Sean Penn won a Best Actor Academy Award for his portray of Harvey Milk in Gus Van Sant’s MILK. Another four guys could have won Best Supporting Actor for their amazing portrayals in this important film such as Emile Hirsch as Cleve Jones, the powerful young man who was so inspired by his time with Harvey that he went on to do other important work including founding the NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt and truly could be the subject of his own feature film; Josh Brolin as Dan White, the erstwhile Supervisor whose demons drove him to take Harvey Milk and George Moscone’s lives; Diego Luna as the jealous and emotionally fragile lover of Milk; and James Franco as an early partner. This group’s contribution to cinema has been tremendous and all their talents are on display in this film.
Out this week is Jonathan Demme’s new film about a family at the height of celebration and dysfunction. In RACHEL GETTING MARRIED, Rachel is indeed getting married to the beautiful Sidney (Tunde Adebimpe, from the genre busting band TV ON THE RADIO). And life would seem totally and amazingly sweet if it weren’t for the steady and unwavering complications of her junky sister Kym (Anne Hathaway, in an Oscar-Nominated performance) who is fresh out of rehab but ungrounded and full of both graceful and ungraceful fury.
Also of note this week are HAPPY-GO-LUCKY, Mike Leigh’s latest about a women named Poppy who is incapable of a bad day; CADILLAC RECORDS, the somewhat true story of Chess Records, the Chicago blues music label that launched Willie Dixon, Chuck Berry, Etta James and many others; SYNECDOCHE NEW YORK, the new surrealistic tale featuring Charlie Kaufman (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTAION)’s directorial debut about the life of a brilliant yet brilliantly troubled theatre director played by Philip Seymour Hoffman and also starring a bright batch of amazing women (Catherine Keener, Diane Wiest, Michelle Williams, Samantha Morton and Jennifer Jason Leigh).
In the Foreign Film department we have THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS, a moving tale of the friendship between a young boy in a concentration camp and the son of the camp’s commander. LET THE RIGHT ONE IN is one of the highest rated vampire films in recent years and also features the friendship of two young people: Oscar, a bullied 12-year old trying to find his happy place and Eli, a beautiful fearless girl who happens to need human blood to stay alive.
Also exciting this week is the tripped out documentary DR BRONNER’S MAGIC SOAP BOX about the wild and borderline crazy inventor of the well loved soap.
Do you buy new DVD’s? We are trying an experiment this week by carrying a few of some of the bigger titles to sell new. They are in the front display case. Let us know what you think about this idea! Oh, and if you are a KenFlix subscriber, all new and used Movies are $3 off. Damn – that’s a deal!
Please read about Videofest 2009 here. It is a terrific film festival sponsored by the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts. This year’s focus is in on Labor and Dreams. To read more about the festival and submit for entry, please go to their website which is linked here. One of the prizes is a year subscription to Kenflix!
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.
Love and Kisses,
P.S. Recently, a KenFlix subscriber told me that one reason he loves the service so much is because he spend a fair amount of time on the road, so being able to have a few films with him, without worrying about when they are due, enables him to have some control of the quality of his entertainment - just another reason that KenFlix rocks.
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............//RELEASE OF THE WEEK//............
MILK.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY
Sean Penn/Emile Hirsch/James Franco/Josh Brolin/Diego Luna.
Directed by Gus Van Sant.
* Somehow, after 20 years of trying to get this film made, its arrival was perfectly timed with an election year that saw Proposition 8 on California ballots. How amazing was that? What could have been a coming out party (no pun intended) for gay rights became instead a solidification of special interest and mainstream groups fighting together to assure the civil rights of all Californians. Harvey Milk would have LOVED that. Prop 8 passed, but make no mistake, the fight is on, and will not end until consensual adults who want to love each other and have that love recognized in the eyes of the state have that right. The film that Van Sant made focuses on that last decade of Harvey Milk’s brief life, the 1970’s - the years that saw him adopt San Francisco as his hometown, and the Castro district as his village. Penn plays Milk as a sensitive guy, who can never be happy when he sees people being held down from expressing themselves. His portrayal, as are so many of his other performances, is so deeply intimate that it becomes easy to forget you are watching Sean Penn (challenging as it is for such icons) and easy to get swept away by the events of the story. And such a story! Can you imagine if one of our Supervisors and the Mayor were shot dead by another Supervisor? The reality of the situation is so crazy and so terrible that there are obviously a million stories within in it to be told and a million questions to be answered. Here, Academy Award winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black decided to focus on Milk, and not on Dan White, his killer. I can’t remember if the so-called Twinkie Defense is even mentioned, but if it is, it is an incidental mention. The focus is on Harvey, his camera shop, his devotion to his lovers, his devotion to his community and his city and his ability to form coalitions during moments of great emotion. What a great talent that is. It is hard to imagine that Harvey Milk would not have gone on to do many more great things if his life had not been cut short. But watching this film, you see that his accomplishments were many, and that life as we know it in San Francisco was helped to be defined by his life. I highly recommend this film, it is an important film, and part of our history.
