It’s feast or famine in DVD world. This week, it is a massive feast.
First up is ADVENTURELAND, the latest from the director of SUPERBAD. This film takes place during the summer of 1987 and follows a young man as he takes a job he doesn’t want and gains a life he does. With Jessie Eisenberg (THE SQUID AND THE WHALE) and Kristen Stewart (TWILIGHT). Amy Adams and Emily Blunt play the Lorkowski sisters cleaning up crime scenes in Christine Jeff’s SUNSHINE CLEANING. With Alan Arkin and Steve Zahn.
In DUPLICITY, we are not sure who is getting duped. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts play dueling corporate spies, crossing, double-crossing and triple-crossing each other and the corporations they work for in this new winking thriller by Tony Gilroy. GOODBYE SOLO is the latest from Ramin Bahrani (CHOP SHOP, MAN PUSH CART). The friendship between a Senegalese cab driver and a Southern Good Ol’ Boy is front and center in this almost buddy film taking place in North Carolina.
FIGHTING was edited by my brother-in-law Jake Pushinsky and stars Terrence Howard and Channing Tatum as a bare-knuckled fighter (Tatum) and the street scammer (Howard) who manages him in this stylized film from Dito Montiel (A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS).
CALIFORNICATION: SEASON TWO is here! As are a bunch of Criterion releases, such as THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO and JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE 1080 BRUXELLES as well as NIKKATSU NOIR: ECLIPSE SERIES 17, containing five hard-boiled Japanese action films from the Nikkatsu Studio made between 1957 and 1967. Scroll down to read more about these films.
Also of note is TROUBLE THE WATER, the intimate, Oscar-Nominated documentary about a couple trying to survive Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.
In the non-movie related category, we have live music this Tuesday, August 25th at El Rio (Your Neighborhood Dive) at 3158 Mission St, just one long block from the Blue Plate restaurant. Starting at 8pm we have Sugarspun, Earth Minor (my cousin Harry’s band) and Spoon + 10 (my sister Anne’s band). Should be a fun night of tunes at one of the best local places to see music. I’ll be there, maybe I’ll see some of you!
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.
Love and Kisses,
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ADVENTURELAND.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Jesse Eisenberg/Kristen Stewart/Ryan Reynolds/Bill Hader.
Directed by Greg Mottola
* From the director of SUPERBAD comes this bitter-sweet summer crush movie about a young man who’s plans to gallivant around Europe after graduating college in 1987 are put on hold by the economic struggles of his parents (damn Ronny Reagan!). Instead, he must take a job at Adventureland, a run-down amusement park in Philadelphia. There, his adult life really begins as he is confronted with existential pain, un-requited love, financial stress, an absolute tear in his safety net, and all the cotton candy he can eat. Co-starring Eisenberg from THE SQUID AND THE WHALE, Stewart from TWILIGHT, Reynolds from DEFINITELY MAYBE and Hader as one of the struggling park owners.
Gabriel Mann/Bijou Phillips
Directed by Rachel Samuels.
* Set in 1930’s New York, this noir-ish film centers on a playboy owner of a fancy jazz nightclub.
DUPLICITY.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Julia Roberts/Clive Owen/Paul Giamatti/Tom Wilkinson/Ulrich Thomsen
Directed by Tony Gilroy.
* Roberts was CIA, Owen was MI6, and things got hot and bothered when they co-tackled situations. But now, they are both working in the private sector, for competing corporations, and now the question is, who is working for whom? This massive double-crossing romp features Giamatti and Wilkinson as competing CEO’s out to ruin each other’s businesses.
FIGHTING.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Channing Tatum/Terrence Howard.
Directed by Dito Montiel.
* Tatum is a young man living in the NYC trying to make it work, and barely getting by. Howard is the older street scammer who becomes his manager in the world of underground fist-fighting. Features realistic fisticuffs, a pumping soundtrack and brilliant editing by my brother-in-law Jake Pushinsky (A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS, CHOPS).
Soulemane Savane/Red West.
Directed by Ramin Bahrani.
