So many great titles out this week, starting with the first must-see Iraq war film, THE HURT LOCKER. Set in 2004 Baghdad and following a group of bomb specialists, this film examines our addiction to adrenaline, and how well war fulfills that need.
IN THE LOOP is a new comedy about war (ha ha!) and the spin that goes on between the government, the media and the citizens and the incredible inanity of those who engage in the spin control.
MOON is the outstanding debut feature from Duncan Jones about Sam Bell, an astronaut almost done with a 3-year contract harvesting fuel on the moon who begins to have doubts and confusions about his employer, and himself.
BIG FAN is a brilliant debut from the writer of THE WRESTLER (Robert D. Siegel) about a football fan (of the utmost super obsessed variety) whose chance encounter with the star of his favorite team throws his entire life into question. This film features one of the greatest sports revenge scenes of all time.
DEPARTURES won the Best Foreign Film Academy Award in 2009. Hailing from Japan, the film is about a cellist who seeks new employment after his orchestra disbands and finds himself working as the person who prepares a corpse for his funeral and for the afterlife.
THE BURNING PLAINS is a tale of love and passion and guilt and hard life lessons starring Kim Basinger and Charlize Theron. Out this week is also FAME 2009, PASSING STRANGE (Spike Lee), POST GRAD (Alexis Bledel), HALLOWEEN II (the Rob Zombie version), and bunches more, including a couple new HIGHLIGHTED NEW ADDITIONS from Jeff (THE ALEJANDRO JODOROSKY BOX SET) and GLEE: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON. Please read on to hear about the individual movies.
Hey check out this interesting factoid. Netflix has made some concessions for their streaming services with Warner Bros film releases and they will no longer be carrying those hard-copy titles until 30 days after their release dates. Just another great reason to sign up for a Kenflix membership today.
My wife, Amy Shelf, is a Bernal based estate-planning attorney. Each year she sends out some information about her services. She posted this years email online and posted a separate blog entry about her philosophy for the coming year. She comes very highly recommended on the various Bernal listservs and would love to help you with your planning. Email her with any questions about her services.
SUCCULENCE is open Tues-Sunday, we are working hard to get people back there. You must walk all the way through Four Star to see the retail shop in the barn. Come check it out, and take a look at these awesome pics of the place.
Alrighty then, see you down at the store.
Love and Kisses,
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Directed by Jean-Claude Brisseau.
* Ah, l’adventure of buying movies. Sometimes the gems are hidden and you must take a chance to find the perfect amazing foreign film that illustrates clearly what is so sorely missing in Hollywood…other times? Softcore arrives in the new release box and is slightly embarrassing. Either way, someone will probably dig this film from “Europe’s most daring director” (EXTERMINATING ANGELS, SECRET THINGS) about a young woman’s odyssey to find the perfect ‘la petit mort”.
Ruth Diaz/Javier Pereira.
Directed by Paco Cabezas .
* Then disappeared. Now re-appeared. Made in 2007, this horror film has a basis in reality. It is the story of a brother and sister traveling in Argentina who, through the finding of a diary detailing horrible tortures and murders, begin to witness the horrors they have read about. At the root of the story are the more than 30,000 people whose lives were destroyed by the Argentinean military dictatorship.
Patton Oswalt/Kevin Corrigan/Marcia Kurtz/Jonathan Hamm.
Directed by Robert Siegel.
* Ah to be a big fan of a sports team, to experience life as though the stars of your team are perhaps your friends; the shock and dismay when you realize these people don’t actually know your name. In BIG FAN, Paul Aufiero (Oswalt), along with his best bud Sal (Corrigan), are super duper sports-crazed New York Giants football fans. If you are a sports fan, you know what I mean. If you are not, think obsessive compulsive mixed with delusional and hopeful. These guys nearly bleed the blue and red of their team’s colors. However, when the unimaginable happens, and they have a chance encounter with their favorite player, defensive specialist Quantrell Bishop (Hamm), they cannot control themselves from trying to meet him, and things go terrible wrong. Finally, Paul is left with the biggest dilemma. How to reconcile reality with fantasy? Is it possible to still be a fan, even though his favorite team has literally beaten him down (as opposed to the metaphoric ways our favorite teams beat us down). Paul is no fair-weather fan, and the problem consumes him, as he searches for ways to make the situation better. Eventually, his resolution is so sublime, so thorough, and so complete, that it will make you cackle while watching, giggle while brushing your teeth twenty minutes later, and snort as you are falling asleep. With a terrific performance from Marcia Kurtz as Paul’s mother who wishes he would just grow up.
