NEW RELEASES - June 6 HIGHLIGHTS
|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005).
"Big in both scale and ambition (and a thoroughly independent production by anybody's standard), the film is a social comedy about the ambiguities of the Texas-Mexico border region and also a laconic, masculine odyssey into the hinterland between the two nations, between life and death, between identity and disintegration," writes Salon's Andrew O'Hehir. "As you'd expect, [Tommy Lee] Jones has a marvelous eye for acting and for the gritty, seriocomic touches that make the town of Van Horn, Texas, feel both wide open and claustrophobic."
Starring Jones and Barry Pepper and written by Guillermo Arriaga, who scripted Amores Perros and 21 Grams.
Sarah Silverman: Jesus is Magic (2005).
Sarah Silverman is unlike any stand-up comic around, so it only makes sense her concert movie would be, too, spiffed up as it is with sketches and musical numbers. "Though Silverman's edginess never quite crosses into social consequence, she's a brilliant craftswoman on stage, blessed with crack timing and an ability to massage each line to maximum effect," writes Scott Tobias in the Onion's A.V. Club. "In Jesus Is Magic, she lobs grenade after grenade and deftly scatters before they blow up in her face."
The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things (2004).
Has the interest level in this one actually gone down or up since the revelation that J.T. Leroy, upon whose memoir Asia Argento has based this film, does not, in fact, exist?
Back in October, novelist Stephen Beachy blew the lid off Leroy's cover in New York; in March, he reviewed The Heart is Deceitful Above All Things for the San Francisco Bay Guardian: "The real stars of this film are the emotionally overwrought mental landscapes of the not-soÐwhite trash women who dreamed it up: Argento and Laura Albert."
Running Scared (2006).
"Running Scared is for people who like movies, who don't need to have a movie mean something in order to enjoy it and who can delight at the sheer craft of a story designed only to shock, amuse and hold an audience," writes Mick LaSalle in the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's the kind of film not usually held in high esteem by critics - unless it's played for irony or comes from Asia - but it's not easy to make, or everyone would do it: It's a pumped-up, intricate and fast-moving yarn that never flags and continues to play out in unexpected ways as it unravels."
Glory Road (2006).
"When a movie plays every card, it's bound to win a hand or two," writes Salon's Stephanie Zacharek. "You can't exactly call that approach craftsmanship. But in the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer-produced inspirational sports drama Glory Road, it at least amounts to a kind of blunt effectiveness."
You decided to wait for the DVD. Well, here it is already, the latest Harrison Ford thriller, this one also starring Paul Bettany and Virginia Madsen.
The Syrian Bride (2004).
"Once people see the film, they can understand it emotionally even if they don't quite know where Syria is," director Eran Riklis told John Esther in a recent interview.
À nos amours (1983).
Sandrine Bonnaire, at the time all of 15 herself, plays Suzanne, a teen who looks to sex for what her family won't give her.
"I've been told," writes Christopher Null at filmcritic.com, "as a father with a young daughter, that the film Thirteen would scare the pants off of me. Thirteen is Kool-Aid compared to this.... What makes it work so well is that our heroine Suzanne is portrayed as just any other girl in town. She could be anyone."
Criterion's two-disc set includes interviews with Catherine Breillat and Jean-Pierre Gorin, a 2003 interview with Bonnaire, The Human Eye, a 1999 documentary on the film, and more.
"Despair comes too easy to Devarim, but it should be seen by anyone interested in Amos Gitai's still-underrepresented oeuvre," writes Fernando F Croce in Slant.
John Wayne: John Ford Film Collection (1935 - 1957).
"John Ford and John Wayne - a friendship and professional collaboration that spanned 50 years, changed each others' lives, changed the movies, and in the process, changed the way America saw itself," Ken Bowser wrote recently, introducing a PBS program on this remarkable collaboration. "It was a relationship that reflected all the elements and all the paradoxes of 20th century America - generosity of spirit, abuse of power, a sense of loyalty, and a restless nationalism that didn't quite know what to do with itself."
The highlights of this collection are the special editions of the widely lauded classics, The Searchers (1956) and Stagecoach (1939).
Also featured are 3 Godfathers (1935), The Long Voyage Home (1940), They Were Expendable (1945), Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949) and The Wings of Eagles (1957).
The John Ford Film Collection (1934 - 1964).
A companion box set to the John Wayne: John Ford Film Collection, this one features The Lost Patrol (1934), a "great film, familiar because itÕs been copied, about a troop of men who are trapped in a desert oasis and must survive snipers, and each other, while waiting for relief that may never come" (Classic Film Guide); The Informer (1935), which scored Oscars for direction, screenplay (Dudley Nichols), actor (Victor McLaglen) and musical score (Max Steiner; Mary of Scotland (1936), based on Maxwell Anderson's play; Sergeant Rutledge (1960), shot in Monument Valley, "an unusual combination of courtroom drama and celebration of the black part of the frontier cavalry, the 'buffalo soldiers' of the 9th cavalry" (Stephen Murray) and Cheyenne Autumn (1964), with Ricardo Montalban and Richard Widmark.
Dumbo Big Top Edition. (1941).
The 65th anniversary - 65th! - brings us this special edition of animated Disney classic featuring the shorts Elmer Elephant and The Flying Mouse and a "Celebrating Dumbo" featurette. Terrific, but none of it distracts from the powerful emotional punch the main feature still packs after all these years.