* Bahrani is becoming famous for his independent films (MAN PUSH CART, CHOP SHOP) featuring foreigners living in America and trying to find the dream that is so famously discussed internationally. This one follows a similar path. Solo (Savane) is a Senegalese immigrant working in North Carolina as a cab driver. He meets William (West) an older Southern man who is down and full of regret and an interesting friendship is born.
THE INFORMERS.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Billy Bob Thornton/Kim Basinger/Winona Ryder/Mickey Rourke.
Directed by Gregor Jordan.
* This expose of 1980’s Los Angeles is about greed and sex and narcissism and Hollywood and the never-ending groups of young men and women partying all night, living on the edge, hoping to get to the top and more than likely ending up in the gutter.
JEANNE DIELMAN, 23 QUAI DU COMMERCE 1080 BRUXELLES.
Chantal Akerman/Delphine Seyrig.
Directed by Chantal Akerman.
*Slow and mesmerizing 1975 film following in meticulous detail the daily routine of a middle aged widow cooking and cleaning for her son while doing the same chores in the same order day after day after day.
Samrat Chakrabarti/Rebecca Hazlewood.
Directed by Amyn Kaderali.
* Amir (Chakrabarti) is a professional break-up messenger. That is, he is the paid bearer of bad news for people who are ending their relationships. As the cynical unmarried guy in his group, it is pointed out to him that he couldn’t keep a relationship alive if he tried. So, as a gag, he tries. With his cousin.
Marko Mandic/Slobodan Custic/Janez Hocevar.
Directed by Vinko Moderndorfer.
* Taught thriller about a couple of small-time thieves who accidentally steal from a retired General documents showing him to be responsible for war time atrocities…Soon, the General sends his men to retrieve the documents, and deal with the thieves.
THE LAST DAYS OF DISCO.
Chloe Sevigny/Kate Beckinsale.
Directed by Whit Stillman
* It’s the early 80’s and disco is dying. Two young pre-raver women spend their nights dancing, primping and dreaming at the disco.
Lachlan Buchanan/Xavier Samuel/Anthony Hayes.
Directed by Dan Castle.
* This surfing movie about young men in Australia is more of a coming-of-age story than anything else about a surfer kid trying to get out of the shadow of his older brother.
NIKKATSU NOIR: ECLIPSE SERIES 17.
* From Amazon:
From the mid-1950s to the early 1970s, wild, idiosyncratic crime movies were the brutal and boisterous business of Nikkatsu, the oldest film studion in Japan. In an effort to attract youthful audiences growing increasingly accustomed to American and French big-screen imports, Nikkatsu began producing action potboilers (mukokuseki akushun, or borderless action) modeled on the western, comedy, gangster, and teen-rebel genres. This bruised and bloody collection represents a standout cross section of the nimble nasties Nikkatsu had to offer, from such prominent, stylistically daring directors as Seijun Suzuki, Toshio Masuda, and Takashi Nomura.
I AM WAITING (1957): In Koreyoshi Kurahara's directorial debut, rebel matinee idol Yujiro Ishihara (fresh off the sensational Crazed Fruit) stars a restaurant manager and former boxer who saves a beautiful, suicidal club hostess (Mie Kitahara) trying to escape the clutches of her gangster employer. Featuring expressionist lighting and bold camera work, this was one of Nikkatsu's early successes.
RUSTY KNIFE (1958): Rusty Knife was the first smash for director Toshio Masuda, who would go on to become one of Japanese cinema's major hit makers. In the film, Yujiro Ishihara and fellow top Nikkatsu star Akira Kobayashi play former hoodlums trying to leave behind a life of crime, but their past comes back to haunt them when the authorities seek them out as murder witnesses.
TAKE AIM AT THE POLICE VAN (1960): At the beginning of Seijun Suzuki's taut and twisty whodunit, a prison truck is attacked and a convict inside is murdered. The penitentiary warden on duty, Daijiro (Michitaro Mizushima) is accused of negligence and suspended, only to take it upon himself to track down the killers.
