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Treasures 5: The West, 1898-1938

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of five): *****

The National Film Preservation Foundation, located in San Francisco, has been quietly releasing extraordinary DVD box sets over the past ten years, entitled the "Treasures" series. There isn't a better word for it. These sets are packed with little gems that had to be dug up and assessed before it could be determined how valuable they were. The first set (Treasures from American Film Archives), from 2000, came with fifty comedies, dramas, experimental films, cartoons, newsreels, documentaries, and tons of other stuff, all historically valuable as well as entertaining. Volume Two, from 2004, had more just like it. Volume Three focused on Social Issues, and Volume Four looked at Avant-Garde Film.

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Undocumented Online Giveaway!

In the style of found footage thrillers such as [Rec] and Cloverfield, Undocumented is a horror film that follows a small group of documentary filmmakers who set out to chronicle the trials and inequities faced by Mexican illegal immigrants. When they join a group of families crossing the border to record the experience firsthand, their truck is pulled over and detained. What happens next plunges the group into unimaginable horror.

"Directed with style and intensity by first-timer Chris Peckover," Undocumented is "both a highly entertaining thriller and a somewhat shocking horror film, but it’s also a highly insightful and darkly amusing indictment of America’s contradictory policies on illegal immigrants," notes Scott Weinberg at FearNET.

And now, you can win an access code to watch the film for FREE on Sundance Now!

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Le Quattro Volte (The Four Times)

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

Michelangelo Frammartino's La Quattro Volte ("The Four Times") is about a goatherd who dies and is reborn as a goat. The goat briefly frolics before it loses its way in a forest and dies of starvation and exposure to the elements. However, the goat’s essence lives on; its being is assimilated into a tree, which is then cut down and converted into charcoal. The end, spoiler alert, etc.

Volte dares you to process it simply, even though it’s composed of eighty minutes of rather simple, wordless, shots. The plot and actors matter very little and are eclipsed by Frammartino’s impressive formal flexing. Volte is more of an installation piece or a moving monograph.

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Bal (Honey)

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ***

The majestic forests of Turkey -- who knew? Sure, we've heard about minarets and the massacre of Armenians, but I, for one, certainly had never heard about all this lush greenery? I know now, thanks to filmmaker Semih Kaplanoglu and his "Yusuf" Trilogy, of which BAL (Honey) is the final film. And a beautiful, quiet, sad addition to the threesome it is. It is also an immensely educational movie -- from the forest that plays a big part in the riveting opening scene to the schooling of the leading character, who stutters (but without the royal pedigree of our Oscar-wining king and his speech). Bal is also, unfortunately, a rather slow movie.

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New and Coming Releases: September 20, 2011.


It's Sophia Loren's birthday today, and we've got an exquisite lineup of new DVDs for rent, one featuring the exquisite beauty herself. We've also got the hit comedy of the summer (Bridesmaids) and much, much more - take a look inside! 

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New and Coming Releases: September 13, 2011.


Another great mix of the national and international, old and new, big box-office and indie with this week of DVDs for rent. Also, be sure to check out the updated retro horror (mostly 70's and 80's) flicks that will be back in stock in the coming weeks!

Continue Reading New and Coming Releases: September 13, 2011.

True Legend

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): ****

Yuen Woo-Ping began his career as an actor in martial arts movies in the 1960s. He rose to prominence when he directed the breakthrough Drunken Master (1978), one of Jackie Chan's greatest early roles. He began a multi-faceted career, involving acting, stunts, fight choreography, and occasional directing. His feats became known in America and he was hired to choreograph the exciting, fluid, fast-paced action sequences for movies like The Matrix series, the Kill Bill movies, and Unleashed as well as international productions like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Kung Fu Hustle, and Fearless. In 2001, Quentin Tarantino helped bring Yuen's dazzling Iron Monkey (1993) to American theaters. But despite all this notice, acclaim, and employment, he has not directed another movie in over ten years. Thankfully True Legend comes out on DVD this week, and it's a real stunner.

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Reviewer: James van Maanen
Rating (out of five): ***

Peter Mullan is a wonderful actor (The Red Riding Trilogy, Boy A, Children of Men) and a good writer/director (Orphans, The Magdalene Sisters and now, NEDS -- which stands for Non-Educated Delinquents.

Although his latest film -- which deals, and very well, with the smarter, younger son of a dysfunctional family who gets slowly sucked into "gang" life -- was part of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival line-up, it did not get much, if any, of a theatrical release. It is, however, certainly worth seeing, which makes its recent DVD debut appreciated, despite a major flaw in the film.

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Face to Face

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Rating (out of five): *** 1/2

If movies are the art form that comes closest to replicating our dreams -- sounds and images dancing before our eyes in the dark -- then, ironically, very few filmmakers have come anywhere near to capturing the elusive rhythm of dreams. David Lynch, Orson Welles, and Luis Bunuel have all succeeded from time to time, and especially Ingmar Bergman. A short nightmare sequence in Wild Strawberries (1957) is quite chilling, and the whole of Persona (1966) has the possibility to move in any direction, at any time.

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New and Coming Releases: September 6, 2011.


A smaller but nonetheless interesting week of DVDs this week; a chance to check out intricate documentaries, the latest X-Men incarnation, Will Ferrel's dramatic turn, and a seriously ass-kicking girl. More after the jump. 

Continue Reading New and Coming Releases: September 6, 2011.

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