DVDBeaver Newsletter for December 30th, 2005


Apologies for the lateness of our normally prompt newsletter - I am at the mercy of a seasonal flu-bug. Our last newsletter of 2005 will also be our shortest. As promised reviews of John Ford's Mogambo and 3 Godfathers are now posted, (NOTE: purchasable only at brick and mortar presently.) but the big news is our DVD of the Year balloting and formatting is now complete. In case I don't thank him enough - Adam Lemke continues to be the sober Ying to my raging Yang and this would not have come to fruition without his tireless efforts. Anyway HERE is our DVD of the Year 2005 voting!


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


DVDBeaver's TOP YesAsia picks are HERE. One of the best e-tailors on the web. We intend to expand this section in 2006!


RECOMMENDATIONS... I don't have a lot to say this week - what with the DVD of the Year organization and the poor crop of this weeks release reviews - I can only say that The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach is a very worthy film but the transfer is quite poor. Personally I am going to wait for 3 Godfathers and Mogambo to reach the Online Boxset availability stage. For a very strong year - this last week was one of the most barren. 


NOT SHIPPING YET! Histoire(s) du cinéma LISTED HERE - WILL HAVE English subtitles. ie. UCLA Film & TV archive is screening "Histoire(s)" in January and their screening notes include this line: "The Archive is proud to present the local premiere of Gaumont's fully subtitled video restoration of HISTOIRE(S) over two nights." (Thanks Doug!) but the Gaumont DVD has not shipped yet!         


Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:

Raw Deal - Classic Anthony Mann! - Dennis O'Keefe is the framed prisoner who manages to escape. He seeks revenge while on the run from the police, and his girlfriend and a hostage come along for the ride. Wonderful film noir with director Mann on top form and eliciting great performances from his actors and milking the tight script for every ounce of dark humor and atmospheric shading. Raw Deal's ending may be predictable, but O'Keefe's quest to clear his name is always gripping. See how the new Sony Music 'Gangsters Guns & Floozies Crime Collection' editions stand up to the old VCI.

What Time is it There? - Tsai Ming-Liang follows his trademark 'pondering static camera' ("Rebels of the Neon God", "The River", "The Hole" and "Vive L'Amour") with his fifth feature film, "What Time is it There?". His unconventional style will deter many cinema goers who might envisage something more easily penetrable, perhaps requiring less speculation. In a pure minimalist vein, Tsai uses no music (aside from "The 400 Blows" theme played sparingly). There is no cinematographic panning shots... no camera movement for each take. Each scene is a single static shot. There are almost no close-ups. There are extremely long stretches without any dialogue. Hopefully, this does not send you running in the other direction because it is indeed a wonderful viewing experience touching upon many important modern emotional themes. A new Swedish DVD has a superior image, hour long documentary (with English subs) but the feature has only Swedish subs... but who needs them?

Massacre Time - contains all of the best ingredients to be found in the genre : machismo than teeters on the brim of absurdity, peculiar dubbing, bizarre characters, elliptical dialogue and a casual disregard for human life. There's also an absolutely fantastic score (complete with compulsory inappropriate title song) and enough singular touches to raise it into the highest class of it's type.

The Intruder - “L’Intrus” is such a personal film, such an auteurist creation, captured by Agnés Godard. A blur between reality and dream, an enigmatic meditation, an elegy, “L’Intrus” is cinema extraordinaire. It is cinema most alive. It is a triumph of filmmaking; fearless and honest.

The Tit and the Moon - Bigas Luna shows some boobs. The Tit and the Moon acts like a coming-of-age comedy, with added love triangle romantic comedy , but in the end, it really is a rather pointless and silly excuse for showing a lot of naked breasts. But even so, it is done with so much love and attitude, that I had to give in and enjoy this surreal fantasy.

Granular Synthesis - is a series of multimedia installations created by Kurt Hentschläger and Ulf Langheinrich, which began in 1991. In these installations, disorientating images are projected onto giant screens accompanied by a disorientating soundtrack, in order to completely destabilize the viewer’s senses. The only thing Hentschläger & Langheinrich seem interested in, is the search of the limits of human perception or (in their own words) ‘to probe certain aesthetics […] of an audio-visual aesthetic form’.

