DVDBeaver Newsletter for December 15th, 2005
Hi friends! Is it just me - or is there a shortage of decent Region 1 releases these days? You'd think this would be the premium time to list (Holidays and all). Well, a lot are coming in January anyway... Chicago Beavers? - we will be mentioned in the Dec 30th issue of the Chicago Tribune - Can a kind recipient can send us the scoop! (mucho thanks)
13 reviews/updates this week, a big sale at Amazon.UK, a long-awaited classic western, Tourneur, Nick Ray, Pasolini and more - and in case you missed it - March 2006 Criterions are listed HERE - exciting times indeed. Our Calendar has been updated !
Those with overly sophisticated mail clients - you may read our newsletter via the web HERE.
NEWS: Artificial Eye to release Bela Tarr's Satantango in 2006!
Artificial Eye SALE AT AMAZON UK
(CLICK TITLES FOR MORE) Blind Chance, A Short Film About Killing, No End, Camera Buff, The Scar, Three colors (all), Bresson: L'Argent, Haneke: The Piano Teacher, Haneke: Code Unknown, Kitano: Zatoichi, Kitano: Dolls, Sokurov: Russian Ark, Dardenne: The Son PLUS MANY MORE!
MORE FOX NOIRS COMING IN MARCH!
(CLICK TITLES FOR MORE) The House on Telegraph Hill (Robert Wise, 1951), No Way Out (Joseph L. Mankiewicz1950), Fallen Angel (Otto Preminger -1945)
RECOMMENDATIONS... We weren't banking on much from Wellspring's Café Lumiere but it exceeded our expectations on the Extras department. Pasolini's Teorema is an important film about values and the importance of life. Bout' time Partner! - How long have we western genre fans waited for a film-to-DVD of this pair: Boetticher/Scott - well its here: Seven Men From Now. Rays Bigger Than Life is a cinematic monster and a crime its not out in Region 1... finally how did this baby - The Five Pennies get lost in the shuffle? Its fabulous!
Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:
Manderlay - With ”Manderlay”, Lars von Trier sharpens his criticism of
the US; here alluding on Bush’s policy towards the current war. While the
narrative context and mold is the same as in “Dogville”,
“Manderlay” stands as a mirror image of “Dogville”.
Where Grace passively accepted her submission, she now active participates in
dissolving the oppression of society. Where problems were external in
“Dogville”, they are now internal. Even von Trier's mise-en-scene by colors is
inversed; in “Dogville”
white on black, now black on sandy white.
Lumiere - The opening shot of this pensive masterpiece is the Shochiku
Studio logo, former studio of the great Yasujiro Ozu. Cut to a scene of a young
woman on the telephone that is shot in long take from the fixed frame of a low
angle camera. Move onto the following scene that has the same young woman on a
train, insert a well-timed jump cut and suddenly, as if awakening from a dream,
we find the vision of Yasujiro Ozu is no more, and the reality that this is in
fact a Hou Hsiao-hsien film, begins to take form. See how the new Wellspring
fares against the hurried Asian release.
Teorema - Pasolini's meditation on lack of communication and understanding among bourgeoisie. It's his "Discreet alienation of the bourgeoisie", if you will. The film is full of allegory images, that some find too pretentious. The eccentric Italian director's atmospheric tale of a prominent, dysfunctional Milanese family which engineers its own destruction when a spiritually minded stranger moves in on them. Check out the newish Koch Lorber release
Batman Begins - an impressive support cast, Liam Neeson, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gary Oldman, Tom Wilkinson, Rutger Hauer and Cillian Murphy, “Batman Begins” dwells in strong characters. Caine is the definitive Alfred; everyone else pales next to his dry British sarcasm and butlers code, and has some of the best lines in the film. “Batman Begins” is the best (super)hero film since Singer’s “X-Men 2”, which together with Burton’s “Batman Returns” forms a trio of highly entertaining masterpieces of comic book cinema.
Saint Ralph - Set in Hamilton in 1954, Saint Ralph is the unlikely story of Ralph Walker, a ninth grader who outran everyone's expectations except his own in his bold quest to win the Boston Marathon. Ralph is a fatherless 14-year-old with a seriously ill mother, who knows he's a time bomb waiting to explode into greatness, except that he has no idea where that greatness will manifest itself. An unfortunate incident of self-abuse in the community pool inadvertently sets him on this road when, as penance, Ralph is conscripted to the cross-country team. Desperate to believe a miracle will bring his mother out of a coma, Ralph becomes a convert to the church of running, and determines to win the Boston Marathon.
Seven Men From Now - Praised by the pioneering French critic Andre Bazin as "one of the most intelligent westerns I know but also the least intellectual," this 1956 feature by the underrated Budd Boetticher stresses action over dialogue while constructing a subtle moral allegory. Randolph Scott plays an ex-sheriff trailing the seven men who murdered his wife in a robbery; along the way he picks up a bumbling couple en route to California and an outlaw (Lee Marvin, whose appealing swagger contrasts with Scott's laconic certitude). Boetticher uses the landscape not as a metaphor for wildness but as a starkly neutral ground on which his characters play out their shifting positions, which suggests that each individual is responsible for his or her own choices. The taut opening is stunning: the protagonist strides into a tightly framed patch of ground from behind the camera, initiating his attempts to both traverse and dominate space, and the ensuing gunfire offscreen accompanies images of the horses he'll take from the men he's killing, a beautiful elision that emphasizes destiny over violence.
