DVDBeaver Newsletter for Sept. 15th, 2005


Hello my fellow DVD-o-phile brothers and sisters,

I'm taking a day-of from DVDBeaver today (my first this year!).. (well, after sending this newsletter ) - to have coffee with Chicago-Reader journalist and author Jonathan Rosenbaum then watch the Dardennes Palm D'or winning L'Enfant with some good friends. I understands the director brothers will be in attendance. I'll enjoy everything except downtown Toronto parking.

Our Toronto International Film Festival LOG is UPDATED with reviews (from field reporters Adam Lemke, Bill McAlpine and Tony Youngblood) and 5-star ratings!

Director Martin Scorsese has recently exposed his Top 10 list(s) of movies that demonstrate a 'masterful use of light and color'. Check out our new Homepage button (right column - top) "Martin Scorsese's Top 10's"...

Frantic days with this weeks newsletter reporting 28 reviews/comparisons...  with films directed by Cimino, Peckinpah, Wyler, Cassavetes, Muzursky, Miyazaki, Koreeda, Mulligan and a wild mix of Beverly Hillbillies, Sonny Chiba and more Garbo. Phewww! 

NEWS: One of the Hollywood greats, producer-director Robert Wise died Wednesday. He had just turned 91. R.I.P.

There were many, many good products on DVD this past week. Personally I enjoyed all the Legacy releases from Universal - especially To Kill a Mockingbird and The Deer Hunter. Nobody Knows may catch you unawares with its intensity. I gained some newfound respect for Brian DePalma while re-watching Carlito's Way. Major Dundee: Extended Version is a must-own for Peckinpah fans. Harry and Tonto was wonderful and a great deal (it also has a directors commentary). Ben-Hur is a  no-brainer purchase and ditto for The Garbo Signature set - see Camille, Queen Christina, Garbo Silents from the TCM Archive, Ninotchka, etc.     
Director's Chair database - Cassavetes added - see Homepage (right column) for all.
Who's Next? - No definite plans...

In 2 week's these upcoming releases look pretty interesting: Antonieta (Carlos Saura, 1982) Vanguard, Bad Timing (Nicolas Roeg, 1980) Criterion, Black Narcissus (Powell + Pressburger, 1946) Network - R2 - UK, The Crazy Stranger (Gadjo dilo) (Tony Gatlif, 1997) New Yorker, The Ear (1970, Karel Kachyna) - Second Run DVD, Experiments in Terror (Lloyd Michael Williams) Facets, Un Film parl?(A Talking Picture) (Manoel de Oliveira, 2003) Gemini Films [R2-France], Four Films by Otar Ioselliani: April/Falling Leaves/There Once Was a Singing Blackbird/Pastorale (Iosseliani, 1962/1968/1970/1975) Facets, Heimat 3 (Edgar Reitz, 2004) Artificial Eye [R2-UK], Interrogation (1982, Ryszard Bugajski) - Second Run DVD, Kikujiro (Takeshi Kitano, 1999) Pathe Distribution Ltd R2-UK, Let's Go With Pancho Villa (Fernando de Fuentes, 1935) Facets, The Man Who Fell to Earth (Nicolas Roeg, 1976) Criterion, Moolaad?/a> (Ousmane Sembene, 2004) Seville, Novo (Jean-Pierre Limosin, 2002) Tartan [R2-UK], Parole et Utopie (Word and Utopia) (Manoel de Oliveira, 2000) Gemini Films [R2-France], Porto de mon enfance (Oporto of My Childhood) (Manoel de Oliveira, 2001) Gemini Films [R2-France], Portrait Of Jason (1967, Shirley Clarke) - Second Run DVD, Le Principe de l'incertitude (The Principle of Uncertainty) (Manoel de Oliveira, 2002) Gemini Films [R2-France], Quilombo (Carlos Diegues, 1984) New Yorker, The Stationmaster's Wife (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1976) New Yorker, Tale of Springtime (Eric Rohmer, 1990) Artificial Eye [R2-UK], The Tracker (Rolf de Heer, 2002) Facets, Van Gogh (Maurice Pialat , 1991) Artificial Eye Film Company Ltd. - R2-UK, We're No Angels (Michael Curtiz, 1955) Paramount Home Video

Most Recent Reviews and Comparisons:

The Deer Hunter - Cimino's polarizing film progressing from a wedding to a funeral. Streep, DeNiro, Walken... The new Legacy DVD is the one to own although the 2nd disc is unnecessary.

The Sting - Legacy Series - anamorphic and finally in theatrical ratio - episodic film breaking down into various plateaus of the con game. Newman, Redford - Fun - but best picture of '73? You decide.

Garbo Silents from the TCM Archive - More Warner delights with Garbo's earliest years in Hollywood - DVD package contains Flesh and the Devil (1927), The Mysterious Lady (1928) and The Temptress (1926) - Gals don't get much hotter in the 20's than this folks.