The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach - Jean-Marie Straub's 1967 film of the marriage between the widower Bach and Anna Magdalena. The film has a musical structure that is very much like Bach's own St. Matthew Passion; and Straub uses the format of Bach's music to etch a minimalist love story of enormous richness.

3 Godfathers - Queasily kind-hearted action comedy - filmed umpteen times before and since - in which three outlaws are forced to take care of an orphaned baby. Of all Ford's westerns, this is the one that best shows his unblinking attachment to a sentimental, mythical view of the West - one governed by codes of decency and chivalry that only existed in his head. This is the film against which the revisionist westerns of the 1960s and 1970s were aligned: mounted gunmen sweetened into cuddly uncles, for the benefit of the American public. It's phoney, it's bunk - and it might just persuade you of a beautiful lie.

Mogambo - John Ford's 1953 remake of Red Dust lies far from his field of personal interest--in Africa, in fact--but it is a creditable sex and safari yarn. Ava Gardner more than holds her own against Jean Harlow's original performance, lending her dusky energy to a tritely conceived part: she's the international call girl who falls for the great white hunter (Clark Gable, far more interesting than he was in the first version). As the temptingly pure and fragile Englishwoman, Grace Kelly was closer to Ford's sympathy and understanding, but Gardner walks off with the movie and the man. Oddly, the studio scenes are more atmospheric than the location shots.

Upcoming Releases:

Figures in a Landscape (Joseph Losey, 1970) Paramount Home Entertainment (UK) R2

Or, My Treasure (Keren Yedeya, 2004) Kino

An Unmarried Woman (Paul Mazursky, 1978) 20th Century Fox

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]

Eraserhead (David Lynch, 1977) - Absurda/ Subversive
The Green Pastures (Marc Connelly, William Keighley - 1936) Warner Home Video

Hallelujah (King Vidor - 1929) - Warner Home Video

Island in the Sun (Robert Rossen - 1957) Fox Home Entertainment

Pinky (Elia Kazan - 1949) - Fox Home Entertainment

Sam Peckinpah's Legendary Westerns Collection (The Wild Bunch / Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid / Ride the High Country / The Ballad of Cable Hogue - Warner Home Video

Saraband (Ingmar Bergman, 2004) Sony

The Short Films of David Lynch (2006) - Absurda/ Subversive
Tony Takitani (Jun Ichikawa, 2005) Strand
Triple Agent (Eric Rohmer, 2004) Koch Lorber
Vidas Secas (Nelson Pereira dos Santos, 1963) New Yorker
Stormy Weather (Andrew L. Stone - 1943) - Fox Home Entertainment

Assassination (Masahrio Shinoda, 1964) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK]

Flightplan (Widescreen Edition) (Robert Schwentke, 2005)Touchstone / Disney

Gloria (John Cassavetes, 1980) Gaumont [R2-France]
Innocence (Lucile Hadzihalilovic , 2004) - Artificial Eye R2 UK

The Savage Innocents (Nicholas Ray, 1959) Eureka/MoC [R2-UK
Slow Motion (Sauve qui peut (la vie)) (Jean-Luc Godard, France) Artificial Eye [R2-UK]

The Time Tunnel Vol. 1 (Irwin Allen,1966-67) 20th Century Fox
The Virgin Spring (Ingmar Bergman, 1961) Criterion
Virgin Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors (Hong Sang-soo, 2000) Tai Seng



I do hope you are participating in the holiday spirit at this time of year, and more importantly than anything else is that you have a safe and enjoyable New Year's celebration.





Werckmeister Harmonies, Uzak, Stalker, Waiting for Happiness, Father and Son, Godard's Week-end, Ozu's End of Summer, Iosselliani's Monday Morning, Le Chinon D'Olga, Many Kieslowski films including 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! 

Watch for: Those Who Love Me Can Take The Train (only DD 2.0 sound), Japon (the film is cut 51 seconds)

and STILL A GOOD 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'.