From misery to bliss, from darkness to light, from cold and dreary to hot and delicious…Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives.
Is the weather manic-depressive or what? I came to work so incorrectly dressed today, heavy jeans, two shirts. I went outside a few minutes ago and nearly melted into the concrete. It is HOT out. I am trying to turn on a dime, but wasn’t it just a few hours ago that I was lamenting the brutality of the weather? I can hear my voice telling someone on Saturday that we would not be having any “warm” September or October this year, that instead we would just ride this overcast wetness directly into the rainy season.
How wrong I can be. Spectacularly, it turns out.
The most truly exciting films here this week are a collection of silent films from Josef von Sternberg from 1927 and 1928 released by Criterion, and a small batch of Iranian and Iraqi films that look tense and full of life. There is also some arty documentaries, as well as a bunch of indie films, and a collection of bigger Hollywood tales as well. The biggest is probably CITY ISLAND, starring Andy Garcia, about a dysfunctional New York family living together in nearly complete oblivion. Which reminds me of some film recommendations I have this week.
I came in on Wednesday, and stood at the Independent section for a while. I finally picked one shelf, and pulled three movies from it, and watched them Wed, Thurs and Friday nights. All three were amazing! First we have 1994’s LIVING IN OBLIVION. Starring a super young Catherine Keener and Steve Buscemi, this is the tale of independent film-making. It is super clever, creative, funny, sad and twisted! I am so thankful I never saw this before I made my feature film, because I would have realized that we (the cast and crew) weren’t unique at all, we were just complete and actual stereotypes, living out our stereotypical roles that were pre-written and pre-established. Wow, they really nailed the characters dead on when they made this film. The next two I watched were both from 2007 and both pretty popular that year. The first is LARS AND THE REAL GIRL. This was mismarketed as a comedy, which challenged some people the first time around. It is not a comedy, though it is pretty funny here and there. It is the story of a delusional young man (Ryan Gosling) who introduces his family and small town neighbors to his new girlfriend, a blow up doll he has purchased on the internet. Beautiful and sensitive, the film follows him and his new love as he navigates the trials and tribulations of a relationship very publicly with a piece of anatomically correct plastic. Don’t kid yourself, she does talk back! Gosling has real star presence, and I don’t know if he had his own health issues, but he didn’t make any other films for the last three years, but now he has some stuff coming out. I am looking forward to seeing his work. The last film was MAN PUSH CART, the brilliant debut from Ramin Bahrami (CHOP SHOP, GOODBYE SOLO), a young director who is making very unique American movies about people from other parts of the world struggling to find their place here. Although MAN PUSH CART takes place in New York City, it really feels like a desert film, with the sound and emotional landscape feeling empty and cold. The main character is a former Pakistani rock star who is now working a coffee cart in the big city and missing his wife who died just a short while ago. Alternately hopeful and painful, the film feels very true, and honest, and does very little to try to force the viewer into feelings. If you haven’t seen these movies, I highly recommend them, they were all terrific! Scroll down for info about this week’s releases.
Alrighty then, see you down at the store.
Love and Kisses,
Ps Hey by the way, the Bernal Business Alliance has just put out our annual member directory. You can pick them up in many businesses around the neighborhood. They are filled with great info, ranging from businesses contact info and hours to home-based businesses like electricians, and contractor’s info. When we need to spend money let’s put it in our neighbor’s pockets, alright? We’re all in this together, yo.
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Directed by Michael Feifer.
* Sadly, this will be Brittany Murphy’s last film, as she died suddenly last year at the young age of 32. In this film, she plays Mary, whose boyfriend is having a routine surgery. However, when she comes to pick him up, he is gone, there is no trace of him, and the hospital staff suggests she is crazy…
Directed by Scandar Copti and Yaron Shani.
* Ajami is a section of Tel Aviv in Israel where many ethnicities attempt to live together. Jews, Christians and Muslims struggle to maintain their dignity and their normalcy as they go about their lives. This film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film this year.
THE BACK-UP PLAN.
Jennifer Lopez/Alex O’Loughlin.
Directed by Alan Poul.
* This goofy comedy is actually not an unfamiliar story here in the Bay. A woman, after not finding her perfect partner with years of dating under her belt (not a pun), decides to become a single parent by choice and gets impregnated using artificially insemination. Of course, that decision coincides with her suddenly meeting the man of her dreams.
CITY ISLAND. ****BD****
Andy Garcia/Julianna Margulies/Emily Mortimer/Alan Arkin.
