I wish Hollywood would do a better job with their DVD release management. Doesn’t it seem like there will be week after week during the summer and fall with no real huge titles, and then come Oscar season, we get weeks like this one, where there are multiple award-nominated films, and many star-studded casts for films that weren’t nominated but still seem worth checking out.
In the nominated department, we have THE BLIND SIDE, the movie that won Sandra Bullock the Best Actress award. Adapted from the real life story of Michael Oher, an NFL player for the Baltimore Ravens, this film follows his early days as a homeless high school student who is taken in and cared for by a nice family. Though it sounds a bit like an after-school special, it is evidently a fine film, with a tremendous performance by Bullock. Also nominated for an Academy (but ultimately shut out) is FANTASTIC MR. FOX. From director Wes Anderson and starring George Clooney, Meryl Streep, Jason Schwartzman, Bill Murray (and more) comes this adaptation of the children’s book by Roald Dahl. Though it is a wonderful kids’ movie, this film hits on so many levels, and is excellent for all ages. As with most Wes Anderson films, the art direction, the music and the cinematography are just awesome in this film.
Not nominated for an Academy award, but full of great actors are BROTHERS, starring Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal about the effects that war has on a family where one brother steps in to help take care of his other brother’s family after he is missing in action in Afghanistan. NEW MOON is the latest in the Twilight Saga about a group of vegetarian vampires who are struggling against eating a tasty bit of human meat, or something like that! In THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS, George Clooney stares at a goat, and kills it! Cuz he’s George Clooney, and he can do anything he damn well pleases. Seriously, I love that guy. Also starring Jeff Bridges, Ewan McGregor, and for some reason Kevin Spacey, too. RED CLIFF is a two part movie directed by John Woo and starring Tony Leung and Chow Yun-Fat about politics and war in China circa 200 AD.
There is also an interesting batch of television, documentaries, foreign films and indies led first and foremost by the third season of the smash hit MAD MEN. Scroll down to read about everything.
Hey, I see my President signed the big health care bill today. Wow, with all the hoopla, you can barely tell the republicans from the far left. That’s pretty crazy, right? I hear the bill is brutal. I hear it is far too compromised. I hear it is not the bill that the people want. I hear the doctor’s are unhappy. I hear the insurance industry is unhappy. I hear the President is a communist. I hear he is a liar, a knave a pushover. I hear the bill’s scope is unclear. I hear it’s confusing. I hear its 1000 pages long and no one can translate it properly to the reg’lar folk. I hear…wait. What’s that I hear? 36 Million Americans are without health care (number seems low). What? They are now covered by this new plan? Wait, what? America? America now has a health care plan?
It sucks you say? I say phooey.
There’s things you gotta do before you do other things. You know? Crawl/walk. Walk/run. Legislate/alterate. Hallucinate. Desegregate. Mediate. Try not to hate. Love your mate. Don’t suffocate on your own hate. Liberate. Liberate. Liberate. Liberate.
Know what I mean?
Hey, America has health care. How bout that?
Alrighty then, see you down at the store.
Love and Kisses,
P.S. I love you.
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
THE AFRICAN QUEEN.
Humphrey Bogart/Katherine Hepburn.
Directed by John Huston.
* This intense 1951 Oscar winner (Best Actor, Humphrey Bogart) is about a river boat owner in Africa during WWII who is convinced by the sister of a dead missionary to use his boat to sink a German warship. From frosty tense relationship to passionate and desperate lovers, we watch the two of them plan their crazy outlandish mission. This is a must watch classic.
THE BLIND SIDE.****BD****
Sandra Bullock/Quinton Aaron/Kathy Bates/Tim McGraw.
Directed by John Hancock.
* Speaking of Oscars, Bullock took home the hardware this year (Best Actress) for her role in this story of a homeless kid living in the south that is taken in by an upper middle class family and becomes an amazing football player. This is the somewhat true story of Michael Oher, who is now playing in the NFL. Bullock herself has dealt with some serious adversity just since winning the Oscar…
Tobey Maguire/Jake Gyllenhaal/Natalie Portman/Sam Shepard.
Directed by Jim Sheridan.
* When Tommy Cahill (Maguire) goes missing on patrol with the military in Afghanistan, he is presumed dead. His deadbeat brother (Gyllenhaal) shows up to comfort his wife, Grace (Portman) and help her with the kids. Soon, their relationship gets jiggy, and then things are complicated dramatically by the reappearance of Tommy. Turns out, Tommy was captured and tortured back there in Afghanistan, and though he survived, he is much damaged inside. Ultimately, this is a story of a family, and the fragile bonds that hold them together.
Adam Neal Smith.
Directed by Yen Tan.
FANTASTIC MR. FOX.****BD****
George Clooney/Meryl Streep/Jason Schwartzman/Bill Murray/Eric Anderson.
Directed by Wes Anderson.
* Perhaps this is where Anderson’s directorial career has been headed all along. To claymation, and beautiful claymation at that. It is lovely to see something other than the computer stuff that is being pumped out by all the big studios these days. This film, aside from looking good, is super fun! It is based on the weird and wonderful book by Roald Dahl about a tricky fox who cannot help himself from stealing chickens, ducks, hard apple cider, and numerous other earthly delights, and gets on the bad side of three enormously angry farmers who decide his (and his families) immediate discorporation is required. Ah, but killing the fox proves difficult, especially this fantastic fox, who can both think and dig quite well. With masterful performances from Clooney and Streep as Mr. and Mrs. Fox, and Schwartzman as their less than athletic son, this film is rather fantastic. Although the animals are wild (as Mr. Fox points out, usually when he is trying to justify his rashness), my son Huck pointed out that the humans behavior was the most wild and irrational of all (well stated, my boy). The music in this, as in most Anderson films, was quite nice as well.
