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February 15, 2005


Goodbye Dragon Inn

  • Goodbye, Dragon Inn (2003). "Nearly uncategorizable except as a Tsai Ming-liang film," wrote Craig Phillips as part of his top ten list for 2004, "beautifully composed and nearly static, yet it moves, even infiltrates ones dreams as few other films in recent memory have been capable of doing. I also can't resist a good, slow tribute to cinema; perhaps a bit too languorous for my attention span but a treat nonetheless." [Rent]

  • Tae Guk Gi: The Brotherhood of War (2004). Kang Je Gyu's big-budget war epic was one of last year's major cinematic events in South Korea. "Kang's film is a vicious, brutal anti-war statement, and not one for the faint of heart, either," wrote Marc Savlov in the Austin Chronicle, "and while Tae Guk Gi's horrific imagery is peppered throughout with moments of surreal beauty, it remains one of the most realistic depictions of battlefield chaos I can think of." [Rent]

  • Last Life in the Universe (2003). "An uplifting tragedy about a book lover and the woman he meets," writes praxis. "A character-based movie done well." As for the man who shot Pen-ek Ratanaruang's festival favorite, Christopher Doyle himself told Sean Axmaker, "It's beautiful. I love the film." [Rent]

  • The Motorcycle Diaries (2003). Walter Salles directs Gael García Bernal as the young Ernest "Ché" Guevara and Rodrigo De la Serna as Alberto Granado, his companion on a long trek through Latin America, "the eight-month journey that would ignite his idealism," as the London Times put it. "[W]hile we do get a sense of Guevara's political awakening, Salles manages to avoid hammering home the spiritual growth of his hero. There are still some lump-in-the-throat moments however, not least the shot at the end of the real Granado, now in his eighties, looking to the horizon in a wordless tribute to the memory of his old friend." [Rent]

  • Saw (2004). David Edelstein put it succinctly in Slate: "Like many 21st century horror pictures, James Wan's Saw is less a classical narrative than an ingenious machine for inducing terror, rage and paralyzing unease." And there you have it. [Rent]

  • Donnie Darko (2001). Director's Cut. A year ago, sfspaz summed up most of our reactions to the cut that was originally released and all but forgotten before the film found its cult niche on DVD: "An enigmatic film, to be sure, but not to be missed." Indeed, many were enthralled by Richard Kelly's structurally and emotionally complex first feature, even as we were left scratching our heads a bit as the final credits rolled. In Sean Axmaker's interview, Kelly explained that when he was given a shot at re-releasing it, he leapt at the chance: "There's a longer version of the film," he told Newmarket's Bob Berney, "a more complete version of the film that I'd always hoped to make." Now, you can give it another shot, too. [Rent] Bonus disc. [Rent]

  • Tout va bien (1972). Once upon a time, Jean-Luc Godard and Jena-Pierre Gorin set out to make a "commercial" movie with Yves Montand and Jane Fonda. "Actually, it's only a slight step back from Godard's hard-core political tracts, but the few concessions he does make - characters and a story, of sorts - go a long way toward making the rhetoric accessible," noted Dave Kehr in the Chicago Reader. Naturally, Criterion's package is almost overly generous, presenting not only interviews with the filmmakers but also Letter to Jane, an almost vicious follow-up they made once their ordeal was over. [Rent]

  • Purple Butterfly (2003). In the New York Times, A.O. Scott called Lou Ye's second feature "a smoky political thriller set in 1930s Shanghai, but as before, Mr. Lou synthesizes a wide range of styles and influences - from Casablanca to Wong Kar-wai - resulting in a movie that, for all its haunting strangeness, seems curiously familiar. It is also quite entertaining, thanks to the director's eye for his city's battered glamour and the presence of a few skilled and good-looking Asian actors, principally the tough, fine-boned Zhang Ziyi." [Rent]

  • All About Lily Chou-Chou (2001). A GreenCine favorite sees another release, this time from the fine folks at Home Vision Entertainment, who've added a making-of doc and a few more extras. "Certainly recommended," says praxis. [Rent]

  • Gun-shy (2003). Dito Tsintsadze, a director from the other Georgia, shot this amusing thriller in Germany. The result? "It's a bizarre, seriocomic drama," wrote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian, "delivering in its final moments a cattle-prod jolt of provocation: crude and even outrageous, but effective in getting under your guard." [Rent]

