December 16, 2003
FRESH FROM THE THEATERS
A high-tech fantasy, starring the always superb Tilda Swinton, Teknolust (2002) [Rent] is an alluring and surprisingly playful sci-fi shot on digital video. Click here and scroll down for our first impressions.
Lynne Ramsay's Morvern Callar (2002) [Rent] may bear a strange name but it certainly is a wonderful, daring and memorable work. A winner of numerous awards, including British Independent Film Award (for Samantha Morton and cinematographer Alwin Kuchler) and the LA Film Critics "New Generation" award, Morvern Callar is one to behold.
Freaky Friday (2003) [Rent]. Molly Haskell calls the film a "glorious surprise... pure enchantment, thanks to a fine script, brilliant physical acting and sight gags topped by an amazingly audacious performance by Jamie Lee Curtis."
Seabiscuit (2003) [Rent]. A fine adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's award winning book, starring a Tobey Maguire happy not to be swinging through the comic cityscape this time around. Pleasantville director Gary Ross has an unerring eye for detail and the superb cast lift it above the formulaic.
Maybe you missed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) [Rent] when it played in theaters. Maybe that was a good idea. But maybe you'd like to while away an evening with it now that it's coming on DVD.
Rachida Brakni, who won a César for her performance in Coline Serreau's Chaos (2002) [Rent] as an abused woman who has, as the New York Times puts it, "retained her fighting spirit, and sex is her weapon. When she aims her fiery gaze into a man's eyes, he's a goner."
Melvin Goes To Dinner (2003) [Rent] reimagines My Dinner With Andre among a group of 30ish friends rather than a pair of middle-aged men. This crowd-pleaser won the Audience Award at SXSW in Austin earlier this year.
Acclaimed documentarian Errol Morris's foray into narrative filmmaking, Dark Wind (1993) [Rent], was unfairly met with caustic reviews the first time 'round, but deserves a second look, especially with PBS' new series of movies based, like this one, on Tony Hillerman mysteries. The film also features a solid cast: Lou Diamond Phillips, Gary Farmer and Fred Ward.
Hal Hartley's most well-known film, Henry Fool (1998) [Rent], is already an indie classic. TimeOut's Geoff Andrew calls it "looser, more expansive and certainly more scatological than Hartley's earlier work [it is a] very funny, finally touching fable."
Quite a cast for The Dawning (1988) [Rent], a relatively quite and simple film considering the upheaval of its backstory, Ireland's struggle to break free of British rule: Anthony Hopkins, Jean Simmons, Trevor Howard and Hugh Grant.
South Park's Third Season, Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent] and 3 [Rent].
In The Pick-Up Artist (1987) [Rent], eclectic director James Toback "turns his demons into entertainment" (wrote Hal Hinson of the Washington Post); features another strong Robert Downey Jr. performance.
What's Brigands, Chapter VII (1997) [Rent]? According to Jonathan Rosenbaum, it's "a witty, despairing French-Russian-Italian-Swiss art movie set in 16th-century Georgia, Stalinist Georgia, contemporary Georgia, and contemporary Paris, whose writer-director is so much in command of his materials that he can plant the same actors in all four settings yet provide a seamless continuity."
The Pawnbroker (1965) [Rent]: Sidney Lumet's classic drama features Rod Steiger, who gives only one of the best performances ever.
A Brief Vacation (1973) [Rent]. Late Vittorio De Sica is either extremely moving or rather soppy depending on your point of view, but required viewing for fans of Italian cinema.
Otto Preminger's Bonjour Tristesse (1958) [Rent], with David Niven, Deborah Kerr and Jean Seberg (Breathless).
Something to Sing About (1937) [Rent]: "This little-known film..." (no kidding... we had to go to IMDB to learn more about it and nab this user comment)... "is surprisingly entertaining, with lots of pre-Singin' in the Rain pokes at Hollywood's star machine, good songs, and a few lively dance numbers, especially the one onboard ship. James Cagney is great as usual."
The Enforcer (1950) [Rent]. "If you're smart you'll come down - if you're dumb you'll be dead..." was the tagline for this Raoul Walsh noir, and if you're a smart fan of Bogart, you'll rent this one.
Flat Top (1952) [Rent] is a very efficient and tense World War II actioner with Sterling Hayden (Col. Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove).
The War At
Home (1979) [Rent] is an Academy Award nominated doc that centered on the University of Wisconsin as a microcosm of the anti-Vietnam War movement. A striking reminder of those turbulent times.
Which would make an interesting double-feature with They Drew
Fire: Combat Artists of WWII, a 1999 film that tells the tale of seven artists who recorded that war in all its phases. [Rent]
an Artist - Chuck Close: A Portrait in Progress (1997) [Rent]
shows the influential modern artist up close and personal.
ACTION, SCIENCE-FICTION and HORROR
Ilona Arrives With The Rain (1996) [Rent] is a pleasantly diverting story of steamy love and clever crime.
The South African road movie and buddy picture, Malunde (2001) [Rent], gets off to a clumsy start, but reviewers all agree it snaps to early enough and makes for a beautiful ride through to the end.
Claude Miller's Class Trip (1998) [Rent] is a humane childhood drama "sensitively and elegantly made...with superb performances," according to TimeOut Film Guide.
Teachers (1993) is a stunning sleeper from China.
Flesheater (1989) [Rent]. Bill Hinzman, cemetary zombie from George Romero's Night of the Living Dead is back, and this time he directs. Scary? Well, it's a fun little zombie flick.
Back to the New Releases Archive.
Among the series firing up or continuing: Sugar - A Little Snow Fairy: Vol. 5: Home Sweet Home [Rent].
Mirage of Blaze: Vol. 4 [Rent].
Mao-Chan: Vol. 2 [Rent].
Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi: Vol. 1 [Rent].
Sadamitsu the Destroyer: Vol. 1 [Rent].
Samurai Deeper Kyo: Vol. 4 [Rent].
Haibane Renmei: Vol. 3: Free Bird [Rent].