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NEW RELEASES

January 18, 2005

FRESH FROM THE THEATERS

  • Friday Night Lights (2004). It took years to bring H.G. Bissinger's widely acclaimed book on high school football in Odessa, Texas, to the screen, where the sport is, as A.O. Scott notes in his New York Times review, "more important than church, state, sex, money or anything else." What distinguishes this film from just any other sports movie, adds Scott, is its "gritty, realistic sense of place." With Billy Bob Thornton. [Rent]

  • The Forgotten (2004). An unusual sort of thriller set in a world where the very fabric of reality seems to be unravelling. Fascinating questions are raised; but is the tension sustained? There's disagreement on that one, but not on the top-notch performance of the always very fine Julianne Moore. [Rent]

  • Rosenstrasse (2003). February 27, 1943, the last hours of darkness. The last of Berlin's Jews are rounded up for "deportation." Most, of course, were destined for the camps, but around 1700 with non-Jewish relatives were shuttled off to a Jewish community center on Rosenstrasse. While they waited to learn of their fates inside, their German relatives staged an unprecedented protest outside. Writing in the Nation this summer, Stuart Klawans noted that simply because this is the latest film from Margarethe Von Trotta, it is "therefore by definition newsworthy." And it did make news in Venice when Katja Riemann won Best Actress; and in our book, any film with Maria Schrader is at the very least noteworthy as well. [Rent]

  • Cellular (2004). "What's remarkable about Cellular," wrote Stephanie Zacherek in Salon, "is that it doesn't exhaust the novelty of its idea in the first 20 minutes." Is there more to it than that? Well, yes. "[Kim] Basinger is a limited actress, but there's a fragile sweetness about her that tends to inspire protectiveness in an audience, if not excitement." Plus: "William H. Macy, one of those rare actors capable of single-handedly elevating the quality of any picture they appear in, does get to be an action hero, and the role suits him surprisingly well." [Rent]

  • Catwoman (2004). When it hit theaters, you read the reviews and stayed away. But you were kind of curious about Halle Berry in skin-tight black leather. Now's your chance. [Rent]
  • FOREIGN

  • I Have Found It (2000). If you thought Gurinder Chadha was the first director to transport Jane Austen to Bollywood with Bride and Prejudice, think again. Director Rajiv Menon's musical comedy adaptation of Sense and Sensibility even features the same riveting star, Aishwarya Rai, although, technically, this brightly colored spectacle is a triumph for "Kollywood" rather than Bollywood, since the language here is Tamil rather than Hindi. Regardless, the impact of the musical numbers is universal. [Rent]

  • Down by Love (2003). 4.5 out of 5 stars from filmcritic.com for this formalist study of a psychologically teetering young woman directed by Hungarian cinematographer Tamás Sas. Bent Clouds, too, finds a bit here to compare with Polanski's Repulsion and adds that the film is "as formally challenging as Lars Von Trier's Dogville as is as inspired." [Rent]

  • Maya (2001). Director Digvijay Singh takes a sharply critical look at the Indian tradition of deflowering young women directly after their first menstrual period. In the San Francisco Chronicle, Edward Guthmann calls the cinematography "gorgeous," the direction "precise, discreet," and the overall impact of the film "devastating." [Rent]

  • Two sumptuous black-n-white classics from Jacques Becker: Casque d'Or (1952 [Rent]), with Simone Signoret, and Touchez Pas au Grisbi (1954 [Rent]), with Jean Gabin. Both are Criterion releases, meaning, once again, they're crisp, hi-def digital transfers loaded with extras.

  • Siberia (1998). Amsterdam. Two louts, Hugo and Goof, who spend their time wooing female backpackers only to rip them off, find their bond and business both rattled by an irresistible young Russian woman. The BBC notes the film's "visual dazzle and techno soundtrack," adding, "As they trawl Europe for talent, Hollywood executives will be buying the director a ticket for Tinseltown." [Rent]
  • DRAMA

  • Goldfish Memory (2003). "It's a thin, likable Irish variation on La Ronde," notes Philip French wryly in the Observer, "though less an amorous roundabout than a Möbius strip for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and straights, who are favored by the director in that descending order." Well, exactly. [Rent]

  • The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1991). Simon Callow's adaptation of Edward Albee's theatrical adaptation of the classic American novel by Carson McCullers stars Vanessa Redgrave, Keith Carradine and Rod Steiger. [Rent]

  • The Deceivers (1988). India. 1825. Pierce Brosnan is Captain William Savage, the British commander of one of the country's districts. "Quite atypical for a Merchant Ivory film... The Deceivers is a 'Boys Own' style ripping-yarn adventure of secret societies, mystic rituals, exotic customs, brutal punishments and a hero of fortitude and principle who will risk horrible death for the sake of truth and justice," wrote DVD Times. "Director Nicholas Meyer handles the material well, with enough thrills, spills and dangers to keep you gripped throughout. The whole look of the film and its exotic locations are as glittering and colourful as the caskets of jewels stolen by the thugs." [Rent]

  • The Perfect Murder (1988). This we know: It was the candlestick. We also know that the victim's name is Mr. Perfect. What's more, we know that this murder mystery features a cast very popular in India and a Swedish criminologist played by Stellan Skarsgård. [Rent]

  • Carrie (1952). William Wyler directs Laurence Olivier and Jennifer Jones. Based on Theodore Dreiser's novel, Sister Carrie. Filmcritic.com gave three-n-a-half stars out of five to this "story of the profound, even life-threatening price, one pays for being in love." [Rent]

  • Freeze Frame (2004). A British thriller starring Lee Evans. [Rent]
  • COMEDY

  • A New Kind of Love (1963). A zippy romantic comedy starring a youngish couple in love: Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. [Rent]

  • The Matchmaker (1958). "This is a handsome and diverting little comedy with a great cast," wrote one IMDb user a few years ago of this adaptation of a play by Thornton Wilder. "Shirley Booth conveys some of the magnetism that made her a stage favorite; it's not necessarily great acting, but a warm and whimsical performance. Anthony Perkins and Shirley MacLaine are young love personified; I'm not sure either of them was ever this appealing again... It's a trifle, but a tasteful and well-paced trifle." [Rent]
  • DOCUMENTARY

  • After Stonewall (1999). Melissa Etheridge narrates John Scagliotti's sequel to his award-winning doc, Before Stonewall, tracing the history of the worldwide gay rights movement through the three decades since that fateful night. [Rent]
  • TV

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Complete Third Season (2000). "The only show on TV right now that lets the viewer have as much fun as the characters," says thejasonholland. Ten episodes in all. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].

  • Farscape: The Peacekeeper Wars (2004). The final chapter. [Rent]
  • ANIME

  • Gungrave. Volume 4: Die Trying (2003). Based on the PS2 game. "It's like watching a drama series, but for guys," writes kohnfused1. "That, and it has incredible animation, nothing was skimped on when making this thing.... I highly recommend this series to anime fans who like substance in their anime." [Rent]

  • Saiyuki: Requiem (2005). A monk packing heat leads a band of misfits on a mission to put a stop to the revival of Gyomaoh. [Rent]

  • Cybuster. Volume 2: The Battle in the Sea of Trees (1999). Giant robots in the Tokyo of the future. May not be terribly original, but if that's your genre, there's lots of it here. [Rent]

  • Burn Up Scramble. Volume 2: Babes Battle Bandits (2005). The police can't handle all the crime going down in Tokyo, but these sexy warriors can! [Rent]

  • Petite Princess Yucie. Volume 2: Encounters (2002). The further adventures of the saucer-eyed girl who yearns to be a Platinum Princess. [Rent]
  • Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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