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NEW RELEASES - June 13 HIGHLIGHTS

FRESH FROM THE THEATERS

Dave Chappelle's Block Party (2005).

What better way could there be to well and truly kick off the summer? "While the rest of us are busy carving up the country - red state, blue state; urban, suburban; sophisticated, rustic; them, us," writes Salon's Stephanie Zacharek, "in Dave Chappelle's Block Party, there's room for only one America, but it's one big enough to include everybody. Block Party - directed by Michel Gondry, and shot on film, not video, by Gondry's frequent collaborator, cinematographer Ellen Kuras - is partly a performance documentary, a record of an afternoon-into-evening concert that took place on Sept. 18, 2004, at the L-shaped intersection of two quiet Bed-Stuy streets: The artists featured on the program include Erykah Badu, Jill Scott, Kanye West, the Roots and Dead Prez, as well as, remarkably, the reunited Fugees. But Block Party is also a record of Chappelle just horsing around, both in New York and Ohio. And Chappelle's horsing around is often funnier, and more brilliant, than the routines other comedians spend months honing."

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005).

Shane Black, the screenwriter who created the Lethal Weapon franchise, bites the hand that feeds him in his directorial debut. His own hand, basically, in a "violent, neo-Chandleresque LA thriller with a convoluted plot, lashings of hellzapoppin' comedy, and a design that absorbs the pulpiness and cynicism of Quentin Tarantino, Elmore Leonard and Modesty Blaise," writes the Guardian's Peter Bradshaw.

Featuring Robert Downey, Jr. and Val Kilmer having a blast.

Neil Young: Heart of Gold (2005).

In 1984, Jonathan Demme made one of the greatest concert films of all time, Stop Making Sense. Twenty years on, he applies the same principles to Neil Young: Heart of Gold: respect the sensibilities of the artist; get up close when necessary, but never, ever get in the way. Let the artist tell the story.

"It's a sentimental show, sure," writes Tom Charity in the Voice, "but Young's pantheistic hymns to family, friendship, and 'the time we share together' are nothing if not heartfelt. Turns out it's better to fade away after all."

A Good Woman (2004).

Scarlett Johansson, Helen Hunt and Tom Wilkinson star in A Good Woman, based on Oscar Wilde's Lady Windermere's Fan.

16 Blocks (2006).

Bruce Willis "has always been an acquired taste," writes Manohla Dargis in the New York Times, "but for those who did acquire that taste, riding shotgun on his good times and bad, it's a pleasure to see him doing what comes naturally. Which means holding a gun and fending off bad guys with as few words as possible."

The Pink Panther (2006).

Of course, stepping into the role made famous by Peter Sellers is about the most foolhardy act any comedian could take on, but Steve Martin does manage to reimagine the character of the bumbling Inspector Clouseau his own.

The Sisters (2005).

Screenwriter Richard Alfieri and director Arthur Allan Siedelman adapt Anton Chekhov's classic stage play The Three Sisters. With Mary Stuart Masterson, Maria Bello and Erika Christensen.

The World's Fastest Indian (2005).

Anthony Hopkins charms in the true story of New Zealander Burt Munro takes his 1920 Indian Scout motorcycle to the annual Speed Week at Bonneville Salt Flats, Utah. Doesn't sound like much, we know, but as Philip French put it in the Observer, it's "the most determinedly feel-good picture we're likely to see this year."

The disc also features the original documentary, Offerings to the God of Speed, also by the same director, Roger Donaldson.

Aquamarine (2006).

"Equal part sweet and clever, this is a children's film that will appeal to adults (Splash was the opposite)," writes talltale, "but it is such a good children's film (tipped toward the 'tween' set) that kids both older and younger (and even parents) ought to appreciate it, too."

The Big White (2005).

Robin Williams, Holly Hunter, Giovanni Ribisi and lots and lots of snow star in a comedy with hints of Fargo about it.

CULT

Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Special Edition (1970).

"The glory of Valley of the Dolls - the flashy, trashy '67 inside-showbiz epic based on the Jackie Susann novel - is that no one involved seemed in on the joke; they took all the eyelash-batting, pill-popping histrionics seriously," writes Michael Musto in the Village Voice. "Three years later, Russ Meyer's Beyond the Valley of the Dolls added a layer of perspective to the big-haired theatrics. Though Meyer reportedly spent much time on the set discussing 'motivations' with his cast, the raunchmeister was clearly leading them on; he knew he was serving up a giant camp tease, the latest in his tit-and-wit epics like Mondo Topless and Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!"

Valley of the Dolls Special Edition (1970).

And of course, we've got the original, the camp classic, too.

"Hollywood filmmakers, it seems," writes Kevin Hennessey for Movieline, "forget everything they ever knew about scripts, logic, acting, and taste when they decide to "tell all" and expose the entertainment industry and the ruthless machinations of people who are - well, just like them! The results are always unintentionally funny, and Valley of the Dolls is perhaps the funniest."

Cemetery Man (1994).

"So what is Dellamorte Dellamore?" asks Michael Mackenzie in DVD Times, referring to Cemetery Man by its original Italian (and far better) title. "Is it a comedy? A horror film? A romance? Who knows. All I know is that it's a damn good piece of work. Think Amélie meets Dawn of the Dead meets Donnie Darko and you might be close to the mark."

INDIE

Forty Shades of Blue (2005).

"A rare serving of adept regional indie cinema, Ira Sachs's Forty Shades of Blue uses its Memphis milieu as setting and as character - the film is waist-deep in country-blues insouciance humming with nostalgia for itself and disdain for early-millennium consumer homogenization," writes Michael Atkinson for the Village Voice. "[T]he cast is uniformly genuine, with [Rip] Torn making an utterly life-size (as opposed to movie-size) egomaniac, blustery and ass-kissed and still holding faith with free love and celebrity privilege. But it's [Dina] Korzun's film, and she is in complete control of her character, never divulging too much of the haunted woman under the studied facade of American hotsiness."

Green Street Hooligans (2005).

"As a metaphor for human conflict on a global - or any - scale, there's no finer parallel than sport of this sort, and Hooligans, with its frothy crimson tide of fist-in-mouth male bonding and lager-lout bad manners approaches the sociologically poetic sloganeering of the Smiths at Morrissey's most hooligan-lovestruck," writes Marc Savlov in the Austin Chronicle. "Fans of Frodo may find themselves on unfamiliar narrative ground here, but the ongoing struggle between good and evil within one individual heart is likely to seem not unfamiliar."

SCIENCE FICTION

The Quiet Earth (1985).

An end-of-the-world movie in the vein of The Last Man on Earth, but also a thoroughly unique vision from Utu director Geoff Murphy.

CLASSICS

The Rat Pack Collection (1960 - 1964).

It's Frank, Dean, Sammy, Peter and Joey in the original Ocean's 11 (1960), 4 for Texas (1963) and Robin and the 7 Hoods (1964).

The Betty Grable Collection (1940 - 1950).

The WWII-era bombshell stars in Down Argentine Way (1940), Moon Over Miami (1941), The Dolly Sisters (1945) and My Blue Heaven (1950).

Browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.

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