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NEW RELEASES

June 1, 2004

FRESH FROM THE THEATERS

  • The Company (2003). For Ed Gonzalez, film editor at Slant magazine, this was last year's best film. Star Neve Campbell, who trained with the National Ballet School of Canada for several years before turning to acting, essentially recruited Robert Altman to direct. He shot on digital video for the first time and took great pains to avoid that video look. But more to the point, Gonzalez: "It's unlikely that the film will appeal to the same crowds that swooned for Altman's equally brilliant but more 'plot-driven' Gosford Park, or those bamboozled by the soulless razzle-dazzle of last year's Chicago - which is a shame considering how this elegant movement in still life unravels as a profound metaphor for both the filmmaking process and life itself." [Rent]

  • Lucia, Lucia (2003). Antonio Serrano's kinky comedy stars All About My Mother's Cecilia Roth. [Rent]

  • Monster (2003). "At the very least the disappearance of the cool and creamy blond star into the body of a ruddy, bedraggled street person is an astounding cosmetic stunt," wrote New York Times critic Stephen Holden in his very first paragraph, and indeed, it's such a transformation it may well be what the film is remembered for in the future. And yet there's more than make-up to Charlize Theron's portrayal of Aileen Wournos. "She uncovers the lost, love-starved child cowering under the killer's hard shell." And won an Oscar for it, of course. But kudos should also go to director Patty Jenkins and to Christina Ricci for her overlooked performance. [Rent]

  • Eurotrip (2004). Put every teen sex comedy, spring break and road trip flick in a blender with Euro mayhem, press "puree" and, voila! This farce also stars Lucy Lawless, which may be all you need to know to press "rent." [Rent]
  • FOREIGN

  • Das Boot: The Original Uncut Version (1982). For decades after World War II, American and international audiences had generally been going to the movies and seeing war stories told from the point of view of the victors. Das Boot was a jolt with all sorts of repercussions. The story centers on a German submarine crew, a motley collection of undeniably sympathetic characters, and conjures the conflicting emotions that are truer to the tragedy of war. Success at the box office also revived hopes for German film beyond the art house - and it launched the career of director Wolfgang Petersen (Troy). "Petersen's unparalled German U-Boat epic captures the claustrophobic atmosphere of the submariner's day-to-day existence," writes Eoliano. "It's a noble and humanistically felt film." Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].

  • Two by prolific Egyptian director Youssef Chahine: The Other (1999) [Rent]. Wrote Stephen Holden in The New York Times: "Adhering to the fanciful, anything-goes conventions of Egyptian cinema, The Other folds heavy-breathing passion, cyber-fantasy and gaudy musical numbers into a romantic melodrama that is much more politically savvy than it might appear on the surface." And the earlier drama, The Emigrant (1994). [Rent]

  • The City of No Limits (2000). Spanish film directed by Antonio Hernandez; The Village Voice calls it a "haunting drama... The film's strength lies in the surprises it offers as the enigma unravels." [Rent]

  • Fausto 5.0 (2003). Not a new version of some devilish software program, but a modern reworking of the Faust myth set in a near-future Barcelona, the unforgettable film debut of the controversial Spanish theater troupe La Fura del Baus. [Rent]

  • Santitos (1997). A real sleeper, this magical Mexican comedy is. "Cheerfully absurd odyssey, produced by filmmaker John Sayles, stays just this side of lampooning the veneration of saints and heeding the call of questionable visions," wrote Sean Axmaker in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. "Think of a screwball version of Breaking the Waves where the angels protect their sacrificial lamb." [Rent]

  • Todo El Poder (1999). A sort of Mexican Death Wish, except more darkly comic. [Rent]

  • Warriors (2002). Spanish film about the war in Kosovo. A Spanish IMDb reviewer: "If you like war movies, you shouldn't miss this one." [Rent]

  • Captain Pantoja and the Special Services (1999). Spicy Peruvian film based on a Mario Llosa novel. [Rent]
  • DRAMA

  • Kiss of Death (1995). Barbet Schroeder's update of the classic noir. "Riveting crime drama," wrote the SF Chronicle's Peter Stack, and "in some fiendishly good movie-making, gives [David] Caruso's Jimmy Kilmartin so many different shadings that he emerges as the sort of character American movie-goers love - the lone outlaw hero who wears the stain of corruption, but aches for a clean and decent life." Also with Nicolas Cage and Samuel L. Jackson. [Rent]

  • Breezy (1973). The first film Clint Eastwood directed in which he did not appear and a real curio - not at all the subject matter you'd associate with Eastwood: A May-December romance with William Holden and Kay Lenz (as a hippie girl). "Performed beautifully, laced with a quietly ironic wit, and quite lovely to look at," wrote TimeOut's Geoff Andrew. [Rent]

  • Map of the Human Heart (1993). Vincent Ward's beautiful arctic love story is "a daringly peculiar tale," wrote Janet Maslin in the NY Times, but TimeOut's Brian Case praised Ward for his "extravagant visual imagination... even the more outlandish scenes linger in the mind. The mise-en-scene is stunning. Go with the floe." [Rent]

  • Cotton Mary (2000). Rather obscure tale from costumer king Ismail Merchant, here directing the lovely Greta Scacchi as part of a British family living in post-Colonial India. [Rent]

  • The Gypsy Moths (1969). Fun for John Frankenheimer fans, or skydivers. Great cast, too: Burt Lancaster, Gene Hackman and Deborah Kerr. [Rent]

