Man, it totally smells like updog here. What that you say? What is updog?
Nothing much, dog – what is up with you?
Nothing much, ha! Actually, so much is always up, down here at Sector 402 (Cortland, that is). This week, I cannot believe how many movies were released that I bought 8 or more copies of – and a few that I might eventually wish I had bought that many of.
First the big titles, the action section:
THE TOWN is a bank robber tale of theft, love and betrayal. It takes place in Massachusetts, and features a robbery at Fenway – which as a Yankee fan, I’m familiar with. Directed by and starring Ben Affleck with Jeremy Renner, Rebecca Hall, Jon Hamm and Blake Lively.
THE A-TEAM is a remake of the 1980’s television show about a renegade team of mercenaries out to blow shit up for goodness sake. In this remake, the update has the group a bunch of American soldiers in Iraq, unfairly convicted of war crimes they didn’t commit and on a mission to set the record straight! Kaboom! Starring Liam Neeson, Bradley Cooper, Jessica Biel and Patrick Wilson.
The big titles, the comedy section:
CYRUS is the jealous son of a woman who wants to meet someone who she can have a relationship with. She meets a divorcee who is nice and who is elated to have met her, and is dying to take their relationship to the next level, if it weren’t for her psychotic son who makes things as difficult as he possibly can. Starring Jonah Hill as Cyrus, and Marisa Tomei and John C. Reilly as his mom and her lover.
THE OTHER GUYS could be listed in both action and comedy. It is the story of two somewhat broken cops, played by Will Ferrell and Mark Wahlberg, who get a break and have an opportunity to be heroes. Unfortunately, ineptitude is tough to overcome. Believe me. With Eva Mendes, The Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Keaton, Steve Coogan, Craig Robinson and a Damon Wayans, Jr. sighting.
MICMACS is the newest movie by the director of AMELIE and DELICATESSEN. It is a fantastical comedy about a man and his new-found family (who live in a magic kingdom inside of what appears to be a dump) who go on a mission to destroy two arms manufacturers who have greatly affected his life. The family is filled with wild characters who make amazing stuff from salvaged goods. This film is a treat to the senses, as the landscape is rich, and the tone is playful. And, the main character is a video clerk at the beginning, so this film is a hopeful tome for us down here who sometimes wonder what we’ll do next.
The big titles, the kids/family section:
DESPICABLE ME is a laugh out loud animation about a dastardly villain out to steal the moon, who accidentally finds love enter his heart in the shape of three orphan girls who want him to become their father. This movie is extra funny!
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS-OWLS OF GA'HOOLE is an adaptation from some popular kids novels about some owls who are fighting off some other owls in what appears to be a whole owl war! The animation looks gorgeous, and the stories were well-loved as books.
In the department of “lots of other great looking stuff” comes the new documentary JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK, which looks funny and sad and enlightening. Also A COMPLETE HISTORY OF MY SEXUAL FAILURES, which shows the director interviewing his exes asking them questions about his own shortcomings. Then there is VALHALLA RISING, a mystical and mythical Viking tale, and THE TROTSKY, about a high school kid who thinks he is Leon Trotsky reincarnated.
In the “awesome collections” binder we find the incredible AMERICA LOST AND FOUND: THE BBS STORY filled with incredible films from 1968 to 1972, some of which you’ve heard of and some you have not. You must see these films. And GUY MADDIN-QUINTESSENTIAL - 5 FILMS FROM THE HEART OF WINNIPEG featuring some of the craziest, wildest, most visually stimulating underground cinematic art that you’ve ever seen. And then we mustn’t forget FRANZ KAFKA’S A COUNTRY DOCTOR & OTHER FANTASTIC FILMS by Koji Yamamura. This is a collection of animated films by a masterful Japanese animator who uses clay, paintings and still photography to create lush and rich textured landscapes in which to set his whimsical stories. Another must-see.
There is more, NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS, FRENEMY, MOTHER AND CHILD and some television like the final season of 24 and DESPERATE ROMANTICS and THE IT CROWD: FOURTH SEASON.
Damn, its happening down here at Four Star Video!
