Monday, December 27, 2010

****new release list no.300

I hear it was beautiful in SF this weekend – me, I just got feeling in my face again after doing two full face dives into a huge pile of snow in the middle of the road outside my father-in-law’s apartment in Brooklyn! Oh. My. God! It is the Great Blizzard of 2010! There are cars just stopped in the middle of roads and completely snowed in. Huck and Trudy sank into snow nearly up to their waists. It is a true Winter Wonderland here. Super fun!

We just missed all the snow cancellations, and we know many people who got stuck on their holiday travels all over the country (and the world). We got super lucky and eked our way in just before the storm came. We had many travel plans ourselves all around the East Coast, but as of now, because the roads are completely closed where we are, it is hot meals, Scrabble, books and more Scrabble – in between snowball fights for us Shelves. A truly epic vacation.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch – hey, thanks for all the responses from last week’s outpouring of honesty from me. I figure I owe you all for the therapy session, and I thank those of you who gave me all sorts of good advice and ideas. Interestingly, the blog got picked up by Bernalwood, a new blog about the BH, which I have enjoyed reading this week. Hey people, If you read my blog, or chat with me at the store (or anywhere else you encounter me) you know I’m committed to the store and to you, my friends and neighbors (and you know I probably should be committed). No matter what the future holds, I am gung-ho for life in 2011, and I look forward to whatever will be!

I was sad not to get to watch THE AMERICAN this weekend. Starring my good pal, Clooney, it is the tale of an assassin who kicks it in the Italian countryside for a wee bit after his last job has an unpredictable ending (I hear the opening scene is a doozy). While there, he gets another job building a weapon for someone, and meets a beautiful woman to pass the glorious time there with. And who can blame him? He’s Cloons!

Also out this Tuesday is RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE, the next in the Milla Jovovich series about evil corporations, robotic assassins and hot models kicking ass. I haven’t seen any of these films, but I love Milla.

Finally making it to the shop last week was EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP. Ostensibly a documentary about the art world by the secret artist Banksy, many suggest it is more like the Joaquin Phoenix doc I’M STILL HERE in that it is a hoax wrapped in a parable wrapped in a poignant message. I didn’t see it yet, so I can’t comment. I am also not sure if there is any truth to the rumor that Banksy is going to be the guest speaker at a Four Star Video event in early February (or late January) about street art and viral group art experiences. Be sure to keep checking in the space for a chance to attend this very special event.

TWELVE is an indie film starring millions of actors (Chase Crawford/Emma Roberts/50 Cent/Rory Culkin/Ellen Barkin/Kiefer Sutherland), about a young drug deal getting over his head with his dealer and a new substance just hitting the streets.

Did you dig the new television show THE UNITED STATES OF TARA about a woman with multiple personalities trying to make it work with her husband and kids? Season two is here this week, too.

I’m out, yo’s. In the NYC for a couple weeks. I’ll send another New Release list next week if I am near a computer. I’d keep writing now, but the snow drifts blowing by the window of the room I am in are boggling my mind with their beauty.

Love and Kisses,

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 – Two Exchanges a month (3 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

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

Directed by Anton Corbijn.
* Slow moving thriller about a hitman in the Italian countryside waiting for the heat to blow over and getting involved in a new mysterious job.

Aiden Quinn/Steve Buscemi/Scott Campbell.
Directed by Bette Gordon.
* An old Vietnam vet revisits a horrible crime he committed with some old comrades.

Action/Martial Arts/Foreign (Cantonese).

Milla Jovovich/Ali Larter/Wentworth Miller/Sienna Gillory.
Directed by Paul Anderson.
* I think this is number 4 in the tale of Alice Abernathy (Jovovich), freedom fighter against the evil Umbrella Corporation in this sci-fi, horror zombie film series.