THE BURNING PLAIN .****ALSO ON BD****
Drama/Romance/Mystery/Foreign (English and Spanish).
Charlize Theron/Kim Basinger/Jennifer Lawrence/Robin Tunney.
Directed by Guillermo Arriaga.
* Written and directed by on the writers of BABEL and a producer of 21 GRAMS, this complicated film takes place during several time periods and deals with impulsive decisions, passions spinning out of control and eventually grief and guilt being processed and moved past.
Masahiro Motoki/Tsutomu Yamazaki.
Directed by Yôjirô Takita.
* Yes, this film won the Best Foreign Language Film of the Year last year at the Oscars, and it also won 31 other awards world-wide. It is the story of a cellist who becomes unemployed when his orchestra disbands. With his wife, he moves back to his hometown and begins the arduous process of searching for a new gig. What he finds is a job unlike any he expected - he becomes a Nokanshi, someone who prepares dead bodies for their funeral and for the journey into the unknown. While the job is challenging, and painful, and a little yucky, he discovers the poetry in it and with great grace and love helps to usher his “clients” to the other side.
Jason Patric/Maria Bello.
Directed by Johan Renck.
* Nancy (Bello) is an unhappy wife, who leaves her husband and hires someone she meets online (Patric, remember him from THE LOST BOYS?) to kill her. Instead they fall into a sort of sadomasochistic love affair. Ouch! Oh!
FAME.****ALSO ON BD****
Kay Panabaker/Naturi Naughton.
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen.
* This remake of the 1980’s hit that spawned a TV series takes on the same stories of youth at the New York City High School for the Performing Arts.
Nathan Zellner/David Zellner/Caroline O’Connor.
Directed by David Zellner.
* In this more then slightly off the beaten path mumblecore film, a man who has lost everything he values in his life (his job, his wife, etc) focuses all of his emotion on the TRAGIC loss of his cat, Goliath, for whom he searches desperately in this strangely (and somewhat painfully) weird film.
HALLOWEEN II (2009).
Sheri Moon Zombie.
Directed by Rob Zombie.
* Those crazy Zombie’s are at it again, in this sequel remake to their original remake of the horror cult classic.
THE HURT LOCKER.****ALSO ON BD****
Jeremy Renner/Anthony Mackie/Brian Geraghty.
Directed by Kathryn Bigelow.
* We have been at this current war now in Iraq for just shy of seven years and we have already had countless narrative and documentary films about the toll this war has taken on the world. In this film, although we are introduced to several compelling characters, and introduced to their story and their experience, the main theme that is explored is addiction, and war as a drug. Humans must love war on some level, as we’ve engaged in it almost constant for all of time. Why can’t we all just get along? Not sure, but this film seems to suggest we just must have War, the way all addictions must be had. In this case, the user is Sgt Will James. With a baby boy at home, and a partner (who may or may not be his wife), he seems to have many reasons to survive the war and get safely home. However, the manner with which he goes about his business suggests otherwise. And his business? Why defusing bombs of course. Sgt. James puts on a suit that looks like some sort of alien battle gear full of heavy armor, and walks up to improvised explosive devices (IED’s in the industry) which have been left lying around Baghdad by insurgents either to be triggered remotely with a cell phone, or run over by a vehicle and designed to cause maximum damage (we see early on in a slow-motion scene that shows just how maximum the damage these things cause) and defuses them. He’s a bit of a renegade (as I guess someone who has defused 873 bombs is liable to be), and constantly puts his fellow team in danger because of his wing nut decision-making (like taking off his headset when he doesn’t want to hear what is being said). This does not make him popular, but this doesn’t seem to faze him. He is sort of a savant, or you could simply call him a junky, who does what he must without much consideration for who might get hurt by the consequences, simply because he must have his junk (adrenaline for James). The film is full of the heavy tension you might expect from a war zone, but no rah-rah pretension of some other war films. It is plain and simply terrible in Baghdad, like a bomb ready to go off. That we are prepared to go off. That we are waiting to explode. In the main character’s hands, over and over and over again.
I CAN DO BAD ALL BY MYSELF.
Tyler Perry/Taraji P. Henson/Adam Rodriguez/Gladys Knight.
Directed by Tyler Perry.
* Perry is back with another story in the tales of Madea. In this, Madea catches some teens robbing her home and sends them back to live with their nearly inaccessible Aunt April, a torch song singer who is struggling hard in her personal life.
IN PRAISE OF OLDER WOMEN.
Tom Berenger/Karen Black/Susan Strasberg/Helen Shaver/Alexandra Stewart.
