December 7. 2004
FRESH FROM THE THEATERS
Maria Full of Grace. This summer, Baylen J. Linnekin placed Maria within the context of Hollywood's treatment of the various drug wars that have raged over the past decades and found it a dramatic improvement - though US policy itself has yet to improve. Politics aside, Joshua Marston's honest and intense debut film has won awards at Sundance, Seattle and Berlin, including a Silver Bear for Catalina Sandino Moreno, who's also made her on-screen debut playing Maria. [Rent]
The Bourne Supremacy (2004). "The first film was fast, adroit, and something more," wrote David Edelstein in Slate this summer, echoing the opinion of many who liked The Bourne Identity but considered this one even better: "The sequel is simply a tour-de-force of thriller filmmaking." [Rent]
Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004). It is what it is. A silly comedy. As Marrit Ingman writes in the Austin Chronicle, "There's a place in life for movies like this - goofy and lowbrow but never truly icky; the good guys are lovable losers and the bad guys have frosted feathered hair and unitards with inflatable codpieces." [Rent]
Warriors of Heaven and Earth (2003). A "rugged and stunningly beautiful historical epic set during the Tang Dynasty," raves Kung Fu Cinema in its four-out-of-five-star review. "While delayed for several years and overlooked as China's official entry for a 2003 Academy Award nomination, He Ping's work is a rewarding adventure film with rich characters, epic action, and brilliant imagery." [Rent]
Bandit Queen (1994). Finally, the re-release. On his terrific list, "Indian cinema: More gems," amit notes that the film is based on "the true story of a very infamous women dacoit. She would later became a politican. Directed by Shekhar Kapur who also directed Elizabeth." [Rent]
Infernal Affairs (2002). You've been able to see the Hong Kong release here for some time, but now, here comes the US release. "I was quite surprised by the effectiveness of this film and highly recommend it," says kohnfused1. Adds cammelltoe, "it's great to see Tony Leung and the always phenomenal Anthony Wong keeping it real." [Rent]
The Girl From Paris (2001). Sandrine (Mathilde Seigner) chucks her job and leaves Paris for a farm she decides to buy from a retiring farmer (Michel Serrault). "Though it would be simple to play this relationship for easy laughs and pat gags about Serrault's old-fashioned ways and Seigner's lack of experience," notes the Onion AV Club, "[director Christian] Carion and his gifted leads never take the easy way out. Instead, they let the characters get acquainted against the slow change of the seasons, taking their relationship along unexpected turns." [Rent]
El Mar (2000). "As interested as Almódovar in religion and death, [El Mar] begins amidst the ferocity and treachery of the Spanish Civil War and ends ten years later in murder and suicide," wrote the BBC in 2001. "In his quiet, undemonstrative way, the director [Agustín Villaronga] also knows just when to push home his ideas on religion, sexuality, honesty and identity. Classy." [Rent]
Transfixed (2001). "One of the most challenging and troublesome films you will ever see," writes filmthirteen.com of this French film originally released as Mauvais genres. "Its rewards, however, are immense and worthwhile." [Rent]
Bonjour, Monsieur Shlomi (2003). An Israeli domestic drama about Shlomi, a sharp teen who bends over backwards to keep his family together. [Rent]
The Buster Keaton Collection features, on one disc [Rent], The Cameraman (1928) and Spite Marriage (1929), and on the second disc [Rent], Free and Easy (1930), Buster's talkie debut. The collection, then, marks a fateful turning point in Buster's career, one last flare of brilliance before the downward spiral. As Dan Callahan put it in Senses of Cinema, "Buster's voice did not really suit his silent persona - it was low, hoarse and sometimes cracked, a drinking man's voice. But he probably could have made the transition if MGM had allowed him freedom to create the way he needed to. In many ways, Buster was the Godard of the twenties, the Rossellini of slapstick - he needed to improvise. He was unable to come up with a cut-and-dried script - that just wasn't the way he worked. The studio system crushed him, indifferently." And yet, somehow, that tragic turn is an inextricable aspect of the Buster we love.
