Thursday, October 30, 2008

What I've been watching: Iron Man, Street Kings, Run Fatboy Run, The Haunting and 88 Minutes

Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. is terrific as Iron Man, the superhero who destroys the unknown evil enemy in a war with terrorists. The film has action, adventure, thrills and chills. Its lots of fun!

Street Kings
Keanu Reeves stars as a veteran cop in a corrupt department. The catch is: who is corrupt? Who’s a friend, who’s the enemy? This is an intelligent film that keeps you guessing.

Run Fatboy Run
Lovable Simon Pegg plays the idiot who left his beautiful pregnant wife at the altar. 5 yrs. pass, he’s got a son he adores, his wife is still beautiful & he wants her back. To prove his love he (the fatboy in the title) runs a marathon. This film starts slow but gets better as it goes along.

The Haunting
My friend & colleague Macaire says this is her favorite scary movie. Mine is Repulsion. Looking at this film though, I see that Roman Polanski borrowed many of the scariest elements in Repulsion from this film. I guess that means this has to be the original scariest movie ever!

88 Minutes
In this thriller forensic psychologist Jack Gramm, who has many enemies among those his testimony has imprisoned, receives a phone call & is told he has 88 minutes to live. The film is suspenseful but is not nothing new. It felt contrived & uninspired to me.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

This week on the new book truck

Mongol R
“The story recounts the early life of Genghis Khan who was a slave before going on to conquer half the world including Russia in 1206.”— The subtitle of the film is The Rise to Power of Genghis Khan and that is exactly what it is. Oscar nomination as Best Foreign Film. In Mongolian.

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days NR
“Drama about a woman who assists her friend to arrange an illegal abortion in 1980's Romania.”— Winner of the 2007 Palme D’Or at Cannes this is an intriguing look at Romania under Ceausescu. In Romanian.

Flight of the Red Balloon NR
“A little boy and his baby-sitter inhabit the same imaginary world: through their adventures they are followed by a strange red balloon.”— This film was inspired by the 1956 classic, The Red Balloon. In French.

Dance of the Dead R
“On the night of the big High-School Prom, the dead rise to eat the living, and the only people who can stop them are the losers who couldn't get dates to the dance.”— To help you get ready for Halloween.

Man with the Screaming Brain NR
This was a freebie and it had the best cover ever! Campy sci-fi starring Bruce Campbell. Need I say more?

Strangers R
“A young couple staying in an isolated vacation home are terrorized by three unknown assailants.”— Another film to help you prepare for Halloween. Stars Liv Tyler.

The Fall

This is an amazing film! The plot is a story within a story. The first story takes place in 1920s Hollywood in a hospital. The two main characters are a young man, a stuntman who was badly hurt in a stunt and who is also suffering from a broken heart, and a little girl, a migrant worker who fell from an orange tree and broke her arm. They meet by chance when Alexandria, the little girl sails a message out the window of her room to her favorite nurse outdoors. The wind catches it and it sails into the room of Roy, the stuntman and lands on his chest. Alexandria runs outdoors and peeks in windows until she sees Roy looking at her message. She promptly goes in and takes it away from him. He stops her with the promise of an epic story. She’s intrigued. So begins the second story. This story is a fantastical tale of Governor Odious and the five heroes who want to defeat him. They are: the black bandit, Charles Darwin, a mystic, a slave, an Indian, and an Italian who is an expert with explosives. If this sounds a bit improbable don’t let that bother you. Remember, this is an epic story, made up by a stuntman and told to a little girl; its okay if it’s incredible. The Fall is directed by Tarsem, who is from India. It is filmed literally all over the world: 16 different countries and 4 years in the making. The settings are amazing: clear water, vivid green grass, overpowering golden-brown sand dunes. The look of this film is indeed awesome. The landscapes, the architecture, the costumes, the brilliant colors, they are all truly jaw-dropping. The two stories are interwoven with perfection. Although nothing in this film is typical, or expected, everything in this film is pure wonder. There is no film quite like this one. This film is a feast for the eyes, it is creative and imaginative—it is breathtaking.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Burn after Reading

I loved the scene where the CIA officer is reporting on events to his superior. The superior says: “Report back to me when it makes sense.” There were so many things going on and they seemed to be connected but nobody understood how they were connected. So the big question is: What’s going on? The people in this film have no connection to each other, are from completely different backgrounds, with different baggage and motives and yet they are all involved in the same plot; or seem to be. The story is: Osbourne Cox is removed from his job as a CIA agent because of his drinking problem. He then decides to write his memoirs. Additional info, his cold-hearted wife is having an affair with Harry who is married to another cold-hearted woman. Meanwhile, back at Hardbodies gym, Linda, a fitness instructor who is looking for love, needs 4 different cosmetic surgeries to reinvent herself, but no money to pay for it. The plot sets in motion when a computer disc which apparently holds national secrets, is found in the locker room of the gym. Linda’s friend Chad traces it back to Osbourne Cox so they attempt to “get a reward” from Cox for the return of the disc. If this is a bit confusing, you’re not alone. And it gets more confusing. Add in a shooting or two, an axe murder and there you have it: “What a clusterf**k!” as the CIA superior so succinctly puts it.
The Coen brothers are known for making dark comedies and this is definitely a dark comedy. Clooney, as the paranoid womanizer Harry, and Brad Pitt as the dim-witted gym coach are fantastic! As for the point of the movie, if there is one, maybe it’s just that nothing can be understood when there are so many people involved with so many layers of the stuff that they carry around with them. The important thing is that this is a screwball comedy with lots of great laughs.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

This week on the new book truck

War, Inc.
“"War, Inc." is a brave and ambitious but chaotic attempt at political satire. The targets: the war in Iraq, and the shadowy role of Vice President Dick Cheney's onetime corporate home Halliburton in the waging of the war.”—Roger Ebert

A widow is driving the ashes of her late husband from their home in Idaho to his funeral in Santa Barbara. She brings along her two best friends, one a strict Mormon who sneaks sips of coffee when no one's looking, and another who lost her teaching job because she advocated birth control at school and who misses having a man in her life. Great cast!

