10 Movies that I would watch, like, tonight, if only their respective rights holders would deign to release them on DVD

The Butcher Boy (Jordan, 1997)

(i remember liking this an inordinate amount in theaters and would appreciate the opportunity to check myself if only warner would release the bloody thing to dvd. was pressed on laserdisc in a tiny quantity and i held one in my hands at the virgin megastore but passed in favor of making rent for the month so my loss i guess)

The Double Life of Veronique (Kieslowski, 1991)

(though this is a miramax property it is available only from paramount in an ugly pan-and-scan version i mean what kind of idiot pans and scans art films anyway)

Gun Crazy (Ulmer, 1950)

(a low-down low-budget classic and maybe my favorite film noir ever)

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (Akerman, 1975)

(it’s utterly crazy that a movie so revered is so completely unavailable on tape or disc anywhere in the world)

Cold Water (Assayas, 1994)

(ditto, plus the added spectacle of virginie ledoyen at 17)

Out of the Past (Tourneur, 1947)

(robert mitchum gives one of the great performances in film history in maybe my favorite film noir ever)

Persona (Bergman, 1966)

(yo mgm: this thing was recently restored for distribution in the u.s. but the only decent video version is almost 10 years old and missing shots from the opening montage so get off your collective ass and do bergman proud before the man dies for christ’s sake)

Prospero’s Books (Greenaway, 1991)

(the image laserdisc was a terrible botch with a cropped picture and truly bad sound)

Sunrise (Murnau, 1927)

(this was released by fox on laserdisc for about 20 minutes at the end of 1997 when i was poor and couldn’t afford to buy it)

Until the End of the World — super-extended version (Wenders, 1991/6)

(i skipped this when it showed at the director’s guild theater in manhattan mainly because i didn’t feel like having my ass pinched for five hours, but also because wim wenders told me himself, to my face, more than two years ago, that it was coming out on dvd. thanks bud.)

10 Replies to “10 Movies that I would watch, like, tonight, if only their respective rights holders would deign to release them on DVD”

  1. Hi, I would like to second your new project. And since you have inadvertently set yourself up as “DVD Answer Man”, I was wondering if you know of any plans to release PULSE on a Region 1 DVD. I’d like to see it before the inevitable Miramax remake staring some willowy blond. I’d also appreciate it if any Chicago readers know of plans to show it here. Thanks for the help. and the great writing!

  2. Hey, glad you joined the party!

    As far as Pulse goes, alas, I don’t know of any plans for U.S. screenings. When this had a one-shot engagement at Lincoln Center earlier this year, Film Comment’s Gavin Smith told the assembled crowd that Miramax had acquired the project for Wes Craven and was likely to release the original version only on video, if at all.

    Keep your eye on the Block Cinema listings — that might be your best bet in the Chicagoland area.


  3. I wouldn’t count on PULSE showing here in Chicago any time soon. The Film Center had a pretty thorough K. Kurosawa retro that showed everything up to SEANCE if memory serves. I doubt Block Cinema would have the resources or the clout needed to show the film, and I know for a fact it’s not on their Fall schedule (which is loaded with other goodies). It’s also too late for the Chicago International Film Festival, which would pick up the Kurosawa jellyfish picture, if anything. More reasons to hate Miramax…


  4. I’ll second what Andy K. said. And if you want to watch a lot of Asian movies — and have enough cash to make it worth your while to build a collection — it makes sense to splurge on a decent all-region PAL/NTSC DVD player. I have the Malata N996 (I think that’s the model number, though it’s been discontinued), which does a perfectly adequate job of PAL-to-NTSC conversion and includes other goodies like the ability to zoom the picture out slightly to compensate for TV overscan, or to change the proportions of the image. Japanese DVDs are expensive, but Hong Kong DVDs can be had cheap from the sites Andy mentioned — or even cheaper if you order them from the source. I use DDDhouse.com and generally pay $7-$10 for a DVD plus another $7 or so for shipping to the U.S. Discs arrive here in New York in 7-10 days.


  5. Even though a region 1 DVD of Pulse may not ever be available, you can easily acquire a japanese VCD of this title through an asian products online merchant site such as yesasia.com or pokerindustries.com. VCDs play in almost all DVD players, are region-free and have the resolution of a video (and only cost $10 or less I might add). I usually just buy hard-to-get asian titles this way – it’s not the same as a theatrical showing but you would get to see the film before the hollywood remake.

  6. I’ve heard rumors that New Yorker Films, the American distributor of JEANNE DIELMAN, won’t release it on video because they (surprisingly) make a fair amount of money renting out prints to colleges (after all, it’s probably shown in every other “Feminist film” or “Women in film” class). They’re afraid this money will dry up if it’s released on video, as all the teachers will just go rent it instead.

    In a CAHIERS DU CINEMA article earlier this year, Kent Jones hinted that there were legal conflicts that kept COLD WATER out of U.S. distribution. I don’t know why that would prevent some other country from putting it out.

  7. Steve, what you say about Jeanne Dielman doesn’t surprise me, because New Yorker Films has been remarkably stash with its catalog as a historical fact. Cold Water really puzzles me, though. I didn’t really start looking for it until I got a region-free DVD player in 1998 or 1999. I assumed that it would at least be out on tape, but I can’t find any sign of it. I guess it’s possible that it did come out on VHS and just went out of print, and that nobody’s gotten around to doing a DVD.

    What I really enjoy is going to a French (or Italian, or Spanish, or British) DVD retailer in order to buy some titles from that country, and finding that my way to foreign-film nirvana has been roadblocked by all the Hollywood stuff that seems to choke every corner of the global film and video distribution networks. It’s darkly funny.


  8. Yeah, if only. The Fox Lorber/Wellspring DVD of Wild Reeds is just terrible. It resembles a bad VHS transfer. I suppose it’s watchable, but I spent the whole time squinting at my screen.

    Steve, can you whisper in the ear of a marketing director at Wellspring? Pretty please?


  9. Thanks guys. I did catch CURE and CHARISMA at the Film Center, and was surprised that PULSE wasn’t on the schedule. The only other theater I can think of that might show it eventually is Facets, but if the Film Center doesn’t have the clout, I imagine Facets doesn’t either. Oh well, at least I’ll have my RING DVD before the U.S. remake comes out.

    What’s the Kurosawa jellyfish picture?

  10. As for COLD WATER, I’d like to see a box set of the TV series for which it was made: ALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS OF THEIR TIME. The series was partially produced by Sony Records as a way to promote their back catalogue, and I wonder if music rights have held up the DVD release. As far as I can remember, THE WILD REEDS was the only film of the series released here, but it includes some other first-rate films.

    I don’t think we’re likely to see an American release of this series any time soon – although it sounds perfect for New Yorker or Wellspring – but I have no idea what could hold up a French release.

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