Chase Crawford/Emma Roberts/50 Cent/Rory Culkin/Ellen Barkin/Kiefer Sutherland.
Directed by Oliver Stone.
* A young privileged weed dealer gets in heavy with his dealer when he starts selling a new powerful drug.


Directed by Banksy.
* I’m really not sure what to say about this film, maybe just that is about someone making a film about art who then has the camera turned on him, to hilarious results. There has been a lot of talk about this film. Maybe, maybe too much talk. This film, is not a rebel film, this film is EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP.


Toni Collette/Brie Larson/John Corbett.
* Tara is dealing with multiple personalities while also trying to maintain a household with two kids and a husband. It seems to me having some multiple personalities might help with that management.





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

* This is a 2006 documentary about the slasher films of the 80’s and 90’s.

* A comedy about a band struggling to make it who gets bit by a vampire who helps change their fortunes.


Tuesday, December 21, 2010

****new release list no.299

People of the planet, it is winter. Our constructs are disintegrating. Our financial systems are degrading. It is becoming more and more obvious that we are insects clamoring on top of each other for food. It is possible that the jig is up. Like the fate of the honeybees, our hives are corrupt and the buzz of activity is falling silent. Yet we rise to the occasion with positivity again and again! I admire that about us so much! Yet, alas, I am a bit pessimistic about Four Star Video, as I know so many of you are.

I read that even though Blockbuster has the same 28 day wait for Warner Brothers titles that Netflix has, they are still closing 182 stores in 2011 with a full bankruptcy and emergence from bankruptcy plan. Strangely, I don’t feel elation or anything about this. Just a somewhat distant numbness. What will happen with this industry?

Who likes a video store? Raise your hands. I know Four Star Video rules. I know we get crazy cool movies from all over the planet that you probably wouldn’t know about unless you saw them on our shelves. I know we have the only no-late-fee service in San Francisco. I know we spend more on movies than we probably should b/c we want to have as many copies as possible for new release Tuesday every week. I know we have the biggest Blu-ray section in SF with probably 6 or 700 titles. I know we are the only video/plant store on planet earth. Yet…I don’t sense we are what people want.

I hear every day people discussing Netflix with each other at the counter. I know many of my good friends who use the service. I have great friends who only steal their movies online, with their own funny justifications – or no justification at all. And I don’t blame them. Who knows what I would be doing if I didn’t own a video store.

I put out that survey a few months ago, and I got 300ish results. They were fascinating! And almost exclusively positive. Yet, we are down 12% this year, after going down 8% the year before. So I think that though you love yourselves a video store, you also love free movies (bit torrent, the library), easy access movies, money be damned movies(on demand, cable), internet services (streaming) and the gentle tushy-growing ease of sitting on the couch.

Am I grousing, riffing? Just babbling in a semi-stoned haze after a long day at the store? Yeah, yeah and, actually no. I know this kind of talk isn’t great for the store, and I know that you don’t really want my negativity, but I have trouble censuring my honesty in this situation, and so I must discuss it with you every few months, to remind myself that we are in this together. I like to talk to you people.

You are out there in the interverse, at the end of a long kite string that I am holding on to. I love you, actually. I want you to know that.

Also, I want you to know that we got a bunch of new movies at Four Star this week, including some big titles that will be sure to warm your Christmas vacation. WALL STREET 2: ELECTRIC BOOGALOO is Oliver Stone’s attempt to catch lightning in a bottle. It’s been 20 years since Gordon Gekko got sent up the river for crimes against economy. Now, he’s out, and has the world changed? You betcha! We’ve had not one, but two awesome economical disasters, in this decade alone, and the entire world’s economy is teetering on the edge of disaster and now– cue the music – Gekko is ready to make a comeback. Problem is, he’s got no money…so what’s an ex-con trade-junky to do? Steal from his family? You betcha!

In SALT, Angelina Jolie is a CIA agent who is excused of being a Russian spy (really? In 2010?) and must go deeply uncover using all her crazy training to avoid being captured while she tries to exonerate herself.