Carlito's Way - Ultimate Edition - What happens' when Studios run out of superlatives ? - is the 'Sublime' version coming soon? - Actually this, and DePalma are better than I have given credit in the past - plus Penn makes another announcement as his superiority over his entire generations of colleagues. NOTE: I had trouble playing this on my Malata 393a (played on Toshiba though)

Nobody Knows - One of the most impacting films I have seen this year - realism to the point of nausea. Watch out NTSC'ers - a couple of new version - one from Canada (Capri) and one from US (MGM)

Major Dundee: Extended Version - offers Peckinpah buffs the rare opportunity to see the extended version (and new score) in all its widescreen western glory.

Camille (1936) - Garbo's most famous, most popular role... and arguably her best. A real tearjerker that emphasizes how much the camera loved her... and you will too. Plus the DVD has the 1921 version as well!

Queen Christina - No one needs convincing of Garbo's mysterious, magical talent in her role as the 17th-century Swedish Queen.

The Beverly Hillbillies Vol: 1 - I can only say, if you add up how many times I'll rewatch this - you'll be do'in a heap of cipher'in. i may be crazy, but I love this pure Americana sitcom as one of the grassroots of honest TV.

Nausica?of the Valley of the Winds - one of the true landmarks of animated cinema. Twenty years after its release, in a time when animation evolves by leaps and bounds, it continues to offer challenging ideas and genuinely move audiences.

The Cat Returns - A young Japanese girl courageously prevents a strange cat from being runover by a truck. A coterie of eternally grateful cats (who she can understand) invite her to their mysterious cat kingdom to say thank you... another from the new Optimum The Studio Ghibli Collection. Miyazaki fans will love (but its not a Miyazaki film!)

Harry and Tonto - Touchingly and honest road-picture with Art Carney as Harry, a septuagenarian widower who, after eviction from his NY apartment, and dissatisfaction with living with his children, takes a pilgrimage across the country with his cat Tonto in tow. I suspect cinema history will continue to look very favorably upon this film by Muzursky.

Mean Creek - one of the most extraordinary indie films of 2004, depicting the exact moment where innocence is lost forever without any other dramatic tools than the look on the human face.

The 6 - disc John Cassavetes Collection from Optimum Region 2 - PAL vs. the Criterion and the original Pioneer releases. You can see them clicking the titles here:
Shadows, Faces, A Woman Under The Influence, The Killing Of A Chinese Bookie and Opening Night.
One problem - and it pretty big: Faces has been stretched to suit anamorphicity from 1.66 to 1.78 (Gena Rowlands looks literally cherubic!). Other than that a decent set with some good extras.

Ben-Hur - It took six years to prepare before the 1st frame was shot, and over a half year of on-location work in Italy, with thousands of extras. Legendary William Wylers three and a half hour, wide-screen epic adaptation of the Biblical era classic was a last desperate attempt to save MGM/UA from going under in 1959. The new Four-Disc Collector's Edition is the definitive DVD to own (plus it has the 25' version!)

To Kill a Mockingbird - It is not without reason that the documentary on To Kill a Mockingbirdis called Fearful Symmetry. The phrase comes from the poem Tygerby William Blake from his book Songs of Innocenceand just as Blake, in this collection of his poems, deal with innocence and the loss thereof, so is that the central motif of To Kill a Mockingbird. The new Legacy Series DVD is a full package! We recommend!

The Pornographer - is filmed in a very graceful style, further elevated by classical music. Obviously in great contrast to what one would probably expect from a porn film. Bonello's camera begrudgingly gives up the master shot. The scene is revealed incrementally, typically fixing upon characters in isolation, regardless of all the people about them. And all the classical music creates a floating quality.

G.I. Samurai - (Sonny Chiba Collection Vol. 2) - If you are not a fan of Chiba or the genre, you might stick this in the "so bad its good" category.

Crash - is not a subtle movie. Employing a narrative structure and camera moves reminiscent of Altman and Soderbergh, Paul Haggis all but hits you over the head with the film's central theme of racism. The reason this approach succeeds in this case is that Haggis artfully combines melodrama and realism.

Daddy Nostalgia - The movie knows that even as we die, we hang onto our weaknesses as fondly as our strengths.

Burning an Illusion - A film about transformation and identity, this sensitive and entertaining love story traces the emotional and political growth of a young black couple in Thatcher's London.

Bullet Train - Sonny Chiba has to save the day in a nail biting thriller, which not only predates "Speed" by over twenty years, but is also superior.

Golgo 13 - The charm of this sequel is, that it doesn't take itself serious. The plot barely holds the action- and fight sequences together, and there is a lot of nudity, and a Chiba as cool as ever. One of the best Chiba exploitation flicks.

P.S. Don't forget the upcoming Alfred Hitchcock - Masterpiece Collection, The original King Kong and The Big Lebowski.