Tuesday, August 17, 2010

****new release list no.281

Ever feel like you are in a movie? Scene: A bed, piled with blankets, unkempt, and messy; the only thing that confirms a sleeping body within is one leg somewhat sticking out of the covers, with a sock barely clinging to the foot. An alarm rings, and rings.

A close-up from the side reveals a face with the eyes open but only softly focused. After a moment, a previously hidden arm reaches over and turns off the alarm. Another pause is followed by a long sigh and a roll over onto the back.

From above, we see the face, being held by its hands, squeezing the forehead and sinuses, as if to clear them, as if to hold in the throbbing pressure, as if to prevent the brain from exploding outward with a messy splat. Another deep sigh and the body begins to remove itself from the bed.

Maybe some 80’s music begins to play on the soundtrack???? And…CUT!

Yeah, you’ve all been there. The camera follows you around, and you struggle to remind yourself that you are more than a character, dammit, this is actually your life! But, still, you flick the hair from your eyes, and do the things you do as stylishly as you do them, even if your style is frumpy, dumpy, or chumpy, as opposed to funky, punky or chunky. And…..CUT!

For me, the camera lately has shown a man whose daughter has just (bravely) started kindergarten. Whose son has just (somehow!) started 4th grade (ah, I guess it’s time to buy him “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing”! Loved that book!). A man who is struggling to get his yoga on, yearning for a little peace of mind, and repeating his mantra of “Wisdom – Strength” while working that Pranayama breath in and out, in and out. Wisdom. Strength. Peace. Joy. And repeat. And….CUT!

I watched THE MAID last night, the second film by the Chilean born young director Sebastian Silva. What a brilliant film! In case you’ve missed it (it came out on DVD a few weeks back), it is the story of a 41-year-old (snap! That’s my age!) maid of an upper-middle class family in Chile. She has worked for them since she was a young woman, and has basically foregone a life and family of her own to raise and take care of this household of two adults and their four children. Now, she is in turmoil as she struggles with her bitterness, and her neuroses, and her anger, and confusion at the state of her life. The acting is superb, and the characters are relatable, particularly the oldest child who cannot figure out why her mom won’t just fire this snotty, and uppity maid who appears to hate her, and the next oldest child, who is at the tender adolescent stage of understanding, yet not understanding everything and nothing at all. Remember that age? It reminded me of RACHEL GETTING MARRIED in a way, possibly because it was filmed very intimately, and unashamed at its intimacy. In one particularly wonderful moment, the maid and the matriarch are seen at odds, communicating about some trouble, and in the background, one can just barely see the father arrive quietly, sneak into his study, and depart quickly with his golf clubs in hand. Ah, the sneakiness of domestic life. I super recommend this film.
I didn’t see anything that comes out this week, but THE CITY OF YOUR FINAL DESTINATION starring Anthony Hopkins, Laura Linney and Charlotte Gainsbourg was the one I thought the most interesting. Directed by James Ivory (Ismael Merchant passed several years ago), it is the tale of a doctoral student who wants to write a biography of a favorite author whose family is against his story being told.

Also out this week, are a trio of 4th seasons of popular television shows, DEXTER, the tale of a serial killer for the good guys, FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, a show about high school football in Texas, and UGLY BETTY, who bids us adieu in this final season about a young woman ostracized at the fashion magazine she works at for not being super skinny and beautiful, even though she is very beautiful!

Claire Danes is in two movies out this week. In the first, she stars in the HBO-original film TEMPLE GRANDIN, about an autistic woman who has become an expert scientist in the field of humanely dealing with the meat that we eat (some of us, anyway). She is also in the Zac Efron film, ME AND ORSON WELLES, about a young boy acting in a play directed by Welles in 1937.

Scroll down, there’s more.

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

Love and Kisses,

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

Ralph Fiennes/Ricky Gervais.
Directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant.
* This 1970’s era comedy is about three best blokes starting out their lives and trying to figure out which paths to take – if only they’d listen to my dad, who told me it didn’t really matter which path you take! Truer words were never ever spoken.

Anthony Hopkins/Laura Linney/Charlotte Gainsbourg/Hiroyuki Sanada.
Directed by James Ivory.
* Although Ismael Merchant is no longer with us, Ivory continues to make his smoldering, intense, character driven films. In this one, a doctoral student in Kansas gets a grant to write a biography of a writer from Latin America. But first, he must get permission from the writer’s family to get the inside story he wants to chronicle. That will be no easy task, as the family has refused to have the story written under any circumstances, as there are secrets about the author that they are reluctant to have revealed.