In the local funding department, I am happy to say this is our third week in a row highlighting neighbors who are trying to fund their work. Are you working on a project that needs exposure? Let me know!
This week, it is Lisa Morehouse who we are focusing on. Lisa is an independent (the fancy way to say "freelance") public radio reporter and she’s doing a series for The California Report on the future of small town California. She’s looking at towns that grew up around certain industries (like logging, mining, agriculture) and how they adapt as those industries die or change. Two stories have run so far, one on Lindsay in the Central Valley, and one last Friday on Boonville and the Anderson Valley. More stories will follow. Her hope is to make a one-hour radio documentary eventually.
She is funding her project using a website called Spot, which is a community-supported journalism venture that is a nonprofit project for the Center for Media Change. Here is her funding page, which also has lots more info about her project.
Lastly: wow, last Thursday night (the so-called Bernal Shopping Night) was so awesome! So many people were wandering Bernal Heights, snacking, shopping, chatting… Nights like these are what a neighborhood is all about. I love it!
Alrighty, that’s all folks, hope to see you at the stores.
Love and Kisses,
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AMERICA LOST AND FOUND: THE BBS STORY.
Directed by many.
* I couldn’t say it better than the product description:
Like the rest of America, Hollywood was ripe for revolution in the late sixties. Cinema attendance was down; what had once worked seemed broken. Enter Bob Rafelson, Bert Schneider, and Steve Blauner, who knew that what Hollywood needed was new audiences—namely, young people—and that meant cultivating new talent and new ideas. Fueled by money made from their invention of the superstar TV pop group the Monkees, they set off on a film-industry journey that would lead them to form BBS Productions, a company that was also a community.
The innovative films produced by this team between 1968 and 1972 are collected in this box set—works created within the studio system but lifted right out of the countercultural id, and that now range from the iconic (Easy Rider, Five Easy Pieces, The Last Picture Show) to the acclaimed (The King of Marvin Gardens) to the obscure (Head; Drive, He Said; A Safe Place).
Hey, hey, it’s the Monkees . . . being catapulted through one of American cinema’s most surreal '60s odysseys. In it, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones, Michael Nesmith, and Peter Tork become trapped in a kaleidoscopic satire that’s movie homage, media send-up, concert movie, and antiwar cry all at once. Head escaped commercial success on its release but has since been reclaimed as one of the great cult objects of its era.
(85 minutes, color, monaural/surround, 1.78:1 aspect ratio)
Easy Rider (1969)
This is the definitive counterculture blockbuster. The former clean-cut teen star Dennis Hopper’s down-and-dirty directorial debut, Easy Rider heralded the arrival of a new voice in film, one planted firmly, angrily against the mainstream. After Easy Rider’s cross-country journey—with its radical, New Wave-style editing, outsider-rock soundtrack, revelatory performance by a young Jack Nicholson, and explosive ending—the American road trip would never be the same.
(96 minutes, color, surround, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Five Easy Pieces (1970)
Jack Nicholson plays the now iconic cad Bobby Dupea, a shiftless thirtysomething oil rigger and former piano prodigy immune to any sense of romantic or familial responsibility, who returns to his childhood home to see his ailing estranged father, his blue-collar girlfriend (Karen Black, like Nicholson nominated for an Oscar) in tow. Moving in its simplicity and gritty in its textures, Bob Rafelson’s Five Easy Pieces is a lasting example of early 1970s American alienation.
(98 minutes, color, monaural, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Drive, He Said (1971)
Based on the best-selling novel by Jeremy Larner, Drive, He Said is free-spirited and sobering by turns, a sketch of the exploits of a disaffected college basketball player and his increasingly radical roommate, a feverishly shot and edited snapshot of the early '70s (some of it was filmed during an actual campus protest). Jack Nicholson’s audacious comedy (starring Bruce Dern and Karen Black) is a startling howl direct from the zeitgeist.
(90 minutes, color, monaural, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
A Safe Place (1971)
In this delicate, introspective drama, laced with fantasy elements, Tuesday Weld stars as a fragile young woman in New York unable to reconcile her ambiguous past with her unmoored present; Orson Welles as an enchanting Central Park magician and Jack Nicholson as a mysterious ex-lover round out the cast. A Safe Place was directed by independent cinema icon Henry Jaglom.
