|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
"Katsuhiro Otomo's epic Steamboy cost 20.2 million dollars to make, took 180,000 cels to produce and ate up the last ten solid years of Otomo's life," writes Gabriel Reldman for the Anime News Network. "The hype surrounding this film is unreal; could the director of Akira, one of the most popular anime films ever, live up to his own legacy? The answer, thankfully, is a resounding yes. Steamboy outclasses all of Otomo's other films and most of his competitors' films; this is an instant classic, something to be loved and remembered by audiences of every shape and size."
The Upside of Anger (2004).
"Part of the pleasure in watching [Joan] Allen and [Kevin] Costner comes from seeing them slip comfortably into the kinds of characters they have always done best," wrote A.O. Scott in the New York Times, "as if, in some parallel movie universe, Crash Davis, the semi-washed-up baseball player in Bull Durham, had hooked up with Elena Hood, the stifled and betrayed wife and mother from The Ice Storm."
Gate of Flesh (1964).
82 years young, Seijun Suzuki is currently wowing old fans and winning new ones with his new feature, Princess Raccoon. It's great to see him back in form again and, as a splendid reminder of what's made him one of the world's most unique directors, Criterion is releasing not one but two features from the mid-60s, the period in which he was rattling the Japanese film industry with films like Tokyo Drifter and Fighting Elegy.
Gate of Flesh is "a brilliant, lurid, candy colored film able to evoke profound feelings of sorrow and disenchantment," wrote Keith Allen at Movierapture. Criterion's disc includes a new video interview with Seijun Suzuki and art director Takeo Kimura.
The Story of a Prostitute (1965).
"A rule-bending take on the popular Taijiro Tamura novel," writes Criterion. The disc includes new video interviews with Seijun Suzuki, production designer Takeo Kimura and film critic Tadao Sato.
The Thin Blue Line (1988).
This week sees the long overdue release of three landmark documentaries by Academy Award-winner Errol Morris as well as the complete collection of his television series, First Person. "After twenty years of reviewing films, I haven't found another filmmaker who intrigues me more," Roger Ebert once wrote. "Errol Morris is like a magician, and as great a filmmaker as Hitchcock or Fellini."
As we noted in our introduction to Nina Rehfeld's interview with Morris in 2003, perhaps the most historically significant of his films is The Thin Blue Line: "Significant because Blue Line, by including staged reconstructions of crucial events in its story, challenged the notion of what a documentary could be. And do. Morris himself has called it 'the first murder mystery that actually solves a murder.' The project came about when his filmmaking career was stalled and he'd taken a job as a private investigator. 'Two careers intersected,' John Pierson writes in Spike, Mike, Slackers & Dykes. 'Errol Morris director met Errol Morris detective just in time to return to filmmaking and clear an innocent man who had been on death row.'"
Gates of Heaven.
"It's difficult to tell whether Gates of Heaven is comedy, tragedy, or just plain wacky," wrote John Nesbit at CultureDose.net. "You might end up viewing it with your mouth agape."
"Philosophical slapstick," David Ansen called it in Newsweek, "a film as odd and mysterious as its subjects, and quite unforgettable."
Errol Morris' First Person. Disc 1.
The series ran one year on Bravo, the second on the Independent Film Channel, and incorporates Morris's trademark interviewing machine, the Interrotron, which allows interviewees to look simultaneously at a live image of Morris and directly into the camera. Again, Morris's knack for finding the people with the oddest yet somehow alarmingly resonant stories to tell and then getting them to tell them fully is on full display here.
Eating Out (2004).
A roundelay featuring young men and women trying on various sexual orientations in their efforts to reel in the ones they truly love.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Volume 7 (2005).
"It's as clever, funny and long-winded as the comics and adds a touch of the poetic artiness of the films," writes brakhage of the first volume. "Great plotting, direction, voice talent... killer production all the way round."