Monday, February 23, 2009
I’m somewhat of a sap, but I loved the Academy Awards last night. I wish I had been in a competition, because I was about 95% accurate just missing on some of the more technical awards. Seriously though, I was psyched to see MILK take home some hardware, and I was especially happy to hear the screenwriter and star make great acceptance speeches. I thought everyone seemed rather genuine and very thankful and I’m pretty psyched to see a bunch of these flicks! Nothing Academy Award related is coming out this week, which seems pretty funny but there are some interesting older Cuban films (ALICE IN WONDERTOWN, GUANTANAMERA) some great looking docs (CHRIS AND DON, FRONTRUNNERS, 60’S MEGASET) as well as a very popular new television show (BREAKING BAD) and an insider Hollywood comedy starring Robert De Niro, Sean Penn, Bruce Willis, Catherine Keener and more (WHAT JUST HAPPENED?).
It is our two year anniversary of owning Four Star Video coming up on March 9th. We remain joyful and pleased to own this store and serve our community. In 2008, we unveiled KenFlix, our answer to Netflix. KenFlix does not operate as a mail service, but it is a flat fee monthly subscription rental service with UNLIMITED EXCHANGES, NO LATE FEES and NO DUE DATES. Next week we are revamping our charges for this service and adding a few subscription types that are designed to get every single one of you who rent at Four Star to join.
Up until this point, we have remained neutral in our attitude towards Netflix. But considering the economy and the state of our business, we have altered our opinion. We at Four Star Video believe we can serve you better than a faceless corporate entity and we aim to show you that in 2009. Please consider canceling your Netflix account and joining one of the new KenFlix services.
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. Funnel your funds into your local economy. Watch globally, rent locally.
Love and Kisses,
ALICE IN WONDERTOWN.
Directed by Daniel Diaz Torres.
* This Cuban satire follows Alice (Valdez) a “culture instructor” as she faces all sorts of crazy issues living in a small Cuban town. Released as a part of The Cuban Masterworks Collection.
FUTURAMA: INTO THE WILD GREEN YONDER.
Directed by Peter Avazino.
* The final installation of the Futurama feature lengths, this one follows the same over-the-top script with the crew having totally crazy space adventures.
THE HAUNTING OF MOLLY HARTLEY.
Chace Crawford/Haley Bennett.
Directed by Mickey Liddell.
* Molly (Bennett) has serious serious problems…like involving her homicidal mother, and also satan.
OUTING RILEY.****IN STORE ON WED****
Pete Jones/Nathan Fillion.
Directed by Pete Jones.
* Bobby Riley is gay. And closeted. This film watches him struggle to come out to his big Irish-Catholic family. Interestingly enough, this is the second film for Pete Jones, who got his start as the first filmmaker to be funded by Project Greenlight.
James Marsden/Josh Zuckerman.
Directed by Sean Anders.
* Dude goes on a road trip to get laid.
Jeremy Glazer/Chad Allen.
Directed by Robert Cary.
* A young man who is both a sex and drug addict is forced into a Christian ministry to cure his homosexuality.
WHAT JUST HAPPENED. ****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Robert De Niro/Catherine Keener/Bruce Willis/Stanley Tucci/John Turturro/Kristen Stewart/Sean Penn/Robin Wright.
Directed by Barry Levinson.
* Insider Hollywood film in the vein of THE PLAYER exploring a fading producer’s vain attempt to get his film made.
CHRIS AND DON: A LOVE STORY.
John Boorman/Liza Minnelli.
Directed by Tina Mascara and Guido Santi.
* The true love story of Don Bachardy and Chris Isherwood whose open relationship in from the 1950’s until Chris’ death in 1981 was passionate and loving and full of taboo breaking issues.
FIDEL!.****IN STORE ON WEDNESDAY****
Directed by Saul Landau.
* 1969 Documentary about the Cuban revolutionary and leader just hitting DVD.
Directed by Caroline Suh.
* This film documents a real life high school election (did you see ELECTION? That might be a delicious companion piece to this) at NYC’s Stuyvesant High School, which is evidently one of the better schools in the nation.
Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland.
Directed by Francine Parker.
* This bizarre time capsule first came out in the early 1970’s and was effectively squashed. It follows a comedy/music/politico group of performers led by Fonda and Sutherland as it travels around encouraging kids to speak out against the Vietnam War.