King of Kings (1927). The Village Voice's J. Hoberman asserts that this one remains "the Jesus movie of choice" for "many infidels" if for no other reason than that Cecil B. DeMille's version of the greatest-story-ever-told is "more daring than Life of Brian." Besides the usual extras, this Criterion edition features two versions and three scores. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Hell's Angels (1930). One way to get in the mood for Martin Scorsese's upcoming biopic of Howard Hughes, The Aviator, is to catch this World War I flying aces actioner which he produced during the period Scorsese's film focuses on, a time when the mogul and future recluse was equally enthralled by aviation and the movies. Features stunts galore and Jean Harlow's breakthrough role. [Rent]
Wild at Heart (1990). A common question among movie-lovers is, Why isn't Film X out on DVD yet? And for years, Wild at Heart has been a common stand-in for Film X. After all, it won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and, in a recent Guardian survey of film critics, David Lynch was named the world's greatest living director. With this film, shot during the second season of Twin Peaks and based on the novel by Barry Gifford, Lynch, as Emanuel Levy puts it in Cinema of Outsiders, "took a slim work and pumped it up into a pop epic." The disc features a making-of doc, an interactive map with extended interviews, image gallery, a profile of Lynch, TV spots, and the original theatrical trailer. [Rent]
Hi, Mom! (1970). Actually a sequel to a film not out on DVD yet (Greetings, also directed by Brian De Palma and also starring an electric, young Robert De Niro), this early landmark indie offers a premonition of the shape of the New Hollywood to come. In Celluloid Mavericks, Greg Merritt calls it "a warped, vaudeville-style look at Vietnam-era America." [Rent]
Testament (1983). It's difficult not to compare director Lynne Littman's depiction of what would really happen in the wake of nuclear holocaust with The Day After, which was made the same year but had a broader audience simply by virtue of its being broadcast on television. It's also difficult not to conclude that Testament packs a more emotional and longer-lasting punch precisely because it is so understated. And Jane Alexander is outstanding as the mother who strains to keep her family going under unimaginable circumstances. [Rent]
Smooth Talk (1985). Based on Joyce Carol Oates's short story, "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?", this drama features a young Laura Dern, Treat Williams and supporting turns from Mary Kay Place and Band drummer Levon Helm. [Rent]
The Phantom of the Opera (1989). Clearly being released in anticipation of Joel Schumacher's upcoming version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's Broadway smash, this one features Robert Englund, so you know there's gonna be gore. But there's also a heavy layer of period atmo, and of course, music. [Rent]
George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey (1984). "Two things distinguish the film," wrote Roger Ebert twenty years ago. "The quiet professionalism with which the materials have been edited together, and the feeling that George Stevens, Jr., really is engaging in a rediscovery of his father through the making of this film. By the end of the film, we are less aware of George Stevens as a filmmaker than as a good and gifted man who happened to use movies as a means of expressing his gifts." Features interviews with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Warren Beatty and more. [Rent]
Bimbo Movie Bash (1997). Plotless, pointless and, some would argue, priceless, what we have here is a compilation of the silliest moments from a very silly genre, the "bimbo movie," e.g., Assault of the Killer Bimbos, Slave Girls From Beyond Infinity, Cannibal Women in the Avacado Jungle of Death... you get the idea. [Rent]
The Last Horror Movie (2003). The premise: A wedding videographer records the hideous things he gets up to when he's not attending to his day job. And you, dear viewer, have inadvertently rented his private diary. "This unrated, low-budget DV mindwarper from the UK has several things going for it," wrote Marc Savlov recently in the Austin Chronicle, "chief among them a charmingly unctuous performance from lead [Kevin] Howarth as Max Parry, a character who is something of the new millennium's equivalent of Benoit Poelvoorde's serial-killing Ben in the 1992 Belgian film Man Bites Dog. There's also a charming lack of politically correct restraint shown, which counts for more than you might think in a film that's essentially one long confession of modi operandi from a gloating psychopath." [Rent]
The Day Time Ended (1980). "The whole film is really like an extended version of the scenes in Melinda Dillon's house in Close Encounters where the UFOs cause things to come to life," notes the SF, Horror and Fantasy Review. "You could almost call it a UFO haunted house story." [Rent]
Dracula.3000 (2004). So there's this spaceship, see. Demeter, it's called. And another crew finds it, climbs aboard and decides to break open a couple of coffins they stumble over... yep, Dracula in space. With Coolio and Udo Kier. [Rent]
Species 3 (2004). Yes, 3. It's come to this. The latest entry in the series headed straight to the Sci-Fi Channel, and now, it's here. [Rent]
Carnivàle. The Complete First Season (2003). HBO's venture into Lynchian territory found qualified approval from GreenCiners as it was airing. Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent], 4 [Rent], 5 [Rent]
and 6 [Rent].
24. Season 3 (2001). Just another day on the job for Jack Bauer. Discs 1 [Rent]., 2 [Rent]., 3 [Rent]., 4 [Rent]., 5 [Rent]. and 6 [Rent]..
Peacemaker. Volume 2: Of Swords and Strength (2004). Adapted from the manga Peacemaker Kurogane, set in 19th century Japan at the beginning of the Meiji period, and shot through with comedy, flash and slash. [Rent]
Inu Yasha. Volume 24: Severed Identities [Rent] and Volume 25: Crimson Blade [Rent] (2004). "Inu Yasha is classic," writes CarpeNoctem. "It's got all the great elements of an awesome anime, moving plot without tons of filler anywhere... cool characters, smooth animation, a perverted monk, and killer villains."
Kaleido Star. Volume 6: Reach for the Brass Ring (2004). GreenCiners' ratings have this series floating way up there in the high 8's and 9's. [Rent]
Urusei Yatsura. Movie 5: The Final Chapter (1988). Ah, but it's not over quite yet! Keep an eye out for Movie 6 (1991), coming soon... [Rent]
Aquarian Age. Volume 3: Destiny (2004). The adventures of pop star hopeful Kyouta continue. [Rent]
Popotan. Volume 1: Vanishing House (2004). The story of three sisters and their android housekeeper who inhabit a house that travels through time. [Rent]
DragonBall Z. Cell Games: Sacrifice (2004). Playing rough. [Rent]
Stellvia. Volume 2: Foundation II (2004). "If there was one series that Stellvia reminded me of the most, it would have to be Battle Athletes," writes Nikpack. "Both involve girls with amazing potential going to an outer space academy to learn about and improve their respective trades. Both heroines do have some flaws, but have promising futures in the opinions of their headmasters. Add in some extra science fiction with big ships and impending doom from a supernova blast and you have Stellvia." [Rent]
Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.