  • The Crucible (1996). Daniel Day-Lewis stars in this updating of the classic (but timeless) play. "A seductively exciting film that crackles with visual energy, passionate provocation and incendiary acting," wrote Peter Travers in Rolling Stone. "Arthur Miller's screenplay is a model of adventurous film adaptation, showing a master eager to mine his most-performed play for fresh insights instead of embalming it." [Rent]

  • Endgame (2001). Re-release of this challenging British thriller. [Rent]

  • Veteranos (2003). Gritty Latino urban drama. [Rent]
  • COMEDY

  • Little Murders (1971). "Jules Feiffer's black farce about the random violence, emotional and physical, of life in New York City [has] devastating moments and an impressive performance by Marcia Rodd, as the urban survivalist who traps a befuddled photographer (Elliott Gould) into marriage," writes Dave Kehr. Director Alan Arkin takes on a role himself "in an eerie bit as a paranoid cop." [Rent]

  • The Comfort of Strangers (1991). Black comedy from the consistently underrated Paul Schrader, with a devilishly good performance by Christopher Walken. As the naive lovers on holiday, Rupert Everett and Natasha Richardson are pretty easy on the eyes. And we should also add that this is one of the most lush and decadent visions of Venice ever put on film. [Rent]

  • The Positively True Adventures of the Alleged Texas Cheerleader-Murdering Mom (1993). Michael Ritchie was once a hot commodity in the world of satiric film (see Smile, etc., etc., for examples), but it'd been a while since he'd done anything worth getting excited about. Until this one, made for cable, but don't let that fool you. "Sharply satirical slice of true-life Americana is a gift for Ritchie, whose films and themes it uncannily parallels," wrote TimeOut. "Holly Hunter is by turns charming, chilling and oddly sympathetic." [Rent]

  • About Last Night... (1986). David Mamet's play Sexual Perversity in Chicago was turned into this audience-pleasing, rather commercial little movie, boasting an attractive cast of the soon-to-be famous (Demi Moore, Rob Lowe, uh, Jim Belushi). Roger Ebert gave it four stars in 1986, writing, "It has an eye and an ear for the way we live now, and it has a heart, too, and a sense of humor." [Rent]

  • Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (1993). Christopher Guest's second film as a director, with Daryl Hannah as the titular pituitary case. Not saying much here, but it's better than the original. "Provided one expects no more than the title and casting imply, it can be an enjoyable experience with a fair repeat potential," wrote Doug Pratt on DVDLaser.com. [Rent]
  • CLASSICS

  • Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (1948). Advertising exec Jim Blandings (Cary Grant) and his wife (Myrna Loy) have had enough of big city life, so it's off to Connecticut. "The dream turns to nightmare and the money pit opens in front of them," sighs the UK's Channel 4. "They're 'taken' by all and sundry, and the comedy builds into farce as privations, commuting and unforeseen problems drive them to the brink. A classic, beautifully acted Hollywood comedy." [Rent]

  • With the release of four more Grant favorites, it's pretty much a big, big week for Cary Grant fans: In The Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947) [Rent], Grant is the former and Shirley Temple is the latter, but it's Myrna Loy who's the object of Grant's affection in this cute romantic comedy; Destination Tokyo (1943) [Rent] is one of the better World War II adventure films; My Favorite Wife (1940) [Rent], with a story by Leo McCarey and directed by Garson Kanin, is formulaic but remains a sheer delight; and, on the heels of De-Lovely, the new Cole Porter biopic starring Kevin Kline, comes Night and Day (1946) [Rent], with Grant as the composer in this Hollywoodized version of his life - but the songs make up for any shortcomings. Compare and contrast!

  • The Snake Pit (1948). "This grim drama packs a punch," writes Jonathan Rosenbaum. Olivia de Havilland stars as a woman who has a nervous breakdown and ends up in a mental hospital - an unusual storyline for a Hollywood picture at the time. Even more unusual, the asylum is portrayed with a then-unprecedented seriousness and realism. [Rent]

  • The Thin Man (1934). "Oh, Nicky, I love you because you know such lovely people." A re-release of the first and best of the delightful William Powell-Myrna Loy films based on Dashiell Hammett characters. As witty as witty gets. [Rent]

  • Adventures of Francis The Talking Mule - Vol. 1 (1950 - 1953). Donald O'Connor was a long way from Singin' in the Rain with these silly family films, but they stubbornly remain great fun. Four Francis features are coralled onto one disc. [Rent]
  • While we're preparing for Father's Day, try these out for size:
  • Father of the Bride (1950). Vincente Minnelli directs Spence & Liz in the original - and superior - film. "Thoroughly enchanting," says TimeOut, "As one might expect, Tracy is superb, and while the film is never as impressive as Minnelli's all-out melodramas, it's still fascinatng for the rather bleak undercurrents coursing beneath the many laughs." [Rent]

  • The Courtship of Eddie's Father (1963). A lot of people don't know that the popular 60s TV series was based on a movie, directed by Minnelli no less, starring Glenn Ford in the role played by Bill Bixby in the show, the single dad (such a shocking rarity back in the day), and future director Ron "Opie" Howard as his son. With Minnelli at the helm, it's certainly more colorful than the sitcom. [Rent]
  • Click on to see more June 1 releases: Docs, Action, Anime, TV and more...

    Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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