Directed by Raymond De Felitta.
* I heard this film was extra funny, so I bought a few more copies of it than I usually would have. It is the story of a family living on City Island in the Bronx. A family who never tells each other anything, and so they really don’t know each other at all. Secret fetishes, secret jobs, secret classes…no one knows what they others are doing at all. .
THE DOCKS OF NEW YORK.
George Bancroft/Betty Compson.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
* This 1928 silent, black&white film is about a shipworker who gets into trouble during a shore leave when he falls in love with a dance-hall girl. Shot by Harold Rosson (THE WIZARD OF OZ) and designed by Hans Dreier (SUNSET BOULEVARD), this film helped cement many people’s Hollywood careers.
$5 A DAY.
Christopher Walken/Sharen Stone/Alessandro Nivola/Amanda Peet/Peter Coyote.
Directed by Nigel Cole.
* This indie road movie is about a conman and his conservative son who is trying to be legit and barely wants anything to do with his dad.
GALAXY OF TERROR.
Directed by Bruce D. Clark.
THE LAST COMMAND.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
* This 1928 silent, black&white film won the Best Actor award for Emil Jannings’ performance as an exiled Russian general who goes from Hollywood extra to Hollywood star and eventually back down again.
LETTERS IN THE WIND.
Directed by Ali-Reza Amini.
* One of two Iranian New Wave films we have this week, this is described as “a sort of Iranian “Full Metal Jacket”. Taghi is a soldier from a small village who is given the job to visit other recruits families in Tehran and bring them recorded messages from their children (the soldiers).
Directed by Michael Knowles.
* An indie about a group of people in New York who’s Friday night out will inevitable change their lives.
STEP INTO THE DARKNESS.
Directed by Atil Inac.
* A nighttime raid in Northern Iraq destroys an entire village and the sole survivor , a young Turkmen girl, must travel to Kirkuk in search of surviving family. This film was shot under extremely dangerous conditions on location in Turkey and Iraq.
SURVIVAL OF THE DEAD.
Directed by George A. Romero.
Clive Brook/George Bancroft/Evelyn Brent.
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
* This 1927 silent, black&white film is considered to be the film that launched the American gangster genre. The screenwriter, Ben Hecht, won an Oscar for his writing the very first year that Oscar awards were handed out.
Directed by Brian Ackley.
* A tale of two lost people finding each other in New York.
AN AMERICAN JOURNEY: IN ROBERT FRANKS FOOTSTEPS.
Directed by Philippe Seclier.
* From the IMDB: From Texas to Montana, from Nebraska to Louisiana, from New York to San Francisco, An American Journey is a 15,000 mile odyssey through contemporary America seeking to understand the impact of Robert Frank's photographic book 'The Americans.'
EYES OF ME.
Directed by Keith Maitland.
* This movie follows four blind teenagers through a year of high school life.
Directed by Rakhshan Bani-Etemad.
* Part of the Iranian New Wave movement, this film is about a group of college girls fighting for rights in Iran.
PINK FLOYD: BETWEEN SYD AND THE DARK SIDE.
* Rare footage, studio performances, interviews, insights and more following the amazing psychedelic rock band during the years of 1968 – 1973. And you can turn down the volume and put on the soundtrack of THE WIZARD OF OZ, and somehow it all works together beautifully, as if the films were made to fit each other.
FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS: COMPLETE EDITION.
* I got this to have another couple copies of the show, but there is also a 30-minute documentary we put out on the New Release wall for $1. Yeehaw!
THE INCREDIBLE HUMAN JOURNEY.
* I don’t think they are talking about driving cross country with your friends before your car dies in California, but...
LOST: THE COMPLETE AND FINAL SEASON.****BD****
TV/Suspense/Suspension of Disbelief.
* Featuring the exciting and dramatic conclusion of the riveting drama about a group of plane crash survivors on a remote island struggling to make sense of their surreal surroundings.
THE SIMPSONS: THE THIRTEEN SEASON.
NICK JR. FAVORITES: HAPPY HALLOWEEN.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: TURTLES FOREVER!
TOM & JERRY MEET SHERLOCK HOLMES.
............//NEW ON BLUE/............
* Terry Gilliam’s 1981 cult classic is a must see!
WITHNAIL & I.
* This 1987 film starring Richard E. Grant (HOW TO GET AHEAD IN ADVERTISING) is funny and weird as it follows two out of work actors in 1969 London take a wild weekend in the country as they attempt to unwind.