like Valentine "Snakeskin" Xavier (Brando) who is a handsome drifter with a guitar and a past. Its a shame that MGM did not chose to show this deserved film a little respect on the digital medium.

Titanic - I suppose there's something faintly ridiculous about a $200-million movie that argues on behalf of true love over wealth and even bandies about a precious diamond as a central narrative device--like Citizen Kane's Rosebud--to clinch its point. Yet for all the hokeyness, Titanic kept reviewer Jonathan Rosenbaum absorbed for all 194 minutes both times he saw it. Go figure.

A Winter's Tale - Somehow resembling a contemporary fairy-tale, A Winter's Tale characterizes all that is great about Eric Rohmers best works. It has an enormously affecting ending as well.

Celestial Subway Lines / Salvaging Noise - Long before the invention of film, there was an optic toy called the Magic Lantern, which was able to create an optic illusion through light and shadows. No video or film is used in the making of these ‘films’, just projected light and images.

Between Science and Garbage - Pierre Hébert has been pioneering a technique called ‘live scratch animation’ since the 1980’s. With this technique, the animator is able to animate dead objects and drawings during a live performance. The main goal of this project is to reflect the changing world in which it is created.

Tony Takitani - Director Jun Ichikawa adapts a short story by Murakami Haruki to the big screen in Tony Takitani, a quirky, minimalist film that effectively tackles issues related to feelings of isolation, loss, and loneliness, fantastically translating Murakami's unique prose style to the cinema. One of the better films of 2004!

Ballad of Narayama - is an exemplary feature of Imamura's cinematic genre. Indeterminately set in the past, it highlights the traditions and mores of an isolated mountainous village which dictate to a seventy-year old widow that she has to go up to the mountain and await her death.
The great legacy of Japanese cinema finds in Imamura a gifted heir. From Mizogushi and Ozu to Kurosawa and Oshima, Japanese film-making has created a whole tradition which has acquired universal acclaim due to its immense insight and contribution to world cinema.

Seopyeonje - originally released in 1993, became one of the most successful Korean films of the decade. Using the traditional Korean music of pansori, Seopyonje is a rich examination of the country's modernization due to Western influence in the 1950s.



The BEST are now even BETTER!
One random paragraph from an upcoming article by Tom Daniel and Gary Tooze:
"The film source used for Ugetsu isn't pristine, but Criterion has made the best of it (although it may be just a touch too dark), and they've cranked up their quality another notch. How is that even possible, you might ask? Well, first off, it's pure film, pure progressive 23.976 fps encoded frames stored on the DVD. No dropping to video at chapter changes. Even the Criterion logo (the line moving from left to right under the Criterion name) is film, whereas it and the Janus logo are usually 30fps encoded interlaced. They've used an even better quantization matrix than they ever have before, and they've been using a pretty good one for some time now."

Upcoming releases (next 3 weeks)

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]

Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection (Harold Lloyd - 7 discs, with almost all of his features including THE FRESHMAN, CAT'S PAW, SAFETY LAST) - Warner

The Idiot (Akira Kurosawa, 1951) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]

Moolaadé (Ousmane Sembene, 2004) Artificial Eye [R2-UK]
Music in Darkness (Ingmar Bergman, 1947) Tartan [R2-UK]
Newsfront (Phillip Noyce, 1978) Blue Underground

Nightmare Alley (Edmund Goulding, 1947) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK
Scandal (Akira Kurosawa, 1951) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub/Danièle Huillet, 1968) New Yorker

À Double Tour (Claude Chabrol - 1959) Kino Video

HISTOIRE(S) DU CINEMA (YES TO ENG SUBS- Jean-Luc Godard) R2- France - Gaumont - Columbia Tri-Star Home Video

House by the River (Fritz Lang - 1950) - Kino International

Leave It to Beaver - The Complete First Season (Jerry Mathers - 1957) Universal Home Video

The King Kong Collection (King Kong 2-Disc Special Edition/Son of Kong/Mighty Joe Young) Warner Home Video

King Kong (Collector's Edition) (1933) Warner Home Video

Ran (Kurasawa, 1985) Criterion

Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang - 1945) Kino International

Seinfeld - Seasons 5 & 6 Giftset (Includes Handwritten Script and Collectible Puffy Shirt) - Columbia Tristar Home Video
Tales of Hoffmann (Powell and Pressburger, 1951) Criterion

Charlie Chaplin - The Mutual Films - Vol. 2 - BFI - UK

Landscape in the Mist (Theo Angelopoulos, 1988) New Yorker

March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet - 2005 - Widescreen Edition) - Warner Home Video

Unknown Chaplin - (outtakes Chaplin had wanted destroyed) A & E Home Video


We are heading directly into 'DVD Season' what will cold weather (for some) and holiday sales... enjoy!



P.S. CONTEST WINNER WILL BE ANNOUNCED NEXT NEWSLETTER (November 17th): 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).