(92 minutes, color, monaural, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
The Last Picture Show (1971)
The Last Picture Show is one of the key films of the American cinema renaissance of the '70s. Set during the early '50s in the loneliest Texas nowheresville to ever dust up a movie screen, this aching portrait of a dying West, adapted from Larry McMurtry’s novel, focuses on the daily shuffles of three futureless teens—enigmatic Sonny (Timothy Bottoms), (Jeff Bridges), and desperate-to-be-adored rich girl Jacy (Cybil Shepherd)—and the aging lost souls who bump up against them in the night like drifting tumbleweeds. This hushed depiction of crumbling American values remains the pivotal film in the career of the invaluable director and film historian Peter Bogdanovich.
(126 minutes, black and white, monaural, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
The King of Marvin Gardens (1972)
For his electrifying follow-up to the smash success of Five Easy Pieces, Bob Rafelson dug even deeper into the crushed dreams of wayward America. Jack Nicholson and Bruce Dern play estranged siblings David and Jason, the former a depressive late-night radio talk show host, the latter an extroverted con man; when Jason drags his younger brother to a dreary Atlantic City and into a real-estate scam, events spiral into tragedy.
(104 minutes, color, monaural, 1.85:1 aspect ratio)
Liam Neeson/Bradley Cooper/Jessica Biel/Patrick Wilson.
Directed by Joe Carnahan.
* In this updated version of the popular 80’s television show that helped turn Mr. T’s into a household name, the new setting is Iraq, where similarly to the original, four soldiers have been framed for a crime they didn’t commit, and now must create carnage and mayhem to clear their names.
Jonah Hill/Marisa Tomei/John C. Reilly.
Directed by Jay Duplass and Mark Duplass.
* The Duplass brothers (THE PUFFY CHAIR, BAGHEAD) go big-time in this bigger budget comedy about a divorcee who meets a woman that he thinks is the woman of his dreams until he meets her psychotic, jealous, psychically-breast feeding son, Cyrus, who will do anything to break them up. This is a dark comedy, with some good professional acting.
Steve Carell/Jason Segal/Kristen Wiig/Julie Andrews/Danny McBride/Russell Brand/Jermaine Clement.
Directed by Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin.
* Ah, the villain who is completely unrepentant, a knave with only himself in his heart, the diabolical planner of evil who cares about NOTHING. That is Gru (Carell) who is planning the biggest theft of all time, one that will change the lullaby’s that are sung to babies, one that will affect the tides, one that will alter our evenings forever: he is going to steal the moon. However, a funny thing happens on the way to the bank, he meets three cute little orphan girls who decide to love him. Will he stay as unrepentant and evil as ever? Or will his cold little heart melt? Guess! This film was nominated for a Golden Globe and has been generally recognized as very funny and fun. Its been on in the store a bunch over the last couple days, and I gotta take it home and watch it!
FRANZ KAFKA’S A COUNTRY DOCTOR & OTHER FANTASTIC FILMS.
Directed by Koji Yamamura.
* Yamamura’s wildly inventive animations are gorgeous and lush made with clays, still photography, paintings and more. He was nominated for an Oscar for his 2002 short Mt. Head. This is his first collection of films to come to the United States.
Zach Galifianakis/Matthew Modine/Adam Baldwin.
Directed by Gregory Dark.
* According to Wikipedia, a Frenum is a small fold of tissue that secures or restricts the motion of a mobile organ in the body…wait, what? It’s not about that? Oh, sorry! Frenemy is an amalgamation between friend and enemy, and a lesson that Mr. Jack (Modine) attempts to teach Sweet Stephen (Callum Blue) about the universe and its integral relationship between good and evil as played out daily in human existence.
GUY MADDIN-QUINTESSENTIAL-5 FILMS FROM THE HEART OF WINNIPEG.
Directed by Guy Maddin.
