Monday, January 4, 2010

****new release list no.250

Happy New Year. They tell me I should call it Twenty Ten. But I find myself saying Two Thousand Ten. They’ll never make me change! Never! All joking aside, I do find it funny that I spent most of my life waiting for “The Year Two Thousand” and now its ten years later. That feels strange. I wonder if the first ten years of the 21St Century were like the first ten years of the 20th. Do decades have similar flavors in the time-space continuum? I remember reading in high school something about this. I wonder if it will continue in this new decade. Some amazing things were invented in the1910’s. Much of Einstein’s great work was done then, such as the amazing Einstein Field Equation, you know, this one:

Yeah, that seems like a big, NO DUH, now, but back then, this was magical stuff. Also, cars – bunches of cars and many of their most exciting features were invented then. Not to mention, stainless steel, Boy Scouts (and Girl Scouts, just a scant two years later), minimum age working laws, Youtube (alright you got me, I made that up…), heck my name, Kenneth, was the 30th most popular name in that decade (as opposed to 116th in this last decade). See – things are interesting! Interesting is good, in that it remains of interest, as opposed to boring, or worse – uninteresting.

Unfortunately, some of the films out this week are uninteresting, so this bloggle (blog+babble) is about all you got. Although we do have at least several little indie and foreign films that some of you may quite enjoy. Such as LOREN CASS, the story of a group of kids in Florida trying to make sense of their senseless Floridian existence on the heels of race riots in St. Petersburg, or ADAM, a romantic comedy about a young man with Asperger's and a woman with a nice ass (awful, fail, delete -bad bad pun, really, I’m sorry, but I couldn’t resist) who fall in love – I hear this film rivals 500 DAYS OF SUMMER if you liked that one. Then there is LORNA’S SILENCE about two Albanian immigrants in Belgium making bad deals with gangsters in order to survive, and LAILA’S BIRTHDAY, a close look at life in occupied Palestine through the eyes of a father trying not to disappoint his daughter on her 7th birthday. The Hollywood films we got this week are 50 DEAD MEN WALKING, but I’m not sure where they are walking to; and FINAL DESTINATION 4 – THIS TIME WE REALLY MEAN IT (that last part is not in the printed title, but I am pretty sure that’s what they meant). The indie film TRUCKER starring Michelle Monaghan is about a young truck driver whose carefree existence is changed forever when her erstwhile 10-year-old son comes to live with her. In the regular release department, the final and probably most important release of the week is the 3rd season of BIG LOVE, the popular HBO series about polygamists with the polygamost. They own a successful business; they are cute and smart and witty; they have a swimming pool! It’s the good life!

By the way, January marks a new HIGHLIGHTED NEW ADDITIONS month at Four Star Video, and Jeff (as usual) has filled his section with some excellent picks. He had us get a batch of Woody Allen films we only had on VHS, as well as LADY SNOWBLOOD, THE EXILES, ALICE, THE TOMORROW SHOW WITH TOM SNYDER: PUNK & NEW WAVE (featuring Iggy, Elvis Costello, The Ramones and so many more), ZABRISKIE POINT and a few more. Scroll down to read his reasoning and reviews for all his picks.

Guess what? In the week since I last wrote, both Reinvintage and the retail photography supply and print shop at Kingmond Young Studios opened. Both stores look great, so let’s head down to these establishments and welcome them to the neighborhood.

In honor of the 2009 version of Fame, I thought I’d share this amazing time capsule. You want fame? Well fame costs…and right here is where you start paying.

Love and Kisses,

p.s. - People are always asking me what film the photos I post are from, and since I am unable to figure out how to post captions, I will start posting the info in this spot each week. This week's photo is from the Award-winning series BIG LOVE.

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

Hugh Dancy/Rose Byrne/Amy Irving.
Directed by Max Mayer.
* This is not your typical rom-com. Two neighbors, both dealing with serious issues (he has Asperger's Syndrome, and she has been through a painful breakup), find solace in each others company and begin a relationship. There is much debate online about which is better, ADAM of 500 DAYS OF SUMMER, with many agreeing that ADAM is the superior film…

Ben Kingsley/Jim Sturgess/Rose McGowan.
Directed by Kari Skogland.
* Based on a true story, this film follows Marty McGartland, a young Irish street kid who gets recruited by the Brits to spy on the IRA for them.

THE FINAL DESTINATION 4 (IN 3-D, 2-D and Triple D).
Bobby Campo.
Directed by David R. Ellis.
* Are we there yet?

Drama/Foreign (Arabic).
Mohammed Bakri.
Directed by Rashid Mashawari.
* A former Judge in Palestine, who is forced to be a taxi driver because of government instability, struggles mightily to provide a good birthday for his 7-year-old daughter. This important film deals with real life in the occupied territory.

Kayla Tabish/Travis Maynard.
Directed by Chris Fuller.
* Ah, Florida, hotbed of so much, teen angst, political turmoil, retirement communities, Cuban strife, sweet citrus, cocaine, and the hot hot sun. This film takes place in St. Petersburg in the later portion of the 1990’s (two decades ago, kinda) after race riots divided the community, and concerns youth struggling to make sense of the senselessness of it all. Featuring a slamming soundtrack, and extraordinary performances by many no-name actors, it is a triumph that this film made it here to the video store at all.

Drama/Foreign (French/Albanian).
Arta Dobroshi/Jeremie Renier/Alban Ukaj/Fabrizio Rongione.
Directed by Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne.
* This film highlights the uncertainty of immigrant life, and the challenges that can be faced to make their dreams come true. It is the story of two young Albanians (Lorna and Sokol) living in Belgium. They struggle financially and long to open a snack bar. Unfortunately they don’t have the money. Enter aspiring mobster Fabio who has concocted a plan for Lorna to marry Claudy to gain citizenship and then to marry another guy for big bucks that will enable her dreams to come true. For it all to work out, Fabio must deal with Claudy, and Lorna must keep the whole thing a secret.

