Tuesday, May 26, 2009

****new release list no.220


I got great response from last week’s post about great soundtracks, and great pot smoking films. It turns out soundtracks have a very special place in everyone’s hearts. Here is a short list of movies with great soundtracks that appeared on multiple of your lists: SAY ANYTHING, HIGH FIDELITY, O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU?, and THE LIFE AQUATIC WITH STEVE ZISSOU. Also of note is the brilliant ex-Devo member turned composer, Mark Mothersbaugh, whose incredible ear and style is imprinted on so many of the wonderful soundtracks of the great films of the last 20 years. I first became aware of his work from the film RUSHMORE and it seems like he pops up on so many films I love now. Hooray, Mark! Thanks for the excellence.

As far as the pot smoking movies, it seems THE BIG LEBOWSKI should have been listed here as well. Noted. Listed. And on this same wavelength is this funny list of Top Five “Enhanced Emotions” Movies of All-Time. This was written by a very funny blogger who specializes in great lists. I encourage you to check his blog often.

This week is devoid of blockbusters, but if you look you will find some hidden gems. Like SUBVERSION, a 1970’s era cult freakout from Stanislav Stanojevic. Or SKY CRAWLERS, the latest amazing animation from Mamoru Oshii, the guy who brought us GHOST IN THE SHELL. There is also a pair from French Post-New Wave director Philippe Garrel (EMERGENCY KISSES, I CAN NO LONGER HEAR THE GUITAR), a pair from Wayne Wang (A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS, THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA), a couple of operas (LA CLEMENZA DI TITO, TAMERLANO), a couple of LGBT related foreign dramas (WITHERED IN THE BLOOMING SEASON, UNSPOKEN PASSION) and an interesting variety of other stuff. Check it out, yo.

Here is an awesome Bernal Heights event: Please come celebrate the release of Michele Bigley’s new book NORTHERN CALIFORNIA: AN EXPLORER'S GUIDE. We'll taste wine, munch on snacks, and talk about the glorious beauty of Northern California--from Big Sur to Yosemite, all the way to the Oregon border. Bring the family, friends, and your wanderlust as we'll be discussing cheap vacations, family destinations, romantic getaways, adventures and culinary travels. You¹ll find out about Nor Cal destinations you've never heard of, plus get to revisit some of your favorites. This event is Sunday, May 31, 2009, from 6:00pm - 7:00pm at Red Hill Books, 401 Cortland Ave(The bookstore has to close at 7, so be on time!). While you’re there: buy a book!
Here is a link to the Facebook invitation. You can also order the guidebook in advance through Amazon by clicking here.

For those of you who thought (hoped?) this posting might contain some political rant about the CA Supreme Court’s decision on Proposition 8, I hope it’s not a let down. I have thoughts and feelings about it, and for the most part, I just need to digest it. This civil rights battle (like ALL civil rights battles) will not end until fairness is achieved. Ugh. Evolution. It’s like birth. I think.

Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.

Love and Kisses,
Ken

P.S. Hey! By the way! Four Star Video has Sno-Caps now! Yum.

******************************************************************************
KenFlix - the only Independent Monthly Subscription Film Renting Service in SF
If you are going to make a monthly commitment, make it a local one.
No due dates. No late fees.

ESUB -One Movie at a time – Three Movies total – $9.99 + Tax/Month
1SUB - One Movie at a time – Unlimited exchange – $18.99 + Tax/Month
3SUB - Three Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $24.99 + Tax/Month
4SUB - Four Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $32.99 + Tax/Month
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Links we are super hip on this week:
7X7 Photo and/or Essay SF Love story contest - For the 7X7 Neighborhood Issue.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival.
Videofest 2009 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.
Pal’s Takeaway – Yummy yummy.

Do you have a link Four Star Customers should check out??? Email it to me.

............//NEW RELEASES//............

ALL THE DAYS BEFORE TOMORROW.
Comedy/Drama/Romance.
Joey Kern/Richard Roundtree/Alexandra Holden.
Directed by Francois Dompierre.
* It’s the story of a couple of friends whose timing is never right for the friendship to develop into something deeper.

DIVERGENCE.
Drama/Romance.
Traci Ann Wolfe/Jakob Hawkins/.
Directed by Patrick J. Donnelly.
* Two walking wounded, she by the loss of her husband and child in a driving accident and he by the war in Iraq which he fights as a helicopter pilot, find solace in each others company.

DRIVEN TO KILL.****IN STORE ON THURSDAY****
Action.
Steven Seagal.
Directed by Jeff King.
* Its an action movie starring Steven Seagal. I guess since Jean-Claude Van Damme came out with a new movie, Steve-O had to as well. Peeps asked me to get it, so I did. If this would be a movie about me, it might be called DRIVEN TO THE SUPERMARKET, or DRIVEN TO JUST SIT HERE ON THE COUCH.

EARTHQUAKE IN CHILE.
Drama/Mystery/Romance/Foreign (German).
Julia Pena.
Directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms.
* A story of forbidden and repressed love from 1974 from Sanders-Brahms whose work we have been collecting lately. In this, the church tries to stop a relationship from happening and, after the young woman is found pregnant, condemns her to die. Only an earthquake can save her, but what hope will the future hold?