Indiana Jones and the kingdom of the crystal skull
This is the fourth in the Indiana Jones series. Peter Travers (Rolling Stone) says “Harrison Ford can still rock a fedora and a bullwhip like nobody's business as the globe-trotting archaeologist.”

The library always accepts donated films. If we don’t have it and it at least looks interesting—we’ll take it! These are some of our recent generous donations.

Blue Butterfly
The Blue Butterfly tells the story of a terminally ill 10-year-old boy whose dream is to catch the most beautiful butterfly on Earth, the mythic and elusive Blue Morpho. His mother persuades a renowned entomologist to take them on a trip to the jungle to search for the butterfly, leading to an adventure that will transform their lives.—

Fight Club
The Fight Club is a secret society of men who meet in order to find freedom and self-realization through beating one another into pulp. This one’s an audience favorite.

Emmanuel’s Gift
An inspirational movie about an inspiring figure: Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah of Ghana. Emmanuel, born into poverty with a severely deformed and twisted right leg, is a young man whose hardship seems monumental, but whose final triumphs are awesome.

Heaven’s Burning
Tells the story of a man and a woman who are inexplicably thrown together, amid violence and chaos. They quickly find themselves on the run from many adversaries, but find time to fall in love along the way.—

Tales of the Future
With: Things to come (1936), Metropolis (1927), The Lost World (1925) and newer titles like Slipstream (1989)
Classic science fiction films all in one box! If you only watch one of these great sci-fi films, watch Metropolis. It is possibly the greatest SF film ever and inspired the look and feel of SF films to the present time.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

This week on the new book truck

The Fall
In a hospital on the outskirts of 1920s Los Angeles, an injured stuntman begins to tell a fellow patient, a little girl with a broken arm, a fantastical story about 5 mythical heroes. As the tale advances the line between fiction and reality starts to blur. “Tarsem's "The Fall" is a mad folly, an extravagant visual orgy, a free-fall from reality into uncharted realms. Surely it is one of the wildest indulgences a director has ever granted himself. “—Roger Ebert

The Haunting
This 1963 film is from the novel by Shirley Jackson. “Hill House has an evil history with tragic accidents, suicide, and human misjudgment. Dr. Markway is a psychic researcher who assembles a group with histories linked to the paranormal. Eleanor was the subject of unexplained poltergeist activities as a child. She also is riddled with guilt over her mother's death. Theadora is a clairvoyant who befriends Eleanor at Hill House. Plus the cynical son of the owners sent to make sure that the property is not affected by the researchers. Together the group explores Hill House, and their own insecurities. Director Robert Wise created a taught drama where the real question is who is haunted and who may be unstable.”—

Never Back Down
“At his new high school, a rebellious teen is lured into an ultimate underground fighting club in a Backyard, where he finds a mentor in a mixed martial arts veteran. After receiving threats to the safety of his friends and family, he seeks the mentor to train his mind and body for one final no-holds-barred elimination fight with his unrelenting personal nemesis.

Run Fatboy Run
U.K.-born Dennis Doyle is in love with Elizabeth Odell. They get intimate and when Elizabeth gets pregnant, they plan to get married. On the day of the marriage, Dennis gets cold feet at the 11th hour and flees. Five years later, Dennis regrets this decision and attempts to re-enter Elizabeth and his son's lives encouraged by his friends...He decides to impress her by participating in a marathon-run in London.

Sex and the City: the Movie
A New York writer on sex and love is finally getting married to her Mr. Big. But her three best girlfriends must console her after one of them inadvertently leads Mr. Big to jilt her.

Superhero Movie
Orphaned high school student Rick Riker is bitten by a radioactive dragonfly, develops super powers (except for the ability to fly), and becomes a hero.

The Visitor
This is a great film. See my blog from Wednesday, May 7, 2008 for my complete review. (scroll to the bottom of the page)

You Don't Mess with the Zohan
An Israeli Special Forces Soldier fakes his death so he can re-emerge in New York City as a hair stylist. With Adam Sandler.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

The Ninth Annual Film Columbia Festival

Chatham, NY is once again hosting the Film Columbia Festival from October 16-19, 2008. This is 4 days of films, 1 filmmaker panel discussion on “Indie films on small screens: the next big thing?”, a screenwriting competition and panel discussion, parties and lots of film talk. Some of the films being shown are:

The Secret Life of Bees (starring Paul Bettany and Queen Latifah),

Synedoche, New York (with Philip Seymour Hoffman and Michelle Williams),

Happy-Go-Lucky (Mike Leigh’s new film) and Two Lovers (with Joaquin Phoenix and Gwyneth Paltrow).

This is just the short list: the days are full of films to watch and enjoy. I’ve never been to this film festival mainly because I don’t like standing in lines to buy tickets. This year however, you can buy a film pass or a gold pass that lets you into all films and events. So if you’ve always wanted to go to a film festival this might be a good one to try since it’s just a short and pleasant drive to Chatham. For festival information call 518-392-3445, or on the web at