Monday, August 31, 2009
****new release list no.234
It’s a new month of Highlighted New Additions, and this month Rachel W went yard to bring you a whole stack of amazing documentaries. Please scan down to read about them all.
This week, I highly recommend SUGAR from the direction/writing team that made HALF NELSON. Sugar is a Dominican baseball player, trying to make it in the big leagues with the pressures of an entire community resting on his shoulders. This movie features excellent acting, great editing and sound design, and is a terrific character study. Three thumbs up (my two, and one of yours?)!
SIN NOMBRE won major awards at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. It is the story of a young girl from Honduras trying to get to America to reunite with her father.
STATE OF PLAY is the big blockbuster release this week. Featuring performances by Russell Crowe, Ben Affleck, Helen Mirren and more big names, it is a Washington conspiracy tale about some journalists trying to get to the bottom of a couple mysterious deaths.
On the little screen, HEROES: SEASON THREE, and DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: COMPLETE SEASON FIVE are both out on DVD this week. Chick a bow bow.
Also check out Disney’s EARTH, another beautiful nature documentary. There are also three New Additions to the Hong Kong collection (A BETTER TOMORROW, A BETTER TOMORROW 2, and GREEN SNAKE), as well as the entire current collection of the Harry Potter movies (1-5) out on Blu-ray. Oh yeah!
Hey, the blog may be either light or non-existent for the next couple weeks, as I step away from the desk and enjoy the first half of September from afar. If you don’t get the email, please give us a call down here (415.641.5380) to get the low-down of each week’s new releases…or just come on by and browse the wall yourself. I just saw RUDO Y CURSI last night (came out last week) and it was fun. It is always a pleasure to see Diego Luna and Gael Garcia Bernal acting together.
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.
Love and Kisses,
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Directed by Cary Fukunaga.
* When a girl from Honduras (Gaitan) reunites with her father, she gains an opportunity to go to the US. But her odds of making it there are slim, as she has to survive very dangerous travels to get there. This film won festival awards, including the BEST DIRECTION and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at this year’s Sundance Film Festival where it was also nominated for the Grand Jury Prize.
STATE OF PLAY.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Russell Crowe/Ben Affleck/Rachel McAdams/Hellen Mirren/Robin Wright Penn/Jason Bateman/Jeff Daniels.
Directed by Kevin Macdonald.
* Is it a conspiracy, or just an inside job? This is the question that jaded journalist Cal McAffrey (Crowe) asks himself after a congressman’s aide and a petty thief both die in seemingly unrelated circumstances in Washington. With the help of a young blogger (McAdams) they delve deeper and deeper into the investigation realizing that they closer they get to the truth, the closer they also get to being discovered by the killers they are trying to uncover.
Drama/Sports/Foreign (Spanish and English).
Algenis Perez Soto/Andre Holland.
Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck.
* Even if you are not a baseball fan, this film about a young pitcher from the Dominican Republic trying to make it in the Major Leagues is fascinating and captivating. If you happen to be a baseball fan as well, this is a MUST SEE. From the moment we meet Sugar, a teenager living at a baseball academy in his home country, we palpably feel the pressure this kid has to succeed from every member of his family and home village. It is all about making it to “the states” for these kids. The potential to make enough money to pull dozens of family and friends out of poverty is startling. Once Sugar makes it to Spring Training, the real struggle begins, as he is assigned to a minor league team in the mid-west where he has almost nothing in common with any he meets outside the sports world, and where the competition is fierce for the right to move up within the minor league system. The film is shot beautifully, with the depth of field mimicking the isolation and disorientation of the main character. Also notable is the sound editing, which relies heavily on the ambient location sounds of the ball games and player chatter as well as using music to place the characters in and out of their comfort zones. This film was made by the same team that made HALF NELSON in 2006.
Charles Jang/Amy Danielson.
Directed by Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou.
Jacek Braciak/Piotr Buczek.
Directed by Jan Hryniak.
* A couple trying to save their marriage and reconnect with each other on a boat trip meet a man made cynical by his wealth who decides to “help” them.
