DVDBeaver Newsletter for September 29th, 2005
Hello my eclectic DVD-hording friends!
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This weeks newsletter is reporting another 23 new reviews/comparisons... but two fairly hefty boxsets. Alfred Hitchcock - Masterpiece Collection reviewed HERE has some immense strengths - cost per disc is about $5.50 each and these are some of Hitchcock best films - Vertigo, Psycho, Rear Window, The Birds, Shadow of a Doubt ... and they are loaded with extras, anamorphic, progressive and original aspect ratio. Aside from the niggling details (that we review), this must be considered to be the greatest deal in the history of DVD. Certainly the most enlightening Holiday gift you can give to that friend who thinks 'Hitch' is Will Smith. I can't think of anything that touches it to date. I've warmed incredibly to the Vertigo mono track, and it definitely is more appropriate than the original DVD's 5.1 remix. The collections only real sour notes are that most Hitch fans already own some, if not all, of these DVDs in their previous form. But with more than half the films improved to some degree, a bonus disc, the beautiful package and the price - I don't think we have any choice but to make it Feature DVD of the Month.
By the way, speaking of the Director's Chair we have added Hitchcock to our expanding group. You can see them all in the Search page HERE, until we redo the site layout (we are working on it!)
RUMORS - the new Region 2 PAL Black Narcissus is being touted as 'unbelievable' and supposedly eclipses the old Criterion. The new transfer is directly off a new interpositive struck directly from the YCMs... which the Criterion isn't. And the colors, for me, are just perfection. (Thanks Bruce!). We will review very soon !
Aside from the
Alfred Hitchcock - Masterpiece Collection
there are many more good products on DVD this again this past
week. Horror films received a new convert as I am sold on the new
Hammer Horror Series. It's not much of a
gamble at $3/film. One of the smarter guys on the ListServ brought up this baby;
Devil in the Flesh and as the DVD is top
notch - it looks very enticing. A great 60's film that we delayed reviewing -
The Innocents. In world cinema,
Gabbeh is magnificent, although we feel the
MK2 edition (yes, has English subs) may be
superior. A weak, kind of guilty pleasure, again for reasonable -
36 Quai des Orfèvres,
but its nothing like Henri-Georges Clouzot's
1947 classic. For those into raw cinema nothing beats -
Portrait of Jason.
Most Recent Reviews
Alfred Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection - see our notes above.
An Angel at My Table - the harrowing true-life story of Janet Frame, New Zealand’s most distinguished author. An Angel at My Table follows Frame along her inspiring journey, from a poverty-stricken childhood to a misdiagnosis of schizophrenia and electroshock therapy to, finally, international literary fame.
The Innocents - . Is it hysteria caused by repressed passions, or is it a true case of possession? Miss Giddens (Deborah Kerr) sets out to exorcise the malevolent spirits with tragic results. Great 60's film...
Devil in the Flesh - this erotic drama by Marco Bellocchio uses sexual expression to work out a character's hang-ups, problems, and personality. Criterion-quality image DVD!
Mr. & Mrs. Smith - is arguably the most untypical of all Hitchcock films. It's not a thriller. It's a screwball comedy starring Carole Lombard, the quintessential screwball dame.
Napoleon Dynamite - what direction can indy film now take? Where Solondz, Jamusch, Anderson and others have established themselves as, at least, semi mainstream, is indy now in the hands of gifted amateurs who substitute “being different” with “being a social horror”... and misinterpret emotionless action with wooden acting?
Le Clefs de Bagnole - just read the poster - "do NOT go and see it, it IS crap."
Secret Things - Simply put, this film, like all great works of art, exist outside of time, solely to convey the director’s subtext. Combined with gorgeous cinematography and art direction that actually manages to out-Almódovar the Spanish master, this is cinema at its most intoxicating.
The Name of the Rose - Based on Umberto Eco's best-selling novel, "The Name of the Rose" is a medieval whodunit set in a Benedictine Abbey, 1327. A unique and interesting film with strong performances.
Novo - It may not be original. Most of all "Novo" comes of as "Memento" meets "Groundhog Day" meets "50 First Dates" with a very sexual twist. But rarely has amnesia been so hilarious on screen.
Love Streams - A study of middle-aged angst with Cassavettes usual knack of drawing out emotive, naturalistic performances from his cast giving it all a riveting, sometimes explosive, edge. Remove the French subs yourself!
A Child is Waiting - Occasionally bordering on the sentimental (never the problem of Cassavetes' independent work) this film nevertheless boasts fine performances and a magic touch by one of cinema's greatest humanists. Comes with Love Streams (DVD from France)
Portrait of Jason - We are talking grassroots cinema here folks - Shirley Clarke's expose on a black male prostitute named Jason Holliday is the essence of the, then budding, cinema verite movement.
