DVDBeaver Newsletter for Sept. 8th, 2005


Hello again fellow film/DVD aficionados!,

Welcome the new members to our community who made their way to us through Dave Kehr's NY Times article HERE. Region-Free Malata 393a is 'on special' for the final 7 that we have (10% off) - see review HERE.

The Toronto International Film Festival is just starting today and we will have reports daily from our 'in the field' reporters - Photo of the Day, 5-star ratings - should be fun! Stay tuned to our homepage.

This weeks newsletter has 22 reviews/comparisons...  with films directed by the likes of Lubitsch, Ray (Nick), Renoir, Tarr, Watkins, Truffaut, Varda, Ulmer... plus some genre stuff starring Randolph Scott and Sonny Chiba... Yes, 'eclectic' is the operative word.

Just a quick re-mention: We suggest steering clear of DVDSoon.com for your purchases... unless you like canceling credit cards to get refunds. It's all bad news folks...

There were too many good deals on DVD this past week, and some imperfect and expenses ones too - We are high on the Garbo Boxset with Ninotchka and Mata Hari reviewed, plus great value for $ in The Bela Lugosi Collection. The Southerner and My Night at Maud's have flawed transfers, but the films are essential for those keen on the 2 'R' directors (Renoir and Rohmer). MoC's - Punishment Park looks fab, and I finally shelled out for the 12-disc Truffaut Box - I'll review and report my honest impressions.
Director's Chair
database - Truffaut added - see Homepage (right column) for all.
Who's Next? I was hoping it would be the pioneer of American cinema verit?.. with the new Boxset coming out. I'll do my best to post. Time, time, time...

Next Week's releases look strong:
After Sex (Post co?um, animal triste) (Brigitte Ro?n, 1997) New Yorker, Bad Timing (Nicolas Roeg, 1980) Criterion, Ben-Hur (Four-Disc Collector's Edition) - William Wyler - Warner, The John Cassavetes Collection: Shadows/Faces/A Woman Under the Influence/The Killing of a Chinese Bookie/Opening Night (Cassavetes) Optimum [R2-UK], Dennis Potter at London Weekend Television: Blade on the Feather/Rain of the Roof/Cream in My Coffee (various, 1980) Network [R2-UK], Head-On (Fatih Akin, 2004) Strand Releasing, The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) Criterion, Nobody Knows (2004, Hirokazu Koreeda) Columbia Tri-Star, Palindromes (2005, Todd Solondz) Wellspring Media, Inc., Ten Minutes Older: The Trumpet/The Cello (Erice, Herzog, Szab? Denis, Godard, Herzog, Kaurism?i, Lee, Schl?dorff, Figgis, Radford, Jarmusch, Wenders, Chen, Bertolucci, Menzel, 2002) [R2-UK]

 Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:

Ninotchka - From the 10-disc Signature collection. With Lubitsch at the helm - Garbo essayed the first of her two comedy roles here and proved herself as adept at comic timing as she was in drama. Masterpiece.

The Bela Lugosi Collection - Under $4 a film makes this another great deal... and you get Ulmer's long sought - The Black Cat, plus Murders in the Rue Morgue / The Raven / The Invisible Ray and Black Friday. No-brainer purchase as far as I am concerned.

Johnny Guitar - Nicholas Ray's genre and gender bending make for a pure classic of the screen. Buy the Kinowelt from Germany.

Werckmeister Harmonies - Artificial Eye are replacing your old 1.78 ratio DVD (cropped) of Tarr's film and replacing with the intended 1.66. Go for it - the image quality is better too!

A Lawless Street - This is a pure western - no real gimmicks, surprises or inappropriate comedic elements. Akin to a very early "Unforgiven" it thrives on the legacy of Randolph Scott... now, where are those Budd Boetticher's?

Santa Fe - More Scott western magic - this time on building the railway. I love this stuff'

Toy Story - New 10th Anniversary edition - Pixar are not simply making a great animated film here, these will endure for generations of adults and children.

Sin City - possibly the most visually inventive comic book adaptation to make its way to a movie screen.... and directed by Robert Rodriguez, Frank Miller and Quentin Tarantino.

Punishment Park - Both controversial and relentless in its depiction of suppression and brutality, it was heavily attacked by the mainstream press and permitted only the barest of initial releases...

The Gleaners and I - Gleaners gather up the leftovers of edible crops -- grain, fruit, vegetables -- after the harvesters are finished with their work and director Agnes Varda gleans a potato with one hand while filming with the other. Documentary masterpiece.

Confidentially Yours - Quite possibly my favorite of Truffaut's films - and unfortunately his swansong. It was his fun and fast paced ode to Noir and Hitchcock appropriately filmed in black and white.

Shoot the Piano Player - What makes Truffaut's second feature such a delight is the almost tangible passion for the history of cinema, its language and conventions, and the artistic possibilities offered by their innovative adaptation and re-interpretation.

Mon tr?or - Keren Yedayas debut film and winner of the Cannes 2004 Camera dOr invites us into the life of seventeen-year-old Or from Tel-Aviv, who grapples to rescue her mother from the toil that years of prostitution have begun to exact on her.

The Southerner - Renoir catches the spirit of perseverance so beautifully that it takes your breath away.

Life is a Miracle - Kusturicas film is a swirling, eerily ambivalent paean to the unyielding optimism of those who refuse to relinquish their individuality and succumb to the dehumanizing and ultimately superficial sense of patriotic duty.

The Woman Next Door - An exploration of the disastrous effects of uncontrollable desire and passion which actually sprung from Truffaut's obsession to work with actress Fanny Ardent (with whom he had a child). This is a very memorable, if uncomfortable, film.

Ramparts of Clay - Jean-Louis Bertuccellis film is a 1970 French-Algerian production set in a Tunisian village on the heels of independence. Its a fiction film that sets an example for documentary films in the observational mode. There is scarcely any dialogue, but its not missed.

The Red Tent - The film is beautifully written and the acting is of a high level throughout. Poor to very poor DVD.

My Night at Maud's - In Rohmer's third of the Six Moral tales an introverted Catholic engineer (Jean-Louis Trintignant) is introduced by his Marxist friend Vidal (Antoine Vitez) and to Maud (Francoise Fabian), a charming and worldly divorcee and he ends up staying the night in her apartment. Life, choice, desire, fate.

Mata Hari - the name breathes mystery, intrigue and sexual allure. Who better to play the notorious World War I spy than Greta Garbo, the enigmatic, exquisite screen icon called The Swedish Sphinx.

Somewhere in the Night - Joseph L. Mankiewicz turns a low budget 'B' cast with quintessential "amnesia victim" ploy into Film Noir excellence.

The Killing Machine - For Sonny Chiba fans this is one of the mainstays. loaded with the genre charm. Action, vengeance and a hero.

A great time to get outside, breathe fresh air and get out from in front of the 'puter. Do it!
P.S. Don't forget the upcoming 'Unseen Cinema' - Early American Avant-Garde Film 1894-1941:
A DVD Retrospective from the World's Leading Film Collections - Seven DVDs - 19 Hours - 155 Films available fro Pre-order savings HERE.