Monday, February 16, 2009
****new release list no.206
I am still on the soapbox! But today’s film blog will start with the movies. Then – if you are interested – you can scroll down and read my thoughts on my store, the economy and you.
This week, we have lots of titles that we have been hearing about. Angelina Jolie was nominated for Best Actress for her role in CHANGELING about a mother struggling with the belief that the boy who is returned to her after a kidnapping is not really her son. In RELIGULOUS, Bill Maher asks lots of people questions about their religion and scratches at the surface of our beliefs. CHOKE finds Sam Rockwell fake choking in fancy restaurants to win the financial favor of those who save him. From the Czech Republic we have I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND, a comedy about a man who longs to be a millionaire, but for the most part spends his life serving millionaires. FLASH OF GENIUS is what Greg Kinnear keeps showing! In this, he is the guy who invented the intermittent windshield wiper and who must fight the Auto Industry to get his due. BODY OF LIES is another action flick from Leo DiCaprio and Russell Crowe about a maverick CIA agent tracking terrorism in Jordan. HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE is the latest Simon Pegg comedy. Do you like him? Did you watch SPACED yet? That is a really funny television show from the early part of his career – check it out! Oh, don’t forget to tell your kids that HIGH SCHOOL MUSIC 3: SENIOR YEAR is also out this week. Zac Efron – we love you!
Where was I? Oh yeah - Shop Local, Shop Often. I like the sound of that. I’ve always enjoyed the aspect of my spending that enabled me to direct my money into specific businesses that I like. In this department, we can actually make a difference. Could it be that a lot of this depression/recession is psychological? That we are now so fearful of the possibility of income loss that we are afraid to spend? Isn’t that how terrorism works? We get afraid of what could happen and then make our decisions based on fear. Bob Marley sang “Emancipate yourself from mental slavery. None but ourselves can free our mind.” And it resonates!
I had a lot of feedback about last week’s blog and all of it was good, although a few people were caused stress thinking that I was hinting about closing the store. So, to put your minds at ease, I will declare right now in print that I will definitely not close my business in 2009, no matter how frightening the numbers might seem.
In fact, I am going to be making some exciting new changes that will begin by reducing our income even more. Sound brilliant? Well the jury is out, but I think you will like the plan.
What is the biggest bummer for most movie renters? I’d say there are two for the most part. The first is a damaged or scratched disc. Aargh. That makes us so frustrated. It bums us out for you, the customer, and the aggravating experience that we know that you’ve had, and it bums us out for us, the owners of the disc that has been damaged by someone’s irresponsibility in caring for it. I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. I’ll just say, sorry about that! Let us know about the damaged ones and we will credit you, and also please consider replacing your DVD player regularly, as they are truly poorly made and most don’t last more than a couple years.
The second most frustrating thing for you the renter is renewal fees. Late fees, penalty fees, call them what you want. Whatever you call it, it translates to extra cash because you brought the thing back late. Our fees, thanks to Dave and Jeremy and Jamie are probably the very lowest in all of San Francisco, as they are not based on daily charges, but renewal periods - in other words, we just assume you are renting it again when it doesn’t come back, and you have it for another 3 or 5 days for the regular price of the rental – which is even cheaper if you are a block renter.
But you already know all this, right? And it is still frustrating when you get dinged. Thus, KenFlix.
Who knows about KenFlix? I’m guessing most of you. Last year we implemented San Francisco’s premier (only?) monthly subscription rental service which gives you the renter the ability to remove the risk and cost of renewal fees for good! And many of you have signed on to this program. Good for you and good for us! (If you don’t know about this program – please ask us at the store).
We want to let you know we are doing everything we can to make our service a must-use non-corporate local economy service. To do that, we are going to add some new pricing in mid-March which will coincide with our two-year anniversary of owning Four Star Video (March 9th!). We think the service is great now, but the new plans that we will offer at that time will be great for every single renter at Four Star Video, and our fantasy is that everyone will go on one plan or another. Our goal is to create a service that covers every type of renter here at the store.
If you are not currently a KenFlix user, then this means you.
In following this path, we are rethinking the entire business model of running a video store. We hope that you recognize all the thought we are putting into this, and rethink your own monthly commitment to your entertainment needs. It is our belief that if you are going to make a monthly commitment (i.e. Netflix, Comcast, etc…) it should be a local commitment.
Thanks for shopping at Four Star Video.
Love and Kisses,
P.S. My band, The Dont’s, is playing Noise Pop 2009. We are opening the show at the Independent next Wednesday. Info is here.
P.P.S. This is really funny, but if you don’t like profanity, don’t click this link. It’s from the Onion and purports to be an advertisement for a new piece of technology.
BODY OF LIES.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Leonardo DiCaprio/Russell Crowe.
Directed by Ridley Scott.
* Based on a book by a former CIA agent, this film follows Roger Ferris (DiCaprio) as he tracks a supposed terrorist leader in Jordan.
CHANGELING.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Angelina Jolie/John Malkovich.
Directed by Clint Eastwood.
* Nominated for three Oscars, including Best Actress for Jolie, this is the tense and tragic tale of a mother who loses the same child twice. The first time, he is kidnapped, a brutal reality in itself. Miraculously, the child returns safely – or at least “a” child returns. Very quickly the mother determines that he is not her child, and the story follows the sad battle between mother and LA bureaucracy to figure out the real story. Her fight to prove her allegations also becomes a fight for her own dignity and sanity.
Sam Rockwell/Angelica Huston/Brad William Henke.
Directed by Clark Gregg.