* Guy Maddin is a crazy and brilliant Canadian director who makes collagist films that look they were made 50-80 years ago (THE SADDEST MUSIC IN THE WORLD). Here are a group of his films that mostly we have not had yet at the store. This set includes:
Disc One: Careful (1992, 100 min, Remastered and Repressed Edition)
Disc Two: Twilight of the Ice Nymphs (1997, 90 min) + Archangel (1990, 83 min)
Disc Three: Dracula: Pages from a Virgin's Diary (2003, 75 min)
Disc Four: Cowards Bend the Knee (2004, 64 min).
LEGEND OF THE GUARDIANS-OWLS OF GA'HOOLE.
Jim Sturgess/Hugo Weaving/Abbie Cornish.
Directed by Zack Snyder.
* Adapted from the popular Kathryn Lasky novels, this is the story of Soren, a young Barn Owl, who is abducted by a fake orphanage to become a child soldier in some great Owl war. However, he and his friends escape the evil clutches of this army and go off to the island of Ga'Hoole, where they join the rebellion and attempt to fight off the bad owls. The visual effects of this film are outstanding!
Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet.
* Jeunet (AMELIE, DELICATESSEN, THE CITY OF LOST CHILDREN) has always created lush, wonderful landscapes in his movies that seem to belong in multiple time periods at once. MICMACS is no different in that way. It takes place in our world, but simultaneously in a phantasmagorical society where a somewhat “homeless” family lives in a magical fairyland where they create gorgeous things of out recycled garbage. When Bazil (Boon) is rendered homeless and unemployed after he is hit accidentally hit with a bullet, he joins this family and soon drags them along on his revenge scheme after the weapons makers that made both the bullet that hit him, and the mine that killed his father when he was a child. Mostly flighty and fantastical, this movie doesn’t have quite the punch of his earlier films, but it is sweet and funny and delightful and features many of the cinematic moments of beauty that brought Jeunet fame.
MOTHER AND CHILD.
Annette Bening/Naomi Watts/Samuel L. Jackson/Kerry Washington.
Directed by Rodrigo Garcia.
* Focusing on three women, this film explores the bonds between mothers and their children, through adoption, loss and life. The main characters feature a woman who gave up a child when she was a pregnant 15-year-old; the child herself, who is now a 35-year-old woman; and another woman who is now contemplating adopting a child herself. It is a story about parenting, both from near and afar, and a story about loss, and the toll it takes on us far into the future.
Nicole Laliberte/Ty Jones.
Directed by Irving Schwartz.
* Natalie is a young woman who is giving much attention to two careers, one as an aspiring filmmaker, and the other as a dominatrix. She has a hot new girlfriend and snags a job on a film set, but just as her dream is becoming a reality, things spin a bit out of control. Can she use her skills to dominate the situation?
NANNY MCPHEE RETURNS.
Emma Thompson/Maggie Gyllenhaal/Ralph Fiennes/Ewan McGregor.
Directed by Susanna White.
* I guess after you watch this movie, you’ll believe that pigs can fly, cuz guess what? It made 29 million dollars in sixty days in the theatres! What could we do with 29 million dollars? Fix that wart on Nanny’s face for one thing – I kid, of course. Actually, this movie is a continuation of the feel-good magic of the first one, with an all-star cast adding to the fun…When the chips are down, Nanny rolls in and teaches everyone a couple lessons about teamwork, and other important activities. Nanny McPhee; she split, and then she came back.
THE OTHER GUYS.****BD****
Will Ferrell/Mark Wahlberg/Eva Mendes/The Rock/Samuel L. Jackson/Michael Keaton/Steve Coogan/Craig Robinson/Damon Wayans, Jr.
Directed by Adam McKay.
* Who are these guys? Are they the city’s top cops? Balls out, and fearless, who stop crime where it starts? Uh, no, that’s Highsmith and Danson (Jackson and The Rock – great band name!). No these, guys are the other guys, the kind of shmucky cops who have made mistakes in the past (that’s a character flaw here) and who are tentative and afraid to take action (they have a word for this in the macho world). Yes they are Hoitz and Gamble (Wahlberg and Ferrell), a mismatched crew if there ever was one, and now they have a big opportunity to be like the other other guys (you still with me) and solve the big crime and be heroes…Look, the main thing is Derek Jeter is in this film, and I think he might even get shot (joy for you haters out there), so that is why I’m seeing it.
