Monday, January 28, 2008
So have you watched any movies with the new “D Skins?” They are really cool. They are a plastic skin with a little orange rim that snaps onto the DVD and stays on forever if possible. Please do not remove them as they cost nearly a dollar a pop. We are working on some policy text which will go something like this:
You may notice bright orange borders to your DVD. These are D Skins, a protective cover that fits onto your disc. The hope is that the D Skin, and not the disc, gets damaged, and these D Skins will prolong the life of our DVDs and enhance your viewing experience as a result.
These covers are meant to STAY ON. You put the disc into your machine with the COVER ON. Please DO NOT TAKE THESE COVERS OFF! If there is a problem with a DVD that has a D SKIN on it, bring it into the store.
If the DVD is returned to the shop without the D SKIN, you will be charged $1.00.
We are very hopeful that these things, which will go on every DVD we buy from now on, will up the percentage of good viewings per disk. Let us know what you think.
We have a big batch of films this week. I didn’t get a chance to watch many (being still totally obsessed with DAE JANG GEUM), but I heard from Shila that CHARM SCHOOL (a teen rebellion tale set in Mexico City) was awesome. I also heard from my cousin Zach that ROCKET SCIENCE (super indie growing up tale in the style of Rushmore) was amazing. Amy and I watched LADRON QUE ROBA A LADRON, which is a very interesting heist film set in Los Angeles. One thing about it that is interesting is that it is a foreign film (somewhat) in that the entire thing is in Spanish with English subtitles. There are some very significant philosophic subtleties in the film about immigrants and their invisibility. The film highlights entire communities spanning multiple classes that are communicating completely in Spanish within the USA. It is refreshing to see this represented in a cinematic release. The film itself is nice…nothing earthshaking, but a fun robin-hoodish story about a cheating thief getting his comeuppance.
Other highlights of this weeks releases are CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: 6TH SEASON, HALLOWEEN (Rob Zombie’s version), Showtime’s THE TUDORS, INVASION (as in, of the body snatchers, starring Nicole Kidman), DADDY DAY CAMP, THE KING OF CALIFORNIA (produced by Alexander Payne of SIDEWAYS fame), and the much awaited THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS (following the world championship of the video game Donkey Kong…I dropped more cash on Ms. Pacman myself, but I liked Donkey Kong, too). There is also some great music such as the new AC/DC anthology featuring two discs with the Bon Scott years on one and the Brian Johnson years on the other; and also a DVD of a live performance by the local kid-rock stars the SIPPY CUPS called ELECTRIC STORYLAND. They rock and so does this DVD.
Thanks for supporting your local video store. Word up to all of you.
Love and kisses,
Christine Spencer/Brenda Cooney.
Directed by James Felix McKenney.
* This is a freaky-deaky black and white sci-fi flick with evil robots. It is said to be kinda 50’s-ish Twilight Zone-ish. Somewhat un-related, but the star of this (Spencer) is also in a new movie by same director (McKenney) called SATAN HATES YOU. So there.
Martin Sheen/Jennifer Lopez/Antonio Banderas.
Directed by Gregory Nava.
* Lopez plays a journalist raking up some muck on a series of murders happening on the Texas/Mexico border. The murders involve young Mexican women working at a factory in Juarez. This is evidently based on real events regarding an as-yet unsolved slew of murders.
Martha Higareda/Camila Sodi.
Directed by Fernando Sarinana.
* The story of a rebellious teen at an all-girls rich kid school in Mexico City. It’s a feel-good movie about the age-old tale of pain and anger in the teenage years. Did you see CATARINA IN THE BIG CITY? Sounds similar…that one was awesome.
Lara Greenlee/Kevin Sabbe/Michael Schreiber.
Directed by Tom Brady (not that Tom Brady).
* In the vein of SCARY MOVIE and all those other spoofs, this one lampoons inspirational sports movie. This is probably not for your young teenager. Speaking of sports – baseball’s right around the corner!!
DADDY DAY CAMP.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Directed by Fred Savage.
* The sequel to Eddie Murphy’s DADDY DAY CARE, this one is directed by Fred Savage from THE WONDER YEARS. That’s so cool! He certainly knows about child actors, having been placed in that arena at the crazily young age of 4. At the core, this is a cute film with a bunch of fart jokes about some dad’s who start a day camp.