* From the novel written by Chuck Palahniuk (FIGHT CLUB) comes this film about Victor (Rockwell), a sex-addict adrenaline freak who earns his keep by fake choking at fancy restaurants with the hopes that the fine diners who save him will send him money out of a sense of responsibility. It works! (For him – don’t try this in today’s economy!).
DEAD LIKE ME: LIFE AFTER DEATH.
Ellen Muth/Callum Blue/Sarah Wynter.
Directed by Stephen Herek.
* From the popular television series about the all-important job of Grim Reaping, and all the zany characters who do it, comes this feature film following the characters further down the road of, uh…afterlife.
FLASH OF GENIUS.
Greg Kinnear/Lauren Graham/Dermot Mulroney/Alan Alda.
Directed by Marc Abraham.
* Kinnear plays Bob Kearns, the man who invented the intermittent windshield wiper and then who was shunned and ignored when it became the best thing since sliced bread. This film tracks Bob through the years of litigation he pursued while trying to reclaim compensation for his brilliant achievement.
HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL 3: SENIOR YEAR.
Zac Efron/Ashley Tisdale/Vanessa Hudgens.
Directed by Kenny Ortega.
* Oh baby, it’s senior year! The kids are freaking out because as college approaches, they are worrying and wondering what it will be like to be separated. Of course, they’ll stay best friends, won’t they? Well, there is no better way to deal with some emotional dilemma than to make a musical production out of it. I guess that’s what The Guess Who meant when they sang “What good is it, if I can’t even sing it to you.”
Directed by David Lean.
* The three independent and emotionally strong daughters of the widower barber Hobson rebel against his rules and against the social customs of the 19th Century.
HOW TO LOSE FRIENDS & ALIENATE PEOPLE.
Simon Pegg/Kirsten Dunst/Gillian Anderson/Jeff Bridges/Megan Fox.
Directed by Robert Weide.
* Sidney Young (Pegg) is a snarky and critical writer with a magazine Post Modern Review which systematically disses everything about the media and its obsessions. Then he gets offered a job at diametrically opposed magazine Sharps in the NYC and his life gets turned upside down as he struggles and succeeds at fitting in to the mainstream reality.
I SERVED THE KING OF ENGLAND.
Oldrich Kaiser/Julia Jentsch/Ivan Barnev.
Directed by Jiri Menzel.
* Jan Diti (Barnev as a young man and Kaiser in his later days) longs to be wealthy, to enjoy the sweat of his labor and the delectable pleasures of the flesh. His life journey is determined by these desires, as he makes his way in the world working at hotels serving the wealthy that he longs to join. Menzel (CLOSELY WATCHED TRAINS) specializes in visually stimulating comedies that dance on the perimeter of tragic realities, and this is no different as Diti gets caught up on the wrong side of WWII as the Nazi’s briefly become his employer and he sees becomes a first-hand witness to some of the stranger details of their conquests. This film is also shot beautifully.
MIDNIGHT MEAT TRAIN.
Bradley Cooper/Brooke Shields/Leslie Bibb.
Directed by Ryuhei Kitamura.
* It’s a blood bath from a story by Clive Barker about a butcher on a train at midnight, and you can guess what he’s butchering.
ONE LONG NIGHT.
Jon Seda/Lupillo Rivera/Itati Cantoral/Alison Eastwood/Karen Black/Ed Begley, Jr.
Directed by David Siqueiros.
* The story of one crazy night in Mexico City spent by Richard (Seda) who is trying to stay alive after dealing with a kidnapping, an attack by a couple drag queens, cross-dressing, and much more.
Paul Newman/Laurence Harvey/Edward G Robinson/William Shatner!
Directed by Martin Ritt.
* Released as a part of a Paul Newman Retrospective, this 1964 Western features Newman playing a Mexican bandit who attacks a young couple on the road.
Tom Arnold/Aaron Ashmore/Eve Brent.
Directed by Brad Leong.
* Are you from Palo Alto? Was this really what it was like? Please let me know! Oh, the plot? Something about a gaggle of college freshman rediscovering their old hometown and the deep meaning it has for them.
Jennifer Carpenter/Columbus Short.
Directed by John Dowdle.
* A bad bad day occurs for a group of people trapped in a quarantined building with something quite awful. Features Jennifer Carpenter from the show DEXTER.
SCREAMERS: THE HUNTING.
Gina Holden/Greg Bryk.
Directed by Sheldon Wilson.
* Space horror on Sirius 6-B, seriously!
Directed by Godfrey Cheshire.
* Fascinating story of Cheshire’s extended family’s decision to move Midway Plantation, their ancestral home, from its place among history in Raleigh to a less sprawling home. Can you successfully move an antebellum manor home? And should you? This story documents the history of the area and the families who populated it.
Directed by Larry Charles.
* From the IMDB: “Bill Maher interviews some of religion's oddest adherents. Muslims, Jews and Christians of many kinds pass before his jaundiced eye. Maher goes to a Creationist Museum in Kentucky, which shows that dinosaurs and people lived at the same time 5000 years ago. He talks to truckers at a Truckers' Chapel. (Sign outside: "Jesus love you.") He goes to a theme park called Holy Land in Florida. He speaks to a rabbi in league with Holocaust deniers. He talks to a Muslim musician who preaches hatred of Jews. Maher finds the unlikeliest of believers and, in a certain Vatican priest, he even finds an unlikely skeptic.”
............// NEW ADDITIONS//............
* This was a Criterion release a few years back that we didn’t have. It is a must-see for fans of film-noir.
THELONIUS MONK: STRAIGHT NO CHASER.
* This is our first DVD copy of this masterpiece. Watching it at the store, we were all agog at the amazing footage. This was a customer request – thank you!
............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............
THE O.C: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.