NEW RELEASES - MARCH 7 HIGHLIGHTS
|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
Howl's Moving Castle (2004).
It's taken a while, but the latest (and last?) brilliant and brilliantly imaginative animated feature by the master, Hayao Miyazaki, is finally arriving on DVD. While this two-disc edition naturally features both the original and dubbed versions, there have been far fewer complaints about the American and British voices this time around, what with contributions from Christian Bale, Emily Mortimer, Lauren Bacall and even Billy Crystal (because, after all, you can't actually see him hamming it up).
Occupation: Dreamland (2005).
"A fair-minded (but hardly apolitical) grunt's-eye view of the war in Iraq that trusts the audience to draw its own conclusions," wrote Joshua Land in the Village Voice. "We watch the soldiers raiding houses, taking women prisoner over the strenuous objections of the local men, and in retrospectively chilling imagery, placing hoods over the faces of captives. One doesn't need foreknowledge of Falluja's bloody fate to sense a storm coming."
"Is Jarhead a realistic film?" David D'Arcy asked Anthony Swofford, author of the book, back in November. "I think so," he replied. "Obviously, in the script and the movie there are some compressions, there are some amalgamations of characters, but the look, the feel, the sound, the training, the desert, the feeling of being a Marine, for me rings very realistically. It's a film, but as far as a film goes, as a narrative, trying to capture that space, especially the emotional psychological center, I think it succeeds quite well."
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005).
As our Harry grows older, the world around seems to grow darker and more threatening. The first surges of hormonal rage aren't helping much, either. Few expected Mike Newell to be the director behind one of the most popular adaptations of the series yet, but Goblet reigned over the box office practically from Thanksgiving to Christmas.
So Meryl Streep's a psychotherapist and Uma Thurman is one of her patients. Fine, until Lisa (Streep) discovers that Rafi (Thurman) is dating her son, David (Bryan Greenberg). The result is a light, intelligent comedy many have compared to 70s-era Woody Allen.
The Warrior (2001).
"There is a mighty breadth to the movie's conception," wrote Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian, "a shimmering beauty to Roman Osin's cinematography and the location work, something calm and seductively mysterious in the scenes and sequences that [director Asif] Kapadia conjures up, and also plenty of old-fashioned storytelling gusto."
"Japanese critics voted Seijun Suzuki's elusive ghost drama Zigeunerweisen (aka Tsigoineruwaizen, 1980) as the key movie of that entire decade," wrote Robert Keser in 24fps, "yet few Westerners saw this indelibly haunting film at its scattered festival showings." That's about to change. Keser continued, "[T]his cryptic work, which posits a permeable border between the living and the dead, stealthily lodged in the brains of those who did see it, and critical approval verified that Suzuki had raised himself out of the exploitation-film swamp in which he had started, transmuting the base elements of lurid yakuza plots into the relative gold of the cult film."
"A Japanese playwright is bewitched by a beautiful woman, becoming so obsessed with her that he follows her from a Tokyo hospital (where strange plants containing 'female souls' are sold) all across Japan, not suspecting his life might be in danger," reads the description. Seijun Suzuki's bizarre, dreamlike thriller stars Yusaku Matsuda and Mariko Kaga.
Seijun Suzuki strikes again: "Anticipating a passionate meeting with his lover, Yumeji's wandering eye finds another object of desire. His lust for Tomoyo calls up the ghost of her dead husband, raises the ire of the jealous suitor who murdered him, and spawns a host of other threatening supernatural beings."
Girl 6 (1996).
"A beautiful mess," wrote Marc Savlov in the Austin Chronicle back when Spike Lee's Girl 6 hit theaters ten years ago. An aspiring actress (Theresa Randle) tries phone sex as a way to make ends meet, and what do you know, she's pretty good at it. Look for quick turns from the likes of Quentin Tarantino, Madonna, John Turturro, Halle Berry and John Cameron Mitchell, just to scratch the surface.
"Writer-director Everett Lewis (Skin and Bone, Luster) makes movies about gay life and love that embrace clichés in order to subvert them, and wield loose, almost meandering narratives that, at their best, allow viewers to organically warm to characters and ideas," writes Hazel-Dawn Dumpert in the LA Weekly.
My Neighbor Totoro (1988).
"What a wonderful world where laughter will make the scary dust bunnies go away and even the huge furry creature with the enormous teeth is gentle and helpful," writes hneline1. "I remember watching this movie as a child and being swept away by the magic - my favorite things were the dust bunnies (I wanted them to stay and play) and the cat bus (I remember dreaming about all the places it could take me and all the adventures I would have)."