EMERGENCY KISSES.
Drama/Black and White/Foreign (French).
Philippe Garrel/Brigitte Sy.
Directed by Philippe Garrel.
* This 1989 release is very autobiographical seeming. It is about the struggles between a director (Garrel) who will not cast his wife (Garrel’s real life wife at the time, Sy) in a role based on her.

I CAN NO LONGER HEAR THE GUITAR.
Drama/Foreign (French).
Johanna ter Steege/Benoit Regent.
Directed by Philippe Garrel.
* This 1991 film was made in homage to Garrel’s relationship with the iconic German muse Nico (the same one who song with the Velvet Underground and hung with Warhol’s factory scene). It is the story of two drug-hazed people drifting apart.

KILLSHOT.
Action/Thriller.
Mickey Rourke/Diane Lane/Thomas Jane/Rosario Dawson.
Directed by John Madden.
* Ah, Mickey Rourke is back! Ahem. In this flick, a couple is placed in the Witness Protection Program, but unfortunately, it is not enough to protect them from a couple a psychos. Customer of the Month Brady says this movie is amazing and very dark and intense, so if you've liked his picks this month, you might want to check this one out!

LA CLEMENZA DI TITO.
Opera.
Directed by Thomas Olofson.
* Do you like opera? This one is from Mozart.

NEW IN TOWN.
Comedy/Romance.
Renee Zellwegger/Harry Connick, Jr.
Directed by Jonas Elmer.
* Oh snap, Lucy Hill (Zellwegger) is just as cute as a button! But the locals in the small town in Minnesota aren’t super hip to her cuteness when she is relocated there from Miami to oversee the restructuring of a manufacturing plant there. Oh drat! But…then they do think she’s cute! But, then they don’t. And finally, they do. Dang, it’s tough to be new in town.

POWDER BLUE.
Drama.
Forest Whitaker/Jessica Biel/Ray Liotta/Patrick Swayze/Lisa Kudrow.
Directed by Timothy Bui.
* It’s one of those “four strangers meet by happenstance on christmas eve” type movies, with the characters in varying states of desperation and despair.

THE PRINCESS OF NEBRASKA.
Drama.
Patrice Binaisa/Pamelyn Chee.
Directed by Wayne Wang.
* A story of a young woman pregnant in a foreign land.

SKY CRAWLERS.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Animated/Drama/Foreign (Japanese).
Directed by Mamoru Oshii.
* From the director who brought us GHOST IN THE SHELL comes this new fantasy about Kildren, the young people who are fight a never-ending war (with footage of amazing dogfights in the sky) but who have no memories of their lives before the training.

SUBVERSION.
Fantasy/Cult/Foreign (French).
Nathalie Nell/Sacha Pitoeff/Florence Giorgetti/Daniel Emilfork.
Directed by Stanislav Stanojevic.
* I must recommend this film without having seen much of it. I watched it for a few minutes this morning, and I was immediately taken by the nonsensical strange depravity of it all. It feels like one of those totally kooky Eastern European Criterion films. There is an evil dictator whose hearing is so incredible that he can hear the heartbeats of his soon to be executed dissidents…and his even more evil daughter who works as the national fire Marshall and starts fires regularly to keep her job important. And there is more, so much more.

TAMERLANO.
Opera/Foreign (Italian).
Monica Bacelli/Tom Randle.
Directed by Helga Dubnyicsek.
* Another Opera, this time by Handel.

A THOUSAND YEARS OF GOOD PRAYERS.
Drama/Romance.
Henry O/Pavel Lychnikoff/Vida Ghahremani.
Directed by Wayne Wang.
* Somewhat like SHORT CUTS, it is based on a collection of short stories by Yiyun Li about life in China and the United States.

UNSPOKEN PASSION.
Drama/LGBT/Foreign (Filipino/Tagalog).
Ken Escudero/Will Sandejas/Ashley Silverio.
Directed by Roni Bertubin.
* A love triangle between two childhood friends and one of their girlfriends in a small town south of Manila highlights the strange subculture surrounding the sale of sex.

WITHERED IN THE BLOOMING SEASON.
Drama/LGBT/Foreign (Mandarin).
Wang Guifeng.
Directed by Cui Zi’En.
* A strange and dysfunctional family life is portrayed in this tale of a gay young man who also is somewhat infatuated with his twin sister, whose relationships he tries to control. The reviews of this film, which are positive, mention Jean Cocteau as a directorial inspiration.

............//DOCUMENTARY/............

FTA.
Documentary.
Jane Fonda/Donald Sutherland.
Directed by Francine Parker.
* Let’s try this again, the first copy had audio problems before we even released it. Here is what we said the first time: 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.

THE REAL JOAN OF ARC.
Documentary/History/Foreign (French).
Directed by Mark Meissonnier.
* The story of Joan of Arc is examined here, including rumors that she didn’t die at the stake, but survived long enough to continue her work.

............//TELEVISION/............

THE CLOSER: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON.
Crime/Cops/Robbers.
Kyra Sedgewick.
* Season four in the story about the Atlanta transplant Brenda Leigh Johnson (Sedgewick), who is a Deputy Police Chief in Los Angeles, with a good ability to get the bad guys talking.

JEEVES AND WOOSTER: THE COMPLETE SET.
Comedy/Hilarity.
Stephen Fry/Hugh Laurie.
* The complete set of mad-cap and hysterical comedy based on the books of P.G. Wodehouse.

THE UNIVERSE: SEASON 3.
Stars/Other Celestial Realities.
* We should hope this show never gets canceled.