  • God is Brazilian (2003). From Carlos Diegues, director of Bye Bye Brazil, which made such a splash in 1979, comes a whimsical tale of the Man Upstairs deciding to take a break and step downstairs for a while. Given the entire globe, Brazil is a fine choice indeed for that first step. [Rent]

  • Kansas City (1996). Robert Altman's jazz-drenched and visually transporting period piece (shot by Oliver Stapleton) is set in his hometown, circa 1934, and features Jennifer Jason Leigh, Miranda Richardson, Steve Buscemi and Altman regular Michael Murphy. [Rent]

  • Howards End (1992). Merchant/Ivory pretty much hit their peak right about here. Just take a gander at all those awards. The winning formula here begins with Ruth Prawer Jhabvala's subtle adaptation of E.M. Forster's novel, and of course, the quintessential Merchant/Ivory cast, featuring Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Vanessa Redgrave and Helena Bonham Carter. [Rent] Bonus disc. [Rent]

  • Testosterone (2003). Handsome young men in scenic Argentina. Noted Marc Savlov in the Austin Chronicle: "I haven't a clue what [director David] Moreton was trying to say, if anything, about the state of love and loss these days, other than that it might be refreshing, in the wake of a breakup, to head South and "drop trou" every time somebody gives you half a chance and then, once sated, go nuts and kill someone. Wiser words have been dispensed on the subject, but none have seemed so insanely sane, so perhaps Mr. Moreton is on to something here." [Rent]

  • Orgazmo (1997). Trey Parker writes, directs and stars as Joe Young, aka Captain Orgazmo. "Completely gonzo take on missionary life," says sinisterguffaw. "Mormon boy goes porno to pay for temple wedding. Obviously, this one is in no way shape or form endorsed by the [Latter Day Saints] religion." [Rent]

    My Architect

  • My Architect (2003). The recent passing of Philip Johnson and the punditry that's followed in its wake has reminded us once again of the political and aesthetic impact architecture has on our lives and culture. Johnson himself, along with I.M. Pei, Frank Gehry and other giants, are interviewed here in Nathaniel Kahn's complex and moving portrait of his father, the great modernist who designed such landmarks as the Salk Institute in California and the Kimbell Art Museum in Texas. "Long ago, the distant sight of my own father crossing the street in his last years once moved me to tears," Leslie Camhi wrote in a startling and wonderful review in the Village Voice in 2003. "What part of our loved ones remains resolutely unknowable? My Architect returns obsessively to a bit of archival footage showing a vaguely unwieldy, white-haired figure in a bow tie, turning the corner and entering his downtown office. What emerges, when the myths and the bitterness have dissipated, is the obdurate sense of a unique individual - a Jewish immigrant in an Episcopalian gentleman's profession, a nomadic builder of monuments, a consummately generous artist, whose love was doled out sparingly to those around him. He's close to concrete (a favorite Louis Kahn material), yet still an enigma." [Rent]

  • The Yes Men (2003). If you think you're suffering from post-election, post-inauguration political doc overload, think again. Here's one with an agenda too timeless to be filed in the "oh, so oh-four" category. "The best grass-roots hope for spreading the word that much of the world hates us for some understandable reasons is an army of pranksters like the ones depicted in the delicious documentary, The Yes Men," wrote David Edelstein in Slate, calling the film, "breezy, brief, and often a howl: It suggests that the left might finally be turning away from P.C. pedantry and back to the outrageous confrontational humor of Abbie Hoffman and his ilk.... That's what's so touching about these rabid jokesters, Andy and Mike. They're cockeyed optimists." [Rent]
  • TV

  • Angel. Season 5 (2003). 'Tis the final season. Discs 1 [Rent], 2 [Rent], 3 [Rent], 4 [Rent], 5 [Rent] and 6 [Rent].

    Requiem from the Darkness

  • Requiem from the Darkness. Volume 3: Pain of the Damned (2005). "You like dark?" asks BrettJB. "You like despair? Are you willing to view something you might not like at first (I didn't!), but that just might begin to grow on you by the time you finish the disc? Then this just might work for you..." [Rent]

  • E's Otherwise. Volume 1: Operation Gald City (2005). Here come the metahumans, known as "E's". For better or for worse? [Rent]

  • Fighting Spirit. Volume 4: Dream of a K.O. (2004). Way behind in points, there's only one way Ippo can win. [Rent]

  • Tokyo Underground
  • Tokyo Underground. Volume 1: Awakening (2005). The "underground" here is quite literal; no wonder those who live in this sunless world long to escape it. [Rent]
  • Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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