DEVIL creates a claustrophobic and terrifying situation where a group of people are trapped in an elevator with a supernatural force that is killing them one by one. Chris Messina plays a detective outside the elevator trying to figure out what the heck is going on.

SOUL KITCHEN is a comedy from Fatih Akin (THE EDGE OF HEAVEN) about a restaurateur in Hamburg struggling to keep his dive afloat in the face of numerous personal catastrophes.

EASY A is American cheese food filled with great young actors about a high school girl who starts a bit of a business getting paid to confirm that she has had sex with other students at her school. With Emma Stone, Amanda Bynes, Patricia Clarkson, Thomas Haden Church and Malcolm McDowell.

There are also a couple really awesome looking foreign films out this week, ANGEL by Francois Ozon (SWIMMING POOL), LET IT RAIN by Agnes Jaoui, and MAP THE SOUNDS OF TOKYO by Isabel Coixet.

One last film related note: I am so sorry that EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP is still not here! It is supposed to be delivered by Friday. Aarrrgh! Rest assured, it is coming.

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

Love and Kisses,

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 – Two Exchanges a month (3 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

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

Romola Garai/Sam Neill/Charlotte Rampling.
Directed by Francois Ozon.
* This period piece, from the maker of SWIMMING POOL and 8 WOMEN, follows a young writer who lives in a bit of a self-created fantasyland while trying to be a professional writer.

Chris Messina.
Directed by John Dowdle and Drew Dowdle.
Produced by M. Night Shyamalan.
* That nasty devil is always playing tricks…but according to this fable by the Shyamanamanator, the horned fellow follows a strict code of ethics. Hmm. The tale involves an elevator, and some supposedly random people stuck in it, who may or may not be ready for a trip straight to hell. Ah, but first there must be mystery, fear, terror, confusion, guilt, confession and perhaps even redemption. Messina (VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, HUMBOLDT COUNTY) plays an investigator who is trying to figure out what is happening to the people in the elevator and whether or not any earthly help can be had. In turns out yes, but not in the way you might imagine.

Emma Stone/Amanda Bynes/Lisa Kudrow/Thomas Haden Church/Stanley Tucci/Patricia Clarkson/Malcolm McDowell.
Directed by Will Gluck.
* This teen sex tale was on in the store about 12 times this weekend, so I kind of feel like I watched it. There actually isn‘t much sex that takes place. Emma Stone plays a young lady who basically takes cash from guys in exchange for saying that she had sex with them, but there is no actual contact, in fact she is a virgin! Somehow there is a bizarre parallel made in this film to Hester Prynne in "The Scarlet Letter”. Thus, the title. Getting an “easy A” had a different meaning when I was in school.

Seth MacFarlane/Alex Borstein/Mila Kunis/Seth Green.
Directed by Peter Shin.
* Supposedly the finale of their Star Wars related feature length spoofs! I was stunned this afternoon at the store, while I thought I was listening to this film, at just how much it was exactly like Star Wars, until I discovered that they weren’t watching this, they were actually watching Star Wars.

Comedy/Drama/Foreign (French).
Agnes Jaoui/Jean-Pierre Bacri.
Directed by Agnes Jaoui.
* An ambitious feminist politician returns to the family home in the French countryside and confronts all the familiar issues that you‘d expect her to find there. This movie is supposed to be relatively hilarious.

Thriller/Drama/Foreign (Japanese and English).
Rinko Kikuchi/Sergie Lopez .
Directed by Isabel Coixet.
* This Japanese thriller is about a fish-market employee who also works as a hit-man. This film won an award at Cannes last year, and was nominated for the Golden Palm as well.

Derrick L. Middleton.
Directed by John G. Young.
* A young teenager, whose mother has just died, leaves his home in New York and moves in with family in Alabama where he becomes awakened to his sexuality and forms a crush on his new friends‘ younger brother.

