NEW RELEASES - September 13
|FRESH FROM THE THEATERS|
"Palindromes takes what could have been simply a gimmick of a plot device - having a series of actors portray the same character - and turns it into something more revelatory," wrote Craig Phillips in the introduction to his interview with director Todd Solondz. "As with all his films, the film's fated to divide audiences and critics, for its seemingly nihilistic world view and bleak humor, and, of course, for making us all feel wholly uncomfortable.... He cares, he just has a funny way of showing it."
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2005).
Radio, TV, records, the stage, comics, even a computer game. Douglas Adams's massively popular riff on the end of the world has been with us for literally decades in practically every form imaginable except, oddly, a movie. It finally arrived to open this year's strange summer season and met with a mixed reception. But the New York Times's Manohla Dargis found it "hugely likable," noting that the filmmakers "have held onto a genuine sense of childlike wonder, which works as a nice corrective to what might otherwise come across as an overabundance of hip."
Fever Pitch. (2005).
Turns out that not only are Nick Hornby's books compulsively readable, they're irresistibly adaptable as well. And if he writes one about a particularly English obsession - soccer, as we call it stateside - we can adapt that as well. The Farrelly brothers direct Drew Barrymore and Jimmy Fallon. In a baseball movie.
Nobody Knows (2004).
"Prime movie-of-the-week material," notes Filmbrain. "Four children, ranging in age from five to twelve, are left to fend for themselves in a Tokyo apartment after their mother abandons them. A thousand and one dire films could easily have been made from this premise, yet Koreeda manages to avoid every possible cliché and pitfall (and there are many) in his take on events that actually did occur back in 1988.... Nobody Knows isn't always an easy film to watch - as the seasons go by and the conditions worsen (the film was shot chronologically), it becomes increasingly uncomfortable to passively observe the inevitable downward spiral. Still, it's one that shouldn't be missed."
Before Head-On went on to win the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival, David Hudson called it "an exhilarating return to what even [the director] calls the 'Fatih Akin film'... This is one of the most alive and lively films in Competition, thanks evidently to Akin's semi-improvisational approach and thanks most definitely to the two leads, Birol Ünel as Cahit and newcomer Sibel Kekilli, who plays a girl from a conservative Turkish family in Hamburg. She wants out, she wants sex, she wants to get high, to do what she wants whenever she wants... Cahit's situation: Depressed and depressing and yet in a ferociously amusing way. Until he rams his car into a wall. At the hospital, he meets Sibil; she's just slashed her wrists. And she has an idea: If he marries her, she'll clean his place and stay out of his way and her family will leave her alone. A marriage of convenience for both, in other words. They'll live their own lives and most certainly will not fall in love. Well. Yes, it happens, but it's the journey not the destination (which isn't as predictable as it might seem at first) that makes this a favorite with press who hooted and cheered as Akin and his cast entered the press conference."
The movie takes place in rural Kazakhstan, and by rural, I mean very rural," wrote Opus at Twitch when he caught it at the Toronto Film Festival last year. "Houses dot vast fields, which are littered with the remains of electrical towers, empty warehouses, and other dwellings. The people who live in this place are a curious mix of European, Asian and Middle Eastern nationalities, and it's this mixture of cultures, in addition to the stunning landscape, that kept me intrigued, sometimes even moreso than the actual storyline.... It's somewhat hard to place what, exactly, Schizo is. Is it a coming-of-age story, a crime thriller, a dark comedy, what? It's all of those things, and yet its subtlety means it's none of them as well."
The Second Awakening of Christa Klages (1978).
Though she lives in Paris now, the roots of Margarethe von Trotta's career are deeply embedded in the New German Cinema of the 70s and 80s. She acted in a few Fassbinder films and eventually married Volker Schlöndorff, with whom she co-directed The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum (and they would eventually divorce). She broke out on her own with The Second Awakening of Christa Klages, "an acutely observed reflection on her favorite theme: the powerful (and often mysterious) psychic bond among women," as Scott Tobias has written for the AV Club.
Featuring the unforgettable Katharina Thalbach.
Sisters, or the Balance of Happiness. (1981).