Action/Comedy/Western/Horror/Foreign (Korean/Mandarin/Japanese).
Kang-ho Song/Byung-hun Lee/Woo-sung Jung/Woohoo, sung Ken.
Directed by Ji-woon Kim.
* This period piece tells the tell of The Good, The Bad and The Weird, three Korean outlaws in the 1940’s, evading Japanese lawmakers, and Chinese criminals, while trying to find a secret treasure.

Brendan Fraser/Brook Shields.
Directed by Roger Kumble.
* Poor, poor real estate developers…they are always being held up by some bleeding heart protesters…sometimes it is hippies, crying about expensive housing, sometimes it is native Americans, angered that their ancient burial grounds are being disrespected, and sometimes, in the case of Dan Sanders (Fraser; brilliant, succinct, in an Academy-Award worthy performance) it is little furry critters who don’t want there homes bulldozed for a housing project in Oregon.

Criterion/Drama/Foreign (French).
Michel Terrazon/Marie-Louise Thierry.
Directed by Maurice Pialat.
* A ten-year old boy is placed in welfare by his mother, and acts out intensely in this riveting 1968 debut feature film by Pialat. The boy is rough, but life has dealt him rough blows, and he acts accordingly. As the pressure mounts, his desire to be loved is strangled by his desire to be cared for, and paid attention to.

Miley Cyrus/Greg Kinnear/Kelly Preston.
Directed by Julie Robinson.
* Sing us the song, you’re the piano man, sing us the song tonight, cuz we’re all in the mood for a melody, and you’ve got us feeling alright! And that’s my last song. Thank you…thank you.

Zac Efron/Claire Danes/Christian McKay.
Directed somehow by Richard Linklater.
* Zac plays a young man cast in the Mercury Theatre’s 1937 production of Julius Caesar, directed by Orson Welles, and, like so many others, falls completely under his spell. Will Efron get out from under the Disney stamp of approval? Maybe, but probably not from his work on this film.

Tim Roth/Kelly MacDonald/Bill Milner.
Directed by Annabel Jankel.
* This fantasy story is directed by the person who brought us MAX HEADROOM. In this family fable, a boy discovers a bird like angel in the garage of a new house his family has moved into.

Drama/LGBT/Foreign (Mandarin/Cantonese).
Hao Qin/Wei Wu.
Directed by Lou Ye.
* This film was originally released internationally as “A Night Deeply Drunk on the Spring Breeze”. What a beautiful title! The story is about a woman who hires a detective to help her discover if her husband is cheating on her. The detective discovers that he is, with another man, and the detective becomes involved with that man, in a three-some with his girlfriend. Ye’s last film, SUMMER PALACE, gave him a lot of trouble with the Chinese government, for his depictions of the tragedy at Tiananmen Square. He is a director who is driven to tell stories free of censorship in a culture where censorship is the law. This makes his films attractive in their pursuit of truth and beauty.

Claire Danes/Catherine O’Hara/Julia Ormond.
Directed by Mick Jackson.
* Temple Grandin is a scientist, a writer, somewhat of a philosopher, and one of the main experts in the humane livestock handling industry. Oh, and she is also autistic, and a very real person. This HBO film is based on a book she wrote about her life and has been nominated for 15 Emmy’s in 2010.


Michael C. Hall.
* I’m sure you love this show enough to just ignore me when I say YUCK!

Drama/High School Football.
* 59, 33, right left. Clover. Four-sided tennis Ball. Hut 1, hut 2…hike! Touchdown! With lots of drama thrown in, to keep it interesting.

America Ferrera.
* Ferrera burst on the scene in 2002’s REAL WOMEN HAVE CURVES, a beautiful and brilliant indie film about women, and bodies and love. At the end of that film her character goes off into the world, and you can almost imagine her ending up as Betty Suarez, the beautiful and smart employee at a fashion magazine filled with the thin and glamorous It girls of that industry. This is the final season of that show.




* Ah, if only it were the FINAL crisis…

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

* Super intense John Huston film starring everyone you want it to be starring; Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, Edward G. Robinson and Lionel Barrymore. This is a classic you should see.


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