Angelina Jolie/Chiwetel Ejiofor/Liev Schreiber.
Directed by Phillip Noyce.
* A CIA agent with big puffy lips (Jolie) must go undercover to avoid being captured after she is accused of being a Russian double-agent.

Comedy/Drama/Foreign (German).
Directed by Fatih Akin.
* Akin (THE EDGE OF HEAVEN, HEAD-ON) has been known for emotional and intense films involving Turkish immigrants in Germany. In this comedic departure from his normal style, a restaurant owner, Zinos, is struggling to keep his dive afloat and his personal life in order. His journalist girlfriend has split for China, and his new chef is driving away the old clientele with his new-fangled gourmet food. His brother is using him for fake employment for his work-release program at the jail that he is currently housed, and his back has a crick in it that is making it terribly painful for him to even stand. Luckily, he’s super duper into funk music, and people who are super duper into funk generally figure shit out.

Sharni Vinson.
Directed by Jon Chu.
* Super high octant dance off!

Michael Douglas/Shia LaBeouf/Carey Mulligan/Charlie Sheen/Susan Sarandon/Josh Brolin/Frank Langella/Martin Sheen.
Directed by Oliver Stone.
* Gekko is out of jail and estranged from his daughter who has hooked up with an idealist who is saddened by corruption and trusting of Gekko. Big money gets tossed around, and eventually Gekko ends up with a lot of it. There is redemption involved. But no one gets there lost retirement money back.


Documentary//Foreign (Finnish).
Directed by Mika Ronkainen.
* This very funny movie enlightens us all about the Finnish Screaming Male Choir.


* They don’t share, they don’t recycle, they don’t consume; they hoard. And it’s funny! And not funny, too (don’t want to offend anyone!).(too much).


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

****new release list no.298

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,

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 – Two Exchanges a month (3 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

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

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).

Head (1968)
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)

THE A-TEAM.****BD****
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!

Animation/Foreign (Japanese).
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.

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).

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!

Comedy/Crime/Foreign (French).
Dany Boon.
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.

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?

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.

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).
Mads Mikkelsen.
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.


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.

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.

Television/Information Technology.
* More hysteria about the guys who plug your printer back in.

Kiefer Sutherland.





............// 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 //............

* Bing Cosby, Danny Kaye and Rosemary Clooney? What more can you say? Thanks, Rachel.


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Mid-week Secret Post! John Lennon Edition.

People say I’m crazy…doing what I’m doing.

(A video store? In 2010?).

And get this! - They give me all kinds of warnings…to save me from ruin.

And, truthfully, the advice, and warnings and suggestions are usually good ones…Hey, I’m doing fine watching shadows on the wall (not really, but it sounds good!).

Can you believe John Lennon has been dead for 30 years today? Did you know the song I quoted and linked above was actually released posthumously in 1981? How many times have you just randomly heard one of his tunes and just been stopped in your thoughts, vacantly staring into nothingness while your heart was just filled with something thick and juicy and as of yet, still immeasurable? Watching the Wheels, Starting Over, Beautiful Boy, Jealous Guy, Mind Games, Instant Karma, the list of his solo hits goes on and on…plus an entire catalog of amazing Beatles songs that is almost too large to fully grasp.

Hey, there’s been a lot of rock stars, but not too many like John Lennon. I still remember the morning I found out he died, the strange adult tears been shed around me, the feeling of confusion and loss. 1980 was 30 years ago, but it may as well have been 300 years ago.

To memorialize Mr. Lennon, a new batch of docs, dramatizations and fictobiopics have been made. LENNON NAKED focuses on the later portion of his career with The Beatles, and his failed relationship with his father. In January (25th, 2011), NOWHERE BOY will come out on DVD, and that film focuses more on his early life, his relationship with his mother and aunt, and his formative years. The latter film has won many awards, and will probably be a big hit here at Four Star. I’ll tell you more about it when it arrives.

