Sunday, August 26, 2007
**** new release list no. 130
Y’all may rent locally (thank you kindly), but this is the week to watch globally. Many new films in the store this week are somehow about, or come from all over, this big blue marble that we call the world – we have two films from Iran (OFFSIDE, SIAVASH), one from Poland (ON THE SILVER GLOVE), China (THE BEAUTIFUL WASHING MASHINE), and Mexico (WHO THE HELL IS JULIETTE?); a documentary about the Arab-Israeli (BLOOD AND TEARS) conflict and another about the reign of Stalin (I WAS STALIN’S BODYGUARD). Then, randomly, we also have two movies that explore the intimate relationship between a human and a dog (THE YEAR OF THE DOG and THE DOG PROBLEM). Very random. Of course, as usual, there is some great Americana to get you laughing without reading subtitles (BLADES OF GLORY, BROKEN ENGLISH, KICKIN’ IT OLD SKOOL).
On to some heavy petting...
FOURPLAY written by John Lucas.
Sometimes I look at the world and I say: has everyone gone crazy, or is it just me? But this week I know the answer... yes, yes, yes! So here are a few fellow crazies to keep you entertained...
A WOMAN UNDER THE INFLUENCE A blue-collar worker named Nick (Peter Falk) and his uninhibited wife Mabel (Gena Rowlands) try to maintain a respectable life for their children. As Mabel's behavior grows more unpredictable, Nick's violence tips the scales, and he has her committed to a psychiatric hospital. But she's only half the problem. Written and directed by John Cassavetes (Faces, The Killing of a Chinese Bookie, Love Streams...)
VAMPIRE'S KISS Literary agent Peter Loew (Nickolas Cage) has a one-night stand with an enigmatic charmer (Jennifer Beals) that ends in a little lovebite. Now Peter is convinced he's turning into a vampire. Fearing eternal life as the undead, he decides his only hope is to annoy his secretary Alva (Maria Conchita Alonso) so much that she kills him before he completes his transition. An underrated gem directed by Robert Bierman (who has mostly done TV…)
GOTHIKA Halle Berry gives a surprising performance as a psychologist who wakes up as a patient in her own hospital. She's been convicted for killing her husband Doug (Charles Dutton) but things are not what they seem. With Robert Downey Jr. and Penelope Cruz and other beautiful people. Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz (Hate, Cafe Au Lait, The Crimson Rivers...)
BUBBLE A frumpy factory worker named Martha falls for her young co-worker Kyle, and they begin an odd relationship at the doll factory where they work. Things get complicated when Kyle starts seeing the new hire Rose, much to Martha's chagrin. A somewhat experimental film -- shot in HD, without a script, improvised by amateur actors from an outline. Directed by Steven Soderbergh (Traffic, Oceans 11, Sex Lies & Videotape...)
See you at the shop (shoop, shoop),
Ken and Amy
BEAUTIFUL WASHING MACHINE.
Loh Bok Lai/Len Siew Mee.
Directed by James Lee.
* Slow (in the Jarmuschian sense) portrait by up-and-coming digital filmmaker James Lee about a washing machine with a life of its own.
BLADES OF GLORY.
Will Ferrell/Jon Heder.
Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck.
* The two rival world class Olympic skaters, Chazz (Ferrell) and Jimmy (Heder) have been banned for life for fighting at the 2002 Olympics. However, a Hollywood sized loophole in the rules enables them to put aside their differences and compete as a team.
Parker Posey/Gena Rowlands/Josh Hamilton/Drea De Matteo.
Directed by Zoe Cassavetes.
* For Nora Wilder (Posey), being in her 30’s, sexy, single, healthy, befriended and with some economic means is not enough. She wants love, and the fact that she fetishizes all the relationships she sees just makes her desires stronger. Posey delivers her usual strong performance in Cassavetes’ second foray into the preferred job of much of her famous family.