Daeg Faerch/Sheri Moon Zombie/Malcolm McDowell.
Directed by Rob Zombie.
* Mr. Zombie (I think it is only appropriate to call him that) has a special take on horror. In this, he revisits the sad and psychotic tale of Michael Myers.
THE HUNTING PARTY.
Terrance Howard/Richard Gere.
Directed by Richard Shepard.
* A journalist team goes on a secret mission to find a Bosnian war criminal. Soon, however, the hunters become the hunted.
Nicole Kidman/Daniel Craig.
Directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel.
* An updated version of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS, with Kidman playing a psychiatrist in DC who discovers the epidemic is extraterrestrial and she and a colleague rush to find a cure before the whole world DIES!
IRA & ABBY.
Chris Messina/Jennifer Westfeldt/Judith Light/Jason Alexander!
Directed by Roberty Cary.
* Young experimental love in the form of a couple who marry soon after they meet to see how it will work out. Sounds like kind of a New York/Woody Allen type thing.
KING OF CALIFORNIA.
Michael Douglas/Evan Rachel Wood.
Directed by Mike Cahill.
* Produced by Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS) comes this film in the vein of LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE and other quirky Americana comedies. Douglas plays the mentally barely fit father of Miranda (Wood) who upon his release from a hospital, determines there is buried gold under the local Costco and embarks on a plan to excavate it..
LADRON QUE ROBA A LADRON (TO ROB A THIEF).
Fernando Colunga/Miguel Varoni.
Directed by Joe Menendez.
* A heist film in the vein of THE STING, if this film were in English and starred George Clooney it would be huge.
Rutger Hauer/Jon Heder/Mila Kunis/Ben Gourley.
Directed by Andrew Black.
* A sort of a road trip movie about a lowly legal associate who does the big boss a favor by driving his most valuable possessions (including his hot niece and her pet pig – yes you read that correctly) across the country.
Reece Daniel Thompson.
Directed by Jeffrey Blitz.
* Critically acclaimed RUSHMORE-ish sounding tale of a stuttering teen struggling to find a space in a world that is totally dumping on him.
Cesar Ramos/Alicja Bachleda/Kevin Kline.
Directed by Marco Kreuzpaintner.
* Totally crazy and upsetting sounding tale of a 13-year old abducted into the human sex-slave trade and her 17 year-old brother on a desperate mission to find her. He is helped by a cop from Texas who has had experience in this type of loss.
Tia Mowry/Tamera Mowry/Kristen Wilson.
Directed by Stuart Gillard.
* A couple of twin witches who were separated have now been reunited and are getting ready for some every day activities (after saving the world from Darkness, of course).
CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM: COMPLETE SIXTH SEASON.
Larry David/Jeff Garlin/Cheryl Hines.
* Season six in this incredibly popular series starring the creator of SEINFELD playing himself, kind of.
HANNAH MONTANA: ONE IN A MILLION.
Television/Pop Fantasy World/Lip-Synch.
* I’m man enough to say I don’t think I understand this show, regarding the reality and unreality involved. The only thing I am 100% positive about is that Lindsay Lohan is not involved in any way.
THE TUDORS: SEASON ONE.
Jonathan Rhys Meyers
* A series about King Henry VIII (Meyers) and his loves, outfits, strengths, libido, and much much more. I picked this up based on a customer recommendation and I think everyone who watches it will be psyched.
AC/DC: PLUG ME IN.
* Very thorough two-disc set featuring the Bon Scott years on one disc and the Brian Johnson years on the other disc.
ARTS AND MYTHS.
Directed by Philippe Truffault and Ludovic Segarra and Jean-Loic Portron.
* I think my mom would really love this documentary which features six episodes on such subjects as “White Kayapo Headdress”, “Mongolian Horse-Head Fiddle”, “Dogon Heddle Pulley”, “Maori Pendant”, “Fang Reliquary Head” and “Effigy from the Marquisas Islands”. International art and mythology education here, folks.
JACKIE GLEASON: GENIUS AT WORK.
Jackie Gleason/Marilyn Taylor Gleason.
Narrated by Jeff Garlin
* Featuring unseen comedy sketches and interviews with Gleason’s widow, this in-depth doc is a must see for fans of the comedy great.