Danger-Love at Work - For fans of the 30's and 40's screwball comedies I believe this is the only release available of this relatively unknown Preminger film.
After Sex - Seasoned actress Brigitte Roüan directs herself as a middle-aged woman swept up in a romantic adulterous affair with a much younger man. Her cinematic efforts to capture the deeply imbedded feeling of aching lovesickness succeeds on many levels. It reminded me of Cédric Kahn's L'Ennui (which I don't know why we haven't reviewed) Very enjoyable.
Palindromes - is another completely original fable about American life by one of cinemas most unique visionaries.
Torremolinos 73 - Based on a true story, this is one of the best films ever made on the subject of making film, more precisely artistic vision vs. commercial interests.
Hammer Horror Series - Hammer Films have quite a strong reputation amongst horror genre fans and I finally had the time to finish up watching this Boxset. These amount to some of the most complete and competent horror films ever made... although I might not put Nightmare, Paranoiac and Night Creatures into the horror genre, they are certainly good psychological thrillers... and they were produced by Hammer Studios. Great deal folks... we recommend!
The Ear - One gets the impression from Karel Kachyña’s The Ear that life under the Communists’ boot in Czechoslovakia during the early 1970’s wasn’t all Pilsner Urquell and pretzels.
What Price Glory - still has some redeeming features. Cagney is at his energetic best and almost single-handedly keeps the thing moving. And though John Ford didn't like her, Calvet is very charming as the barmaid. Ford's breezy pacing makes up for his heavy-handed handling of the comedy.
Gabbeh - A folkloric carpet (Gabbeh), picturing a man and a woman riding away on horseback, is the prized possession of a nomadic elderly couple. Director Mohsen Makhmalbaf's masterpiece is a brilliantly colorful, profoundly romantic ode to beauty, nature, love and art.
Buraikan - Sinoda's (Double Suicide) movie has everything: multiple, well-developed, interleaved story lines. Well developed individual characters. Some eroticism, a lot of traditional art, many funny sequences, suspense, action... and the DVD has a great image. This is an excellent movie, especially for lovers of Japanese history and art.
36 Quai des Orfèvres - This film is topped to the brim with well choreographed action and unexpected suspense. For violent extreme cop movies - this ranks as one of the best in recent years. Daniel Auteuil puts in a commanding performance and Gerard Depardieu has the biggest nose I have ever seen on a human.
Upcoming releases (next 2 weeks)
Edgar G. Ulmer: Moon Over Harlem/Bluebeard/The King Of The Bs: The Strange Woman (Ulmer, 1939/1944/1946) All Day Entertainment
Interrogation (1982, Ryszard Bugajski) - Second Run DVD
Kolchak - The Night Stalker (3-disc - 1974) Universal
Private Parts (1972, Paul Bartel) Warner Home Video
- Sixties Swordplay Classics (Criterion
Samurai Rebellion (Masaki Kobayashi, 1967) Criterion
Samurai Spy (Masahiro Shinoda, 1965) Criterion
Sword of the Beast (Hideo Gosha, 1965) Criterion
Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini, 1968) Koch Lorber
The Tunnel (Roland Suso Richter, 2001) Image Entertainment
Val Lewton Horror Collection - Cat People (1942), Ghost Ship (1943), I Walked With a Zombie (1943), The Leopard Man (1943), The Seventh Victim (1943), Curse of the Cat People (1944), The Body Snatcher (1945) , Isle of the Dead (1945), Bedlam (1946) - Warner
The Brown Bunny (Vincent Gallo, 2004) Sony [R2-UK]
Alan Clarke Pack:
Scum/Made In Britain/The Firm (Clarke,
Donkey Skin (Jacques Demy, 1970) Optimum Releasing [R2-UK]
Flesh (Paul Morrissey, 1968) Image
Heat (Paul Morrissey, 1970) Image
A Slightly Pregnant Man (Jacques Demy, 1973) Optimum Releasing [R2-UK]
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (Jacques Demy, 1964) Optimum Home Entertainment [R2-UK]
P.S. Juzo Itami fans ? - HERE (Marusa no Onna (A Taxing Woman), Marusa no Onna 2 (A Taxing Woman's Return), Minbo no Onna (Minbo), Supa no Onna (Supermarket Woman), and Marutai no Onna (Marutai no Onna) and HERE Ososhiki (The Funeral), Tampopo (Tampopo), Ageman (Tales of a Golden Geisha), Daibyonin (The Last Dance), and Shizukana Seikatsu (A Quiet Life).