Wednesday, March 18, 2009

DVD releases for March 17

Stellar. Just look at those first three images.

Travels with Hiroshi Shimizu: Eclipse Series 13
Eclipse has outdone themselves. Hiroshi Shimizu, friend and collaborator with Yasujiro Ozu, is virtually unknown in the West. The opportunity to see him films (with subtitles) will add another dimension to an era canonized by Ozu, Mizoguchi and Naruse. There are four titles included in the set: Japanese Girls at the Harbor (1933), Mr. Thank You (1936), The Masseurs and a Woman (1938) and Ornamental Hairpin (1941). Crazy guy Katsuhiro Ishii (Funky Forest) just made an adaptation of Shimizu's The Masseurs and a Woman. All reports were that the adaption was very faithful to the original, and I'm glad I can actually make that assessment myself! Buy this set and support the efforts of Eclipse. I will gladly add this set to the stacks of to-be-watched. Check out Dave Kern's rundown of the set here.

Dodes'ka-Den (1970) directed by Akira Kurosawa
I have been thinking a lot about Dodes'ka-Den lately. After seeing Oshima's Burial of the Sun last year, I was convinced it was one of the most apocalyptic depictions of post-War Japan I had ever seen. Until I remembered Dodes'ka-Den, but barely remembered. It has to be over 10 years since I've seen it. Perfect timing: a remastered DVD with a very cool cover. Comparisons aside, Dodes'ka-Den is an interesting film all on its own. Kurosawa had just been canned from the production of Tora! Tora! Tora! and Dodes'ka-Den was Kurosawa's attempt at resurrecting his career. Meanwhile films were out, TV was in. Due to the state of the film industry, Kurosawa started his own production company along with Masaki Kobayashi, Kon Ichikawa and Keisuke Kinoshita called the four of Clubs. Dodes'ka-Den was the first and only film for the failed production company. It was also Kurosawa's first color film and made uncharacteristically quick (one month versus two years for his previous film, Red Beard.) No one is going to say that Dodes'ka-Den is Kurosawa's best film, but it shows an adventurous side to a master filmmaker whose career was starting to wane.

The F.W. Murnau Collection - Nosferatu (1922), Faust (1926), The Last Laugh (1924), Tartuffe (1925), The Haunted Castle (1921), The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)
This set is notable for the inclusion of a brand new version of Faust, The Haunted Castle and The Finances of the Grand Duke (all available separately) with the other three simply throw-ins previously available from Kino. Faust was originally released to different markets in seven different versions. Is this new one the best one? I have no idea, but it purports to be from Murnau's own stash.

Yella (2007) directed by Christian Petzold
I missed this German film at last years MSPIFF despite an insider tip that it was a film not to be missed. Yella may be one of New Yorker's last obligations for domestic release.

Elegy (2008) directed by Isabel Coixet
The best part of cataloging DVD releases is realizing how many films I missed in the theater. This is one that I probably should have set aside my misgivings and seen. Check out the Japanese website (the only one still functioning) through the link above.

Punisher: War Zone (2008) directed by Lexi Alexander
This is one where my misgivings probably saved me from seeing a terrible movie.

And for all you vampires-in-love fans, released on Saturday because it is so special:
(2008) directed by Catherine Hardwicke


Daniel Getahun said...

Elegy is just devastatingly depressing. I don't know if people will know what they're getting and it might end up being really poorly received as a random rental. But there's some solid acting by Cruz and especially Kingsley and Dennis Hopper.

I missed Yella along with you, expecting it to get a release later in the year. Whoops.

Sandy Nawrot said...

Elegy was well-reviewed and is in my Q. I guess I don't mind depressing so much if the acting is good (although now that I say that, I hated The Squid and the Whale, which was a depressing well-acted movie). I can't imagine I would dislike anything Cruz and Kindsley is participating in.

Daniel Getahun said...

I guess that's an important distinction - acting vs. depressing. I hated the S & the W, too, as well as Margot at the Wedding.

Kingsley is great in this - he claimed it was him acting as his "most natural" self, stripped away from whatever other character trappings he usually puts on.

Dan said...

The Finances of the Grand Duke (1924)! I miss this Murnau because of his bad quality supports. I have to buy this DVD.

Kathie Smith said...

Wow. I guess I'll have to see Elegy. I was just so uninterested is watching a upper-middle class guy go through a mid-life crisis and "discover himself" though a beautiful woman (which is probably a false impression I got from the trailer...)

That being said, I did like The Squid and the Whale and Margot at the Wedding.

That Murnau set certainly does look nice, Dan. If I didn't already own two versions of Nosferatu I would be tempted to get the whole set... Dan, don't tell me you have seen all those Shimizu films!

Sandy Nawrot said...

I know this may not do anything for you, but because you are my sister, and you have a great blog, I have presented you an award. Come on over and check it out!

farmlanebooks said...

I love Sandy's blog, and followed her link to you here. I've spent a while reading your posts, and I love it here too!

I don't watch that many films, but I have a soft spot for Japanese ones. I think this blog is going to be very dangerous for me, as I saw a few I wanted to watch, but they were all really expensive. I'm not sure my will power is strong enough to resist!

Kathie Smith said...

Thanks for stopping by! (Thanks to my sisterly support also!)

If you like Japanese films, your in good company.

Dan said...

>Dan, don't tell me you have seen all those Shimizu films!

Yeah, I've seen them all! :D