DVDBeaver Newsletter for November 17th, 2005
Hello all! - Key word for DVDBeaver is 'eclectic' - and this week we are all over the board again, but with a decided leaning towards the classic genre than anything else. Boxsets have become a big part of DVD marketing and we review 5 of them this week!
I'll be blunt - bandwidth is through the roof - sales have plateau'd. - we need a bit of help. If you aren't using our Amazon links for your purchases, please consider every 2nd or 3rd time doing so this holiday season. Thanks to all those who do think of us.
I finally received the 6-disc Barbara Stanwyck Screen Goddess Boxset (Double Indemnity, The Lady Eve, The Bitter Tea of General Yen, All I Desire, The Miracle Woman and Golden Boy) and I am working my way through the enjoyable films for an eventual review - but I thought I'd mention that it is the LARGEST sized box I can remember coming across - 28.5 cm X 20 X 6cm (almost 1 foot tall by 2 inches thick) - Wow! I guess it doesn't match the weight of the Image Entertainment's Educational Archives Lunch Boxset that actually includes a thermos - that review is coming up too (pure camp fun!).
For those with uncooperative mail clients - you may read our newsletter via the web HERE.
DEAL: If you were contemplating purchasing the 7-disc Preston Sturges Boxset - it is 48% off at the moment from Amazon UK HERE Seven features: 'Sullivan's Travels', 'The Lady Eve', 'Hail The Conquering Hero', 'The Great Moment', 'The Great McGinty', 'Christmas In July' and 'The Palm Beach Story'.
OUR CONTEST WINNER IS... <drum roll please>... Joren Cain!: of Baltimore Maryland. He will be sent a sealed copy of the new Criterion "Wages of Fear". Many of you got the answers correct (see bottom of email for the list). Would you like more of these contests? I have a number of sealed DVDs that we can 'play' for. Let me know!
IT'S THE BEST - 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. Delivered anywhere in continental North America for $145 US.
We have a few sweatshirts left HERE - the support for Beaver would be greatly appreciated! Hey, Rosenbaum, Kehr, R.A. Harris and Darghis all wear one - and there are only 100 in the entire world! As MoC mocks - 'it's perfect for snubbing philistines'
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... : I have a few picks this week - the obvious are The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection and King Kong (the package with Mighty Joe Young), but out of left field I really enjoyed the Django - Italo Western Box despite the misnomer title. Two classics that had me in nirvana were Of Human Bondage and Shanghai Express but the latter is coming out in France next month in a probable superior transfer so hold on for that Dietrich marvel. Despite their typical PAL-NTSC transfer Punishment Park has NY'er's best ever extras - one should consider this title if interested on Watkins. Finally, if you are as keen as I am on this noir gem then it may be worth a double dip - Masters of Cinema's Nightmare Alley.
Most Recent Reviews
The Harold Lloyd Comedy Collection - the wait is over! one of the most charismatic silent stars of all time in 28 (yes 28!) shorts and feature
films. its all too good to be true with a decent image and magnificent new scores... the bonus disc will keep you busy for a month ! Hooray
for Harold Lloyd!
King Kong - the big ape makes a grand formal entrance into region 1. The prosaic edict 'Twas Beauty that Killed The Beast' may seem a tad
corny by today's standards but it was the perfect ending to a film that essentially drew the masses on its 'large monster' appeal. Even today
this new DVD will probably outsell every other digital disc this holiday season... by a wide margin. The aptly crowed Kong will once again
reign as King.
Mighty Joe Young - He may only come up to King Kong's shin, but Joe makes up in heart what he lacks in size. This sweet tale of a girl and her pet/best friend, an African gorilla with the soul of a kitten, pulls on a different set of heartstrings than the giant ape classic. This human-scale drama is more subdued than its inspiration, but the nightclub rampage remains a terrifying scene in its mad destruction; and the climax, involving a raging fire at an orphanage (have these filmmakers no shame?!), still impresses.
The Sound of Music - Other than The Wizard
of Oz, no Hollywood musical is as familiar, reassuring, and beloved of all ages
as The Sound of Music. In bringing the musical to the screen, director Robert
Wise made spectacular use of magnificent mountain landscapes and shooting
locations in Germany and Austria. He also found in Julie Andrews the
quintessential Maria, radiantly joyful, earnest and energetic, clear of diction
and powerful in song. Her performance anchors the film: Any flicker of
condescension or insincerity on her part, and the whole thing would have
collapsed into treacle and camp. But cynics will search her face in vain: Her
sincerity is absolute, and she sells the role and the film.
Cet Amour-la - Showcasing a brilliant performance by Jeanne Moreau as the fiery and voracious Duras, this timeless love story offers special
insight into the heart and mind of one of the world’s major literary figures, whose unique body of work was developed across a stunning
range of disciplines (cinema, theatre, journalism, novels, short stories, and essays).