* And from the History channel, this 14 disc set features over 28 hours of discussion about the 1960’s. From the internet:
Disc 1: King
Disc 2: 1968 with Tom Brokaw
Disc 3: The Vietnam War, Vol 1: Vietnam: On The Frontlines 1-4
Disc 4: The Vietnam War, Vol 2: LBJ And Vietnam: In The Eye Of The Storm / Command Decisions: Tet Offensive / Unsung Heroes: The Battle of Khe Sanh
Disc 5: Race to the Moon, Vol 1: Failure Is Not An Option
Disc 6: Race to the Moon, Vol 2: Code Name: Project Orion / Modern Marvels: Apollo 13 / Modern Marvels: The Space Shuttle
Disc 7: Voices of Civil Rights Vol 1: Voices of Civil Rights / Mississippi State Secrets / Crossing The Bridge
Disc 8: Voices of Civil Rights Vol 2: Biography: Martin Luther King Jr. / Biography: Thurgood Marshall
Disc 9: JFK: A Presidency Revealed, Vol 1: Feature
Disc 10: JFK: A Presidency Revealed, Volume 2: Bonus programs Bio John F. Kennedy / Bio: Joseph Kennedy Sr.
Disc 11: The 60's: The JFK Assassination / Modern Marvels: Apollo 11 / Bay of Pigs Declassified
Disc 12: The 60's: Peyote to LSD
Disc 13: Days of Rage and Wonder: Hippies
Disc 14: Days of Rage and Wonder: Riot: The Chicago Conspiracy Trial / Sex and the Vietnam War.
Bryan Cranston/Anna Gunn.
Created by Vince Gilligan.
* Very popular show about a High School chemistry teacher whose life dramatically changes when he gets a cancer diagnosis and starts making crystal meth!
Helen Mirren/Ian Glenn.
Directed by Julian Jarrold.
* 1990’s era mystery with Mirren playing an undercover art dealer.
INSPECTOR GADGET’S LAST CASE.
THE MIGHTY B: WE GOT THE BEE.
WONDER PETS: JOIN THE CIRCUS.
............// NEW ADDITIONS//............
* We are continuing to beef up our Cuban movie library with the first DVD purchase of this 1997 comedy/drama about a funeral procession in Cuba.
............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............
THE LORD OF THE RINGS – THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING (PLATINUM SERIES SPECIAL EXTENDED EDITION).
Monday, February 16, 2009
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.
Monday, February 9, 2009
Hey Bernal and Beyond, today, I am officially back on the soapbox!
I know for some of you that will mean an email reply with the word “Cancel”. That’s the chance I have to take because otherwise I am afraid my business will have to “Cancel”. Did I get your attention?
You know what? I expect that a fair number of businesses might close in 2009, and I wouldn’t be surprised if a few relationships don’t survive the year as well. Why? Because shit is way stressful right now. Money is tight, layoffs are high, property value is plummeting, banks are both tanking and partying with abandon with tax payer cash. Life is really weird in 2009!
I know, I know, I’m preaching to choir with this. And I understand that. Hey, this is a movie blog, where’s the movie info? Okay, I will move on to that in just one quick moment. First I want to let you know that we want your business. We are here for you and we are a non-corporate local entity whose livelihoods are depending on this business. So shop local and shop often.
Hey that sounds like a catchphrase: Shop Local, Shop Often. Let’s all do it, and keep our local economy strong. In at least this department, we can actually make a difference.
In the movie world today, we have a few Oscar nominated films, so of 2009 and a few of yesteryear. The current one is FROZEN RIVER, a small indie film about a couple of single women who get involved in the smuggling trade between Canada and the USA. The film features fantastic performances by Melissa Leo (Best Actress nomination), Misty Upham and Michael O’Keefe as the cop tracking them down. Also of note this week is W, featuring Josh Brolin as our ex-President and THE MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA, the new Spike Lee Joint, featuring a whole bevy of performers. Both of those are available in Blu-Ray as well.
We also have a batch of weird indie flicks this week, OTTO, OR UP WITH THE DEAD a graphic zombie story, MY NAME IS BRUCE, a comedy from Bruce Campbell about himself, OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES, a French Austin Powers-ish sort of film and THE GUITAR, the directorial debut of Amy Redford.
