Thursday, January 29, 2009

New this week:

Lakeview Terrace
An LAPD officer will stop at nothing to force out the interracial couple who just moved in next door. Starring Samuel L. Jackson.

Vicky Cristina Barcelona
Two girlfriends on a summer holiday in Spain become enamored with the same painter, unaware that his ex-wife, with whom he has a tempestuous relationship, is about to re-enter the picture. Directed by Woody Allen with an all-star cast including Javier Bardem, Scarlett Johansson, and Penelope Cruz. Winner of the Golden Globe “Best Motion picture—comedy or musical.”

Thursday, January 22, 2009

New movies: Valkyrie, Slumdog Millionaire, Milk, Gran Torino

Lately I’ve made it to a few of the films that have been making everyone’s top ten list but were only recently released. I saw Valkyrie starring Tom Cruise as a Nazi party member plotting to kill Hitler. I was completely unimpressed by the film: it was missing all of the suspense that I expect to see in a film of this sort. It told the story but failed to get me involved. Then I saw Slumdog Millionaire which rightly deserves all of the praise it has received. It was a tremendous film with a lot of heart. I particularly loved the dancing at the end. Next I saw Milk starring Sean Penn as gay rights activist and politician Harvey Milk. Having seen the 1984 documentary The Times of Harvey Milk I wondered why Gus Van Sant felt he needed to make the film because the story was told so well in the documentary. But, it’s 2009 and no one is likely to go back and look at a film from 1984. Plus, Sean Penn’s a big draw. And it’s an important story that deserves to be told to younger generations. And in the end, it was very well done. Sean Penn was great. It made me proud to be of that generation even though I was not involved in that particular battle.
Finally, I saw Gran Torino. I was expecting a violent film. What I got was a funny film with a lot of heart. Of course, the humor was all completely politically incorrect but it was mostly tongue-in-cheek. After having seen these films, I’d throw out Valkyrie but I would definitely add the other 3 films to my top ten list bringing my total to 12 best films of the year. There are still a bunch of movies in town I want to see so if I actually make it to any of them maybe my top ten list will grow even more. Maybe Roger Ebert is correct that it was a great year for films but I still object to having all the great films released in December and January.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Duchess

Another review from friend and colleague Judie Harren:

A lavish film about the empty marriage between a beautiful young girl and the rich, arrogant Duke of Devonshire. Filled with wonderful acting and spectacular settings, this emotional drama is a great choice for those of us who love realistic historical romance. Available in the library collection.

Monday, January 19, 2009

New to the library:

Bangkok dangerous
A hitman who wants to retire, goes to Bangkok for his final job.

Big sleep
This is one of the very best of the noir mysteries. The writing is so good--there are numerous memorable quotes. And of course, Bogart is the quintessential detective. This is definitely a desert island film!

Chop shop
Alejandro, a tough and ambitious Latino street orphan on the verge of adolescence, lives and works in an auto-body repair shop in a sprawling junkyard on the outskirts of Queens, New York. In this chaotic world of adults, young Alejandro struggles to make a better life for himself and his 16-year-old sister, Isamar.

Day for night
Winner of the best foreign film Oscar in 1974, this is director Truffaut’s homage to filmmaking. It is about all aspects of moviemaking; about the technical problems, the boredom between takes and about the romances and intrigues. Not only does it offer an accurate behind-the-scenes picture of filmmaking, but it is wonderfully entertaining as well.

Lady from Shanghai
Another noir mystery classic, this may not be Orson Welles’ greatest film, but it’s one of his most fun. Welles plays the patsy and Rita Hayworth the femme fatale. The shootout scene is outstanding!

Pineapple express
A stoner and his dealer are forced to go on the run from the police after the pothead witnesses a cop commit a murder.

Righteous kill
Two veteran New York City detectives work to identify the possible connection between a recent murder and a case they believe they solved years ago; is there a serial killer on the loose, and did they perhaps put the wrong person behind bars?

A young Arab-American girl struggles with her sexual obsession, a bigoted Army reservist and her strict father during the Gulf War.

It's the summer of 1994, and the streets of New York are pulsing with hip-hop. Set against this backdrop, a lonely teenager named Luke Shapiro spends his last summer before university selling marijuana throughout New York City, trading it with his unorthodox psychotherapist for treatment, while having a crush on his stepdaughter.

Zorba the Greek
An English writer traveling to Crete on business finds his life changed forever when he meets the dionysian Alexis Zorba. Quinn is unforgettable in the title role. Isn’t this the movie, and this the music that evokes Greece in all of our minds? This is a great film to watch when your life needs a little lift.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New last week

Four struggling actors retreat to a cabin in Big Bear, California in order to write a screenplay that will make them all stars. Problem is: What happens when their story idea -- a horror flick about a group of friends tormented by a villain with a bag over his head -- starts to come true?

Burn after reading
A disk containing the memoirs of a CIA agent ends up in the hands of two unscrupulous gym employees who attempt to sell it. This one was hilarious!

Death race
Ex-con Jensen Ames is forced by the warden of a notorious prison to compete in our post-industrial world's most popular sport: a car race in which inmates must brutalize and kill one another on the road to victory.

The Duchess
A chronicle of the life of 18th century aristocrat Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, who was reviled for her extravagant political and personal life.

Eagle eye
Jerry and Rachel are two strangers thrown together by a mysterious phone call from a woman they have never met. Threatening their lives and family, she pushes Jerry and Rachel into a series of increasingly dangerous situations, using the technology of everyday life to track and control their every move.

The edge of Heaven
A Turkish man travels to Istanbul to find the daughter of his father's former girlfriend.

Ghost town
This romantic comedy is more romance than comedy. It’s cute. If you liked Just like heaven, you’ll like this one, and vice-versa.

Hamlet 2
In this irreverent comedy, a failed actor-turned-worse-high-school-drama-teacher rallies his Tucson, AZ students as he conceives and stages politically incorrect musical sequel to Shakespeare's Hamlet.

Mamma mia!
The story of a bride-to-be trying to find her real father told using hit songs by the popular '70s group ABBA. Very energetic and lots of fun!

Rain shadow
2 country vets in drought-ridden Paringa (Australia) battle a disease in the sheep herds as well as each other in this beautifully filmed mini-series.

The women
A wealthy New Yorker leaves her cheating husband and bonds with other society women. This is a remake 1939 film. See the original. This version is a disappointment.

Bringing Balanchine back
Follow the New York City Ballet, led by Master in Chief Peter Martins, to the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, where ballet legend and NYC Ballet co-founder George Balanchine and others took their first ballet steps. Narrated by Kevin Kline.