Peter Tscherkassky - Peter Tscherkassky is without question one of the most innovative and interesting avant-garde filmmakers to have emerged from Austria during the last 25 years. He exclusively uses found footage, which is then heavily edited in his dark room. In a laboriously process, he manually alters every single frame until he has the results he is satisfied with. Tscherkassky has explained his love for very dense films with multiple layers and that is exactly what his films look like. Take for instance his highly acclaimed film ‘Outer Space’ which uses scenes from the 1981 horror film ‘The Entity’, but reorganizes them in such a way it becomes a totally different film altogether.
High Heels - Abril is the newsreader who decides to get in touch with her estranged mother, a celebrated singer (Paredes). Their painful reunion is complicated even further as Abril is now married to her mother's former lover. When her mother rekindles the affair and he ends up dead, both find themselves under suspicion. Almodóvar's tragicomedy is occasionally - as one would expect from this director - overblown and extravagant, but generally Almodóvar is in a more restrained mood than usual, which becomes especially evident in the extraordinarily moving scene when Abril reacts to the death of her husband live on air. It is when he is in this mode that Almodóvar can't help showing his maturity, and one day he will make his masterpiece, but High Heels is not quite it. Abril shows what a versatile actress she is and it is impossible to imagine the film without her moving performance.
The Five Pennies - Loring "Red" Nichols is a cornet-playing country boy who goes to New York in the 1920s full of musical ambition and principles. He gets a job playing in Wil Paradise's band, but quits to pursue his dream of playing Dixieland jazz. He forms the "Five Pennies" which features his wife, Bobbie, as vocalist. At the peak of his fame, Red and Bobbie's daughter, Dorothy, develops polio. Red quits the music business to move to Los Angeles where the climate is better for Dorothy. As Dorothy becomes a young teen, she learns of her father's musical past, and he is persuaded to open a small nightclub which is failing until some noted names from his past come to help out.
Anne of the Indies - Forty years before Cutthroat Island came Jacques Tourneur's interpretation of equal rights in piracy, here, Jean Peters is a notorious female pirate who unwittingly falls for the former pirate captain (Louis Jourdan) secretly spying on her for the British. There's a fair bit of mildly engaging swash and buckle here, while Peters makes for a comely love interest-cum-villainess, but otherwise this never rises beyond the level of standard B-Movie frolic. Wet Sunday afternoon entertainment.
Bigger Than Life - A superbly shot critique of the suffocating conformity, repression and materialism at the heart of middle-class life, Bigger Than Life is the American Beauty of 50s cinema. It may not be as well known to audiences as Rebel Without A Cause and In A Lonely Place, but Nicholas Ray's allegorical domestic melodrama lays claim to being the maverick American director's finest and most subversive work
World Poker Tour: The Best of Season THREE - the most exciting I have ever seen from the 100's I have witnessed. The 'World Poker Open' in Tunica and the 'World Poker Finals' were exhausting in their excitement levels. It was the most draining and highly interesting poker ever televised, both because of the ultra-aggressive play and the huge stakes.
World Poker Tour: Season ONE - This is very decent value for the money - over 20 hours of the inaugural season of the World Poker Tour 5-discs with 3 X 1.5 hour tournaments finals on each. This is a lot of poker for anyone to watch.
The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach (Jean-Marie Straub/Daničle Huillet, 1968) New Yorker
Serenity (Widescreen Edition) (Joss Whedon - 2005) - Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Seven Men From Now (Budd Boetticher - 1956) Special Collector's Edition - Paramount Home Video
Toy Story 2 (2-Disc Special Edition) - Buena Vista Home Video
2046 (Wong Kar-wai, 2004) Sony
Cafe Lumiere (Hsiao-hsien Hou - 2003) Wellspring Media
The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (Irving - 2003) New Video Group
The Bad Sleep Well (Akira Kurosawa, 1963) Criterion Collection
Ballad of Cable Hogue - Warner Home Video
Cabin in the Sky (Vincente Minnelli - 1943) Warner Home Video
Dear Wendy (Thomas Vinterburg, 2005) Metrodome [R2-UK]
Hallelujah (King Vidor - 1929) - Warner Home Video
Island in the Sun (Robert Rossen - 1957) Fox Home Entertainment
Pinky (Elia Kazan - 1949) - Fox Home Entertainment
Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2004) Sony
The Short Films of David
Lynch (2006) - Absurda/
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2005) Strand
Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer, 2004) Koch Lorber
Vidas Secas (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963) New Yorker
Orson Welles Box Set: Citizen Kane/The Magnificent Ambersons/Touch of Evil (Welles, 1941/1942/1958) Universal [R2-UK]
Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone - 1943) - Fox Home Entertainment
Wishing you the best in this Holiday season,
P.S. BOOK RECOMMENDATION (PERFECT Holiday reading): THE STORY OF FILM - Mark Cousins's chronological journey through the worldwide history of film is told from the point of view of filmmakers and moviegoers. We learn how filmmakers influenced each other; how contemporary events influenced them; how they challenged established techniques and developed new technologies to enhance their medium. Striking images reinforce the reader's understanding of cinematic innovation, both stylistic and technical. MORE INFO HERE