In the documentary world, we have this week FROST/NIXON: THE ORIGINAL WATERGATE INTERVIEWS and OPERATION VALKYRIE: THE STAUFFENBERG PLOT TO KILL HITLER. Don’t get confused – these are not the big feature films that are coming to DVD soon, these are docs about the same stories. Check them out!
Andrew’s Highlighted New Additions features the complete BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD set this week…For some of you, I am sure this will bring back fuzzy memories of the early 1990’s.
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.
Love and Kisses,
Silvia Pinal/Enrique Rambal.
Directed by Luis Bunuel.
* In this 1962 classic tale, the upper class guests of a fancy dinner party find themselves unable to depart, and as the supplies run dry, their elaborate personalities and class structures break down leaving them ragged animals struggling to survive.
Melissa Leo/Misty Upham/Michael O’Keefe.
Directed by Courtney Hunt.
* Melissa Leo and first time director Courtney Hunt were nominated for Oscars (Leo for Best Actress and Hunt for Best Screenplay written directly for the Screen) for this indie film about a couple of single mothers (Leo and Upham, who also delivers a critically acclaimed performance) who cannot resist the lure of smuggling to support their families.
FUNNY FACE: CENTENNIAL COLLECTION.
Audrey Hepburn/Fred Astaire.
Directed by Stanley Donen.
* Astaire plays a fashion photographer who offers bookstore clerk Jo Stockton (Hepburn) a modeling gig which she reluctantly takes, but grows into as her feelings for Fred (and his hard to resist two-step) blossom. Nominated for 4 Oscars in 1958.
Ken Ogata/Kimiko Ikegami.
Directed by Hideo Gosha.
* This film about a man and his grown daughter who is a geisha won many Japanese Academy Awards in 1983 when it was first released.
Saffron Burrows/Janeane Garofalo.
Directed by Amy Redford.
* Redford’s directorial debut is about a young woman (Burrows) whose life is thrown in chaos and growth when she is given a terminal diagnosis. Given just two months two live, she decides to max out her credit, knowing she’ll never have to pay and give in to all wild whims she can come up with.
Alfred Molina/Hope Davis.
Directed by David Onaatje.
* A sort of remake, based on the same novel as Alfred Hitchcock’s 1927 movie of the same name, this film is set in Los Angeles in the current day and concerns the relationship between a very unstable landlady and her possibly serial killer tenant.
MIRACLE AT ST. ANNA. ****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Derek/Luke/Michael Ealy/Laz Alonso/John Turturro/Kerry Washington/D.B. Sweeney/John Leguizamo.
Directed by Spike Lee.
* Based on a novel by James McBride (who also wrote the screenplay) this is the tale of four African-American soldiers in WWII who are trapped in a small town in Italy after trying to rescue a young Italian boy.
MY NAME IS BRUCE.
Bruce Campbell/Ted Raimi.
Directed by Bruce Campbell.
* Directed by and starring Bruce Campbell, this film is the story of a young fan who kidnaps Bruce, hoping he is actually Ash, the character he played in the EVIL DEAD series and that he can fight off a real monster in an Oregon trailer park. Oh yeah!
NIGHTS IN RODANTHE.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Diane Lane/Richard Gere/Scott Glenn.
Directed by George C.Wolfe.
*Two unhappy people at the crux of important change and decision-making in their lives have a chance encounter at a small inn in North Carolina that potentially will change their lives.
OSS 117: CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES.
Jean Dujardin/Aure Atika/Berenice Bejo.
Directed by Michel Hazanavicius.
* Agent OS 117 has more in common with Austin Powers than he does with James Bond, but in any case, if he’s not foiling dastardly plots, or saving the world from fascism, he’s hooking it up with the local ladies. This was a recommendation from multiple customers.
OTTO: OR, UP WITH DEAD PEOPLE.
Directed by Bruce La Bruce.
* Otto (Crisfar) is a sweet little zombie who hooks up with a filmmaker who wants to make a zombie porno and casts Otto as the lead. Otto has aspiration to be more than just some flash in the pan zombie, and the big question is, will his dreams come true? NOTE: This film features graphic zombie sex including things that might make some people startled and perhaps queasy. (No, this is not a marketing play by me!).
ROMANCE OF ASTREA & CELADON.
Andy Gillet/Stephanie Crayencour.
Directed by Eric Rohmer.