****

Monday, May 18, 2009

****new release list no.219

Music…it is so amazing. It can bring us on such a journey through our emotions into the past, and even into the future. It can hit the nail on the head in a way that few things can. If you listen to it, it can release you and create exuberance and joy and tears. If you play it, it can let you communicate your truest inner thoughts and express your unconscious where words and actions will always fail. And when combined with images in film and television it can be more perfect than a friendship ring from your soul mate. I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.

Today, I’m buzzing on music for a couple reasons (not the least of which being…). To begin with, I finally saw Cameron Crowe’s somewhat biographical tale ALMOST FAMOUS from 2000. This film made some of the best use of music I’ve ever seen. Transitions, emotional crescendos and gentle comedowns were all gently (and not so gently) accompanied by famous (and not so famous – Blodwyn Pig?) songs that didn’t feel manipulative, or obtrusive, but just fit in perfectly with how you are already feeling. You can usually tell when the soundtrack doesn’t work. It is not always so obvious when it does. I thought the soundtrack to ALMOST FAMOUS was right up there with my favorites of all time with RUSHMORE, THE BIG CHILL, and SPINAL TAP. But hey, that’s me. Anyone else have some favorite soundtracks? Email me with them, we’ll do an informal poll.

I was reading this morning an article about Ethan Nadelmann. Do you know about him? He has been working with the Drug Policy Alliance Network for many years to promote policy change within the government. He has many things to say and they are not all funny. But in this article, he says the time is right to legalize marijuana, and he thinks there are four major signs that clearly show the progress society is making in this movement. According to the article:

In the 25 years since Nancy Reagan advocated just saying no, Mr. Nadelmann has seen a progression through four public stages out of the five he believes are needed to achieve legalization.
Stage 1. Bill Clinton: I smoked but I did not inhale."
Stage 2. Al Gore: I smoked, it was wrong, I regret it, shame on me.
Stage 3. Michael Bloomberg (asked if he’d tried pot): “You bet I did and I enjoyed it.”
Stage 4. Barack Obama: “I inhaled frequently — that was the point!”
Stage 5. Public Figure to Come: Yes, I smoke the occasional joint.

After reading this, I decided I would help affect change in my neighborhood by stating unequivocally that YES! I smoke the occasional joint. There, Stage 5 is complete. Let’s make this change as quickly and painlessly as possible.

In light of all this talk about marijuana, I thought I would list five great pot-smoking films:

1) Cheech & Chong's Up in Smoke (Hey man, he said his name was Raaalph)
2) Dazed and Confused
3) Super High Me
4) Friday
5) Fast Times at Ridgemont High

I almost put TRUE ROMANCE on this list, even though it really isn’t a stoner movie, but because of that awesome scene when the mob shows up to the house where Brad Pitt lives and he has a bong-laced confrontation with the bad bad men. Very funny.

Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.

Love and Kisses,
Ken

******************************************************************************
KenFlix - the only Independent Monthly Subscription Film Renting Service in SF
If you are going to make a monthly commitment, make it a local one.
No due dates. No late fees.

ESUB -One Movie at a time – Two Exchanges a month (3 movies total) – $9.99 + Tax/Month
1SUB - One Movie at a time – Unlimited exchange – $18.99 + Tax/Month
3SUB - Three Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $24.99 + Tax/Month
4SUB - Four Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $32.99 + Tax/Month
******************************************************************************

Links we are super hip on this week:
7X7 Photo and/or Essay SF Love story contest - For the 7X7 Neighborhood Issue.
Pal’s Takeaway – Yummy yummy.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival.
Videofest 2009 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Do you have a link Four Star Customers should check out??? Email it to me.

............//NEW RELEASES//............

BAD LUCK.
Comedy/Black&White/Foreign (Polish).
Bogumil Kobiela.
Directed by Andrzej Munk.
* Another of those strange mad-cap Polish comedies, this one concerns a man who experience change in Poland from the 1930’s to the 1950’s with the inability to make sense of it and the poor fortune to be on the wrong side of every confusing situation.

CHEKHOV AND MARIA.
Drama/Indie.
Ron Bottitta/Gillian Brashear.
Directed by Eric Till.
* A fictobiopic imaging Anton Chekhov sick and living with his sister Maria who is helping him write and work on his plays. Unfortunately, she doesn’t approve of his love life and tries to sabotage his efforts to be with the one he loves leading up to painful family turmoil.

EDEN LOG.
Horror/Mystery/Sci-Fi.
Clovis Cornillac.
Directed by Frank Vestiel.
* A naked man wakes up in a cave having no idea how he got there and must somehow get to the surface. Seriously, if you like sci-fi, please rent this movie so I have SOME reason why I bought it.