CRUEL GUN STORY (1964): Fresh out of the slammer, Togawa (Branded to Kill's Joe Shishido) has no chance to go straight because he is immediately coerced by a wealthy mob boss into organizing the heist of an armoured car carrying racetrack receipts. After gathering together a ragtag bunch to carry out the robbery, Togawa learns that all is not what it seems in Takumi Furukawa's thriller. Cue the double (and triple) crosses!
A COLT IS MY PASSPORT (1967): One of Japanese cinema's supreme emulations of American noir, Takashi Nomura's A Colt Is My Passport is a down-and-dirty but gorgeously photographed yakuza film starring Joe Shishido as a hard-boiled hit man caught between rival gangs. Featuring an incredible, spaghetti-western-style soundtrack and brimming with formal experimentation, this is Nikkatsu at its finest.
RUDO Y CURSI.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Gael Garcia Bernal/Diega Luna.
Directed by Carlos Cuaron
* From the writer of Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, and reuniting its stars, comes this new comedy about two siblings, living on a banana plantation with their family. When they are picked up by a talent scout and make it as professional football (soccer) stars, their lives become conflicted with their desires for women, gambling and the “good” life, outweighing their professional sports ambition by far.
SOMETHING IS KILLING TATE.
Jocko Sims/Joshua Curls.
Directed by Leon Lozano.
* The winner of 8 individual awards on the Festival circuit in 2008, this well-acted and heady drama is about Tate, a 25-year old man struggling to reconcile his past before he it reconciles him.
SUNSHINE CLEANING.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Amy Adams/Emily Blunt/Alan Arkin/Steve Zahn.
Directed by Christine Jeffs.
* From the production team that brought us LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE comes another family comedy about a disjointed community trying to figure themselves out. Rose (Adama, ah, Amy Adams…don’t you just love her? From her work in JUNEBUG to ENCHANTED she is just amazing) amd Norah (Blunt) are the adult children of Joe. Rose has a son, and is dating her old high school flame (Zahn, in a surprisingly mellow performance that hopefully will be a harbinger of things to come) even though he is, alas, married with children to someone else. Rose cleans houses, and is struggling to make the next step for herself, when her boyfriend gives her the idea that cleaning crime scenes can be lucrative. Thus the Sunshine Cleaning company is formed and soon Rose and Norah are scrubbing the blood off of mattresses and the tissue matter of walls all over town. This movie is not going to win any awards, but it is heartfelt, introduces a pretty good child actor (Jason Spevack) and features Adams in underwear on at least three separate occasions.
TROUBLE THE WATER.
Directed by Tia Lessin and Carl Deal.
* Nominated for the Best Documentary Oscar (and winner of a bunch of festival awards) this film follows Scott and Kimberly Roberts, a young couple living in New Orlean’s Ninth Ward, as they struggle to survive Hurricane Katrina. Some shot on the couple’s own video camera, and some shot with the filmmakers two weeks later as they come home and try to rebuild their lives, this intimate and amazing film is as powerful as it is devastating. Also contains hardcore rap by Kimberly Roberts (Black Kold Madina) on the soundtrack.
WONDER OF IT ALL.
Directed by Jeffrey Roth.
* Brilliant interviews of seven of the surviving astronauts that walked on the moon.
CALIFORNICATION: THE SECOND SEASON.
* Season two follows Hank Moody (Duchovny) as he continues to walk the path of struggle, moderated only by the company of beautiful women. Dude shouldn’t complain, but he does. And it’s tough for the guy; writer’s block is weighing him down. Co-parenting is a scheduling nightmare. And the babes are throwing themselves at his feet…what’s a guy to do?
HOUSE: SEASON FIVE.
Hugh Laurie/Omar Epps.
* These are puzzling cases that the good doctor takes on, very very puzzling.
BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD.
* Four episodes on this disc.
THE BERENSTAIN BEARS: HALLOWEEN TREATS.
* Holy cow, it’s almost Halloween already…deep breath.
DEADWOOD: COMPLETE FIRST AND SECOND SEASON.
* Just cuz they needed replacing…