October 12, 2004
FRESH FROM THE THEATERS
The Mother (2003). A woman in her late 60s loses her husband and slips into an affair with a man in his 30s, who also happens to be sleeping with her daughter. Little wonder David Edelstein, in Slate, has called this "a domestic drama on the edge of a haywire horror picture." Even so, he adds his voice to the resounding chorus of critical praise: "The Mother is a perfect union of writer and director. [Hanif] Kureishi and Roger Michell are both hyperintellectual, and the frames are packed with novelistic detail." [Rent]
Raising Helen (2004). Another bit of fluff from director Garry Marshall. Maybe just the thing after one of those hellacious days when fluff is all you're up for. With Kate Hudson, John Corbett and Joan Cusack. [Rent]
Stateside (2004). The whole thing plays "like excerpts from a real movie," writes Flick Filosopher Mary Ann Johanson. An impressive supporting cast, though: Joe Mantegna, Val Kilmer, Carrie Fisher and Ed Begley, Jr., for example. [Rent]
The Day After Tomorrow (2004). For those who couldn't stomach the idea of paying the full price of a ticket just to see what special effects Roland Emmerich and his team have come up with recently, now's your chance to indulge in the guilty pleasure of watching the world come apart at the seams. [Rent]
Nói (2004). "Winner of golden opinions and all sorts of awards... this debut from writer-director Dagur Kari is a treat," writes Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian. "It's a droll and sweet-natured comedy from Iceland." That it is, and Nói, its title character, is a teenager yearning to break out of his small village. [Rent]
Bush's Brain (2004). An examination of the role of image-maker Karl Rove in the president's career based on the bestselling book. Co-director (with cinematographer Joseph Mealey) and first-timer Michael Paradies Shoob told the Austin Chronicle in March, when the film screened at the SXSW festival: "The thrust of the film, really, is the issue of 'winning,' and what we, as a country, have sacrificed when it's all about winning and there's no one who comes in at the end and says, 'Well, you didn't play fairly so you forfeit.' America is based on the idea of everybody having a shot, of a level playing field. And if you look at our historical fabric - all of these elections - being changed by people breaking the rules, that's pretty profound as an idea." [Rent]
Breakin' All the Rules (2004). "Jamie Foxx floats gracefully through the romantic comedy Breakin' All the Rules with a cocked eyebrow and the playful smirk of an overgrown adolescent," wrote Stephen Holden in the New York Times in May. "He's too canny to take the romantic sturm und drang swirling around him with less than a healthy grain of salt. The actor's deft touch lends the flighty story of mistaken identities and romantic mix-ups among mostly African-American characters in Los Angeles the kind of saucy bounce that Cary Grant lent to similar roles six decades ago." [Rent]
Valentín (2002). Though this Argentinian sleeper with shades of Central Station and Kolya was made two years ago, it's only just now made its rounds in US theaters, thanks to Miramax's scheduling finesse. "This charming film falls or stands on how adorable you find its central character," notes the BBC. "Set in the 60s just after the death of revolutionary leader Ché Guevera in Bolivia, it's a film that's happier evoking the past than actually commenting on it... A sugary confection, Valentín won't give you much to chew over but it's delicious while it lasts." [Rent]
The Battle of Algiers (1966). "It's funny how older movies can suddenly become more timely," Cinenaut remarked in our discussion of this film not all that long ago. "Somebody makes a movie, puts it out there, it's forgotten for a while and then it seems vitally important 40 years later." Why this one? Well, what we have here, as Jason notes, are "Muslim insurgents unhappy with their Western occupiers," for starters. The Pentagon, too, evidently couldn't help hearing the echoes and screened it last summer in its own auditorium, an event notable for all sorts of reasons, not the least of which is that Gillo Pontecorvo's ultra-realistic portrayal of the Algerian resistence to the French occupation (you'd swear many scenes must be newsreel footage, but every shot was staged) has been embraced by both libertarians and the traditional left. A landmark work. [Rent]
The Parson's Widow (1920). "Those who know the great Danish director Carl Theodor Dreyer only through his stark masterpiece The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928) will be surprised by the sure comic touch and great emotional warmth of his 1920 feature," wrote Dave Kehr in the New York Times recently. "The film grows, organically and imperceptibly, from a droll, affectionate situation comedy to a moving tale of personal sacrifice (one of Dreyer's constant themes). His technique, with his subtle off-center framing and invisible editing, seems strikingly sleek and modern; in the generation that emerged directly after Griffith, he may well have been the most advanced filmmaker of his time." Also included on this disc are two rarely seen short films by Dreyer, "They Caught the Ferry" (1948) and "Thorvaldsen: Denmark's Greatest Sculptor" (1949). [Rent]
Japón (2002). "Funny, mournful, weird, Carlos Reygadas's Japón is the new Mexican cinema's wiggiest manifestation to date," wrote J. Hoberman in the Village Voice last year. "The 31-year-old filmmaker's first feature is minimal yet unpredictable - a movie in which every interaction is at once elemental and enigmatic." [Rent]
Betty Blue (1986). An erotic thriller from Jean-Jacques Beineix, one of the most well-known directors associated with Cinéma du Look, the early 80s wave in France that saw a return to sleek, colorful composition long after the New Wave and subsided. [Rent]
Amour de Femme (2001). Unhappy in her marriage, a woman strikes up an affair with her dance teacher. Who also happens to be a woman. Originally made for French television. [Rent]
I'm Not Scared (2003). A fine coming-of-age, loss-of-innocence film. Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) is a boy of ten who looks after his younger sister when the half a dozen or so children of a tiny village in southern Italy get together for their races and games. This particular race has taken them to an old abandoned house, and it's there that Michele, alone, discovers a deep hole in the ground covered with a sheet of corregated tin. Rolling back the metal cover, Michele sees a human foot way down there in the dark mud, poking out from a blanket. Has he just discovered a corpse? No, someone is down there, chained, all but naked and barely alive. It's a secret Michele keeps all to himself, or so he thinks, until he learns to his even deeper horror that the whole village, except for the children, already knows about it. Director Gabriele Salvatores knows exactly where he wants to take the story from there... [Rent]
Kamikaze Taxi (1995). "Bold, violent and innovative film making," writes Louise Keller in Australia's Urban Cinefile, "a mixture of road movie, satire and gangster movie, which marries themes of greed, lust and revenge with quirky humour. It is an unusual blend of violent action, satire, social comment and poetry in the beautiful Japanese landscape, with haunting Peruvian pipes playing evocative melodies.... An intriguing mix."
Adds Midnight Eye's Tom Mes: "Perhaps owing to [director Masato] Harada's relative distance and detachedness from his homeland (he lived and worked in the US as a journalist and filmmaker for many years) Kamikaze Taxi is remarkably frank and open in its criticism of the less wholesome aspects of Japan. They are aspects which are generally hidden from the outsider's view and as such the film reveals a side of the country which is totally unknown to many. Add to this the fact that it also manages to be engaging and entertaining at the same time, and you have yourself one highly recommended piece of cinema." [Rent]
The Nutty Professor (1963). In his 1998 collection Totally, Tenderly, Tragically, Phillip Lopate includes a piece he wrote in 1966 in praise of Three on a Couch. "I was 23," he adds in an afterword, "a few years out of college, and intended to provoke by defending Jerry Lewis as a serious film artist on this side of the Atlantic. Even then, one heard the xenophobic line that only the perversity of the French could make them pretend to like Jerry Lewis. I thought at the time, and still do, that Lewis had a superb command of film technique - movement in space, art direction, expressive color; the only difference is that then I was more forgiving of his tacky pathos and uneven writing, as a small price to pay for the stylish look of his gloriously artificial universe." This new special edition offers a fresh look at the film that inspired Eddie Murphy towards what many regard as his finest work. [Rent]
ACTION and ADVENTURE
Duck! The Carbine High Massacre (2000). "You might have read about these guys in New Jersey who did a satirical movie about the Columbine massacre within, like, four months of the event, which is faster than they got the Amy Fisher movies released," Joe Bob Briggs wrote back in 2001. "What we've got here is eerie and powerful - if you can get through it. The acting is horrible... What the flick does have is outstanding gore effects (these guys must be lifetime subscribers to Fangoria magazine) and a final sequence that is gruesome, shocking, sad, frightening, bloody as hell, and - at the moment of truth - beautiful. It's a really bad movie that delivers in the final few moments." [Rent]
Run, Angel, Run (1969). "The presence of William Smith in a movie no doubt brings a smile to the lips of many B movie fans, and also a lot of memories of the 60s and 70s," writes Keith Bailey at his site, The Unknown Movies. "Marlon Brando may have been the first to be in a motorcycle movie.... but it was Smith who defined this genre." [Rent]
Stephen King Presents Kingdom Hospital (2004). Yes, that's the full title. And yes, this is Stephen King's adaptation of Lars Von Trier's mini-series for Danish television. "I watched one of the episodes and I was surprised to say I didn't think it was all that bad," wrote Misshaped back in April, though he's a big fan of the original. Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent] and 4 [Rent].
The Wire. First Season (2002 - 2003). A delayed released of the first season of the HBO urban drama Salon calls "quite possibly the best show on television," just now kicking off its third season. It picked up a Peabody this year and features a strong cast, a fine roster of directors and a staff of writers that includes crime reporters, a former police detective, an indie filmmaker and a handful of award-winning novelists, among them, the snappy Richard Price. Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent], 4 [Rent] and 5 [Rent].
The Ren & Stimpy Show Uncut: The First and Second Seasons (1991 - 1993). 32 momentary lapses into insanity, including the "banned" episode "Man's Best Friend." Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent] and 3 [Rent].
Lupin III. Volume 8: Sweet Betrayals (2003). Yes, the series is "silly and slapsticky," as IronS calls it, and yet it's also a big favorite here at GreenCine. [Rent]
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. Volume 2: Unexpected Meetings (2004). Bamboo Dong of the Anime News Network on the first volume: "If you haven't seen this traditional Gundam story shtick done before, this will most likely entertain you with its classy artwork and its energy. Long time fans though... give it a whirl, but don't be expecting anything new, not this early in the game." [Rent]
Kaze no Yojimbo. Volume 4: New Battle (2004). The saga loosely based on Kurosawa's Yojimbo, albeit with a contemporary setting, continues. [Rent]
Fighting Spirit (Hajime no Ippo). Volume 2: Debut Match (2004). With 16 votes, the first volume is averaging a rating above 9. [Rent]
Rave Master. Volume 1: The Quest Begins (2001). The Shadow Stones are out there, which is bad news. But Rave Stones can smash 'em, so Haru Glory treks to Hip Hop City (no, really) to find them. [Rent]
Zentrix. Collection I (2004). The OmicronPsy supercomputer keeps Zentrix, the perfect city, humming along just fine until... one day, it freaks and decides to revolt. Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent] and 3 [Rent].
Case Closed. Volume 3: Desperate Truth (2004). "One Truth Prevails." [Rent]
Azumanga Daioh. Volume 5: Seniors! (2004). After over 80 votes from your fellow GCers, Volume 1 is averaging a rating of almost 9. There is no better argument for the series. [Rent]
Wolf's Rain. Volume 3: Loss (2003). "A story about pretty wolves that turn into equally pretty boys. Beautifully animated," AFleming says of the series. "I feel I must warn potential watchers to expect to cry. This is the saddest anime I've ever seen. Watch this one in Japanese with subs to get the full wrist-slittiing effect!" [Rent]
Invader Zim. Volume 3: Horrible Holiday Cheer. "Evil cartoon fun!" exclaims ooevans. "What I really liked about this DVD, beyond finding it very funny," adds minifig, writing about the first volume, "is that it includes an extra visual track of animatics (drawings) which I could toggle back and forth to." Plus the subtitles in the alien language and commentaries: "It was pretty spooky to hear the voice of Zim discussing Zim." Disc 5 [Rent] in the series, albeit the first of Volume 3 (you'll figure it out) and disc 6 [Rent].
Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.