Punishment Park - Both controversial and relentless in its depiction of suppression and brutality, Punishment Park was heavily attacked by
the mainstream press and permitted only the barest of releases in 1971.See how NY'er's new DVD stacks up against the earlier Eureka
(Master's of Cinema) disc.
The Man With the Golden Arm - The first major Hollywood film to tackle heroin addiction, The Man With The Golden Arm shocked
contemporary audiences, defying a strict production code and eliciting Oscar-nominated work from composer Elmer Bernstein and star
Frank Sinatra. Martin Scorsese has called it, “the first honest depiction of drug addiction on American screens,” and even today, the
honesty is harrowing. This new 'Hart Sharp' DVD isn't pefect but its, unfortunately, the best we have.
When Father Was Away on Business - Emir Kusturica's very interesting film that shares much with Fellini's Amarcord in terms of political
undertones and the social aspects which result from it. No big surprise here, the DVD is another sub-par effort by Koch Lorber.
Django - Italo Western Box - a great Spaghetti-western boxset produced in Germany, where 'Django' is more a generic term for the entire
genre. 10.000 dollari per un massacro is the only Django film in this Boxset but two of the films star Gianni Garko (Gary Hudson) who plays
Django. Execution and Per 100,000 dollari ti ammazzo are similar and a typical spaghetti western but are not part of the Django film legacy.
If these films had been 'essential Django' as opposed to 'quintessential spaghetti western' it would definitely be in the running for DVD
Boxset of the Year. The transfers are that good. Ohhh you get a CD too - great packaging!
Haute Tension - Two female students, Marie and Alex, set off to Alex's parent's secluded homestead in the country to relax and study.
Come nightfall, a mysterious truck pulls up. Alex is now bound and gagged, taken off, with Marie alluding the intruder. Can she save her
friend's life in time? Or is everything all that it seems... it's clichéd, gimmicky, and unyieldingly one-note. It's goes by the numbers...until the
climax. Please no more DVD editions of this film - see our comparison of 5 of the existing versions.
The Almodovar Collection (Vol.1) - Pedro Almodóvar is the king of Spanish cinema - His films are work of art. Tasteless, kitsch, campy,
hysterically and absurd. Definitely. Uncompromising, provocative, transgressive and taboo-breaking. Absolutely. Almodóvar knows when to
pay homage to the masters and borrows from everyone. This boxset (Volume 1), is a collection of his early work up to his breakthrough and
key film “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.” Includes 'Pepi, Luci, Bom', 'Dark Habits', and 'What Have I Done To Deserve This?'
The Consequence of Love - Having spend the last eight years living an anonymous life in a remote Swiss hotel, sitting most of the day alone
in the hotel lobby, detached observing people, the life of Titta is taking a drastic turn when he breaks his solitude by talking to the attractive
waitress Sofia. A masterful told thriller by Paolo Sorrentino, where every single frame and every line is full of tension. This is one extremely
Happiness - Todd Solondz is surely one of the bravest filmmakers working today. From his first feature film “Welcome to the Dollhouse”, he
ignored expectations and made films about unhappy outsiders, loners and even mentally disturbed people. With “Happiness”, he tells the
story of a group of various people and their problems. The film is filled with exceptionally brilliant performances, an interesting visual and
narrative style and very touching emotional moments. Certainly one of 1998’s best movies.
DiG! - is a miracle of a film. What began in 1995 as a portrait of Anton Newcombe, leader of the Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Courtney
Taylor, leader of the Dandy Warhols, whom at that time was intimate friends, developed as into a portrait of two bands, one lead by a
genius, with a self destructive ego, another by a lesser genius, who chose to sell “a little out” and become rich and famous.
Kinamand - Keld (Bjarne Henriksen) is indecision personified. His wife has left him and his business is not going anywhere, so he closes his
shop down, with a note saying, ”Closed because of…” By chance he becomes friends with Feng, the owner of a Chinese grill, and because
he is lonely, they arrange for him to be married to Feng’s sister Ling (Vivian Wu). While the outer story is your average clash of cultures, the
inner story, the love story between Keld and Ling, is of immense beauty.
Street Scene - A curious diversion from standard Hollywood fare of the times with King Vidor incorporating some obtuse camera angles in his rich character study. Only a smattering of Pre-code expression (see the bra-less 'party girl' image). The diverse ethnic backgrounds help establish a microcosm of the prevalent U.S. melting pot. Sylvia Sidney is adept as her usual good-hearted soul and the film definitely warrants a viewing. DVD is in rough shape.
Of Human Bondage (Bette Davis / Leslie Howard) - The painfully honest story is all too recognizable and the pre-code freedom (released just before Hays code-restrictions) of the film added an intelligent rendering of the classic novel, easily surpassing the 46' and 64' remakes. A massively impacting tale of human frailty, the devastating power of love, and the extreme intricacies of personal interaction and bonding. A masterpiece in every sense. The Roan DVD comes in a package with 2 more pre-coder's - Mille / Kept Husbands.