People tend to ask me at the store what I’ve seen and like recently. Usually, at that point, we stand in the New Release room and talk about the movies...I’ll take this mid-week opportunity to give you a little list of films I’ve enjoyed recently.

OSS 117: LOST IN RIO – This is a farcical spy movie about a French agent, double one seven, on a mission in Brazil. It is actually a sequel, but it doesn’t matter what order you see these films. They are quite funny, somewhat in the AUSTIN POWERS vein, but less American, whatever that means. Thumbs up!

YOUTH IN REVOLT – One of my favorite Michael Cera films, even though I think he needs to shift gears or his career will end soon (how long can he play a teenager?). Gave me a fond memory of the powerless high school years driven by hormones.

UNDECLARED: THE COMPLETE SERIES – This was the next show from the Judd Apatow production company after FREAKS & GEEKS. It follows some awkward freshmen at college and there stumbling attempts at acting like adults. I think it was the first television/movie experience that I ever saw that made me wish I had gone to college. Starring Seth Rogen and Jay Baruchel, among others.

STOP MAKING SENSE - The Jonathan Demme Talking Heads movie from the 1980’s. Watched it with the kids – blew our minds! Could not stop ourselves from having multiple dance parties during the movie! Brilliant film, brilliant band.

THE KIDS ARE ALRIGHT – Believe the hype, it is a great film about life in a family.

I’M STILL HERE – Joaquin plays Joaquin, to maximum delight. This pseudo documentary is really a feature film about a celebrity’s spiraling descent into irrelevance. Or is it a documentary, using dramatization about the nature of celebrity and its demands? Or is it just a funny movie about super stoner trying to be a rap star but actually being terrible? What is it? Who cares? I loved it.

IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADEPHIA: THE CHRISTMAS SPECIAL – I used to write very demented Christmas plays (HO HO HOLY SHIT!, the santavirus, SANTA IN LIGHTS, THE SATAN CLAUS), so I am somewhat used to irreverent comedy. This show ratcheted up the “demented” volume to 11. I loved it, but when it was over, I sat in stunned silence trying to reconcile what I had seen with the knowledge that millions of people watch this show. God bless America!

UNTITLED – This was an arty indie film about a brief love affair between a gallery owner that displays envelope pushing art (like PUSH PIN IN WHITE WALL), and a composer who writes grating experimental music. The movie wasn’t brilliant, but it really electrified my mind for some reason (maybe it was the pot), and got me thinking about the nature of art itself. For that, I give it a: thumbs up.

Here is another list of movies I haven’t seen, but I keep hearing I should.


I AM LOVE – Tilda Swinton in an Italian film that I have heard some people call their favorite of the year.

THE INFIDEL – Brilliant religious satire about a British Palestinian who discovers he is really Jewish.

THE RED RIDING TRILOGY – Heavy and heady three movie set about a killer in England and the press and police chasing him.

THE SECRET OF KELLS – Incredible looking animation.

AGORA and CENTURION – Roman historical battle films that I cannot distinguish between, but I really must sit down and watch.

WINTER’S BONE – expect Academy nominations from this one.

ANTICHRIST – Lars Von Trier, super freaky and gory film.

CHLOE – Sexy thriller.

THE EYES OF ME – Doc about blind teenagers.

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

Love and Kisses,

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.
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Monday, December 6, 2010

****new release list no.297

This Thursday night, Four Star Video and Succulence will be participating in the first Bernal Holiday Shopping night. Over 30 businesses throughout Bernal Heights (click the poster here to see a map with a list of the businesses) will be open a bit later than usual, offering discounts, holiday cheer and in some cases, snacks and drinks. There will also be some roving musical acts singing and playing around the neighborhood.

It should be a rocking fun night, rain or shine. At Four Star Video, we have 500+ titles of refurbished previously viewed DVD’s for sale. Usually they are $8/each plus tax, but for the Bernal Shopping night, we will have a 2 for the price of 1 sale on all titles. Come early, and grab all our extra UP IN THE AIR’s, they will make great stocking stuffers!

