Monday, March 26, 2007
****new release list no. 108
What's pops in our shops? (Part II) Continued from last week, here are some movies that are getting great feedback from customers...
We know that many parents are excited to share the love of foreign films with their kids. But where to start? Two new films, THE CAVE OF THE YELLOW DOG (from the director of THE STORY OF THE WEEPING CAMEL) and MONGOLIAN PING-PONG, have come recommended as good quality films that young adults can grasp.
Two Asian-American independent films, RED DOORS and THE MOTEL, are both earning high marks. Of RED DOORS, the Chronicle wrote, "A gentle, pleasant film about people you genuinely like." LA Weekly: "A peppy if uneven charmer with a fetchingly wistful edge." Meanwhile, the beginning sections of THE MOTEL reach a rare mix of melancholy and laugh-aloud humor. Unfortunately, the film's resistance to sentimentality is so ardent that its narrative fizzles a bit by the end. Still, both are worthwhile viewing for fans of indie film.
A little manic — but with some great moments emerging from the mess — the dysfunctional coming-of-age story RUNNING WITH SCISSORS reminds us of the weird humor of John Irving combined with the camp minutia of David Sedaris. It's a surprisingly odd entry to the shelves.
Confusing and intoxicating, THE PRESTIGE — a story of rival magicians from the director of MEMENTO — is filled with enigma even while letting you in on backstage secrets. Just by the merits of its design alone, it leaves the other recent magic movies — SCOOP, THE ILLUSIONIST — in the smoke.
Sometimes customers begin to lose track of all the titles they want to see. And who wants to carry around a list? When you're browsing in the shop, just ask us to make a note of "to-see movies" on your account, so we can remind you of your wish list the next time you come in.
And now, on with the newest arrivals. There's tons of stuff: Lots of exciting new titles, and you can thank new owners Ken and Amy for stocking up on all of the latest Criterion releases. British TV fans may be interested to note the arrival of a new set of THE MIDSOMER MURDERS, as well as the vintage series THE SANDBAGGERS. Those same British TV fans may want to kill us for finally caving in and stocking the American version of THE OFFICE. Hey, people tell us "it's not that bad."
............**//RELEASE OF THE WEEK//**............
CHILDREN OF MEN.
Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Claire-Hope Ashitey.
Directed by Alfonso Cuaron.
* It's not every sci-fi thriller that comes with a DVD commentary by Slovenian cultural theorist Slojav Zizek. Based on a P.D. James novel, CHILDREN OF MEN is set in a near-future dystopia, in which all of humanity has become barren, immigration cotrol and class divides have escalated to barbarism, and warring factions fight to gain control of what future might possibly be left. But this isn't just a movie of ideas: It's also an exhilarating, if nightmarish, chase movie — with suspense sequences that creep up on you from all sides. The LA Times writes that CHILDREN OF MEN is "made with palpable energy, intensity and excitement." The Chicago Tribune: "It is that rare futuristic thriller: grim in its scenario, yet exhilarating in its technique." The cast is stellar (everyone seems to love Michael Caine in this). And while director Cuaron's "new Mexican cinema" colleagues Alejandro Inarritu and Guillermo del Toro both also released films to high praise last year (BABEL and PAN'S LABYRINTH, respectively), this one could be the underrated gem of the batch. The New York Times: "CHILREN OF MEN may be something of a bummer, but it’s the kind of glorious bummer that lifts you to the rafters, transporting you with the greatness of its filmmaking." The Onion: "It's a heartbreaking, bullet-strewn valentine to what keeps us human."
see also: 28 DAYS LATER.
Abbie Cornish, Heath Ledger, Geoffrey Rush.
Directed by Neil Armfield.
CHILDREN OF MEN.
see above: "release of the week."
COLOR ME KUBRICK.
Directed by Brian W. Cook.
* Variety: "A sly, enormously entertaining romp based on the antics of real-life Brit conman Alan Conway who rooked his way around '90s London posing as Stanley Kubrick." Salon.com: "Malkovich is of course an international signifier for intelligent cinema, and this showboat performance is certainly worth seeing. Curiously, it does little to redeem director Brian Cook's film, which is often funny but never rises above campy, mean-spirited trash."
see instead: SIX DEGREES OF SEPARATION.
CURSE OF THE GOLDEN FLOWER.
Chow Yun-Fat, Gong Li.
Directed by Zhang Yimou.
Directed by Ralph Arlyck.
* This could be the antidote to THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS, which is also released this week and also follows a precocious kid around San Francisco. But this documentary resists, by its very verité nature, any hint of Disney-style resolution. Filmmaker Ralph Arlyck first met Sean while living as a graduate student in San Francisco's Haight Ashbury neighborhood at the height of the 1960s. Thirty years, three generations, and a lifetime later, Arlyck returns to the city in search of the adult Sean might have become. The Chicago Reader: "What promises to be a standard postmortem on '60s ideology becomes a thoughtful essay on the choices we all make between work, family, and personal freedom." The Chronicle: "At its exhilarating best, FOLLOWING SEAN is reminiscent of the lauded British documentaries that began with 7UP."
see also: TARNATION, STONE READER, THE UP SERIES.
THE GODDESS OF 1967.
Romantic Comedy. Australia.
Rose Byrne, Rikiya Kurokawa.
Directed by Clara Law.
Directed by Simon Ardizzone and Russell Michaels.
Voices by Elijah Wood, Robin Williams, Hugh Jackman, Nicole Kidman, Brittany Murphy.
Directed by George Miller.
* This is the one families have been waiting for... A PG-rated treat, of which The New York Daily News wrote, "In the year of the animated movie, this one soars above them all. " Lots of CGI emperor penguins come together through song as they learn to accept a sheepish little runt who cannot sing like the rest of them (he tap dances instead). Yet another chance for actress Brittany Murphy to prove to the world that she can sing! (Or at least belt emphatically.) The Onion: "It's a gorgeously rendered marvel that pulls out all the stops to wow its viewers, but in spite of its crowd-pleasing ploys, it holds onto its integrity with a smart and surprisingly deep story."
see also: FINDING NEMO.
Directed by Jonathan Yudis.
THE PURSUIT OF HAPPYNESS.
Will Smith, Jaden Smith, Thandie Newton.
Directed by Steve Conrad.
* The sort of aspirational "American dream" movie that tends to succeed everywhere else except San Francisco... And so the producers set the film in San Francisco, thus cornering the last remaining demographic! But seriously, this film — the story of an evicted father trying to work his way back up— has its fair share of both defenders and detractors. The debate is familiar: Is it sappy or complex? Manipulative or triumphant? The Baltimore sun writes, "It's a genuinely transporting inspirational movie because it's also a cautionary tale." And the Charlotte Observer claims, "My sentimentality meter never went off." However, Film Threat warns: "Especially to anyone with kids, the film packs some punch. Apart from that, PURSUIT is emotionally manipulative and way too glossy to really hit home." The Village Voice adds: "Too emotionally slick to work, too visually glib to have an impact, made by people who think grit is something that's brought in by the prop department."
see also: COACH CARTER.
Directed by John Stockwell.
WOMAN IS THE FUTURE OF WOMAN.
Comedy. South Korea.
Directed Sang-Soo Hong.
YELLOW BRICK ROAD.
Directed by Keith Rondinelli and Matthew Makar.
MIDSOMER MURDERS, SERIES 8.
British Detective Series.
THE OFFICE (AMERICAN VERSION), SERIES 1 & 2.
* Purists, forgive us: The addition of the American version of THE OFFICE to our library is an act of keen response to popular demand. True geeks can compare and contrast all sorts of details at THE OFFICE'S Wikipedia page, which includes a rather Wernham-Hogg–looking chart thing.
THE SANDBAGGERS, SERIES 1 & 2.
Vintage British Espionage Series.
THE SHIELD, SERIES 5.
FX Crime Series.
Please note that our copies of this title have been slightly waylaid. They should be in stock within a few days.
Tim Allen, Courteney Cox, Chevy Chase, Spencer Breslin.
Directed by Peter Hewitt.
............//NEW TO DVD//............
THE BICYCLE THIEVES. (Criterion Collection edition.)
Drama. Italy. 1948.
Directed by Vittorio De Sica.
FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.
Topol, Norma Crane.
Directed Norman Jewison.
FIRES ON THE PLAIN. (Criterion Collection edition.)
Drama/War. Japan. 1959.
Directed by Kon Ichikawa.
GREEN FOR DANGER.(Criterion Collection edition.)
Mystery. England. 1946.
Directed by Sidney Gilliat.
THE NAKED CITY. (Criterion Collection edition.)
Directed by Jules Dassin.
PAUL ROBESON FILMS: (Criterion Collection box set edition.)
BODY AND SOUL. 1925. Directed by Oscar Micheaux.
BORDERLINE. 1930. Directed by Kenneth Macpherson.
THE EMPEROR JONES. 1933. Directed by Dudley Murphy.
THE PROUD VALLEY. 1940. Directed by Pen Tennyson.
NATIVE LAND. 1942. Directed by Leo Hurwitz and Paul Strand.
SANDERS OF THE RIVER. 1935. Directed by Zoltan Korda.
JERICHO. 1937. Directed by Thornton Freeland.
John Cassavetes, Gena Rowlands, Susan Sarandon, Raul Julia, Molly Ringwald.
Directed by Paul Mazursky.
WHEN A WOMAN ASCENDS THE STAIRS. (Criterion Collection edition.)
Directed by Mikio Naruse.