BATTLE IN SEATTLE.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY
Michelle Rodriguez/Charlize Theron/Ray Liotta/Channing Tatum/Andre Benjamin/Woody Harrelson.
Directed by Stuart Townsend.
* A fictionalized version of the tremendous events of Nov 1999 when a WTO conference in Seattle attracted a massive amount of international protest and the city of Seattle became a policed battleground for five days. This film tracks the lives of several protesters as well as the beleaguered Mayor of Seattle (Liotta) and a riot cop (Harrelson) and his pregnant wife (Theron). Co-starring Andre Benjamin of the incredibly awesome hip-hop band Outkast. LINK Sorry Miss Jackson.
THE BOY IN THE STRIPED PAJAMAS.
Asa Butterfield/Vera Farmiga.
Directed by Mark Herman.
* Stunning and powerful, this British film is about the strange, beautiful and forbidden friendship between the young son of a commander of a concentration camp and a young Jewish boy interned in the camp awaiting death.
CADILLAC RECORDS.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Adrien Brody/Jeffrey Wright/Gabrielle Union/Mos Def/Beyonce Knowles.
Directed by Darnell Martin.
* A rock and roll joyride, chronicling Chess Records, the famous 1950’s Chicago label that brought along such performers as Etta James (Knowles), Chuck Berry (Def), Muddy Waters (Wright), Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), and Howlin Wolf (Eamonn Walker) to name a few…
Directed by Julian Doyle.
* Weird thriller about Aleister Crowley maybe being brought back to life?? If you know who that is, you might want to check this film out.
Directed by William Shatner.
* Aliens, life after death, UFO’s, William Shatner!
Sally Hawkins/Elliot Cowan/Eddie Marsan.
Directed by Mike Leigh.
* From the guy who brought us NUTS IN MAY, TOPSY-TURVY and HIGH HOPES comes this quirky comedy about the happy-go-lucky pixie Poppy (Hawkins) who goes traipsing through life in a state of blissful joy (or is it deeply irreverent mockery? Hmmm).
LET THE RIGHT ONE IN.
Kare Hedebrant/Lina Leandersson.
Directed by Tomas Alfredson.
* Garnishing 40 award wins (yup, 40!) on the festival circuit, this is the tale of Oskar, a young boy who is dealing with being bullied and lacking the courage to fight back, that is until he meets Eli. She’s so…different. She can’t stand the sun, her eating habits are confusing, and her sense of formality is quite unusual. But she’s tough and she teaches Oskar things. Things he is psyched to know, that is until he finds out that she drinks people’s blood to survive. Then, things get…confusing.
Giancarlo Giannini/Laura Anonelli/Jennifer O’Neill.
Directed by Luchino Visconti.
* The last film by the Italian director Visconti, this 1976 tale of passion and madness and murder was adapted from a novella by Gabriele D’Annunzio.
MILK.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
* See Release of the Week.
THE MIRACLE WORKER.
Patty Duke/Melissa Gilbert.
Directed by Paul Aaron.
* Patty Duke played Helen Keller in the 1962 version, in this 1979 version she switches to Anne Sullivan, the teacher who helped a blind, deaf and mute Helen avoid institutional life by teaching her how to read and communicate in this moving portrayal of the real life story.
Bryan Greenberg/Alan Rickman/Eliza Dukshu/Bill Pullman/Ted Danson/Mary Steenburgen.
Directed by Randall Miller.
* The twisted tale of Barkley Michaelson (Greenberg) the soon-to-be PhD son of a famous chemist (Rickman) who has just won the Nobel Prize. Unfortunately for Barkley, kidnappers decide to snatch him up and hold him for ransom of the Nobel prize money. Nah, his dad won’t pay – things get dicey from there.
PALIMPSEST: A HYPNOTIC MYSTERY.
Directed by Konrad Niewolski
* A tight Lynch-like thriller about a police detective deeply involved in a complicated case that appears to be disintegrating his grasp on reality.
RACHEL GETTING MARRIED.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Anne Hathaway/Rosemarie DeWitt/Bill Irwin/Debra Winger/Tunde Adebimpe.
Directed by Jonathan Demme.