THE KING OF KONG: A FISTFUL OF QUARTERS.
Steve Wiebe/Billy Mitchell.
Narrated by Seth Gordon.
* Here is a direct quote from someone on imdb: “If you have ever played the original Donkey Kong arcade game, or on the original Nintendo, you have to see this movie. I have never beaten Level 3 on the third cycle - the spring on the elevator stage, if you know what I'm talking about, is going extremely fast. These guys get beyond 20 cycles”. My god man, beyond 20 cycles!!!! People have been asking about this film for six months; we are proud to finally present it.
MR. UNTOUCHABLE: GODFATHER OR SNITCH.
Directed by Marc Levin.
* One of the many stories that inspired the soon to be released “American Gangster”, the real Mr. Untouchable was Nick Barnes, heroin drug-lord in 1970’s New York. This film brings you inside his violent and volatile world leading up to his arrest and incarceration.
THE SIPPY CUPS: ELECTRIC STORYLAND.
The Sippy Cups.
* Have you ever been (have you ever been) to Electric Storyland? Local kids rock outfit, The Sippy Cups, engage kids and parents alike with their delightful rock creations. Slipping wonderful Velvet Underground covers in with compositions of their own, this DVD features the group live in concert. Rent this for your little one, or even better, go see this band before they blow up and become a national act.
SPONGEBOB SQUAREPANTS: TO LOVE A PATTY.
* Another in the series from the lovable sponge.
Jack Nicholson/Annette Bening/Glenn Close/Pierce Brosnan/Danny DeVito/Martin Short/Need I go on? Yes? - Sarah Jessica Parker/Michael J. Fox/Rod Steiger/Lukas Haas/Natalie Portman/Pam Grier.
Directed by Tim Burton.
* First DVD copy of this movie as we continue our revamping of the library.
SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER: 30th ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
* First DVD copy of this movie as well.
Monday, January 21, 2008
Friends and countrymen: what is updog?
I have just heard about (and then read about) the very strangest thing; the end of analog television is coming February 17th, 2009.
How strange is that?
Why would they stop broadcasting air waves? I am having trouble figuring it out. Do they need the space for something else? What could that be? What a very interesting reality this will be for families like mine who don’t have cable and watch what flows naturally onto our television set from the air. Yes, it has its drawbacks. Occasionally there needs to be a bit of antennae adjustment (every occasional 5 minutes) and NBC doesn’t really ever come in clearly. But we get what we pay for (nothing for nothing) and we don’t complain. However, now we will be unable to watch anything without a set-top box, which will decode the digital broadcast. Somehow, this seems so strange.
Ah, well, they give it to us coming and going I suppose.
This week we have a bunch of stuff, but as always, I want to tell you about what I’ve been watching lately, and that is: DAE JANG GEUM. You may have seen this on the new series release wall, and wondered what it was. You may have read about it on this blog in the past and not been turned on. In fact, though we’ve had it for 4 or 5 months, and though we only even got it because I read about it in a Gourmet magazine or something, until this week I had not watched it myself. Now, however, I am completely hooked. The basics are that it is a show about 15th century Korea and the royal court and specifically the women who cook in the royal court. But it is about so much more. In the first episode alone, Jang Geum’s mother, a young royal court woman was kidnapped and poisoned by a group of the kitchen court women who were covering up a poisoning plot against the king’s grandmother, and Jang Geum’s father, who as a young officer was present at the queen’s execution (again by forced poisoning – ahh, it was brutal!) has had his future spelled out to him quite esoterically by a spiritual master. By the second episode, young Jang Geum is alone, having lost her parents to the crazy paranoid royal machine, and she is left at 10 to fend for herself. I’m telling you, this is a crazy series. The food preparation, which I thought originally central to the plot, appears to be more secondary, but delicious looking! So, there you go, watch it or not.
Another thing I watched this weekend, with the whole family, was a new release from Animal Planet called THE JEFF CORWIN EXPERIENCE. It is essentially a kid’s show about this kook Jeff Corwin going all over the planet and showing us all sorts of wild animals, but at the core of this show is Jeff himself and his very strange and ambiguous humor that left Amy and I staring at each other over the kids heads over and over again. If you or your kid is a nature freak, check out this show.