At Succulence (our life and garden sister store) we will have 10% off the entire inventory all day on Thursday! If you have been eyeing one of those amazing PlantsOnWalls Plant Habits, or a giant terrarium jar, or some of that gorgeous 3-D metallic art from Roma, this will be the perfect time to purchase.

As a retail store owner, I am grateful for your support. Come flex some of your consumer muscle on Thursday, I think it will be fun.

A couple big winter titles hit the store this week starting with INCEPTION starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ellen Page, Marion Cotillard and many more. DiCaprio is the leader of a team of “extractors” who get hired to steal information from sleeping people. His latest job is a bit of a departure, though, as he is hired to implant an idea in someone’s head. His crack team of architects, anesthesiologists, and impersonators dive into their work, which is done while sleeping (its good work if you can get it!). The dream inside a dream inside a dream scene is simply terrific. It’s a Hollywood blockbuster, make no mistake, but it is everything you could wish for in this type of movie. Definitely the “Release of the Week”!

Also out this week is SHREK FOREVER. The fourth in the series, and supposedly the last, this one sees the big green fella banished to an alternative reality where the love of his life is nowhere to be found, and he is the object of hunters and other dangerous creatures.

RESTREPO was this year’s Grand Jury Prize winner at Sundance. It is a very powerful documentary about a platoon in Afghanistan, fighting on a daily basis for survival in a very unfriendly landscape.

Hey guess what? Beth Custer’s project was fully funded, and her band headed off to the far-off country of Georgia (not the American version) to perform this week! Way cool. Gail Mallimson is still fund-raising for her film, THE EDGE OF THE WILD about urban sprawl and its damage to endangered species. Check out her kickstarter page here!

Do you have a project you are fund-raising for? I can help spread the work if you’d like – drop me a line.

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

Love and Kisses,

p.s. Oh snap! I forgot to mention, we accept Bernal Gift Certificates! Read about them here. They are basically $20 bills, and when they are cashed in, 10% goes to benefit local schools, the neighborhood center and the library! How cool is that? You can get them at the neighborhood center, or from the PTA's at Fairmount Elementary School and Paul Revere School.

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 – Two Exchanges a month (3 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

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

Jeff Bridges/Lauren Ambrose.
Directed by George LaVoo.
* A man (Bridges) and a dog, both who’ve seen better days, try to find a common ground. With Lauren Ambrose of SIX FEET UNDER fame.

Patrick Wilson/Mae Whitman/Colin Hanks.
Directed by Chris D’Arienzo.
* First dude (Wilson) gets attacked, badly beaten so much so that when he awakens in the hospital, it appears he has lost his balls, literally. To make matters worse, he is hit with a paternity suit by someone he has no recollection ever sleeping with. dirty dog.

Short films/LGBT.
* The seventh in this series of short film releases about young gay men striving for love and affection.

Leonardo DiCaprio/Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Ellen Page/Tom Hardy/Cillian Murphy/Marion Cotillard/Michael Caine.
Directed by Christopher Nolan.
* Cobb (Leo) is a thief at the core; but his specialty is quite unusual…he steals information from people’s minds by invading their dreams. He considers himself an extractor, and the best one on the planet. However, after a botched attempt at extraction, the subject of the attempt makes Cobb an offer he can’t refuse. Cobb and his now-deceased wife made many studies of the dream world, and one of their studies eventually resulted in her death and made him a fugitive not only from the law, but from his young children, who is in unable to ever visit. The new job offer is a major challenge, it is not an extraction but an “inception”, that is, the secret planting of an idea into someone’s mind, and the job’s main benefit is that his new employer promises him that he can fix his situation at home, and make it possible for Cobb to no longer be a fugitive from the law. Never mind the details, in a way those are unimportant. What is important is that the main action of the film takes place in a dream, and not just in a dream, but in a dream inside a dream inside yet another dream (and again, inside one more dream layer). The action is going on somewhat simultaneously, but time is moving slower in each deeper level of dream action. Meanwhile, though Cobb has told his “dream team” (the dream architect, the anesthesiologist, other skilled labor) most of the issues that they will face inside the dream, what he has not told them is that his wife, or at least his subconscious projection of his wife (based on his own unresolved feelings surrounding their research and her death) is haunting his dreams and before he is able to complete any job, he must face his own inner demons, as animated by her image. Yikes! Jeff (here at Four Star) said it best when he told me he thought this movie was exactly what all blockbusters should be. It is certainly a joy ride, full of action, both cerebral and locked&loaded.