"The film's strength lies in the meticulous, if somewhat dispassionate, manner in which the sisters' natures are contrasted and interwoven," wrote Janet Maslin in the New York Times back in 1982. "Sisters is a quietly accomplished film, and often a very good one, skillful in its examination of both the separateness and the similarity of these two women."
Sheer Madness. (1983).
Again, Scott Tobias in the AV Club: "Were it not for [Margarethe] von Trotta's sophistication and the welcome presence of Hanna Schygulla... Sheer Madness would suffocate from its didactic feminism." An intriguing record of its era.
Rock School. (2005).
Richard Linklater has said he'd never heard of Paul Green when he made School of Rock and we're giving him the benefit of the doubt. But Green, for better and worse, is the real McCoy, a guy who actually runs a school in which he teaches kids to, you know, rock. But he's not quite as sweet or cuddly as Jack Black and the result here, as Manohla Dargis has put it in the New York Times, is an "alternately hilarious and alarming documentary."
"I heartily recommend this film to anyone who loves lesbian romances or BBC costume dramas (or both)," writes LSteele. "The acting is excellent, featuring Imelda Staunton as well as the two up-and-coming leads, Elaine Cassidy and Sally Hawkins. It's not surprising that the 2005 BBC adaptation is so good, considering it's based on an excellent novel by Sarah Waters (of Tipping the Velvet fame). Rent this along with Tipping, and have a compare-and-contrast Victorian lesbian costume-drama extravaganza!"
Bad Timing (1980).
The recent documentary Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession will whet the appetite of anyone who's seen it for the films that famed LA cable channel's programmer championed. A handful of them were clearly landmarks in the careers and lives of anyone involved - and for the lucky audiences at the time. And Nicolas Roeg's Bad Timing, with Art Garfunkel and Theresa Russell, is one of them. "One of the most unrelentingly grim films ever made about the 'joys' of love," writes Shock Cinema.
This Criterion disc also features new interviews with Roeg and Russell as well as deleted scenes.
The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976).
"I hated it the first time," admits larbeck. "But after more viewing, I learned to love it and appreciate how it was really a groundbreaking film and perhaps ahead of its time, in terms of displaying a sense of angst in an artistic yet still cinematic way."
And SteelyCrain wants to know why David Bowie wasn't nominated for an Oscar.
The film has been released on DVD twice before, but of course, Criterion wouldn't go to the trouble if it weren't offering something new. What we have here is the full, uncut version, a new hi-def widescreen transfer and exclusive commentary by director Nicolas Roeg, Bowie and Buck Henry.
One Missed Call (2004).
"God I love Takashi Miike," writes Jeremy Knox at Film Threat. "One Missed Call plays like a good cover song. It's not just a repetition of the previous tune. It reminds you why you liked the original in the first place and makes you rediscover it. Simply put, if you liked Ringu, if you liked The Eye, if you liked Ju-On, then you will like this movie."
Da Ali G Show. The Complete Second Season (2003).
In his own words: "Me woz born in da heart off da Staines ghetto. I has lived wiv me Nan in Staines at 37 Cherry Blossom Close from da day me woz born, coz wiv both me parents havin been smoked, dere werent no one else around to look afta her. Me has been carin for her ever since. Me woz failed by da skool system and hated every minute me spent in da classroom. In fact added together, dat time woz probly da most borin 3 hours of me life - altho me do still go to a skool re-union every second Monday at Staines Job Centre... As well as bein unemployed - i iz also got a lot off well important careers. As head of Da West Staines Massive, me control da most peace lovin and violent gang in da hole of Barkshire. Afta happearin on some crap programme dat woz on at 11 a clock or somefin, it werent long before me ad me own show. Dis meant me was able to take a in depf look at a lot off serious issues.... I iz now easily da most respekted face on Brittish telly and it iz probably only a matter off time before me get offered me own slot on Channel 5 - or hopefully even cable..."
Otogi Zoshi. Volume 4: Modern History (2005).
"Although it sports numerous intense action sequences, Otogi Zoshi is not exclusively an action series," writes the Anime News Network. "The character design, which emphasizes the long hairstyles typical of the time period, is gorgeous. Sumptuous costuming highlights the designs, easily ranking the series among the best in recent memory in both categories."