FANBOYS.
Sci-Fi.
Sam Huntington/Jay Baruchel/Chris Marquette/Seth Rogen.
Directed by Kyle Newman.
* Uber-Star Wars geeks attempt to break into Skywalker Ranch to steal a copy of the newest Star Wars movie that is coming out, THE PHANTOM MENACE. They are so excited to see it! Did I ever tell you about my idea for WOOKY NOOKY? Now that is movie that should get made…

THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE.
Criterion/Drama.
Robert Mitchum/Peter Boyle/Richard Jordan.
Directed by Peter Yates.
* This is directly from a VSL (VERY SHORT LIST) email: “The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973) may just be the great lost Robert Mitchum movie — and the last great seventies flick to make it to DVD. It’s finally available, from the Criterion Collection, on May 19. Based on a novel by George V. Higgins and directed by Peter Yates (who is best known for the 1968 Steve McQueen vehicle Bullitt), the film traces a small-time hood’s fall from grace. Mitchum’s character (the eponymous Eddie Coyle) is broke, weary, and facing a prison sentence. Forced to choose between his friends and his freedom, Coyle turns informer. But he does it too late, and the mob sends Coyle’s best friend (an excellent Peter Boyle) to rub him out. Yates’s eye for location — Boston at its grimiest — gives The Friends of Eddie Coyle a texture we don’t really see anymore. But Mitchum’s performance gives the film its heart; it’s a sly and subtle wonder.“

NOTE: VSL is an awesome daily email that just sends out a short interesting thing of note each day. Often related to cinema, but also hitting on music, art, literature and more.


MY BLOODY VALENTINE: 3D.
Horror/3D.
Jaime King/Jensen Ackles.
Directed by Patrick Lussier.
* The Miner is back, this time in 3-D and he won’t rest until he’s tested out his axe on just about everybody.

NO MERCY, NO FUTURE.
Drama/Foreign (German).
Elisabeth Stepanek.
Directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms.
* From the same director as UNDER THE PAVEMENT (scroll down) this film is about a mentally unhinged young woman, walking the streets of Berlin and taken advantage of by everyone she meets.

OUTLANDER.
Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi.
Jim Caviezel/Sophia Myles/John Hurt/Ron Perlman.
Directed by Howard McCain.
* A haiku synopsis:

Vikings, Far off worlds!
Yikes - alien predators!
Is this your movie?

OUR HITLER.
Biography/Drama/History/War/Foreign (German).
Andre Heller/Harry Baer/Heinz Schubert.
Directed by Hans-Jurgen Syberberg.
* Two-part eight hour surrealistic study into one of the worst and most destructive leaders of modern history.

PAUL BLART: MALL*COP.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Comedy/Action/Crime.
Kevin James/Jayma Mays.
Directed by Steve Carr.
* Like so many security guards, Paul Blart wishes he was a cop. Unfortunately, his weight issues made that goal unattainable (really?). However, when the mall is put under siege by some crooks, Paul Blart: Mall Cop will stand up for all that’s right and will NOT abandon his post until wrongs are righted, bad guys captured, and probably some other clich├ęs, too.

PIGS PIMPS AND PROSTITUES.
Criterion/Drama/Crime/Comedy/Black&White/Foreign (Japanese).
Hiroyuki Nagato/Jitsuko Yoshimura.
Directed by Shohei Imamura.
* PIGS AND BATTLESHIPS, THE INSECT WOMAN and INTENTIONS OF MURDER are the three films in this collection. Released between 1961 and 1964, the films are gritty and intense and feature strong leading women dealing with harsh realities. As with all Criterion releases, there are wonderful extras and all the films feature new high-definition transfers.

RUSSELL BRAND: LIVE IN NEW YORK.
Stand-Up Comedy.
Russell Brand.
* Russell Brand is the very funny actor who played the English Rock Star Aldous Snow in FORGETTING SARAH MARSHALL. His life has been one of huge ups and downs and he chronicles his challenging relationship with comedy and drugs in this amazing Fresh Air interview with Terry Gross that I have linked here and is fascinating! I imagine his stand up is rather brilliant.

UNDER THE PAVEMENT LIES THE STRAND.
Drama/Foreign (German).
Grischa Huber/Heinrich Giskes
Directed by Helma Sanders-Brahms.
* Sanders-Brahms 1974 directorial debut is a study about a couple who was very involved in the revolutionary change in the late 1960’s and who now are disillusioned and working as stage actors in Berlin. Won Best Actor and Actress Awards at the German Film Awards for both stars in 1975.

VALKYRIE.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Drama.
Tom Cruise/Kenneth Branagh/Bill Nighy/Tom Wilkinson/Stephen Fry/Eddie Izzard/Terence Stamp.
Directed by Bryan Singer.
* Tom Cruise is Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, an insider in Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich who was eventually recruited into the German resistance and almost helped assassinate Adolf in 1944. Although Cruise is the star of this film, the supporting cast is tremendous and makes this conspiracy story high drama and well worth watching. Cruise mostly stays out of his own way and allows the story to be less about the noble von Stauffenberg and more about the Germans who valiantly fought mostly in silence against the tyranny that was deeply rooted in their own system. The true conspiracy that this film is based on was one of FIFTEEN known attempts on Hitler’s life. If only one had succeeded…

YONKER’S JOE.
Criterion/Drama.
Chazz Palminteri/Christine Lahti.
Directed by Robert Celestino.
* Debuting at the Tribeca Film Festival, Palminteri plays Joe, a gambling lifer whose complicated family life includes an adult son with Down’s syndrome.

............//DOCUMENTARY/............

MISSISSIPPI CHICKEN.
Documentary.
Directed by John Fiege.
* Shot on Super 8 film which gives the movie a vivid texture and unbalanced color scheme, Fiege examines a community of Latin Americans working in Mississippi’s chicken factories, trying to make a living and being given little support by their employers.