I know, I know, I am long-winded and type to, uh…hear myself type, but one last thing. I have just bought about 100 of these funky DVD skin protectors that Four Star will be trying out over the next week or two. They are snap on protection and hopefully they will scratch without the disc scratching. I am very hopeful that this will be a boon for all of us who watch DVD’s, as everyone knows what a drag it is when the movie stops mid-plot. Please ask us about them at the store. We will give you information when we start using them. Also, we may make them available for you to buy as well, for your personal collections. I have also bought (not delivered yet) some DVD machine repair discs that will also be for sale.
Okay, okay, on to the movies.
ADRIFT IN MANHATTAN.
Heather Graham/William Baldwin/Dominic Chianese.
Directed by Alfredo Villa.
* Isolation and loneliness in New York City, with three intersecting lives offering comfort and a chance to grow. Is Heather Graham anything more than Rollergirl from BOOGIE NIGHTS? I don’t know, but it seems like she mostly exists in the B movies with a sex scene in each contract. In this, she plays a mom stricken with grief after the death of her infant.
Jessica Simpson/Luke Wilson/Penelope Ann Miller.
Directed by Scott Marshall.
* The description of this film describes Simpson’s character as a “young professional woman.” Wow! I only know the Jessica Simpson jokes; can she act? I know Luke Wilson can, and he’s always charming to watch. This film follows a power struggle in corporate America.
Jean-Claude Drouot/Claire Drouot/Marie-France Boyer.
Directed by Agnes Varda.
* One of a group of four movies by Varda released this week, we already had two, so I am just highlighting this and La Pointe Courte. This film is about the painfulness of the introduction of a mistress into a solid married couples (with children) life. Varda was one of the creator’s of cinema’s New Wave, and this film remains provocative and raw.
THE GAME PLAN.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson/Madison Pettis.
Directed by Andy Fickman.
* The Rock! Dwayne stars as Joe Kingman (dude, come on, who comes up with these names??) the QB of the Boston Rebels, who are vying for a championship. Kingman is mister bachelor, star-athlete, stud, and living the full lifestyle, until his 8-year old daughter (Pettis) comes to live with him. The kid throws his life upside down, but somehow, against all odds, he is able to get in touch with his inner-dad and win the big game.
HENRY ROLLINS: LIVE IN THE CONVERSATION PIT.
* Henry, doing what Henry does best; gabbing.
Sam Rockwell/Jacob Kogan.
Directed by George Ratliff.
* Uber-creepy movie about a kid who gets really pissed when his parents have a baby and start showering her with the attention that he craves and feels is rightfully his.
Ludivine Sagnier/Romain Duris/Fabrice Luchini.
Directed by Laurent Tirard.
* Sexual and theatrical hijinks in 1650’s Paris.
LA POINTE COURTE.
Silvia Monfort/Philippe Noiret.
Directed by Agnes Varda.
* Varda’s 1956 classic is considered by many to be her best. It is the tale of two lovers and their relationship which they are both tiring of.
Tobin Bell/Betsy Russell/Scott Patterson/.
Directed by Darren Lynn Bousman.
* People get cut up and sewn up in really horrifyingly gnarly ways. If you’re into it, I hear this one is great.
SEX & BREAKFAST.
Macaulay Culkin/Kuno Becker/Eliza Dushku.
Directed by Miles Brandman.
* Two couples who are falling a bit out of love with each other get connected through a therapist Dr. Wellbridge (she should meet Joe Kingman, they could discuss their amazing names together). Dr. Wellbridge has a fabu idea! Partner swapping! Thus, the four embark on a path of self-discovery. I’m just psyched to see Culkin acting again.
Amanda Bynes/Sara Paxton/Matt Long.
Directed by Joe Nussbaum.
* It’s a retelling of Snow White, with Sydney taking on the evil sorority leader (Paxton, in the role of Rachel Witchburn ).
THIS SPORTING LIFE.
Richard Harris/Rachel Roberts..
Directed by Lindsay Anderson.
* Frank Machin (Harris) is a mean thug Rugby player who is unable to connect with society.
THE JEFF CORWIN EXPERIENCE: 1st SEASON.
* Humor, action, education in the animal world by the one and only Jeff Corwin. If you have an animal obsessed child (like I do) or are animal obsessed yourself, then you should check out this entertaining show that features borderline inappropriate humor from Jeff.