Comedy/Drama/Foreign (Swedish).
Gustaf Skarsgard/Torkel Petersson.
Directed by Ella Lemhagen.
* Thought provoking comedy about a gay couple, Goran and Sven, who think they are becoming the proud adoptive parents of a 15 month old baby boy, Patrik. Only, sorry guys, Patrik is not only 15 years old, but he is also a homophobic delinquent who want nothing to do with his new parents. Swedish movies have hit it big lately (LET THE RIGHT ONE IN, THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO), and although this one doesn’t feature the same kind of dramatic intensity of some of those other films, it is handled with delicate aplomb and a classiness that is not often found in Hollywood.

Mike Myers/Cameron Diaz/Eddie Murphy/Antonio Banderas/Julie Andrews/Paul McCartney/Eric Idle/Justin Timberlake/Megan Fox/Jon Hamm/Maya Rudolph/Amy Sedaris.
Directed by Mike Mitchell.
* Poor Shrek, he just can’t find a happy medium…He just doesn’t feel like a true ogre, and that is why he decides to make a deal with Rumpelstiltskin, who promises that he can help. Yeah, help is right, but unfortunately for the big green guy, Rumpel is just wanting to help himself. So he banishes the jolly green giant to an alternative universe, where life is miserable for a large green fellow with a tender heart. Now, Shrek must use all his wits to make his way back to the life he used to live, back to Far Far Away, where his green bride awaits, where his gentle lifestyle sits and waits, silently for him.

Drama/Crime/Fictobiopic/Foreign (Italian).
Veronica D’Agostino.
Directed by Marco Amenta.
* This Italian film (based on true events) is about a 17-year-old girl, born into a mafia family, who betrays her family to give states evidence against organized crime after watching her father and brother get gunned down.

Jimmy Fallon/Lucy Liu/Sharon Stone/Tom Arnold.
Directed by Patrick Sisam.
* Christopher Rocket is kind of a mess, afraid of commitment, estranged from his folks, and mostly muddling along. Then his dad has a stroke, and he heads home, to help out and to try to come to terms with his childhood.


RESTREPO. ****BD****
Directed by Tim Hetherington and Sebastian Junger.
* This film won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance this year. It is a doc about a year the director’s spent living with a platoon of American soldiers in a terribly deadly valley in Afghanistan. It is an emotional, claustrophobic and illuminating journey, that is less about judgment and more about transparency. And the heartbreaking sorrow of a country torn apart by war.


Television/Mystery/Foreign (Italian).
* Our first Italian-language series is an adaptation of the phenomenal novels written by Andrea Camilleri. Dry and humorous, Commissario Salvo Montalbano is a very successful detective. The mysteries are sometimes quite grim, and generally topical, and at times, Montalbano is pensive and affected deeply by the situations. I haven’t seen the show yet, but I’ve read the books, which were awesome. Judging from the comments I have heard around the store in the week since we got this in, the show has maintained the high level of standards that the books achieved.







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

*. This indie film is about a man who goes home to revisit the terrible events of his early adulthood, 17 years ago, that left his great friend dead, and his father implicated. One of the producers on this film is Four Star customer, Sara Gorr!