* From the 89-year-old French director of such classics as CHOE IN THE AFTERNOON and MY NIGHT AT MAUD’S (for which he received an Oscar Nomination) comes this strange and beautiful love story. In the time of Druids (no, this is not Spinal Tap 2) a shepherd Celadon and a shepherdess Astrea share a love that is ruined by the jealousy of others and then pursued by the strength of their bond.
SIMON OF THE DESERT.
Directed by Luis Bunuel.
*Another wild affair from Bunuel, this one about a guy named Simon, who wants to be close to his god and climbs a column to do so in the 4th Century. Unfortunately for Simon, Satan wishes to tempt him, and eventually brings him to a nightclub in 1960’s New York to boogie down with the kids. And damn! Those kids can boogie! Wow!
SLEAZE IN THE 70’S: GRINDHOUSE COLLECTION.
Obscure 70’s Softcore.
* Four films are featured on this 2-disc collection: SPLENDOR IN THE SACK, A TASTE OF HONEY, SWEETS FOR THE SUITE and ONE HUNDRED DOLLAR WIFE.
SUNSET BOULEVARD: CENTENNIAL COLLECTION.
William Holden/Gloria Swanson.
Directed by Billy Wilder.
* Tragic and demented tale of an aging former film star (Swanson) who is living in obscurity and borderline insanity who meets an aspiring Hollywood writer (Holden) who decides to write something that she can star in and help return her to fame. Unfortunately, when the writer falls for another woman, the borderline insanity becomes homicidal psychosis.
W. ****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Josh Brolin/Richard Dreyfus/Elizabeth Banks/Toby Jones/James Cromwell/Thandie Newton.
Directed by Oliver Stone.
* I’m just having trouble writing anything here. But anyway, I have 12 copies of this biopic about our former President/War Criminal. I’m sure Brolin is fascinating to watch as G-Dub.
WAY OF WAR.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Directed by John Carter.
* International conspiracies, Middle-East operatives, paramilitary missions. Bippety-boppety boo.
FROST/NIXON: THE ORIGINAL WATERGATE INTERVIEWS.
Richard Nixon/David Frost.
Directed by Jorn Winther.
* The original interviews that the new feature FROST/NIXON is based on. These interviews play like an elaborate tap dance, where Frost and Nixon duck and jab, but no full body blows get landed. Should be fascinating to see in tandem with the feature film (coming later this year).
LIVING WITH THE MEK.
* From the interweb: “Explorer Mark Anstice and travel journalist Olly Steeds must make extreme adjustments to spend four months living with the Mek tribe of West Papua, New Guinea, one of the last indigenous groups”.
OPERATION VALKYRIE: THE STAUFFENBERG PLOT TO KILL HITLER.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Isbouts.
* In anticipation of the VALKYRIE film starring Tom Cruise, this is a doc that tells the story of Claus Von Stauffenberg the leader of an internal plot to kill Hitler.
Directed by Jamie Morgan.
* Jamie’s curiosity leads him to a California workshop (filled with your friends and neighbors) that promotes among other things sexual liberation, the existence of aliens and other party materials.
THIS AMERICAN LIFE: SEASON TWO.
Created by Ira Glass
* Season two of the tv show adapted from the super popular radio show where Ira Glass uncovers strange tales of human life from around the country.
TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE: THE FIRST SEASON.
* You may remember this show as kind of an 80’s version of THE TWILIGHT ZONE, but with a bit more horror thrown in.
ALVIN THE CHIPMUNKS: THE MYSTERY OF THE EASTER CHIPMUNK.
THE BACKYARDIGANS: ROBIN HOOD THE CLEAN.
CURIOUS GEORGE: ROBOT MONKEY AND MORE GREAT GADGETS.
PHINEAS AND FERB: V02 DAZE OF SUMMER.
TUGGER: THE JEEP 4X4 WHO WANTED TO FLY.
............// HIGHLIGHTED NEW ADDITIONS//............
ALL REVIEW COMMENTS BY ANDREW.
BEAVIS AND BUTTHEAD: THE COMPLETE COLLECTION.
* The 90's were a different time. Back when MTV played music videos, we had Beavis and Butthead to offer their unique and insightful commentary on those Videos. Beavis and Butthead operate on multiple levels; namely the crass and stupid. Enjoy as an antithesis to all my other selections.
............// NEW BLU-RAY ADDITIONS//............
* The classic Hal Ashby (HAROLD AND MAUDE) movie about Chance the Gardner whose journey through life is strangely dreamlike.