Shanghai Express - it would be hard to match the ladies in this pre-code stylistic masterpiece as Anne May Wong only needs a couple of close ups to command our hypnotized stares. She has some brief symmetry with Marlene Dietrich who, rather than acting, appears to be glancing skyward and posing much of the time - trouble is that she does this better than anyone on the silver screen... ever. Sternberg rightly banking his cinema muse's power avoids any chance of Anna May getting an entrenched foothold. Great support comes in the form of Warner Oland who plays the evil revolutionary leader who tries in on with both gals... but this is all Dietrich and Garmes' exquisite cinematography. This is film mood at its absolute pinnacle - a high-class exotic passenger ride in spacious train cars with thick velour seats - my imagination makes them maroon-ish red. A masterpiece.
Nightmare Alley - Based on William Lindsay Gresham's book of the same name, scripted by the formidable Jules Furthman (Shanghai Express, To Have and Have Not etc.) and reflecting the preoccupations of its drug and alcohol-abusing, orgy-frequenting director Edmund Goulding, Nightmare Alley uncovers both the dirt and romance of carnival life, and controversially — for those in the business — the tricks and scams of conmen and hustlers. After this picaresque and cathartic film-noir, you will never again misuse the word "geek". See how the new Eureka MoC disc fares against the older Fox one.
A Matter of Life and Death - Powell and Pressburger films. I personally rate it as one of their finest, along with "Gone to Earth" and "I Know Where I am Going". Like "A Canterbury Tale" (1944) we have the wartime interaction of the British and a lone American. What separates and stamps a signature of P + P's films is both the dialogue and often Jack Cardiff's stunning color cinematography. This holds rank in both areas. The premise of "A Matter of Life and Death" has classically felt overtones invoking the subtle melodrama of a heartfelt romance. It is also remarkably imaginative. See if the new German version is as good as the old UK and read why it has not come out in the US !?!
Upcoming releases (next 3 weeks)
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
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
Leave It to Beaver - The Complete First Season (Jerry Mathers - 1957) Universal Home Video
Punishment Park (Peter Watkins - 1971) New Yorker Video
Ran (Kurasawa, 1985) Criterion
Scarlet Street (Fritz Lang - 1945) Kino International
Charlie Chaplin - The Mutual Films - Vol. 2 - BFI - UK
Landscape in the Mist (Theo Angelopoulos, 1988) New Yorker
Loving Couples (Mai Zetterling - 1965) New Yorker Video
March of the Penguins (Luc Jacquet - 2005 - Widescreen Edition) - Warner Home Video
Unknown Chaplin - (outtakes Chaplin had wanted destroyed) A & E Home Video
Windhorse ( Paul Wagner 1998) New Yorker Video
As Tears Go By (Wong Kar-wai, 1988) Tartan [R2-UK]
The Dark Corner (Henry Hathaway) Fox Home Entertainment
Forbidden Games (René Clément - 1952) Criterion Collection
Kiss of Death (Henry Hathaway - 1947) Fox Home Entertainment
The Life Collection - David Attenborough (24 Disc Boxset) - BBC - R2 UK
Matt Helm Lounge (The Silencers/ Murderers Row/The Ambushers/The Wrecking Crew) - Columbia Tristar
The Pinky Violence Collection (Various - Criminal Woman: Killing Melody/ Girl Boss Guerilla etc.) - Wea Corp
The Rockford Files - Season One (James Garnber - 1974) - Universal
Shoot the Piano Player (François Truffaut - 1960) 2-disc Criterion Collection
Where the Sidewalk Ends (Otto Preminger) Fox Home Entertainment
Whisky (Juan Pablo Rebella - 2004
Space for DVDs seems to always be an issue - new shelves are coming (thanks to my wife!) and I'll post pics!
Take care till next time!
P.S. - Mr. Scorsese's birthday today, and to an infinitely lesser degree, my own as well. So no Beaver updates - well for at least a few hours.
P.P.S. TECH CORNER (repost):
The BEST are now
One random paragraph from a future 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."
The Latest = 2001: A Space Odyssey
# = 2001: A Space Odyssey
A = All About Lili Chou-Chou
B = The Brown Bunny
C = Cat People
D = The Day the Earth Stood Still
E = Ivan the Terrible Pt. 1
F = Fail-Safe
G = The Green Ray
H = Hero
I = Irma Vep
J = Juliet of the Spirits
K = Kwaidan
L = Lilja 4-Ever
M = A Man Escaped
N = The Naked Kiss
O = Offret (The Sacrifice)
P = The Passion of Joan of Arc
Q = Quiet Rolls the Dawn
R = Rosetta
S = Le Samourai
T = Throne of Blood
U = The Umbrellas of Cherbourg
V = The Vertical Ray of the Sun
W = Wages of Fear
X = X2
Y = Young Frankenstein
Z = Blind Swordsman: The Tale of Zatoichi