NEW RELEASES - October 11
|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
Me and You and Everyone You Know (2004).
"Artist-actress-filmmaker-writer Miranda July is so hyphenated she's hard to keep up with," wrote Craig Phillips in his introduction to his interview with the woman half the world fell in love with this year. "Her debut as a feature director, the film is startling in its assuredness and acuity, and even more startling, won the Camera D'or at Cannes this year, as well as the Special Jury Prize at Sundance, where it also caught the eye of Roger Ebert. The critic called it 'delicate, tender, poetic, and yet so daring in some of its scenes that you sit in uncertain suspense.'"
In his review at GreenCine Daily, Craig added, "Me and You and Everyone We Know could be considered a 'small' movie, in a good way, for while it may not offer up a ton of drama, it has a huge heart. It's a film about people trying to communicate with each other and the rest of the planet, managing to be both magical and grounded at the same time. No small feat."
High Tension (2003).
"Best slasher film ever," announces danofthedead. Quite a pronouncement from a connoisseur.
"Haute Tension is a movie that wants you to squirm in your seat and judged by that standard, it works brilliantly," wrote Jeremy Knox for Film Threat when he caught it on the festival circuit.
Luc Besson collaborator Louis Leterrier, currently being lauded for making Transporter 2 better than the original, directs Jet Li as, basically, a killing machine. Trained to be one by his cruel "Uncle Bart" (Bob Hoskins).
"Unleashed is a nice, violent little film about the redemptive powers of art and love," wrote Stephanie Zacharek in Salon. "It's really two intersecting pictures, an action movie and a fable about the strength of family bonds, that merge to make a wholly satisfying Venn diagram, one that exploits our emotions shamelessly but with blunt honesty."
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants (2005).
"It's the girly equivalent of a midsummer Bruckheimer extravaganza," wrote Carina Chocano in the Los Angeles Times this summer, "a roller-coaster ride to the edge of total (emotional, natch) devastation that makes the happy ending that much more reassuring and cozy."
Kingdom of Heaven (2005).
There were plenty of worries, and understandably so, given the current geopolitical climate, when word got out that Ridley Scott would be making a movie about the Crusades. Turns out, Kingdom of Heaven is a plea for cross-cultural understanding. According to Robert Fisk, who reported in the Independent this summer on watching the film in Beirut, it achieves that goal surprisingly well. "There is an integrity about its portrayal of the Crusades which, while fitting neatly into our contemporary view of the Middle East - the moderate crusaders are overtaken by crazed neo-conservative barons while Saladin is taunted by a dangerously al-Qa'ida-like warrior - treats the Muslims as men of honor who can show generosity as well as ruthlessness to their enemies.... Here is a tale that - unlike any other recent film - has captured the admiration of Muslims."
Takashi Miike casts a host of Japanese well-knowns in small parts and cameo appearances - the most famous of which here is Takeshi Kitano - in one of his oddest and most violent films yet. "Taking the final scene of Hideo Gosha's Hitokiri - the execution of homicidal 19th-century samurai Izo Okada - as its starting point, this was never meant to be any old chambara, but a meditation on mankind's eternal propensity for violence and destruction," writes Tom Mes at Midnight Eye. "Izo confirms that the mixed feelings Miike's work can provoke only add to its ongoing allure."
Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004).
Xan Cassavetes (yes, John's daughter) retells a fascinating and generally overlooked chapter in cinematic history. In the 70s and early 80s, before home video really took off, and in the earliest days of cable, it was, of course, extraordinarily difficult to see films of any artistic interest at all, even given the occasional repertory theater - and even in Los Angeles, heart of the film industry. Which is where the tiny cable offering, Z Channel, began showing foreign and obscure American films, often bringing them to the attention of the industry's movers and shakers for the first time. The tragedy here is that the brilliant programmer, Jerry Harvey, was a deeply disturbed man who wound up killing his wife and then himself. Clips of an interview with Harvey serve as an ominous chorus, foretelling the doom inherent in his obsessive nature.
Cassavetes also interviews Z Channel fans such as Robert Altman, Quentin Tarantino, James Woods, Jim Jarmusch and Alexander Payne, though the most engaging interviewee is critic FX Feeney. And the string of scenes from the films Harvey championed serve as a sort of alternative history of an already celebrated cinematic decade.
Project Grizzly (1996).
What is it about grizzly bears that attract, shall we say, unusual personalities? One of the most captivating docs of the year so far has been Werner Herzog's Grizzly Man. But several years ago, Peter Lynch turned his own cameras on Troy James Hurtubise, who survived a grizzly attack in 1984 and thereafter became, well, obsessed with creating a grizzly-proof suit. Out of rubber, chain mail, air bags, you name it. This is a doc, in other words, that is not without its humorous angle.
It includes, in fact, as Peg Aloi wrote in her 1998 Boston Phoenix review, "hilarious forays into the doughnut dens and biker bars of Canada, there to tangle with inebriated homo sapiens surrogates in preparation for the suit's intended nemesis. The mythic creature's awesome power is also simulated in 'crash tests' by swinging logs, speeding trucks, and high dives off cliffs.... This is Animals Attack! meets Twin Peaks by way of RoboCop."
Arrested Development . Season 2 (2004).
"Brilliant writing," says danmaier. "David Cross and Will Arnett are genius."
Gantz. Volume 8: Deathwatch (2005).
Battie has done some revision: "My original review stated a lot of things that I no longer necessarily agree with. It's still morbid, still has a bit too much profanity, nudity and gore, but it also has something that made me want to watch. And that thing became stronger as the series ran on."
Stellvia. Volume 7: Foundation VII (2005).
"This show loosely reminds me of a classic space series I saw when first starting to watch anime... Gunbuster," writes drseid. "Stellvia is a great show in its own right (not that being compared to a classic like Gunbuster is anything to be ashamed of), and it is highly recommended for sci-fi and school-based coming-of-age anime fans.