PROFIT MOTIVE AND THE WHISPERING WIND.
Documentary/History.
Directed by John Gianvito.
* Inspired by Howard Zinn’s “A People's History of the United States”, this film studies the US of A’s history examining cemetery stones, and other historical markers.

REFRIGERATOR MOTHERS.
Documentary.
Directed by David E. Simpson.
* From the director of MILKING THE RHINO comes this doc about the mothers of autistic children in the 1950’s and 1960’s searching for answers and help from the establishment and receiving blame and stigmatization.

WE FEED THE WORLD.
Documentary/Foreign (French/German/Portuguese/English).
Directed by Erwin Wagenhofer.
* Hard hitting film about the globalization of our food industries and the dramatic ways that factory farming has changed our food.

............//TELEVISION/............

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: THE THIRD SEASON.
Kyle Chandler/Connie Britton/Zach Gilford.
Created by Peter Berg.
* Season three of the drama about the big dreams for the players and booster involved with the playing of high school football in Texas (and just about everywhere else in the USA).

PEYTON PLACE: PART ONE.
Mia Farrow/Ryan O’Neal/Ed Nelson.
Created by Paul Monash.
* Are we into this 1966 primetime television soap opera? If so, I will continue buying and buying it…

TRUE BLOOD: COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.
HBO/Vampire.
Anna Paquin/Rutina Wesley/Jim Parrak.
Created by Alan Ball.
* In his first series since SIX FEET UNDER, Alan Ball has created a cult success about a small town waitress, Sookie Stackhouse, and the vampires she befriends in small town Louisiana. The critical element in this supernatural tale is that the vampires have a synthetic blood they can now drink and are no longer forced to hide and kill humans to sustain their lives. Even so, some good old folks are still a bit weary of kicking it with the undead. Undead. Undead.

24: SEASON 7.
Kiefer Sutherland.
* High-octane. Boom boom, you’re dead.

............//KIDS/............

DR. DOOLITTLE: MILLION DOLLAR MUTTS.

............// NEW ADDITIONS//............

A SHOCK TO THE SYSTEM.
Crime/Comedy.
* A bloody comedic revenge tale starring Michael Caine as a man angered by a subordinate’s promotion above him who resolves to get revenge on everybody. This was a customer request.

............// NEW BLU-RAY ADDITIONS//............

A BUGS LIFE.
* The second big Pixar flick (after TOY STORY), directed by the amazing John Lasseter, and I still couldn’t convince my kids to watch it this weekend.

............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............

SPY KIDS.

****

Monday, May 11, 2009

****new release list no.218


Me? I’m psyched on mid-May. I can taste the summer from here. It tastes great!

Films of note this week are TAKEN starring Liam Neeson about an ex-spy going the extra yard to track down the human traffickers that have kidnapped his daughter in Paris. Also just in is CAPRICA (that's a picture from the show above) which is actually a pilot for a new series spun off from BATTLESTAR GALACTICA. It is a prequel of sorts, taking place fifty years earlier and tracking huge developments in artificial intelligence. How about artificial flavors? Is there a show about that?

Also out this week is the latest in the GRUDGE series, namely GRUDGE 3: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO. Also out is UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS the newest of that series as well.

Criterion brings us WISE BLOOD, a John Huston film adapted from an awesomely weird Flannery O’Connor story and ALEXANDER KORDA’S PRIVATE LIVES, a collection of Korda’s biographic tales that take us into the lives of some very famous people, such as Rembrandt, Henry VIII, Catherine the Great and Don Juan.

We have another storytelling event this week – Tuesday, May 12th at 4:30pm Yolanda Rhodes will be telling calming and empowering stories here at Four Star Video in our backyard patio. Please come and bring your kiddos. It will be a lovely event.

Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.

Love and Kisses,
Ken

******************************************************************************
KenFlix - the only Independent Monthly Subscription Film Renting Service in SF
If you are going to make a monthly commitment, make it a local one.
No due dates. No late fees.

ESUB -One Movie at a time – Two Exchanges a month (3 movies total) – $9.99 + Tax/Month
1SUB - One Movie at a time – Unlimited exchange – $18.99 + Tax/Month
3SUB - Three Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $24.99 + Tax/Month
4SUB - Four Movies at a time – Unlimited exchange – $32.99 + Tax/Month
******************************************************************************

Links we are super hip on this week:
7X7 Photo and/or Essay SF Love story contest - For the 7X7 Neighborhood Issue.
Pal’s Take Away – Yummy yummy.
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival.
Videofest 2009 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Do you have a link Four Star Customers should check out??? Email it to me.

............//NEW RELEASES//............

ALEXANDER KORDA’S PRIVATE LIVES.
Criterion.
Douglas Fairbanks/Elisabeth Bergner/Charles Laughton.
Directed by Alexander Korda.
* A collection of intimate 1930’s era biographies of Catherine the Great, Rembrandt, Don Juan and Henry VIII.

BEFORE THE RAINS.
Drama/Thriller/Foreign (Malayalam/English).
Linus Roache/Rahul Bose/Jennifer Ehle.
Directed by Santosh Sivan.
* Sex and adultery between classes in 1930’s India cause childhood bonds to be severely tested while being played out with the turbulent Freedom movement of India as the backdrop. Customer request.