............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............
THE POLAR EXPRESS.
THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO.
Monday, February 2, 2009
Welcome to February 2009. Damn it, my baby daughter turns 4 this month! Being February, we have a new section of Highlighted New Additions – this month crafted by Andrew. His picks are awesome including a MARX BROTHERS BOX SET, SEX LIES AND VIDEOTAPE, the first season of STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION, THE SHOWER, THE ENIGMA OF KASPER HAUSER, and more. Scroll down to read his comments about the movies.
We have finally gotten the third film in the Desert Trilogy by Nacer Khemir. BAB’AZIZ: THE PRINCE THAT CONTEMPLATED HIS SOUL looks like another daydreamy desert tale. I can’t wait to see it.
Also out this week is ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO, only guess what? Someone (Walmart perhaps?) made them change the title on the box to ZACK AND MIRI. Isn’t that puritanical? This is another Seth Rogen vehicle swerving madly between the sweet & romantic and the dirty & foulmouthed. He does that so well! In BOTTLE SHOCK, Napa Valley is the main character as America struts its viticultury stuff in an international wine tasting. Michael Cera makes another sweet leap into the celluloid, this time as a high school rocker kid run amuck in the streets of NY with a cute college freshman on his arm in NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST.
A couple other noteworthy items are 1000 JOURNALS, a documentary about an SF artist who sent, uh, 1000 journals into the world to see what would happen, and CHRISTMAS ON MARS from the lead singer of THE FLAMING LIPS, which is certain to be a psychedelic ride down an acid lined rainbow. Or something like that.
The kids will be psyched to hear that MADAGASCAR: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA is out and will be available this week – so tell them!
A couple last minute things I wanted to pass on – First up, we have some new stuff happening at Four Star Video. March 9th is the two year anniversary of me and Amy owning this incredible video store, and in celebration we will be implementing some new plans. Some of it is still in the planning stage, however I can tell you that starting next month, we are going to pick a library section of the store and rentals from that section will be $1 all month. We will switch sections each month. This will encourage some delving into the library, and hopefully help you develop some specialized film expertise in the genre of your choice. More about this as the month progresses, but in the meantime, thank you all so much for continuing to shop at Four Star Video! Another thing of note - Some of you may know that Amy is an estate planning attorney. She runs her own practice here in Bernal Heights, and helps people plan for the inevitable…Recently she has come up with an interesting plan to help those who really want to get something in place, but are worried about the financial commitment of a full estate plan. Read about her practice and her PANIC-FREE PLANNING POTLUCKS here.
Love and Kisses,
AN AMERICAN GIRL: CHRISSA STANDS STRONG.
Directed by Martha Coolidge.
* Ugh! Nothing like getting moved from your comfort zone in elementary school (or middle or high school). Chrissa (Hanratty) is in 4th grade when her family leaves Iowa and all her friends for the Minnesota home of her grandmother. Once firmly entrenched in school, she becomes the object of focus for the meanest group of little 4th grade girls you ever saw! But she stands strong. Oh yes, she stands strong.
BAB’AZIZ: THE PRINCE THAT CONTEMPLATED HIS SOUL.
Directed by Nacer Khemir.
* The third in the loosely related trilogy by Khemir (with WANDERERS OF THE DESERT and THE DOVE’S LOST NECKLACE), this one follows Bab’Aziz and his granddaughter Ishtar as they wander through the desert seeking a reunion of dervishes that only occurs once every thirty years. This, like the others, continues the poetic and enchanting fairytale view of the desert and the wide open longing that it can elicit from the heart.
Chris Pine/Alan Rickman/Bill Pullman.
Directed by Randall Miller.
* I think this is Northern California’s answer to SIDEWAYS, the goofy indie wine film that exposed the central valley’s wine acumen. This is basically the store of a 1970’s blind tasting in France that proved that Napa Valley’s wines were among the best in the world. It focuses on a vineyard run by a father (Pullman) who is a SF attorney who has thrown it all away for his dream of making wine (sound familiar anyone?) and his son (Pine) and n’er do well surfer dude who is serious about his wine, but just as serious about surfing and chasing booty. There is a sub plot as well about a Mexican-American who is a brilliant winemaker, but strives to have his own business.
CHRISTMAS ON MARS.