Directed by George Kaczender.
* Berenger (THE BIG CHILL) starred in this 1978 film about a young Hungarian man during war times (WWII) who turns to married women much older than him to learn about love and sex.
IN THE LOOP.****ALSO ON BD****
Peter Capaldi/Tom Hollander/Gina McKee/James Gandolfini/Chris Addison.
Directed by Armando Iannucci.
* This zany ‘who-said-what?” comedy is about media, government, spin and foul mouthed public employees (See: Daly, Chris). Heck, even Chris might blush listening to Peter Capaldi’s Malcolm Tucker, the Prime Minister of the UK’s head spin-doctor and the creative ways he thinks of dropping F-bombs on everyone around him. Tucker’s f-ing pissed the f off. He can’t f-ing believe the f-ing morons who run around acting like they know what the f-ing f they do and he’s especially in a state of shock regarding f-ing Simon Foster, the British Secretary of some f-ing thing or another. See Foster (Hollander) accidentally didn’t ride the exact center of the political fence in a radio interview about a possible up-coming war, and now every outlet, internet-based and otherwise, is running with the story. But what does it mean, will there be a war? Won’t there be a war? Does the public want a war? Does all the confusion change anyone’s mind? Wtf-ing f, right!? With Gandolfini (THE SOPRANOS) as a US General against the idea of going to war, but also dealing with the uncontrollable spin-machines of Washington, D.C.
MOON.****ALSO ON BD****
Sam Rockwell/Kevin Spacey.
Directed by Duncan Jones.
* Looks like Zowie Bowie grew up! Yes, Duncan Jones, the director of this film, is the 38-year-old son of David Bowie, the one he wrote “Kooks” for. If this incredible feature-film debut is any indication, he is in for a long career as a terrific film maker. Rockwell plays Sam Bell, an astronaut working on the moon for the corporation Lunar Industries mostly harvesting helium-3, which is a tremendous fuel source for earth. Sam’s contract is almost up, and he longs to go back to earth to his wife and young daughter. However, an accidental breach of the system enables him to make an insane and confusing discovery that makes him question everything he thinks about himself, and about his employers. Knowing his discovery puts him at risk, he must secretly plan a way to get himself off the moon and back to earth. Meanwhile, his only companion (besides himself) is the computer known as GERTY (Spacey, robotic, yet human) which assists him in all aspects of his job.
PASSING STRANGE: THE MOVIE.
De'Adre Aziza/Daniel Breaker/Eisa Davis.
Directed by Spike Lee.
* This is a filming of the Broadway show about a young black musician who throws away the stylings of his Los Angeles based childhood and travels in Europe in order to expose himself to different experiences and broaden his reality. Narrated by Stew who also wrote the story, loosely based on his own experiences.
Alexis Bledel/Zach Gilford/Michael Keaton/Carol Burnett/J.K. Simmons.
Directed by Vicky Jenson.
* Cute and clever film about a recent college grad who moves back in with her family while trying to figure out what to do next.
Directed by Anais Granofsky.
BY THE PEOPLE: THE ELECTION OF BARACK OBAMA.
Barack Obama/John McCain/Michelle Obama.
Directed by Amy Rice and Alicia Sams .
* Produced by Edward Norton, this doc follows Barack on the road to the White House from 2006 through the successful election.
GLEE: SEASON ONE, VOL.1: ROAD TO SECTIONALS.
Dianna Agron/Chris Colfer/Jane Lynch/Kevin McHale.
Created by Ian Brennan and Brad Falchuk and Ryan Murphy and others.
* Ah, the guilty pleasure (as someone here put it yesterday) of watching this new show about a high school glee club. Nominated for 4 Golden Globes, the show obviously is doing something right. Full of singing and dancing and covers of many modern hits.
THE SIMPSONS: THE COMPLETE TWENTIETH SEASON.
* They appear to have skipped seasons 13-19 and gone straight from season 12 to 20.
............//MORE NEW HIGHLIGHTED ADDITIONS/............
REVIEWS BY JEFF.
THE ALEJANDRO JODOROSKY BOX SET.
FANDO Y LIS (1968), EL TOPO (1970), THE HOLY MOUNTAIN (1973).
Directed by Alejandro Jodorowsky.
* Chilean-born Alejandro Jodorowsky is like the mutant love-child of
Luis Bunuel and Werner Herzog. His LSD-induced mysticism blends
religious iconography with the freakish...
............//NEW ON BLU/............
FINAL DESTINATION 4.
BACK TO THE FUTURE 2.
DOCTOR WHO: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON.