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NEW RELEASES

November 2, 2004

FRESH FROM THE THEATERS

  • Ten (2002). "Magisterial," proclaims Peter Tonguette in the Film Journal. Seems a rather sweeping term for a film set exclusively within the confines of a car, but as Tonguette reminds us, "it's important to remember that the spatial confinement of Ten is necessarily uncomfortable and claustrophobic. It is reflexive of a society (contemporary Iran, the locale [in which Abbas] Kiarostami's fiction features to date have been set) where freedom and honest discourse have been driven indoors, as if under attack. Except for the central character's eight-year-old son, all of the cast is female. The car acts as a sort of tiny oasis for Iran's permanent second class. Kiarostami relays these truths in the strongest cinematic terms he can, and the results are trying and also unexpectedly exhilarating." [Rent]

  • Lost Boys of Sudan (2003). "When one of the hopeful teenagers of Lost Boys of Sudan, speaking about his coming trip to America, says that 'the journey is like you are going to heaven,' your heart sinks," wrote Elvis Mitchell when he was still at the New York Times. "Getting an audience so caught up is no small feat; it is a tribute to the directors' storytelling. And though that early reference to heaven on earth - hovering and poised to be contradicted - is answered by the end of Lost Boys of Sudan, by then the film has earned the right to do so." [Rent]

  • A Home at the End of the World (2004). "Given his bad-boy image, it's easy to forget that Colin Farrell can act, but his performance in this first film by theater director Michael Mayer should correct that misimpression," writes the Boston Phoenix. This story of an entangled love triangle - and isn't that just the way with love triangles? - was written by Michael Cunningham (The Hours) who wrote the original novel. With Sissy Spacek, Robin Wright Penn and Dallas Roberts. [Rent]

  • Around the World in 80 Days (2004). Disney's remake with Jackie Chan and Steve Coogan hardly takes itself seriously. It's just a big global romp with cameos at every stop. John Cleese, for example, or the Governor of California. [Rent]

  • Festival Express (2003). 1970. A tour begins with a concert in Toronto and heads by train to Winnipeg and Calgary. And what a tour: Janis Joplin, the Grateful Dead, the Band... and that's just for starters. Oddly enough, because the tickets were priced at $14 - a laughable sum now, but way, way too much for a concert in 1970 - people stay away in droves. But, as Dave Kehr notes in the New York Times, "the party that accompanied it became legend. With all of that talent packed into a private train, impromptu jams fueled by drugs and liquor started up in every car. A film crew shot it all, recording priceless moments of collaboration among some of the greatest figures of that musical generation." [Rent]

  • Shrek 2 (2004). The blockbuster of the summer, probably of the year. Excellent additions to the already stellar voice cast: Antonio Banderas, John Cleese and Jennifer Saunders. Note: This release is actually scheduled for November 5, but we're letting you know about it along with the rest of the November 2 batch. [Rent]
  • FOREIGN

  • Facing Windows (2003). Ferzan Ozpetek's melodrama swept Italy's equivalent of the Oscars last year, and in the New York Times, Stephen Holden called it "a lush, surreally flavored immersion in voyeurism and romantic dreams [that] muses on many of the same themes as Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window and Vertigo, but from a more conventional emotional perspective. This seductive Italian film uses the image of beautiful strangers secretly and obsessively studying each other through opposite windows to reflect on two related romantic quandaries: the 'grass is always greener' and 'absence makes the heart grow fonder.'" [Rent]

  • Adored: Diary of a Porn Star (2003). A star vehicle for the Italian singer Marco Filiberti. Directed by Marco Filiberti. And, um, written by Marco Filiberti. [Rent]
  • DRAMA

  • The Rapture (1991). A fearless reckoning like no other, from writer and director Michael Tolkin. A few years after its release to confounded (and rapidly dwindling) audiences, Steven Rubio wrote in Bad Subjects: "Sharon [Mimi Rogers] gradually becomes disillusioned with her life, and discovers a religious cult that believes in the upcoming 'rapture' whereby the true believers will be whisked up to heaven forever. The liberal fantasy would be to reject the rapture as too literal; the nihilist would go back to having sex; the religious fanatic might focus on the rightness of Sharon and her mates as they await the oncoming apocalypse. But Tolkin tries something more complicated, more disturbing. He accepts the apocalypse; the rapture in his movie is real, not imagined, and he does not condescend.... After The Rapture, most other attempts to confront the apocalypse seem a little shallow." [Rent]

  • California Split (1974). In Senses of Cinema, Peter Tonguette explains why this is the one Robert Altman film he's placed on his top-10 films of all time list: "I can think of few directors more compassionate towards their characters than Altman, but like Stanley Kubrick, his films are so rooted in honesty and satirical portraiture that many observers miss (or choose to ignore) the abundant generosity behind the lens." The characters here the gamblers Bill and Charlie, played with bountiful honesty by George Segal and Elliott Gould. [Rent]

  • Sunday (1997). Jonathan Nossiter's stylistic love story set in a dingy homeless shelter in New York won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. [Rent]

  • Othello (1990). Following up on last week's release of Macbeth, another outstanding Royal Shakespeare production featuring Ian McKellen, this time as Iago. Directed by Trevor Nunn. [Rent]
  • COMEDY

  • Ali G Indahouse: The Movie (2002). "It's rude. It's crude. It is in quite deplorable taste," harrumphed the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw when it came to reviewing Ali G's first feature: "I had a particularly devastating question lined up about why, oh why, the film does material about gays but not Jews. And yet, and yet... just as I was brooding on these deconstructive points, I was distracted by big laughs from the auditorium. Who is that giggling at these appallingly vulgar gags? Oh. It's, er, me." [Rent]

  • Proof (1991). Hugo Weaving plays a blind photographer. Yes, it's a black comedy. The Washington Post wrote that "[director Jocelyn] Moorhouse employs artistic vision and camera craft to bring the hero's humming, hand-felt universe amazingly to light. It is a visit to a complex world of splashing sherry heard and tasted, of a Seeing Eye dog's musky pelt scratched and inhaled." [Rent]
  • DOCUMENTARY

  • Speedo (2003). From director Jesse Moss (On the Ropes) comes a documentary portrait of Ed "Speedo" Jager, champion of countless demolition derbies. In his five-out-of-five-star review for Film Threat, Eric Campos hailed the film as "an instant cult classic," and noted that it's "not all about the derby. This is a love story as well." [Rent]

  • Farmingville (2003). This winner of the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary at Sundance earlier this year takes its title from the name of a town on Long Island. White, mostly, with a growing population of Mexican day laborers. Two of whom were nearly killed, sparking national headlines and drawing the attention of directors Catherine Tambini and Carlos Sandoval, who explain, "Farmingville's story reflects the challenge facing many communities as the Latino population not only spreads across the nation farther than any previous wave of immigrants, but also bypasses traditional immigrant gateways and heads directly to suburbs and the American heartland." [Rent]
  • SOMETHING WEIRD

  • Ghetto Freaks / Way Out (1970 / 1967). Those delectable weirdos at Something Weird have come up with a "Hippie Double Feature," a document of a nation losing its collective mind and loving it. Queue it up with Festival Express, and you've got a flashback to last all night. [Rent]
  • ACTION and ADVENTURE

  • Onmyoji 2 (2003). A sequel which, by all accounts, is remarkably similar to the original, and even on that one, opinion is split. JWallis found it to be an "interesting interpretation of the supernatural as a reflection of personal choices," but for JBellows, it was just another "cheap magic flick." Only you can know which camp you might fall into. [Rent]
  • HORROR

  • What Ever Happened to Aunt Alice? (1969). Robert Aldrich produced this straightforward and fun little thriller starring Geraldine Page and Ruth Gordon. [Rent]
  • TV

  • Traffic: The Miniseries (2004). The director's cut of the American version of the original British miniseries that also inspired Steven Soderbergh's film. Most agree that it doesn't quite measure up to either, but is nevertheless undoubtedly top-notch television. [Rent]

  • Northern Exposure. The Complete Second Season (1990). It was "my favorite TV show while it was on," says LMcGuff, and everyone has their favorite characters. Maybe yours is Ed, the Woody Allen wannabe? Marilyn the receptionist? Chris the DJ? Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].

  • The West Wing. The Complete Third Season (2001). You've been soaking for the past several months in the process of getting to the White House. But what actually goes on in there after the election's over? Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent] and 4 [Rent], which is a bonus featuring interviews with former US presidents and staff.
  • ANIME

  • Burn-Up Scramble. Volume 1: Angels Attack Assailants (2004). Three dazzling young women help the Tokyo police solve crimes they can't seem to handle on their own. [Rent]

  • Ikki-Tousen. Volume 2: Historic Battles (2004). Hakufu fights on. [Rent]
  • Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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