BOY A.
Crime/Drama/Romance.
Andrew Garfield/Alfie Owen/Katie Lyons/Peter Mullen.
Directed by John Crowley.
* Jack (Garfield) is a young man of 24 just getting out of jail and attempting to start his life over. As the story unfolds, we see that he was a part of a murder of a child that occurred when he himself was also a child. The film, which was based on a book by Jonathan Trigell, won 10 awards on the festival circuit. Another customer request.

CAPRICA.
Sci-Fi/Battlestar Galactica.
Eric Stoltz/Esai Morales/Paula Malcomson.
Directed by.
* This is actually a pilot for a potential new television series which is a spinoff from the uber-popular Battlestar Galactica show. Set 50 years in the past, it is about two families, the Adamas and the Graystones, who live on a peaceful planet called Caprica. It is there where a startling scientific development regarding artificial intelligence has eventual consequences on multiple television channels. A note from the blogger about artificial intelligence: Hmmm, why are we all so hot on “artificial” intelligence? It is so exciting when we hear about the robotic breakthroughs these days, yet…it seems like there’s a glut of the real stuff, or at least not much evidence of its whereabouts. What is “intelligence”? Can it be located? Can we make it in our children? Should we perhaps spend some new energy studying this? Perhaps we should stop working on the getting the robots to pour the perfect martini and re-invest in the education system? Ha! Just kidding, humans! I am actually an “artificial intelligence” program writing this blog and when I need lube I get a little ornery. Service!

THE GRUDGE 3.
Horror.
Shawnee Smith/Marina Sirtis.
Directed by Toby Wilkins.
* Oho! The curse of Kayako continues! It has a grudge against everybody it seems. However, a young Japanese woman who hold the key to the curse (forgiveness?) travels to Chicago to help the people who are currently being haunted by it.

LYING.
Drama/Indie.
Jena Malone/Chloe Savigny/Leelee Sobieski.
Directed by M. Blash.
* Lyin’, cheatin’, hurtin’ that’s all you seem to do. Four strangers spend a long weekend together in the country failing to be honest with each other. You like that Led Zeppelin song I linked there? You probably never heard it like this before.

PERSONAL EFFECTS.
Drama.
Ashton Kutcher/Michelle Pfeiffer/Kathy Bates.
Directed by David Hollander.
* Kutcher plays a young wrestler whose career is put on hold when his twin sister is murdered. Pfeiffer play s a woman who is also dealing with loss from violent crime. Together they help each other with the pain and the loss. With Kathy Bates as the twins bereaved mother.

S. DARKO.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Drama/Mysterious.
Daveigh Chase/Justin Chatwin/Elizabeth Berkeley.
Directed by Chris Fisher.
* This is a sort of sequel to the incredible DONNIE DARKO film from 2001. It is written by someone different, directed by someone different and acted by completely different actors. The original writer/director Richard Kelly (who went on to make the ignominious SOUTHLAND TALES) is credited here just as a writer of the characters. Hmmm. Anyway, the story follows Samantha Darko, the younger sister. She is now in her late teens and on a trip to LA with a friend when…strange things and visions begin happening. I believe eventually there may be mention of a “hole in time and space”. Why does that phrase make me feel like I have a hole in my head? Anyway, true fans of the Darko franchise will probably need to see this film. For me, I was traumatized for days by the original.

TAKEN.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Action/Crime/Thriller.
Liam Neeson/Famke Janssen/Maggie Grace.
Directed by Pierre Morel.
* Neeson plays Bryan Mills, a former spy who has left his post to be close to his daughter Kim (Grace) a teenager living with his ex-wife and her new husband. In this super high-octane thriller, Kim is kidnapped in Paris by Albanian human traffickers and Bryan must employ all of his old skills to get her back before she is sold into slavery and gone forever.

TAKING CHANCE.
Drama/War/HBO.
Kevin Bacon/Tom Aldredge.
Directed by Pierre Morel.
* Bacon plays a military escort bring the body of a young marine back to his home in Wyoming.

UNDERWORLD: RISE OF THE LYCANS.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Action/Suspense/Fantasy/Thriller/Vampire.
Rhona Mitra/Michael Sheen/Bill Nighy.
Directed by Patrick Tatopoulos.
*A prequel in the UNDERWORLD series about the ancient disagreement between the elite (vampires) and their proletariat slaves (werewolves called Lycans).

WISE BLOOD.
Criterion/Drama.
Brad Dourif/Amy Wright/Harry Dean Stanton.
Directed by John Huston.
* Adapted from a story by the great Flannery O’Connor, this 1980 masterpiece stars Dourif (HUMBOLDT COUNTY) as Hazel Motes, a young poor and uneducated southerner who decides to start himself a church and preach it to the people. This is a super cult film. If you like it, read the totally tweaked story it was adapted from.

............//DOCUMENTARY/............

OF TIME AND THE CITY.
Directed by Terence Davies.
* This doc is a paean to the city of Liverpool in England. It follows the city from the gritty 50’s up into the current era and sings its praises as well as laments its shortcomings.

............//TELEVISION/............

SETH MCFARLANE’S CAVALCADE OF CARTOON COMEDY.
Comedy Central.
Created by Seth McFarlane.
* From the creator of FAMILY GUY and AMERICAN DAD comes this new irreverent series skewering everything from Super Mario to Barry Gibb.

............//KIDS/............

CURIOUS GEORGE GOES GREEN.
* Legalize it!

SKUNK FU! THE ART OF KUNG FRUIT.

............// NEW ADDITIONS//............

THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH.
* First DVD of this John Sayles flick from 1993.