THE KINGDOM: SERIES 1 AND 2.
Directed by Lars Von Trier.
* The entire series about the super duper advanced hospital in Denmark, and the supernatural energy that lurks within.
KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD: TEN DAYS OUT.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd/Friends.
* Hmmm, I hope someone likes Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
First DVD of this film. Another quintessential 1980’s movie about kids fucking up.
SHE’S GOTTA HAVE IT.
First DVD of this film. I think it actually just came out on DVD, but it ended up on our recent acquisition shelf anyway…
ST. ELMO’S FIRE.
First DVD or VHS of this classic 1980’s film starring Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Rob Lowe, and so many more.
Sunday, January 13, 2008
Everyone just about back to school? Work as normal? Vacations over? Real life back to center stage? Ahhh, must be mid-January. 2008. Damn, huh? This decade is in its last few years. That is so weird. And with this current one never really getting a name. It’ll be so nice in 12 years when we get to a decade that just has a specific name that we can use from day one until Dec 31st, 2029, right? Okay, I’m rambling.
This week is not a huge release week, probably the biggest two titles are the understated dark comedy HE WAS A QUIET MAN (one of two this week starring Christian Slater) and the overstated raunchy comedy THE TEN. However, this winter is going to be huge here at Four Star, with massive releases many weeks in a row. So bundle up, turn on the heat and get ready to watch some movies.
Oh, and by the way, I am doing a small experiment in the next month or two of buying a few copies of Blu-ray titles. I heard Warner Bros. are only making them now, and I think they may be winning the Blu-ray vs HD DVD battle. I also heard that Sony’s Playstation 3 (PS3) plays Blu-ray and that Blu-ray players can also play regular DVD. Lastly, I heard that Blu-ray has a bit of a protective coating which makes it less easy to scratch and that sounds good to me. So let me know what you think about this, and I will let you know when I get them in and which titles are available in Blu-ray.
DRAGONLANCE: DRAGONS OFAUTUMN TWILIGHT.
Lucy Lawless/Kiefer Sutherland.
Directed by Will Meugniot.
GOOD LUCK CHUCK.
Dane Cook/Dan Fogler.
Directed by Mark Helfrich.
* Cook plays a guy who is the penultimate lay before someone finds true love. He longs to change that trend.
HE WAS A QUIET MAN.
Christian Slater/Elisha Cuthbert/William H. Macy.
Directed by Frank A. Cappello.
* He was a psycho! Maybe, maybe not. The key to this film is the psychological twists and turns. Bob Maconel (Slater) is your typical office enigma; living below the radar, lunching alone, contemplating mayhem, and perhaps making plans for a big day that will leave everyone remembering his name. However, when that day arrives, the plans change…or do they?
JIMMY & JUDY.
Edward Furlong/Rachael Bella.
Directed by Randall Rubin and Jon Schroder.
* One of those destined-to-be-a-cult-classic type pictures about a couple of truly messed up kids who go seriously off the deep end and document their decline with their video camera.
Drama/Rock and roll.
Lucas Black/William Lee Scott/Fred Willard.
Directed by Tricia Brock.
* Some troubled youth and halfway house residents get together and form a blues band.
LOVE LIES BLEEDING.
Christian Slater/Jenna Dewan/Brian Geraghty.
Directed by Keith Samples.
* Well, my mama told me when love lies bleeding, leave it lying there, but I guess nobody done told that to these fools. When they find a sack of cash after a shootout, they think “whoop-whoop” and my guess is that is the wrong kinda thinking in them circumstances. Didn’t they see SHALLOW GRAVE? This is the second new release this week that sees Christian Slater wielding weaponry.
Billy Bob Thornton/Seann William Scott/Susan Sarandon.
Directed by Craig Gillespie.
* No, we are not going back to the days of adult videos at Four Star, this is simply a comedy about a badly named (and mannered) gym teacher who is marrying the mother of one of his old students. What is it about gym teachers? I actually had one in 9th grade named Mrs. Cabinass. Life!
Directed by Cornel Wilde.
* A totally harrowing and insane tale of a group of hunters who offend a tribe in Africa and are murdered for the offense. All, except one, that is, who is set loose naked to be hunted by the tribe through Africa.