Steven Drozd/Wayne Coyne/Many other people with the last name Coyne.
Directed by Wayne Coyne and Bradley Beesley.
* From the lead singer and creator of the wonderful band THE FLAMING LIPS and acted by many members of the band comes this psychedelic movie about Christmastime, the colonization of Mars, strange aliens, space babies and much much more.
Directed by Zero Chou.
* From the director of SPIDER LILIES comes this new drama about three women struggling to find their places in the world.
GIRL + GIRL: CLASSIC LESBIAN SHORT FILMS.
Directed by Many.
* Emotional and intense short films mostly from the 1990’s.
THE GOOD STUDENT.
Hayden Pannettiere/Tim Daly.
Directed by David Ostry.
* Dark comedy about a kidnapped student and an unpopular teacher who redeems himself.
Angela Bassett/Chloe Bailey/Danny Glover.
Directed by Giancarlo Esposito.
* A multimillion dollar golf course forcing people out of their neighborhood strains race relations in the town of Julia to the breaking point.
Directed by Frank Paur.
* Hulk vs Thor and Hulk vs Wolverine ON THE SAME DISC!
KD LANG: LIVE WITH THE BBC ORCHESTRA.
* Ms. Lang doing her thang with a full orchestra…very lovely.
LOVE COMES LATELY.
Otto Tausig/Olivia Thirlby/Caroline Aaron.
Directed by Jan Schutte.
* Based on short stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer, this is the tale of Max (Tausig) an 80-year old who pursues life, particularly his love life, with the vim and vigor of a much younger man, to the disadvantage of his long time partner, Rachel (Aaron). Also starring Thirlby who you may have seen lately in JUNO, SNOW ANGELS, THE WACKNESS and more…she’s got a good agent.
MADAGASCAR 2: ESCAPE 2 AFRICA. ****AVAILABLE FEB 6TH****
Ben Stiller/Chris Rock/Jada Pinkett Smith/Sasha Baron Cohen/Bernie Mac/Alec Baldwin/David Schwimmer.
Directed by Eric Darnell and Tom McGrath.
* The much anticipated sequel to 2005’s MADAGASCAR, this follows the crew of animals who have been stranded on Madagascar as they attempt to get to mainland Africa.
MAN OF HER DREAMS.
Directed by Clifton Powell.
* Adapted from the Donald Gray play, this is about a woman’s quest to find the perfect husband/father/lover – good luck!
NICK AND NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Michael Cera/Kat Dennings.
Directed by Peter Sollett.
* Nick (Cera) is the only straight member of queercore band The Jerk Offs…he is nursing some heartbreak after being dumped by Tris (Alexis Dziena). But her friend Norah (Dennings) retrieves the 10 mix CD’s he’s made Tris and thinks his music rocks…They both show up at a Jerk Offs show and thus begins a night of travel through NY, through the indie rock scene and more importantly through the gently percolating walls of Nick’s heart. No, I didn’t see it.
NOAH’S ARC: JUMPING THE BROOM.
Directed by Patrik-Ian Polk.
* From the television series comes this feature film about Noah and Wade’s final preparations for their wedding.
RENT: FILMED LIVE ON BROADWAY.
Will Chase/Rodney Hicks.
Directed by Michael Warren.
* The live musical about a group of young artists struggling to stay alive in the midst of the challenges of drug addiction, poverty, AIDS and much more. This play is awesome!
THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES.
Dakota Fanning/Queen Latifah/Jennifer Hudson/Alicia Keys.
Directed by Gina Prince-Bythewood.
* Serious tearjerker tale of Lily (Fanning) a young girl in 1964 South Carolina who misses her late mother and ends up moving with her care-giver (Hudson) to a town where she hopes to unravel the mystery of her mother. Latifah plays a beekeeper who may hold the secret to the mystery.
Directed by John Terlesky.
* Kristin (Burns, but doesn’t smoke) joins a elite group of firefighters called Smoke Jumpers to escape from the painful memory of the death of the captain of her original firefighting squad.
Directed by Robert Vince.
* Disney flick about dogs in space.
STARTER FOR 10.
James McAvoy/Joseph Friend/James Gaddas.
Directed by Tom Vaughan.
* Ah, yeah, it’s 1985 and Brian (McAvoy) is going to college at Bristol and getting heavy into the Challenge team, a trivial pursuit of a sort.
ZACK AND MIRI MAKE A PORNO.