John Leguizamo/Harvey Keitel.
Directed by Franc Reyes.
* Murder, intrigue, deception, cops, revenge. You know the drill. Do you like Keitel? Then watch this film.

Michelle Monaghan/Nathan Fillion/Benjamin Bratt/Joey Lauren Adams.
Directed by James Mottern.
* This indie is about a carefree truck-driving lady whose life gets thrown into turmoil when her 10-year-old son comes to live with her. The film won 5 awards on the festival circuit.


Bill Paxton/Jeanne Tripplehorn/Chloe Sevigny/Ginnifer Goodwin.
* Ah, Mormon life. I still remember hearing that Prop 8 should pass because marriage should only be between a man and a woman, and another woman, and another woman. I don’t know; it seems tricky. It’s hard enough trying to keep it together with one other person. Three partners? Yikes. As anyone who has watched this show knows, it ain’t easy for Bill Henrickson (Paxton) either. Between the challenges of domestic life times three, and running his business, and keeping ahead of the government and the uber-orthodox cult of Mormonism that he is beholden to, as well as hiding his marriages from the general public, it’s a wonder Bill has any space to kick back, drink a beer and watch some BYU on the tv.







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


Animation/Fantasy/Horror/Foreign (Czech).
Kristyna Kohoutova.
Directed by Jan Svankmajer.
* Here’s a Czech surrealist take on Alice in Wonderland. Director Jan
Svankmajer continues to use a creepy blend of live-action and
stop-motion animation and shows his fascination with insects and raw

Directed by Kent MacKenzie.
* Try as I might, I can’t top Carlos Velasquez’s review of this film on

“The Exiles is an unpretentious, sincere film, done with the heart,
and the director apparently allowed the actors – mostly Native
Americans – to be themselves and play their culture. This exceptional
movie depicts a well-known, sad part of our society, with defeated
human beings, with defeated minds, as the main characters. It doesn't
matter where the plot takes place – the city or the reservation – the
stories are always the same. This is especially revealed in the long
scene in which the boys go to party on a hill in the city Los Angeles
known as Hill X, in which they drink and play the drums all night
long, as they did in their reservations. This is their way to
reminisce about their culture, their parents, their childhood, and
their land”.

Animation/Foreign (Japanese).
Directed by Kihachiro Kawamoto.
* Beautiful stop motion animation from Japanese artist Kihachiro Kawamoto, who studied under the great Czech animator Jiri Trnka. These short films draw from traditional Japanese folk stories, Noh and Kabuki theatre. There are also a couple of cutout animation films set in modern-day, including one written by Kobo Abe (Woman in the Dunes).

Action/Drama/Thriller/Foreign (Japanese and English).
Directed by Toshiya Fujita.
* Um... what DIDN’T Tarantino steal from this movie? The Kill Bill-Lady Snowblood comparisons are endless. You've got the woman out for revenge (complete with list of people she's going to kill), story structure that's divided into chapters, and even the same god damn pop song. The Japanese original is artful, kick-ass and a whole lot of fun and remains one of the all-time great revenge flicks.

Directed by Ron de Moraes and Dan Funk.
* Uber-square Tom Snyder used to host a show that featured cutting edge musical acts. The list of names includes The Ramones, The Jam, Iggy Pop, Joan Jett, Elvis Costello and Patti Smith.

Directed by Matt Wolf.
* Arthur Russell’s music is hard to classify. Avant-garde electronic disco pop with cello? Whatever it is, it’s dreamy (and dancy) as hell. This documentary shows Arthur’s journey from straight Iowa farm-boy to queer New York underground artist, with a brief dalliance on a hippie
commune in San Francisco. There are insights from friends and admirers including Allen Ginsberg, Philip Glass and Jens Lekman. Be sure to check out the DVD extras for Lekman’s wonderful live take of Russell’s “A Little Lost.”

Directed by Michangelo Antonioni.
* Antonioni’s worst feature length movie features clunky dialogue and clueless acting, but it’s notable perhaps for the great soundtrack (Pink Floyd, Kaleidoscope, Grateful Dead) and glimpse into California counterculture of the 70s. Real-life Black Panther Kathleen Cleaver even makes a cameo. Most people find the nude hippie love-in at Death Valley most memorable, but for me it’s the spectacular end sequence (let’s just say it ends with a bang…)

Directed by Franc Reyes.
* Woody Allen Collection Set 3
A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy (1982) / Zelig (1983) / Broadway Danny
Rose (1984) / The Purple Rose of Cairo (1985) / Hannah and Her Sisters
(1986) / Radio Days (1987) The start of Woody Allen’s love affair with Mia Farrow yielded some of the best films of his career. Too bad that didn’t end so well. Yeeesh. Anyway, if you haven’t seen Hannah and Her Sisters, Purple Rose of Cairo, or ESPECIALLY Zelig, do yourself a favor and catch up with the Wood Man.

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

Audie Murphy/Michael Redgrave.
Directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz.
* From the IMDB: In this adaptation of Graham Greene's prophetic novel about U.S. foreign policy failure in pre-war Indochina, Audie Murphy plays an innocent Young American opposite the older, cynical Brit Michael Redgrave. They play out their widely different views on the prospects stuggle for the hearts and minds of the Vietnamese people in their competition over a young woman. Murphy wants to reform her and make her a typical middle class American housewife; Redgrave accepts her inability to formulate or retain a political ideal and while promising her no real future, he objects to Murphy's attempts to change her.


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