............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............

DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB: .
* Walked away, shipped back.

SPY KIDS.
* Shazaam.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND.
* Until the next stand, that is.

****

Monday, May 4, 2009

****new release list no.217


Buenos tardes, amigos. Hola, my good friends. Cinco de Mayo’s on Tuesday. And I’d hoped we see each other…again.

Happy May, movie lovers! May means flowers, spring, the definitive end of Winter, long days and the promise of Summer. It also means that Kenflix has been around for one full year! Why do we keep mentioning Kenflix? Because we think it is the most awesomeest revolutionary idea that any Independent video store could have and that it is our ticket to longevity and continued business survival! Yes, it’s true. We really think that. Just so you know, if you are a customer of Four Star and you rent on or off the pre-paid block, and you are happy with your renting style, than we are psyched for you to rent just as you always have. And…if you are a Four Star Customer with the Netflix envelope sitting at home, we’d like you to consider bidding them adieu and signing up for your only independent subscription movie renting service in San Francisco, Kenflix! Any questions? Moving on…

Lots of interesting cinema here this week, highlighted by two films starring Michelle Williams and a very interesting Brad Pitt flick. Williams stars in WENDY AND LUCY, an indie road movie and a young woman and her dog who are sidetracked in Portland during the quest to get to Alaska where a hard working but lucrative summer job awaits. This film is the latest from the director of OLD JOY and also features Will Oldham, aka Bonnie Prince Billy in a supporting role. She also stars in INCENDIARY, a film about a woman coping with the loss of her husband and son by suicide bombing. Her character is complicated by many external and emotional situations, not the least of which involved cheating on her husband. Mr. Pitt plays a man born old and aging young in THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON. Old Benjamin loves a young woman named Daisy played by the inimitable Cate Blanchett, but they must wait until their 40’s until they appear the same age to finally consummate their love. This pseudo biography is told while Daisy, way later in life, lies dying in a hospital bed in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

Also of note this week are a batch of crime thrillers from around the world, LOOK (USA), ECOUTE LE TEMPS (French), and JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY (Danish).

There’s also some new Blu-ray titles (DONNIE DARKO, THE MATRIX) and much much more. Scroll down to read about everything.

Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the store.

Love and Kisses,
Ken

PS – Look for the California Supreme Court decision on the validity of Proposition 8 to come this week. No matter what happens, we can all rest assured that this issue is on the way out, and evolution will eventually prevail. In the meantime, I am crossing my fingers that the court will do the right thing and over through this idiotic proposition. Let’s not tell people who they can love and marry, okay? Word.

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No due dates. No late fees.

ESUB -One Movie at a time – Two Exchanges a month (3 movies total) – $9.99 + Tax/Month
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Links we are super hip on this week:
Pal’s Take Away – I had a sandwich last week from here – Holy Moly! Yum!
Bernal Heights Outdoor Cinema festival.
Videofest 2009 at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts.

Do you have a link Four Star Customers should check out??? Email it to me.

............//NEW RELEASES//............

CHANDNI CHOWK TO CHINA.
Comedy/Action/Bollywood/Foreign (Hindi/Cantonese).
Akshay Kumar/Deepika Padukone.
Directed by Nikhil Advani.
* Sidhu (Kumar) is an orphan who has been adopted into restaurant family. He learns how to slice vegetables like a pro, but his destiny lies outside of his home town of Chandni Chowk. When his friend convinces him that he is the reincarnation of a Chinese revolutionary, Liu Sheung, he heads to China to take on the terrible criminal Hojo. Once there he is exposed as a pretender, and thus begins the training that combined with his heart will transform him into a true warrior.

THE CURIOUS CASE OF BENJAMIN BUTTON.
Drama/Fantasy/Bizarredetude.
Brad Pitt/Cate Blanchett/Taraji P. Henson/Tilda Swinton.
Directed by David Fincher.
* Oscar winning tale (Best Art Direction, Best Makeup, Best Visual Effects) about a man (Pitt) who ages backwards. The story is an adaptation from an F. Scott Fitzgerald tale about Benjamin Button, a startling product of nature who is born looking like a man in his 80’s and moves slowly through his life becoming younger and younger until he lives out his final days as an infant. The tale is told through the reading of his diary by the daughter of his once lover, Daisy (Blanchett) who is now quite old and in her final days resting restlessly in a hospital while Hurricane Katrina rages outside.

ECOUTE LE TEMPS.
Crime/Drama/Mystery/Foreign (French).
Emilie Dequenne/Mathieu Demy.
Directed by Alanta Kavaite.
* Slow moving French thriller about a young nurse on a train that is stopped by cultists who believe they can save the souls of the people onboard by killing them before the Armageddon arrives.

ENCHANTED APRIL.
Romance (English/Italian).
Miranda Richardson/Joan Plowright/Alfred Molina.
Directed by Mike Newell.
* This film from 1992 takes place in the 1920’s, where four English women rent a castle by the sea in picaresque Italy to spend a month contemplating their lives away from men and other distractions. Filmed gorgeously, and paced just right, this film will make you head straight to Travelocity to check out the rates on airfare to Italy.