THE TOWN .****
Ben Affleck/Jeremy Renner/Rebecca Hall/Jon Hamm/Blake Lively.
Directed by Ben Affleck.
* Doug (Affleck) is born into a family of bank robbers, in a town full of bank robbers, and is unable to shake that reality…While there is a moment early in his life to get out and do something different, that is ultimately not what he chooses. Later, as he gets deep into his career, he gets caught up in a confusing love affair with someone who was a hostage in one of his robberies…This relationship causes him to have a renewed desire to get out, only at this point, it may be too late. Features a robbery in Fenway Park…much like the ones that Yankees have leveled on the Red Sox for the last 100 years. Wow, two baseball movies in a row!
Jay Baruchel/Domini Blythe.
Directed by Jacob Tierney.
* Leon Bronstein (Baruchel) is like many kids in that he thinks he is the reincarnation of Red Army hero Leon Trotsky. After he encourages his father’s employees to stage a hunger strike to get better conditions at the family factory, he gets shipped off to the most prison-like non-prison thing our free society has to offer: public high school. There he follows his communistic dreams as he attempts to unionize the student body.
Action/Adventure/Historical Fiction (psyche, just kidding).
Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
* It’s an old-school story, nay, pre-school – it’s 1000 AD, yo! And there’s this dude, who has been imprisoned for hella long. Dude’s name is One-Eye, see, but we don’t know if it’s the right or the left eye, cuz that ain’t a part of his nickname, like it was for Lisa Lopes. Where was I? One-Eye, he’s crazy tough, right, but he’s imprisoned anyway! But then he busts loose with a young mute boy! Maybe he’s not mute; whatever. Anyway, eventually, these guys end up on a Viking ship that’s basically like a Mormon mission, but with swords and bloodshed, and, perhaps not unsurprisingly, things go bad bad bad. Eventually, Mr. Eye (which I’m not sure that’s his actually name, maybe it is Mr. One-Eye, or maybe he has an altogether different last name that isn’t referenced in the film) becomes like a bad-luck charm for everyone around him* and takes care of the situation. Did you see this movie? Am I right, here?
* Except the boy, mute or not.
A COMPLETE HISTORY OF MY SEXUAL FAILURES.
Directed by Chris Waitt.
* In this very funny movie, Chris Waitt interviews his own ex-girlfriends to find out why they dumped him, and where he went wrong, in what appears to be many ways. This is a deeply personal film that sees its director go way out on a limb. Self-deprecating humor can be pretty hysterical.
JOAN RIVERS: A PIECE OF WORK.
Directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg.
* A year in the life with Joan Rivers turns out to be quite a ride…This poignant and funny film shows Joan to be a kind, thoughtful and heartfelt person, who has ridden the celebrity wagon for all it was worth, with some incredibly terrible costs, and some giant peaks. No subject is off limits in this honest movie; everything is touched on, including her insane use of plastic surgery and her husband’s suicide. This won the Documentary Editing award and was nominated for the Grand Jury award at Sundance this year.
* They were desperate! And they were romantic! They were a brotherhood of painters in the 19th century, painting beautiful women and falling in love with them. It’s an un-costumed drama.
THE IT CROWD: THE COMPLETE FOURTH SEASON.
* More hysteria about the guys who plug your printer back in.
24: SEASON 8: THE COMPLETE FINAL SEASON.
FRANKLIN: FRANKLIN THE FABULOUS.
THOMAS & FRIENDS: THE LION OF SODOR.
YOGI BEAR’S ALL STAR COMEDY CHRISTMAS CAPER.
............// NEW ON BLU //............
TRUE GRIT (1969).
* Well, next week (on the 22nd) the remake of this film (by The Coen Brothers) comes out with Jeff Bridges in the John Wayne role (as Rooster Cogburn). In the remake, Matt Damon and Josh Brolin play supporting roles. In this, the original, it is Dennis Hopper, Glen Campbell and Robert Duvall as the co-stars. You like a hard western? This one won John Wayne the Best Oscar in 1970.
............// NEW ADDITIONS //............
WHITE CHRISTMAS (ANNIVERSARY EDITION).
* Bing Cosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney? What more can you say? Thanks, Rachel.