FRESH FROM THE THEATERS
The Passion of the Christ (2004). As one of the most controversial movies of the year, never mind one of the most financially successful as well, Mel Gibson's retelling of the last days of Jesus of Nazareth hardly needs an introduction. Nonetheless, you may well be interested in what your fellow GreenCiners have had to say about it, and so, we point you to that lively discussion. [Rent] And by the way, while we're on the subject, you might also be interested in checking out Primetime: Mel Gibson's Passion [Rent], Diane Sawyer's 40-minute interview with the man who dominated movie headlines until Michael Moore won a little prize over there in France.
South Park: The Passion of the Jew (2004). No, this one wasn't in theaters, but we can't help but slip it in right here just for, you know, the sake of contrast and comparison with the object of its barbed satire. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, now furiously wrapping up Team America: World Police the feature that promises to piss off everybody, here concentrate on sanctimonious Christians, Catholic pedophiles, and of course, Mel Gibson. [Rent]
Twisted (2004). Reviewers were not kind to this thriller. Perhaps they took a look at all that talent and smelled blood: Ashley Judd, Samuel L. Jackson, Andy Garcia, and behind the camera, Philip Kaufman. [Rent]
24th Day (2004). A two-man face-off that aims to claim a contemporary spot in the tradition of Deathtrap and Sleuth. [Rent]
Takashi Miike's Black Society Trilogy:
- Shinjuku Triad Society (1995). "Widely considered to be the turning point in the director's career as he transformed himself from a hack-for-hire into one of the most exciting filmmakers in contemporary cinema," notes the UK's Channel 4, adding that the film is "characterised by a distinctive visual style, several scenes of audacious violence and lashings of the director's customary absurdity." [Rent]
- Rainy Dog (1997). Everyone will have their favorites, but as far as the DVD Maniacs are concerned, "Rainy Dog is the best of the three films in the set. Sho Aikawa is brilliant in the lead role, bringing a calm sense of confusion to his character that is utterly believable despite the odd lifestyle he lives.... Though not without its moments, Rainy Dog lacks the quantity of brutal violence that Miike is known for so often (and that is peppered throughout Shinjuku Triad Society ) but more than makes up for the lack of action with a compelling character drama that sucks you into its miserable world." [Rent]
- Ley Lines (1999). Once again, Channel 4:The third and final part of Miike's Triad Society trilogy is an extension of many of the same themes and concerns... notably that of ethnic outsiders in the seedy underbelly of Tokyo's Shinjuku district. It's also a far more mature and developed film that doesn't feel the need to rely on sensationalism to make its point. With his trademark elliptical virtuosity, Miike presents us with a staggeringly inventive film, full of unusual camera angles, jerky handheld footage and kinetic rushes of cinematographic action. Reuniting with director of photography Naosuke Imaizumi, Miike lays bare his Japanese New Wave credentials... Great stuff." [Rent]
The Magic of Marciano (2000). Nastassja Kinski plays a troubled single mom in the second film by Tony Barbieri. Winner of the New American Cinema Award at the Seattle Film Festival. [Rent]
One Eyed King (2001). Armand Assante, William Baldwin and Chazz Palminteri lead a rough-n-tumble cast through a gritty drama which, it should be added, is not without its laughs, too. [Rent]
Chris Rock: Never Scared (2004). Salon's Heather Havrilesky couldn't have been happier to welcome Chris Rock back to the airwaves when this special hit HBO just a few months ago: "With an increasingly messy war in Iraq and a contentious election year under way, who better than Rock to slay the sacred dragons roaming around unchecked? He never minces words. He nails every joke. He tackles the stickiest subjects without self-consciousness or self-importance, and delivers his punch lines with the percussive conviction of a master orator. Only Rock can conquer a controversial topic with an insolent remark and a wide-eyed grin, only he can unravel the conventional wisdom on drugs or race relations with one well-chosen metaphor." [Rent]
The Groove Room (1975). In the mid-70s, Sweden was still a synonym for all things naughty and nice. And groovy, of course. Especially when they set their light and racy comedies in the Victorian era. Skal! [Rent]
Satan in the Suburbs (2004). A more literal but less poetic title would read, "Satanism in the Suburbs," because this doc is, in fact, an investigation into a true story of devil worship that led to a gruesome murder in 1984. [Rent]
Videodrome (1983). "Long live the New Flesh!" It's practically become a refrain for David Cronenberg's career. This is one of the more loaded of Criterion editons, featuring not only audio commentary by Cronenberg, James Woods, Deborah Harry and DP Mark Irwin, but also a handful of featurettes, such as Samurai Dreams, the complete and unedited faux Japanese AV feature seen in the film, and Fear on Film, a 26-minute roundtable discussion from 1982 with Cronenberg, John Carpenter, John Landis and Mick Garris talking about censorship, special effects makeup, and horror cinema in general. [Rent]. Bonus disc [Rent].
Forbidden Zone (1980). The term "cult classic" is tossed around a little too lightly these days, but blast it, if it ever applied to a film a mere quarter of a century old, this is the one. And yes, Richard Elfman is the older brother of Danny, and as a matter of fact, this is the first film Danny scored. And the only one in which he appears as Satan. [Rent]
Harry Novak Horror Double Feature: The Bloody, the Beautiful and the Bare and Behind Locked Doors. From Something Weird presents two from the King of Camp, the Sultan of Sexploitation, the Crown Prince of 60s Tease and 70s Sleaze. [Rent]
ACTION and ADVENTURE
Mark Pollard for Kung Fu Cinema: "Quality, contemporary martial arts action finally comes to Japan, but with an American star and a Chinese action director... Hong Kong action, Japanese attitude, and Hollywood sensibility cross paths with bone-jarring results.... Despite an unremarkable plot, Blood Heat is a lean and violent actioner that delivers the goods where it counts." [Rent]
Azumanga Daioh. Volume 4: Friends! (2002). "Way over the top shoujo, but very funny and nostalgic," drseid. "The series really brings you back to your high school days."
Twelve Kingdoms. Volume 7: Reflection (2002). "If you like thoughtful animes with subtle characterization, in which the characters spend a fair amount of time discussing their predicament, you'll like this show," offers . "The character design and scenes are beautifully rendered, and the animation itself is pretty good, with the characters usually on model despite their complexity." [Rent]
Gravitation. Volume 2: Stars on the Rise (1996). "The story of Gravitation is that love happens with the force of gravity," observes akeleven. "Shuichi falls in love with a man, not because he is gay, but because he encounters someone he must love, regardless of whether that person is male or female, or even polite. On the surface the story is very upbeat and visually over the top, but there are some dark undercurrents also." [Rent]
The Super Milk-Chan Show. Volume 2: Milk Shake (2004). Goofy satire. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Check out the films arriving on September 7 and take a peek at highlights of titles arriving later on this fall.
While you're at it, you might want to browse the New Releases Archive for more recent arrivals.