Seth Rogen/Elizabeth Banks.
Directed by Kevin Smith.
* Wow! That’s almost all I can think of to say about this mostly sweet minded and uberly foul tongued comedy about a couple of broke flatmates who decide to make a porno to make money to turn the utilities back on. It is kind of amazing to me how Seth Rogen appears to be making some seriously dirty stuff pretty darn mainstream. It is turning out that everyone has sex. Who woulda thunk it?
Directed by Andrea Kreuzhage.
* Kreuzhage, an SF based artist who goes by the name Someguy sent out 1000 journals into the world in the summer of 2000 without any rules and without monitoring them. Eventually one came back to him filled out in 2003…this film documents the story of some of the other 999. This project is the subject of an exhibition at the SF MOMA until April – check it out here.
DENNIS THE MENACE: CRUISE CONTROL.
MY FAIR MADELINE.
* Whoopi Goldberg does the voice of Ms. Clavel!
OLIVER AND COMPANY: 20th ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
THE PRINCESS: A MODERN FAIRY TALE.
* Not sure, but I think this has something to do with Chris. Ask him. Seriously, its about some guy who goes back to Ithaca to hang out with a college buddy, but then he meets this princess, and guess what, I think there is a mermaid too!
............// HIGHLIGHTED NEW ADDITIONS//............
ALL REVIEW COMMENTS BY ANDREW.
THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA.
* Given that so much of Japanese culture is devoted to an ideal of human dignity, (values based on restraint and sacrifice) values which are in direct opposition to the animal world, I find it interesting that Japanese director Shohei Imamura devoted his life and work trying to prove the opposite. Imamura uses sex, sensuality and sometimes violence to effectively evoke the animal side of our human condition, reminding us just how much we have in common (for better or worse) with beast and nature.
THE BALLAD OF NARAYAMA is pretty grim and a little disturbing, but also honest and hauntingly poetic. If you like this one, check out his other stuff on our director’s wall including the much lighter film DR. AKAGI which is my personal favorite of his.
THE ENIGMA OF KASPER KAUSER .
* The first film I watched by German filmmaker Werner Herzog and coincidentally my favorite. This film exhibits Herzog’s ability to blur the lines of narrative and documentary styles. Herzog again gravitates to the true and bizarre in “Kasper Hauser” yet presents the story in a way that cuts through to what (Herzog believes to be) an “ecstatic truth”.
For fans of Herzog’s work you will not be disappointed and for people interested in finding out about Herzog, this is one of his more accessible films.
MARX BROTHERS BOX SET.
* The Marx Brothers are not comedians; The Marx Brothers are a force of pure unadulterated anarchy. I can think of no other comedy (shy of Chaplin) which had the ability to so potently ridicule authority, often transcending into the realm of the avant-garde.
Set features: GO WEST, BIG STORE, NIGHT AT THE OPERA, NIGHT IN CASABLANCA, ROOM SERVICE and AT THE CIRCUS.
THE SEVEN FACES OF DR. LAO.
* The first film ever to win an Academy Award for best makeup, this strange film exhibits Tony Randall (the guy from the odd couple) dressing up as seven different characters in an effort to spook simple country folk—need I say more?
Funny sidenote: This was my Father’s favorite movie in his youth. While hosting a mediation conference, he made the unfortunate decision to share this gem of a film with his fellow hippie devotees. They responded with confusion and anger. Later his event planning privileges were revoked.
SEX LIES AND VIDEO TAPE.
* The movie that defined the independent film movement and launched director Steven Soderbergh’s career is amazingly well crafted. This film is a testament to cinema’s power to show, rather than tell.
* A deeply beautiful film that connects and reinforces the human need for community and family. If the election of Obama didn’t do it, -----this film is a great cure for melancholy.
STAR TREK THE NEXT GENERATION: SEASON ONE.
* Imagine a future where humanity learns to overcome its faults and weaknesses, humanity so enlightened it decides to move earth’s capital to San Francisco! Well, welcome to the world of Gene Roddenberry. Admittedly, if you are not a Trekkie it may seem a little campy from the get-go, but even in its beginning campy days it still delves into nuanced themes ranging from the ethical to the philosophical.
............// NEW ADDITIONS//............
FRIDAY THE 13th UNCUT DELUX EDITION.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART 2.
FRIDAY THE 13th PART 3.