* Kym (Hathaway) is a young adult struggling with addiction who is fresh out of rehab in time to attend the wedding of her sister (DeWitt). A lifetime of family turmoil, loss and pain are unleashed to mingle with the joy and celebration of the marriage of two people who love each other tremendously. Hathaway garnered a much deserved nomination for Best Actress for this film. Her complicated portrayal of an addict and the struggles to stay clean and to forgive herself and those around her for the terrible problems inflicted upon their lives as a result of substance abuse was spot on. If it weren’t for the terrific Kate Winslet’s two amazing performances in 2008, Hathaway probably would have taken home the hardware. As it is, it won’t be long until we do hear an acceptance speech from this very talented young star.
ROLE MODELS.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Seann William Scott/Paul Rudd/Elizabeth Banks.
Directed by David Wain.
*Rudd and Scott star as two nincompoops who get community service working in the Big Brother program after trashing some employer property. Hijinks ensue.
Cecile France/Patrick Bruel/Ludivine Sagnier/Julie Depardieu.
Directed by Claude Miller.
* Award-winning story of a young teenager who discovers a shocking truth about his family. Depardieu won Best Supporting Actress Cesar for her work.
SYNEDOCHE NEW YORK.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Philip Seymour Hoffman/Hope Davis/Jennifer Jason-Leigh/Michelle Williams/Emily Watson/Catherine Keener/Samantha Morton/Dianne Wiest.
Directed by Charlie Kaufman.
* Very strange and unsettling film about Caden Cotard (Hoffman, in another brilliant performance), a MacArthur grant winning theatre director who is mounting a new play in a surrealistically enormous warehouse basically the size of the city of New York. But really, this film isn’t so much about Caden, and all his idiosyncrasies, but more about Life and its idiosyncrasies. You get the feeling with Kaufman’s screenplays (BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, ADAPTATION, ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF A SPOTLESS MIND) that he is less concerned with our actions and more with the reasons we act. In this, we experience Caden breaking down into more of a concept than a person. He ages, he experiences his life as someone else watching it happen, he experiences it an old man with a pseudo god-like character (that is actually himself, or rather someone (Diane Wiest) playing himself) whispering directions to him in his ear. The story itself is sad and emotive, but the greater message is more philosophical and speaks to the need to live in the present and not wish you would have done what you didn’t.
W/the exceptional Samantha Morton as his sometimes lover and muse.
Directed by Olivier Megaton.
* Number three in the action series, this time starring the action god of the day, Jason Statham.
Kristy McNichol/Paul Winfield/Burl Ives.
Directed by Samuel Fuller.
* Strange tale of the vicious hatred of a dog trained to attack black people. Winfield plays an African American dog trainer who attempts to cure the dog of its training, but this old dog can’t be taught new tricks, only re-directed, as they discover to disastrous effect.
DR. BRONNER’S MAGIC SOAP BOX.
Directed by Sara Lamm.
* The story of Dr. Emmanuel Bronner, the once Rabbi, former Chemist, previously institutionalized, somewhat madman who created Dr. Bronner’s soap, with each box adorned with his philosophical writings “The Moral ABC”. If you are like me, much time has been spent sitting in the can reading the Dr. Bronner’s bottle. Here is the story of the man, the company and the soap.
THE MARK OF CAIN.
Directed by Alix Lambert.
* This documentary explores prison tattoos in Russian, but also becomes a expose of the prison system in Russia.
TRIBAL FUSION FUNDAMENTALS.
* Hmm, yes, well. I believe this is a belly-dancing instructional video. I’ve taken some heat from the Four Star employees for this one.
EXTRAS: EXTRA SPECIAL SEASON FINALE.
* This was both the final episode of Season 2 and the first of Season 3, which is still not available.
SOUTH PARK: THE COMPLETE 12TH SEASON.
Created by Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
* It’s so sick and funny. Thank you Matt and Trey!
MAX FLEISCHER’S GULLIVER’S TRAVELS.
* Restored 1939 classic.
PINOCCHIO: 70TH ANNIVERSARY (PLATINUM EDITION).
WORDWORLD: FLYING ANT.
WOODY WOODPECKER FAVORITES.
* These are awesome!
............// NEW ADDITIONS//............
* First DVD.
* First DVD.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR.
* Came with the box-set.
............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............
CASTLE IN THE SKY.
* We can’t seem to keep this awesome Miyazaki film in stock!
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: COMPLETE SEASON ONE.
DR. WHO: COMPLETE 2nd SERIES.
* It should be called Dr. Why. As in “Why do my discs keep getting scratched”?
GOSSIP GIRL: SEASON ONE.
* Hello, my name is Disc 5 – have you seen me?
ROMAN HOLIDAY: CENTENNIAL EDITION.