FREE WILLY 4.****BD****
Directed by Will Geiger.
HITLER MEETS CHRIST.
Wyatt Page/Michael Moriarty.
Directed by Brendan Keown .
* Hmm, why did I buy this strange looking indie about two men meeting in a train station who think they are Adolf and Jesus H? Not sure, but I expect someone will tell me soon...
THE LARK FARM
Pazzzz Vega/Tcheky Karyo.
Directed by Paolo and Vittorio Taviani.
* Tragic tale of an Armenian family during the Ottoman-Armenian conflict in the early years of last century.
Zack Bennett/David Wachs.
Directed by Jonathan W. Stokes.
* This is a somewhat highbrow college party movie that was shot in one continuous take (ah, the digital world) about a group of philosophy students trying to get laid at the last big party to end all parties…good luck, boys, maybe drop the Nietzsche quotes, and just focus on paying attention.
THE MEN WHO STARE AT GOATS.****BD****
George Clooney/Ewan McGregor/Jeff Bridges/Kevin Spacey.
Directed by Grant Heslov.
* Based on a novel, this movie tells us at the beginning that “more of this film is true than you will believe.” That part makes me happy. Because the film is about the government somehow funding the New Earth Army, a group of psychic spies who were basically trained in avoiding conflicts, with gifts of flowers and occasionally liquid acid. The actual movie follows a somewhat clueless journalist (McGregor) who is in the Middle East to prove to his ex-girlfriend that he has worth. Does he? Not sure, but he is aimlessly looking for a story when he stumbles into Lyn Cassady (Cloons) who eventually tells him the story of the hippy patrol he was a part of. Led by Bill Django (Bridges, doing his Bridges thing) these men were trained to use their minds so well, that eventually they could kill just by staring…hence the title.
Directed by Atalay Tasdiken.
* Lovely Turkish film about two young children living with their grandfather after their father’s new wife has rejected them.
MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATRE 3000: XVII.
Action/Drama/Romance/Vampire/Abstinence (psyche Shila!).
Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Dakota Fanning.
Directed by Chris Weitz.
* So many of you can probably relate to this film (Jonny!) about a group of vegetarians who become overwhelmed at the sight of some wonderful delicious meat that they nearly kill themselves trying to eat it…that’s what this is about, right Shila? Ah, shucks, I didn’t see it.
Chow Yun-Fat/Tony Leung/Chang Chen.
Directed by John Woo.
* This two part film that won 16 awards world-wide is about some gigantic battles fought in China between 200 and 300 AD. Gorgeously shot, with terrific sound design, Chris says this film is just amazing.
Directed by Martin Provost.
* This film is based on the life of French painter Séraphine Louis (Séraphine de Senlis) who worked in the late 1800’s into the 1930’s.
SON OF MAN.
Directed by Mark Dornford-May.
* This film is a modern tale of Jesus based in South Africa.
WAITING FOR THE MOON.
Linda Hunt/Linda Bassett.
Directed by Jill Godmilow.
* This 1987 film is about a few months in the life of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein.
BROTHERS AND SISTERS: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON.
MAD MEN: THE COMPLETE THIRD SEASON.****BD****
Jon Hamm/Elizabeth Moss/January Jones/Vincent Kartheiser.
* Season three of television’s hottest show is out on DVD and BD…if you haven’t taken the plunge, now might be a good time. This highly stylized show is about Madison Aves advertising agencies in the early 1960’s and focuses on Don Draper (Hamm) one of the most talented execs of the bunch.
PRISON BREAK SEASON FOUR.
Dominic Purcell/Wentworth Miller.
KLUNKERZ: A FILM ABOUT THE DEVELOPMENT AND BIRTH OF MOUNTAIN BIKES.
Directed by Billy Savage.
* The title says it all, and it happened right here in Northern California.
James Brown/Chuck Berry/The Beach Boys/The Rolling Stones/Lesley Gore/Marvin Gaye/Glenn Campbell/Diana Ross/Smokey Robinson.
Directed by Steve Binder.
* T.A.M.I or originally Teenage Music International was (from the IMDB) “Hailed by one music reviewer as "the grooviest, wildest, slickest hit ever to pound the screen," "The T.A.M.I. Show" is an unrelenting rock spectacular starring some of the greatest pop performers of the 60s. These top recording idols - representing the musical moods of London, Liverpool, Hollywood and Detroit - packed the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium with 2,600 screaming fans and virtually brought down the house. This is the cinematic record of that electrifying event.”
YOU’RE GONNA MISS ME…A FILM ABOUT ROKY ERICKSON.
The 13th Floor Elevators.
Directed by Keven McAlester.
* This doc is about psychedelic rock legend Roky Erickson and his affect on the music world.
ELMO: RAINBOW & OTHER SPRING TIME STORIES.
THE JOHN WAYNE COLLECTION, VOL 1 (THE QUIET MAN/THE SANDS OF IWO JIMA/FLYING TIGERS/THE WAKE OF THE RED WITCH).