Monday, August 20, 2007
**** new release list no. 129
FOURPLAY is on vacation, and so are we! I write this from a rented vacation house on the Russian River. Ken will be in and out of the shop this week, and all of us Shelves will be back soon, ready to get back to work and school, revived by quiet time with family and lots of good food.
Stop in and say hello to Chris and Jeff, the newest additions to Team Four Star. They are both super great and we are very happy to have them working with us.
See you next week,
............//RELEASE OF THE WEEK//............
THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
Ulrich Mühe /Sebastian Koch/Martina Gedeck.
Directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck.
* Behind the iron curtain, a Stasi (East German Secret Police) captain Gerd Wiesler, (Ulrich Mühe) who is also a wiretapping expert, is assigned to listen in on Georg Dreyman (Sebastian Koch), an seemingly ideologically neutral playwright who lives with his girlfriend Christa-Maria Sieland (Martina Gedeck), a renowned actress who often appears in his plays. The conversations and intimacy that Wiesler overhears awaken something within him—emotionally and otherwise—and he questions his own beliefs and way of life.
This directorial debut by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck won an Academy award for best foreign language film, a golden globe award nomination in the same category, and countless other festival awards. Despite winning film awards at home, too, the film’s subject is—or at least was—a sensitive subject in Germany, some say this is why the director of this now-lauded film was unable to get funding at first, and why the film itself was refused official entry in the Berlin Film Festival in 2005.
There are—according to the author of a book about the Stasi—certain historical inaccuracies in the film, notably that no Stasi would be alone or unwatched enough to experience the personal transformation that we see in Wiesler. Nonetheless, the consensus (including the opinion of the Stasi expert) is that this film is captivating, its characters extremely compelling, and that maybe what is shown by the film, ultimately, is that innate human morality may sometimes triumph, regardless of how far down an immoral path one has gone. Let it be so.
BICKFORD SCHMECKLERS COOL IDEAS.
Patrick Fugit/Olivia Wilde/John Cho/Matthew Lillard
Directed by Scott Lee.
*Follow college freshman Bickford Schmeckler as he tries to recover his stolen great-idea book. As you watch, try to spot hot twins Natalie and Nicole Garza from the Doublemint Gum ads.
Rob Lowe/Judd Nelson/James Caan/Bill Paxton.
Directed by Adam Rifkin.
*Garbage man by day. Hopeful stand-up comic by night. Everything changes when a third arm grows out of his back.
THE FAR SIDE OF JERICHO.
Suzanne Andrews/Lissa Negrin/Judith Burnett/C. Thomas Howell.
Directed by Tim Hunter.
*Three widows, whose now-deceased husbands were in the same outlaw gang, find themselves on the run as bad guys and then more bad guys think they know the location of their husbands’ loot. C. Thomas Howell for kicks.
HOUSE OF GAMES.
Lindsay Crouse/Joe Mantegna/Mike Nussbaum.
Directed by David Mamet.
*Crouse (the wife of writer and director David Mamet when this film was made in 1987) plays a psychiatrist who tries to help her gambling-addicted patient get out of debt. As her professional and personal defenses go down, she gets pulled into the world and minds of con men. Criterion release on DVD.
Laura Dern/Jeremy Irons/Harry Dean Stanton.
Directed by David Lynch.
* Life imitates art imitates life imitates art, etc. in this story of an actress who takes a role in an historically cursed Polish film and the fictional events of the film become, in a way, real.
THE LIVES OF OTHERS.
* See above, Release of The Week.
Paul Frankeur/Laurent Terzieff/Alain Cuny.
Directed by Luis Buñuel.
* In this 1969 film by surrealist great, Buñuel, two tramps go on a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and along the way they meet different Christian heresies, including the Marquis de Sade. Jesus, too, makes a appearance. Buñuel, a life-long atheist, experienced a religious conversion near the end of his life in 1983. Criterion release on DVD.
Andrew Keegan/Lacey Chabert/.
Directed by Jason Carvey.
* Friends. One convinces another to rob a bank, then tries to back out when the sweat starts sweating. With friends like these, who needs friends?
Halle Berry/Bruce Willis.
Directed by James Foley.
* Halle Berry as a journalist going under cover, two-fold, to find out whether Bruce Willis is her best friend’s killer. How far will Bruce go to keep a secret? Not sure I’d want to have to find out. He’s a crazy motherfucker. He’d do it, too.
Amanda Goodwin/Louise Smith/Ellen McElduff.
Directed by Lizzie Borden.
*Slice of life film, but the lives are those of upscale Manhattan prostitutes. Won the special jury prize at Sundance in 1987.
BLOOD IN THE FACE.
Directed by Anne Bohlen/Kevin Rafferty/James Ridgeway.
* An exploration of the various American white supremacist groups. Michael Moore conducts some interviews.
SACCO AND VANZETTI.
All sorts of interesting people such as Henry Fonda/Tony Shalhoub/Arlo Guthrie.
Directed by Peter Miller.
* A doc about the infamous anarchists, also Italian immigrants, who were wrongfully convicted by a Massachusetts jury on charges of murder and armed robbery. As history tells it, they were really convicted for their political beliefs. Be ashamed. Be very ashamed.
DAE JANG GEUM
Yeong-ae Lee/Jin-hee Ji/Ri-na Hong.
Directed by Byoung-houn Lee
* The story is set in Korea under the Joseon Dynasty, in the first half of the 16th century and explores Korean culture through traditions of food and medicine. The main character in this historical fiction is Jang-geum, the real child of fugitives, who made her way into the royal Court to eventually find herself with a place in the Royal Kitchen (apparently a place of great political power) and then becoming the first Female Royal Physician.
THE DOG WHISPERER: SEASON 2.
Created by Cesar Millan.
* These episodes show the “Dr. Phil of dogs” rehabilitating aggressive or otherwise neurotic dogs . . . and their owners.
HOUSE, M.D.: SEASON 3.
Hugh Laurie/Lisa Edelstein.
* Antisocial, maverick Dr. House rocks the diagnostic house. Extra fun for those from Central/South Jersey who can see real things from Camden, Trenton, and Princeton.
UGLY BETTY: SEASON ONE.
* Based on a Columbian novella, Yo Soy Betty La Fea. Betty is sweet, smart and hardworking . . . and not attractive in a classic sense. She gets a job at a fashion magazine because of her lack of good looks. But guess who is beautiful for real, yo.
FIELD OF DREAMS.