September 28, 2004
Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working With Time (2001). Who is Andy Goldsworthy and why would you want to watch a doc about him? First, he's an artist who creates sculptures he calls earthworks, structures made of purely natural materials - leaves, ice, water, stones - and often in such a way that they're likely to decompose, melt, evaporate or collapse in short order. But, as the New York Times has written, the "evanescence" of his work "is an essential aspect of its beauty." In turn, it's part of the beauty of this film as well, wonderfully shot by its director and editor, Thomas Riedelsheimer. Many of the works captured here are now long gone, but that's just it: the memory of them, the profoundly suggestive notions of what they once were is still with us, in Rivers and Tides. If you're still hesitant about sitting yourself down in front of a doc about an artist you may know little or nothing about, we recommend Davin Lagerroos's review for the Dual Lens. [Rent]
The Big One (1997). We suppose Michael Moore needs no introduction. But before George W. Bush inspired him to make the film that would break all records for a documentary, he had, of course, been forging and fine-tuning his own unique, highly opinionated style ever since Roger & Me flew in the face of objectivity in the doc all those years ago. In The Big One, the subject is one many politicians prefer to bring up only once every four years, though most of us worry about it pretty much all the time: Jobs. [Rent]
Thriller: A Cruel Picture (1974). Kill Bill has been directly or indirectly responsible for either the rushed release on DVD of the films Tarantino has referenced (see, for example, Lady Snowblood) or the revival of the occasional out-n-out forgotten exploitation flick - this one, also known as They Call Her One Eye, being the prime example. The tagline claims for the film the dubious honor of being the first ever to be banned in Sweden. True or not, Tarantino has indeed mentioned it as the inspiration for the character played by Daryl Hannah, Elle Driver. Here, it's Madeleine (Christina Lindberg) who's gang-raped, drugged, loses an eye and so on until, one day, she decides to enact her revenge. Lots of graphic sex and violence, but as Michael Mackenzie asks in the UK's DVD Times, "[W]hat else have we got? Well, sit down before reading this, but I actually think Thriller is a pretty artistic piece of work. Visually, the whole thing is quite striking, with the sparsely decorated interiors (probably a result of the film's miniscule budget) contrasting with the outdoor splendour of Sweden in the autumn.... There are a number of very beautiful shots, my favourite being one in which Christina Lindberg emerges from a shed after sawing off a shotgun, and the dead autumn leaves on the ground swirl around her." [Rent]
The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies (1964). Sometimes, the title just says it all, doesn't it? "A must for fans of low-brow, low-scale and low-budget drive-in cinema," pronounces the Video Graveyard. [Rent]
ACTION and ADVENTURE
Gojoe (2000). "A sumptuous and at times super-charged swordplay fantasy," writes Tom Mes at Midnight Eye. "The fact that Sogo Ishii, the creator of such contemporary punk masterpieces as Burst City (Bakuretsu Toshi, 1982) and Crazy Thunder Road (Kuruizaki Sandaa Rodo, 1980) is at the helm should be an indication that this is not your average swords-and-kimonos adventure.... All in all, Gojoe, with its roaring monster of a finale and brilliant score (partially by Ishii's own band Mach 1.67...), is a refreshing re-invention of one of the stalwart genres in Japanese cinema, exhilarating and breathtakingly photographed." [Rent]
Cannonball (1976). Paul Bartel directs David Carradine in a cameo-spotters delight. Yes, there's Martin Scorsese as a mafioso and Roger Corman as the DA. But that little kid over there? Future director Joe Dante. Allan Arkush. Some guy named Stallone. Bartel himself. In larger roles, we've got Robert Carradine, Keith's brother and David's half-brother. Mary Woronov. Oh, and there's action, too. After all, as the tagline says, "The annual Trans-American outlaw road race - A cross-country demolition derby without rules!" [Rent]
Circle of Iron (1978). And it's David Carradine again, this time in a role that - besides the television series Kung Fu, of course - Tarantino must have had in mind when he pondered a replacement for the role Warren Beatty was supposed to have taken in Kill Bill. Besides the truly bizarre mix of martial arts and Zen philosophy (the story was co-written by Bruce Lee), we also have echoes of the western, not the least of which is presence of Eli Wallach. And for the sake of keeping yourself off guard, look, too, for Roddy McDowell and Christopher Lee. [Rent]
My Name is Modesty (2003). Have we mentioned Quentin Tarantino this week? Well, he's presenting this one, another chapter in the adventures of Modesty Blaise, a striking and severely independent heroine created for a strip cartoon in 1963 Tarantino readily identifies as an inspiration for The Bride. [Rent]
Strangers with Candy. Season 3 (2001). One of the highest rated if not the highest rated television series here at GC. "Good Tiiiimes!" exclaimed bpiot when he saw the first season: "This has got to be the funniest show that Comedy Central ever put on the air.... It was great seeing all the shows back to back and a good portion of the shows have some equally funny commentary by the actors as part of the special features of the disc. This is a show that can happily offend everyone!" Starring Amy Sedaris, featuring Paul Dinello and Stephen Colbert. This season's guests include Will Ferrell and Andy Richter. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Ellen. Season One (1994). Back to the beginning. Ellen DeGeneres and company lay the groundwork for what would eventually become a groundbreaking sitcom. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Crank Yankers. Uncensored! Season One (2004). Okay, here's a formula: Prank phone calls plus puppets. The first season of the Comedy Central series features guests along the line of Dave Chappelle and Jack Black. Discs 1 [Rent] and 2 [Rent].
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Volume 2. Volume 1 has proven mighty popular around here and is scoring some very high ratings. [Rent]
Gungrave. Volume 2: The Sweeper (2003). Kohnfused1 thought this series would be pretty much like the PS2 game it's based on; lots of shooting and that's that. "Surprise, surprise," he says, "the gun violence is there, but only for the first episode. What threw me off was the rich story and the character development for all of the cast. It's like watching a drama series, but for guys. That, and it has incredible animation, nothing was skimped on when making this thing.... I highly recommend this series to anime fans who like substance in their anime." [Rent]
Knight Hunters Eternity. Volume 2: Troubled Souls (2002). Some have called this series a male version of Charlie's Angels. [Rent]
.hack//Legend of the Twilight. Volume 3: End Game (2003). "Not nearly as good as the .hack//sign series," admits drseid, "but still a good show worthy of attention. This one is much more light-hearted, cute and less deep story-wise than .hack/sign." [Rent]
Early Reins (2004). Six cute cowgirls escort a man across the wild, wild West, protecting him from the bullet with his name on it. Not to mention his gold. [Rent]
Gravitation. Volume 3: One Million Copies!? (1996). "This series is packed with fantastic characters, hilarious plot twists, angst, and many helpings of shamelessly sweet romantic moments as Shu slowly but steadily melts Yuki's cold heart," says ABurke. "The animation in Gravitation is good, and the music is very, very catchy. Additionally, the DVDs are gorgeously formatted and have some great extras." [Rent]
Dead Leaves (2004). Amanda Winn-Lee (voice of "Pandy" and producer of the English-language dub), as quoted at the official site: "The show is jammed with funny little visuals that only stay on screen for a moment or two, but are still pretty hilarious. [For example], in the scene where all the prisoners are bowing down to worship Retro, there's one guy who has a satellite dish coming out of his butt... The translator's reaction to the show the first time she saw it was 20 seconds of silence followed by '... Um, yeah. I think this show just broke my brain...'" [Rent]
NaNa 7 of 7. Volume 2: A Test of Love (2002). The further adventures of the magnificent color-coded seven. [Rent]
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