NOT FOR OR AGAINST.
Marie Gillain/Diane Kruger/Vincent Elbaz).
Directed by Cedric Klapisch.
* The fall of the media, in this case a camera woman (Gillain) who throws in with some petty thieves who convince her to film a bank robbery.
SCENES OF A SEXUAL NATURE.
Hugh Bonneville/Ewan McGregor/Adrian Lester.
Directed by Ed Blum.
* A treatise on love and sex expounded upon one afternoon in a park outside of London through the separate interactions of six or seven couples.
SEE HOW THEY FALL.
Mathiew Kassovitz/Jean Yanne.
Directed by Jacques Audiard.
* A psychological thriller about an older man who throws his career away to find the killers of his friend.
Sarah Michelle Gellar/Alec Baldwin.
Directed by Marc Klein.
* This is a tale of a book editor (Gellar) who is the objet d’attention of an older gentleman with cash (Baldwin). Truth be told, I read something regarding the “lukewarm, insincere acting by Alec Baldwin”, but I am sure that was written by some mean mean person who was just jealous. It may be fluff, but sometimes fluff is wonderful.
THE TEN (07).
Jessica Alba/Paul Rudd/Adam Brody/Famke Janssen/Liev Schreiber/Winona Ryder.
Directed by David Wain.
* Ten tales of biblical proportion about people behaving poorly. What a cast, though. I, mean seriously, how often do you get Winona Ryder and Famke Janssen in the same movie. My guess is that this one flies under the Oscar radar, maybe even never gets mentioned. But, I’ll probably see it. Maybe twice.
Directed by Yves Lavandier.
* A 17-year-old girl, under-supervised and involved with an older and READY boyfriend, seeks professional advice from a therapist about sex.
BALLYKISSANGEL: COMPLETE SERIES (ALL SIX SEASONS).
Created by Kieran Prendiville
* Much loved UK series about an English priest in a small Irish village. Colin Farrell starred in this show for a few seasons.
FAMILY GUY: BLUE HARVEST.
* Blue Harvest was the code name when they filmed the Return of the Jedi. I’m not sure what the code name was when they filmed this.
ROBOT CHICKEN: SEASON 1.
* Demented stop motion animation series from Seth Green, Mike Fasolo and Matthew Senreich.
DORA THE EXPLORER: UNDERCOVER DORA.
First DVD or VHS of this classic Australian war movie from 1980.
First DVD of this for us.
First DVD of this early Brad Pitt rocker film that also stars Nick Cave!
MARCH OF THE PENGUINS.
POINT BLANK (67).
First DVD of this Lee Marvin and Angie Dickinson flick.
Monday, January 7, 2008
Welcome to 2008. Hope you are surviving the water. I took a walk during the highpoint of the storm on Friday morning, not yet aware that it would be such a wild day that would see a bunch of Cortland businesses (depressingly, including ours) shut down. Being from the east coast gives me a sort of hubris that sometimes contends that I am tougher than a little measly weather and can “take it”. Ah, what foolhardiness I carry with me. By the time I got to Cortland, I was soaked, cold and defeated. And that was before I got to the store!
Ah, yes. Nature always wins. Not a bad lesson to learn. We were sorry we could not help everyone with a little entertainment on Friday night. We may invest in a generator so that never happens again.
This is our first posting in a couple weeks. It has been an awesome holiday season over here at Four Star Video, and we thank you all tremendously for supporting us. We know the many choices that are available these days, and we are grateful that you continue to decide to come to Four Star. We will continue to put all of our resources into making our library fantastic, and your experience in the store the same.
We have a lot of films to tell you about, including five that we put out on the shelves a week or so ago. I have put a star next to the titles that we put out last week, just so you know what’s truly new and what is new to this blog, but perhaps not to you if you’ve been in the store this last week. (That sentence is a bit hard to understand, but it’s 12:45am and I think you get the point).