Lilly Rabe/Kevin Corrigan/David Cross.
Directed by Emily Hubley.
EARTH.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Narrated by James Earl Jones.
* More spectacular cinematography tracking the absolute gorgeousness of our fair planet.
BRAVE NEW VOICES.
* This HBO series highlights young poets.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON.
Teri Hatcher/Felicity Huffman/Marcia Cross/Eva Longoria Parker/Nicollette Sheridan.
* Desperate! Cougars! On! The! Prowl!
HEROES: SEASON THREE.
Jack Coleman/Hayden Panettiere.
* Season three in the award-winning series about a bunch of international people who discovered they had super powers. But, I guess none of them had the power to balance the budget, or negotiate peace, or feed the children, or create a battery for an electronic device that doesn’t run out right when you need it most. Sigh.
RAMSAY’S KITCHEN NIGHTMARES: COMPLETE SERIES TWO.
* More ranting and raving from Gordon as he tries to whip restaurants into shape.
............//HIGHLIGHTED NEW ADDITIONS/............
Reviews written by Rachel W.
A MAN NAMED PEARL.
* What happens when a black man with no horticulture or artistic education moves to a small town in South Carolina and creates a 3-acre masterpiece of avant-guard plant sculptures? Watch this doc and find out!
* Ever think of the historical and cultural impacts of “Foxy Brown”? I do……… all the time.
* King Corn has arrived! Did you know that we have corn in our hair?! I certainly did not. This documentary got a lot of well-deserved attention when it came out, as it chronicles the growth, production, evolution, and distribution of corn. One of the more creative documentaries I have seen, with hand-drawn graphs, farmer-figurine diagrams, and awesome pictures.
NINE GOOD TEETH.
* Director Alex Halpern decides to interview his Italian-American 104 year-old grandmother in a series of interviews in which she shares her wisdom, humor and some previously unknown family secrets….need I say more?
PICK UP THE MIC.
* Unfortunately, the hip-hop music scene is notoriously known for its less-than sympathetic/understanding view of the gay community. This provocative documentary shows the hidden world of LGBT rappers and includes footage from performances in San Francisco!
PICTURES FROM A REVOLUTION.
* Co-directed by one of my personal heroines, Susan Meisales, this documentary retraces her history in photographing the Revolution in Nicaragua in the 70’s and 80’s and catches up with those that she photographed.
PRISON TOWN, USA.
* This documentary traces the economic and social impacts of the aftermath of bringing a prison into a small town in California. Contains great interviews with all those affected, such as out of work farmers, local high school kids, prison guards, and the prisoners themselves.
* If you are currently alive, you have probably heard of the Internet “avatars”- personalities that real people create in online role-playing games. But who are these people? Are they you? Are they me? This documentary provides an inside look into the lives of those who have decided carry out most of their life through their virtual avatar.
SING FASTER: THE STAGEHANDS’ RING CIRCLE.
* This won the Sundance Filmmaker’s Trophy in 1999. This documentary is a hilarious look at the San Francisco’s production of Richard Wagner’s Ring Cycle, told from the perspective of the stagehands.
TRUE MEANING OF LIFE: SHELBY LEE ADAM’S APPALACHIA.
* Shelby Lee Adams is a controversial photographer who was the first in his field to do an in-depth photo-essay on modern Appalachia. This documentary follows him and his interactions with the Appalachian families he grew to love and tells the families’ stories as well.
WE ARE WIZARDS.
* This is a documentary mainly about the musical side of the Harry Potter fan-culture but also touches on the legal issues that arise when Warner Brothers gets as angry as a horn-tailed dragon because people are making a creative living off of Harry Potter. Who the Hogwarts knew? Funny, fascinating, and yes, magical.
BEN 10: ALIEN FORCE.
ELMO’S WORLD: ALL ABOUT FACES.
* More Hong Kong!
A BETTER TOMORROW.
A BETTER TOMORROW 2.
............//NEW BLU-RAY ADDITIONS/............
HARRY POTTER: FIRST FIVE FILMS.
* Yeah, baby. Dumbledore in Hi-Def.