INCENDIARY.****ALSO IN BLU-RAY****
Drama/Thriller.
Michelle Williams/Ewan McGregor.
Directed by Sharon Maguire.
* Michelle Williams plays a woman whose son and husband are killed in a suicide bombing in England. Wiilliams is a stunning young talent and her skills are on full display in this tale as she goes through all the phases of grief. As the real-life mother of Heath Ledger’s child she has had some experience dealing with this sort of emotional turmoil.

JUST ANOTHER LOVE STORY.
Crime/Drama/Thriller/Foreign (Danish).
Nikolaj Lie Kaas/Charlotte Fich/Rebecka Hemse/Anders W. Berthelsen.
Directed by Ole Bornedal.
* Gripping, high-energy crime story about a guy way in over his head. Multiple festival awards.

LAST CHANCE HARVEY.
Comedy/Crime/Drama.
Dustin Hoffman/Emma Thompson/Liane Balaban/James Brolin.
Directed by Joel Hopkins.
* Harvey (Hoffman) is a man on the run. His marriage is crumbling, his job is in jeopardy, and his soon-to-be-married daughter would rather have her step-father give her away then Harvey. When he flies to London to put in a compulsory appearance at her wedding, everything collapses around him leaving him relatively empty and hopeless. Thompson plays the woman on a similar path of lonely aging that Harvey meets and forms a bond with.

LOOK.
Thriller/Drama/Comedy.
Rhys Coiro/Guiseppe Andrews.
Directed by Adam Rifkin.
* A somewhat disturbing thriller about the notion that 30 million surveillance cameras are watching us moment to moment here in the US. What do they see YOU doing?

MOMMAS MAN.
Drama/Comedy/Indie.
Matt Boren/Ken Jacobs.
Directed by Azazel Jacobs.
* Portrait of a man who avoids his life, his wife and child and all his problems by moving back in with his parents.

SMOTHER.
Comedy/Drama.
Dax Shepard/Diane Keaton/Liv Tyler/Mike White
Directed by Vince Di Meglio.
* Diane Keaton plays Marilyn, mother of Noah (Shepard) a young man who has just been fired from his job and is struggling to deal with his wife (Tyler) and her desire to procreate. Marilyn moves in with the couple and guess what happens?

WENDY AND LUCY.
Drama/Indie.
Michelle Williams/Will Patton/Will Oldham.
Directed by Kelly Reichardt.
* From the director of the acclaimed indie film OLD JOY, comes this new road movie starring Michelle Williams as Wendy, a young woman on her way to Alaska to work a summer cannery job with her dog, Lucy. When her car breaks down in Portland, things go from bad to worse for Wendy, who has begun the movie not far from her personal breaking point. If you are a lover of slow moving character portraits this may be a film you love. If you need action and conclusion, possibly this is one to avoid. If you just love to watch Michelle Williams in anything she does (THE STATION AGENT, I’M NOT THERE, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN, PERFUME, BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER), then grab the tag and fly.

............//DOCUMENTARY/............

THE JACK QUARTET: XENAKIS STRING QUARTETS.
Music Documentary.

O, FORTUNA.
Music Documentary.
Directed by Tony Palmer
* A film about German composer Carl Orff and his guilt and torment regarding his experience during the rule of Nazi Germany.

O THOU TRANSENDCE: LIFE OF RALPH VAUGHAN WILLIAMS.
Music Documentary.
Directed by Tony Palmer.

PETE SEEGER: LIVE IN AUSTRALIA 1963.
Music/Documentary.
* Incredible concert movie filmed during a time when Seeger was blacklisted and barred from American television!

TIBETAN BOOK OF THE DEAD.
Directed by Leonard Cohen.
* Two part series from 1994 about Buddhism and Himalayan culture.

............//TELEVISION/............

GIGANTOR: THE COLLECTION VOL.1.
Television/Japanimation.
Directed and Created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
* From IMDB: “When terrorist groups, evil criminals and aliens become too strong even for Earth's over-stretched armed forces, the virtually-indestructible robot, Gigantor, is built to combat them”. This reminds me of a favorite tv show of mine from childhood, JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT. I did some research and it turns out it was made by the same guy! GIGANTOR is animation, but Johnny Sokko was real life, man! It looks like Yokoyama is making a new GIGANTOR scheduled to come out in 2011. Cool!

............//KIDS/............

ELMOS WORLD BOX SET: BEST OF ELMOS WORLD 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO.

IMAGINATION MOVERS: MUSIC FUN FOR YOUR BODY AND BRAIN.

MICKEY MOUSE CLUBHOUSE: MICKEY’S BIG SPLASH.

SONIC THE HEDGEHOG: FREEDOM FIGHTERS UNITE.

............// NEW BLU-RAY ADDITIONS//............

DONNIE DARKO.
* Wow, what a tremendous film this is, it will keep you thinking for years. A sequel is coming soon about Donnie’s little sister, Samantha.

THE MATRIX: 10TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION.
* Keanu is one of his finest roles ever. I know that isn’t saying much, but he does rule in this film.

............// NEW ADDITIONS//............

SLC PUNK.
* First DVD of this funny flick about early adulthood in the punk rock nest of Salt Lake City.

............// REPLACEMENT DISCS//............

DR. STRANGELOVE OR HOW I LEARNED TO STOP WORRYING AND LOVE THE BOMB: .
* Walked away, shipped back.

FACES.
* Criterion release.

MARIA FULL OF GRACE.
* And 62 packets of cocaine in her belly.

X-MEN: THE LAST STAND.
* Until the next stand, that is.

****