THE DOG PROBLEM.
Giovanni Ribisi/Mena Suvari.
Directed by Scott Caan.
* A down on his luck writer gets a dog to battle his loneliness. Unfortunately, the shmucky company he keeps prevents true fulfillment.
KICKIN’ IT OLD SKOOL.
Jamie Kennedy/Maria Menounos/Michael Rosenbaum.
Directed by Harvey Glazer.
* Do you, uh, miss the 80’s? So does Justin Schumacher (Kennedy). Especially upon finding out that he’s spent 20 years in a coma after a freak break dancing accident (that was an awesome phrase to type). Now, faced with his huge medical bills and his bitterest rival’s engagement to his sweetheart (damn, that was a long courtship), he must re-enter the break dancing fray and turn back the hands of time to restore his break dancing dominance.
Sima Mobarak-Shahi/Shayesteh Irani.
Directed by Jafar Panahi.
* In Iran, women are banned from so freaking much. This includes sporting events. This film follows a group of girls who attempt to sneak into a stadium for a huge football (soccer) event dressed like boys.
ON THE SILVER GLOVE.
Directed by Andrzej Zulawski.
* Very wild sounding science fiction tale that was many years in the making about a group of cosmonauts that head for the stars to create a new civilization. Eventually this tale goes the route of so much mythology and breaks down into a messianic story complete with crucifixion.
Hediyeh Tehani/Ali Ghorbanzadeh.
Directed by Saman Moghadam.
* Originally banned in Iran, this film was the directing debut for Moghadam (Café Setareh). It follows a rock musician named Siavash as he is making his way while struggling to deal with the realities of life in Iran in a post Iran-Iraq War world. This 1998 film has only just now found its way to an international DVD release.
YEAR OF THE DOG.
Molly Shannon/Peter Sarsgaard/Regina King/Laura Dern/John C. Reilly.
Directed by Mike White.
* I am not sure what this movie is about. I watched it last night, and there were many strong performances. Molly Shannon is great as a happy dog owner whose life is really shattered by the accidental loss of her dog Pencil. After that, things get weird. She gets involved with a dog rescue program, she lets the dogs destroy her house, she gets slightly psychotic/untrustworthy/homicidal and she finds her life’s path. Amy says it is definitely NOT a vegetarian/animal rights propaganda film, that the characters are not portrayed sympathetically enough. I was not so sure. In retrospect, it was entertaining enough, but I would certainly not let this woman hang out with my kids.
HEROES: SEASON ONE.
Masi Oka/Hayden Panettiere/James Kyson Lee.
* “Save the Cheerleader. Save the World.” Words to live by! This is season one of the freaky series about people discovering superhuman and extraordinary abilities in a world with very dark undertones.
BLOOD AND TEARS.
Directed by Isidore Rosmarin.
* Rosmarin examines both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict from biblical times until the current crisis, trying to peal off the hype to get to the heart of the painful and seemingly irresolvable differences. Many interviews are conducted here with top Israeli, Palestinian and Hamas officials who weigh in along with fanatics and peaceniks on both sides.
I WAS STALIN’S BODYGUARD.
Directed by Semyon Aranovich.
* A frightening day-in-the-life look into the life of Joseph Stalin as seen by a former bodyguard. Mostly the mundane is exposed, although the reviews I have read say that the eyes of the bodyguard are a steely reminder of the terrifying reality of the subject.
WHO THE HELL IS JULIETTE?
Directed by Carlos Marcovich.
* Marcovich is primarily a music video director and cinematographer, and it was in this capacity that he met Yuliet Ortega, a young prostitute from Havana, Cuba. The video he was making when he met Yuliet was starring Fabiola Quiroz. Marcovich loved filming both of these women and neither of them had seen their fathers for a long time. Marcovich kept filming the two women and the result is this film essay on the nature of their lives and the circumstances that brought them together.
TEARS OF THE BLACK TIGER