I’ve seen a ton of movies lately, and I want to tell you about a few. My two favorites both have child stars and are both foreign films. The first, BLAME IT ON FIDEL, from France, is simply spectacular. It follows one family’s political upheaval as it affects their young 8 or 9 year old daughter. She goes from having everything to feeling angry and lost as the family give up their big house and servants for a communist lifestyle. She is so wonderful and mature, as she attempts to reconstruct her world and understand the larger world around her. The second is an older Spanish film, CRIA CUERVOS by the flamenco film master, Carlos Saura from 1976. This movie is also wonderful! It concerns a family of three daughters, who have just become orphans as the movie begins. The main character is Ana, the middle child (oh, the poor middle child) who blames her mothers death on her father, and who sees her mothers ghost regularly. We also have three of the flamenco movies of Saura on the new release wall, and although I have only seen one, I recommend them. The one I saw was CARMEN, and it was terrific. The music and dancing were superb and the storytelling through the dance was just wild. I was a little skeptical that I would like a flamenco movie, but I loved it. So there you go; some recommendations from me. Let me know how you like them.
Okay then, on to the movies.
Love and kisses,
3:10 TO YUMA.
Russell Crowe/Christian Bale/Peter Fonda/Gretchen Mol.
Directed by James Mangold.
* A remake of the 1957 film of the same name, the story is of the tense and treacherous transport of famed outlaw Ben Wade (Crowe) to the train which will bring him to justice. Among those in the transport posse is rancher Dan Evans (Bale) who is desperate for the money to keep his ranch. Psychological warfare mixed with gun battles both from Indians (it’s a Western, guys, it would seem weird to type Native Americans in this context) and Wade’s gang keep things ultra tight right up until the bloody end.
AN ANGEL IN KRAKOW. *
Krzysztof Globisz/Ewa Kaim.
Directed by Artur Wiecek.
* Another freaky movie from Eastern Europe about an angel philosophizing with a human.
BIG BANG LOVE, JUVENILE A .
Directed by Takashi Miike.
* I read “Homosexual tension and explosive violence” on IMDB.com. It’s about two detectives trying to unravel the mystery of a murder at an all-boys juvenile detention center.
CATERINA IN THE BIG CITY.
Alice Teghil/Sergio Castellitto.
Directed by Paolo Virzi.
* Caterina’s family is from the sticks outside of Rome; when they move to the big city, her young teenage world is totally blown away. She is torn in two by painful friendships with the two uber-popular girls, Magherita – the daughter of writers and artists, and Daniela – a politician’s daughter. Caterina’s father is a failed teacher who is certain that the world if full of spite for him, and that the haves are conspiring to make sure he has not. The awkward solitude of puberty is strong in this film; it filled me with feelings of loneliness, regret and anger. The beauty and strength of Caterina make this film a wonderful testimony to life.
Quim Gutierrez/Marta Etura/Antonio de la Torre/Eva Pallares/Raul Arevalo.
Directed by Daniel Sanchez Arevalo.
* This beautiful little film is about a young man’s struggle to outrun his destiny; in this case, being the janitor of the building he lives in with his invalid father who he cares for. He has a stuttering romance with a young woman whose family also lives in the building and a wonderful friendship with a friend who is struggling to deal with the discovery of his father’s secret sexuality. He also has a brother in jail whose goal is to impregnate his also imprisoned girlfriend. Unfortunately, his sperm have flown south forever, and he wants our hero to do the impregnating. Ah, the complexities of life! You must see this wonderful film.
Kevin Bacon/Kelly Preston.
Directed by James Wan.
* Kevin Bacon schizes out in a major way after witnessing terrible brutality. He then exacts his very own, DEATH SENTENCE. Who doesn’t love a Kevin Bacon flick?
THE DR. JEKYL AND MR. HYDE ROCK AND ROLL MUSICAL.
Alan Bernhoft/Michelle Monaghan.
Directed by Andre Champagne.
* If you love a rock opera, you’ll check this out (and tell me about it!).
Jason Behr/Amanda Brooks.
Directed by Hyung-rae Shim..
* Monsters battling it out in Los Angeles.
EAGLE VS SHARK.
Comedy/Stilted/Foreign (New Zealand – is New Zealand foreign?).
Jermaine Clement/Loren Horsley.
Directed by Taika Cohen.
* Almost like a New Zealand NAPOLEAN DYNAMITE meets LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, but not quite as good as either. She (Horsley) is a loser waitress (albeit a beautiful loser) and he (Clement - of FLIGHTS OF THE CONCHORD fame) is a true loser, freak, pathetic vengeful liar. But that is not enough to keep this woman away!!!