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969).
Every budding screenwriter has a copy of William Goldman's Adventures in the Screen Trade. The man's written more than a handful of landmark American movies, but the script he chose to publish in full and contemplate is the one that became Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
George Roy Hill didn't do a shoddy job of realizing it, either. And of course, when it came to making it a monster at the box office, star power didn't hurt. Paul Newman. And the guy who went on to found a familiar-sounding film festival.
Masters of Silent Cinema: Erotikon (1920).
"Quite possibly the cinematic granddaddy of all sophisticated comedies and one of the finest achievements of Swedish director Mauritz Stiller," notes Kino. "Erotikon has been cited by Ernst Lubitsch as an important inspiration for his own style, and it surely had an influence on Chaplin's A Woman of Paris, Renoir's Rules of the Game and innumerable comedies of the 1930s and beyond."
Masterworks of Silent Cinema: The Saga of Gosta Berling (1924).
Here it is, the film that made Greta Garbo a star. "At once a summary and a swan song of the Swedish film," wrote Arthur Knight in The Liveliest Art way, way back in the day. Once again, Mauritz Stiller directs.
House of Strangers (1949).
Edward G Robinson is "brilliant as the ruthless Italian-American financier attempting to control the lives of his four sons," notes the UK's Channel 4. "With its flashback structure and densely constructed scenes, what is essentially a simple family drama is given a distinct and effective noir edge."
Dazed and Confused (1993).
"The more I think about this movie the better it gets," writes thomasadam. As Richard Linklater fans ourselves, we have to agree and add that this one finds his two sides - philosophical (Slacker, Waking Life) and his populist side (School of Rock, Bad News Bears) - melded in an entertainingly fresh take on well-worn territory (coming of age) and an eye-opening reconstruction of a seldom-examined moment in the country's history, its Bicentennial.
Criterion has gone all out with this two-disc edition, including Kahane Corn's doc, Making Dazed, interviews, behind-the-scenes footage, scenes from the 10th anniversary reunion and audio commentary by Linklater.
The Boys of Baraka (2005).
"The Boys of Baraka gives a poignant human face to an alarming statistic: 76 percent of black male students in Baltimore city schools do not graduate from high school," notes Stephen Holden in the New York Times. "[T]he film's message is clear and pointed: If you take the boy out of the poor neighborhood, you stand a good chance of taking the despair and hopelessness of the poor neighborhood out of the boy."
Lesbians of Buenos Aires (2002).
"This documentary tells the tale of Buenos Aires lesbians, focusing on three personal stories," writes director Santiago Garcia. "A former militant woman who now devotes her time to feminine soccer; a young woman who is active so no girl has to go through what she went through and a lesbian mother who recounts how hostile the laws are regarding the rights of lesbian women. In spite of the difficulties their characters go through, the stories have a lot of humour, some soccer and a tour of the city."
One More Kiss (1999).
"Vadim Jean, of Leon The Pig Farmer fame, turns his hand to an altogether different genre in One More Kiss, a serious drama about living life to the full when you've got terminal cancer," writes Monika Maurer in Empire. "Despite its potentially depressing themes, the outcome of the film, although by no means cheery, proves to be surprisingly life-affirming, with a sincere and moving message which should inspire all those who see it - you know, 'Carpe diem' and all that."
Preaching to the Choir (2005).
"Bearing a flag of truce between generations and musical genres, Preaching to the Choir is an awkward, well-intentioned dramedydramedy about hip-hop and gospel, the sacred and profane, the city and the country and the young and the old," writes Variety. "Despite the ungainly script and direction, the climactic performances - including one by young singer Anny Jules - absolve the movie of most of its sins."
It's a Bollywood remake of The Eye! Seriously! Who can say No?
What's more, at Horror.com, Staci Layne Wilson notes that it's "really not a bad horror movie. Admittedly it brings nothing new to the area, but I like the premise already and I was pleasantly surprised by the acting (from the leads; some of the supporting cast overacts) and production value (sets, locations, costumes)."
Kung Faux Volume 4 (2003).
"What they do is boil all the action from an old, cheesy Kung Fu movie down into a easily digestible half-hour episode, add cool graphics and 'Pop-Up Video' effects, then dub over all the original lines with hip-hop lingo, while still staying true to the original plot of the movie," explains Michael Seneadza at BlogCritics. "For instance, let's say there is a meeting between a Kung Fu master and his apprentice. Instead of 'Oh, Daniel Son, you must catch fly before you break every bone in that guy,' the dialogue would be something like: 'Yo, son, why you trippin'? I'll teach you game, but first you gotta earn this shit, dig?' Needless to say, it is a riot."
Kung Faux Volume 5 (2003).
What Seneadza said up there about Volume 4. Only more so.
Kamichu! Volume 1 (2005).
"'Last night, I turned into a god.' With these words begins an anime series of unusual grace, where divine transformation is something you casually mention over lunch, and talking to spirits is as easy as saying hi to them on the street," writes Carlo Santos for the Anime News Network. "Kamichu! walks a unique line between the real and fantastic, buoyed by crisp, imaginative visuals and an overall mood that's sweet without ever being stupid. This is a world where spirits and humans meet; this is a loving portrait of small-town Japan; and most of all, this is the story of a young girl growing up."