FORGET ABOUT IT.
Burt Reynolds/Robert Loggia/Raquel Welch.
Directed by BJ Davis.
* Three old war veteran trailer chumps in trouble with the mafia.
Charlotte Gainsbourg/Vincenzo Amato.
Directed by Emanuele Crialese.
* Gritty realistic portrayal of a poor family immigrating to America in the early 20th century.
John Malkovich/Saffron Burrows.
Directed by Raul Ruiz.
* Malkovich plays the decadent Austrian artist Gustav Klimt in this period piece.
THE LADY VANISHES.
Dame May Whitty/Margaret Lockwood.
Directed by Alfred Hitchcock.
* Criterion release of the 1938 classic. Where’d she go?
MIRACLE DOGS, TOO. *
Janine Turner/Patrick Muldoon.
Directed by Richard Gabai.
* Two dogs have magical powers that cure problems in a small town.
Directed by Irving Schwartz.
* I always get Piper Perabo mixed up with Pikabo Street. You know, the skier who got to pick her own name? Anyway, I don’t know much about her skiing, and I don’t know much about this movie. But Piperboo plays some chick in NY who has dysfunctional parents, druggie friends and I think gets hit by a truck. That sounds funny!
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION. *
Milla Jovovitch/Ali Larter/Oded Fehr/Ashanti.
Directed by Russell Mulcahy.
* The third in the trilogy following the outrageously beautiful Jovovitch strapped full of weapons shooting zombies and other assorted bad guys.
SEPTEMBER DAWN. *
Jon Voigt/Trent Ford/Tamara Hope.
Directed by Christopher Cain.
* A western romance set behind the historical tale of a group of settlers from Arkansas getting massacred by some seriously angry Mormons. Why can’t we all just get along?
Ellie Araiza/Brad Greenquist.
Directed by Adrian Fulle.
* Good versus evil in the wild wild West. Actually, I think it’s good and evil versus really really evil.
SHOOT EM UP. *
Clive Owen/Paul Giamatti/Monica Bellucci.
Directed by Michael Davis.
* Dude, look at this cast! I’m not sure exactly what this is about, but it involves a baby being protected from a bunch of gunmen by a vigilante (Owen). Sounds like the dark, evil but goofy sibling of CHILDREN OF MEN. But probably not.
Michelle Yeoh/Cillian Murphy/Cliff Curtis/Chris Evans.
Directed by Danny Boyle.
* The sun is dying, astronauts, scientific mission, reigniting the sun, failure, bombs and uh…You oughta see me try to reignite a dying fire; I’m told it’s pretty funny.
ULTIMATE ANIMATION: ETERNAL GAZE AND F8.
Jet Li/Jason Statham.
Directed by Philip G. Atwell.
* An FBI agent (Statham) seeks revenge on the mysterious killer (Li) of his partner.
Tripped Out/Psychedelic/Fairy Tale/Foreign (Japanese).
Kyoko Kishida/Kazuko Yoshiyuki.
Directed by Mai Tominaga.
* Whoa, this film is weird. It is the story of two old ladies living in a crazy old mansion just completely filled with stuff. Along comes a bunch of balls of red yarn, and kind of attached to them a young woman who may or may not be their mother. She knits a dress, and must knit it again, and AGAIN, AND AGAIN! The sound design is sublime, with long periods of silence, and great horn-based tunes. Animated scenes move the story along, and a dollhouse helps ground the narrative. I haven’t taken acid for many years, but I sure thought I was tripping while watching this flick.
THE BEST OF JOHNNY CARSON: VOLUME 1.
* Funny stuff from the original late night master.
Mi-5: VOLUME 5.
Season five in the tales of the UK intelligence organization.
AMERICAN CARNY: TRUE TALES FROM THE CIRCUS SIDESHOW.
Directed by Nick Basile.
A look at the great American tradition.
INDIE SEX. *
Directed by Lesli Klainberg.
* An in-depth look at sex and nudity in cinema.
GROWING UP ARCTIC.
* Another awesome study by the Animal Planet people. This has four segments about animals being rescued in Alaska and elsewhere, and a ton of great footage and information about these animals: Seals, Polar Bears, Walruses and Penguins.
MIGHTY MACHINES: BOATS TO THE RESCUE.