Tuesday, October 20, 2009

New last week:

Anvil : the Story of Anvil
Documents the musical journey of the Canadian band Anvil from their success in the 1980s through their current struggles to keep their dreams alive.

Away We Go
A couple who are expecting their first child travel around the U.S. in order to find a perfect place to start their family. Along the way, they have misadventures and find fresh connections with an assortment of relatives and old friends who just might help them discover "home" on their own terms for the first time.

Beyond Tomorrow (1940)
Three wealthy men decide to share their Christmas with some less fortunate people. They settle on two down-and-outers, a man and a woman who then fall in love.

The Birds (1963)
Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror film about a small California town that is attacked by thousands of birds.

The Bronte Collection:
Jane Eyre

After a harsh childhood, orphan Jane Eyre is hired by Edward Rochester, the brooding lord of a mysterious manor house to care for his young daughter.
The Tenant of Wildfell Hall
Based on a little known 1848 novel by Anne Bronte, Tara Fitzgerald stars as an enigmatic young woman who moves to 19th Century Yorkshire with a young son. Distancing herself from everyone in the village and their prying questions, she remains totally aloof until a charming neighbor farmer gets her to reveal her past through his persistence. Only then does she reveal she is hiding away from a womanizing, belittling husband.
Wuthering Heights
The story of unfortunate lovers Heathcliff and Cathy who, despite a deep affection for one another, are forced by circumstance and prejudice to live their lives apart.

The Brothers Bloom
The Brothers Bloom are the best con men in the world, swindling millionaires with complex scenarios of lust and intrigue. Now they've decided to take on one last job - showing a beautiful and eccentric heiress the time of her life with a romantic adventure that takes them around the world.

A traveling art saleswoman tries to shake off a flaky motel manager who falls for her and won't leave her alone.

Monsters vs. Aliens
After she is hit by a meteor and turns into a giant, Susan Murphy is taken to a secret military base with other monsters the government has collected where they are called into action to save Earth from alien invaders.

Unable to cope with a recent personal tragedy, LA's top celebrity shrink turns into a pothead with no concern for his appearance and a creeping sense of his inability to help his patients.

Asa is a young Russian naval service dreamer who returns to his sister's nomadic brood on the desloate Hunger Steppe to begin a hardscrabble career as a shepherd. But before he can tend a flock of his own, Asa must win the hand of the only eligible bachelorette for miles, his alluringly mysterious neighbor Tulpan. Accompanied by his girlie magazine-reading sidekick, Asa will stop at nothing to prove he is a worthy husband and herder.

Year One
Tribal nitwits, Zed and Oh, are two guys living in the year one. Neither one can hunt nor gather, so they are thrown out of their Neanderthal community and dung-and-stick huts. Zed eats the forbidden fruit and the two become curious about what may lay outside of their limited little world. They decide to embark on a journey through the ancient world. On their travels they meet Cain and Abel, Abraham and Isaac. They wind up in Sodom where their girlfriends have been turned into slaves and are about to be sacrificed by the high priest.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What I’ve been watching:

Valentino, the Last Emperor
This documentary film follows the iconic fashion designer Valentino at the end of his career (he retired in 2007 after one last show). He is known for his elegant and glamorous dresses—he has dressed many big stars, and for the red Valentino dress. He is indeed a great designer. This film concentrates more on his lifestyle and his relationship with his partner of 50 years, Giancarlo Giammetti, than on his fashions and it is truly a look into the world of the rich and famous. Valentino owns 6 homes and a yacht. He employs a Majordomo who keeps all of the houses in tip top shape. The houses are museums unto themselves. In the film there is a celebration of the career of Valentino which is as spectacular as a Cirque du Soleil show. I can’t imagine how many thousands of dollars (millions maybe?) it took to put on this exhibition. Being a na├»ve middle class person from Kansas, I could not relate to this lifestyle on any level. It was beyond my wildest dreams. But I also didn’t get much sense of Valentino’s personality. He always took his 5 pugs with him everywhere he went and being a dog lover myself that says a lot for him but beyond that… He did publicly express appreciation for his partner, he held a party for his employees where he gave them gifts. I expected to see a party of seamstresses but instead they were all PR people. We saw him quickly draw a dress design and hand it to his head seamstress with instructions. She commented that she’s the one who actually makes the dress so I wondered if he was a good person to work for—if he gave his seamstresses the credit they deserve. I thought this was an interesting film but not a particularly exciting one. I like to see people at work and there wasn’t enough of that in the film to interest me. This was made as an homage to Valentino and though he’s certainly worthy of that honor it doesn’t make for a riveting film experience. As with the film Coco Chanel this documentary will grab the attention of those who are interested in fashion but anyone else will probably be bored.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What I’ve been watching:

Coco Chanel
This film couldn’t decide what it wanted to be. Was it a bio-pic? Was it a tragic romantic drama? The story was told in flashbacks with Shirley Maclaine playing the elder Coco and Barbora Bobulova playing the young Coco. The elder Coco we see as a tough woman who is obsessed with work. In the flashbacks we see how she became this tough, independent woman who is never afraid to speak her mind. We see her leave the orphanage, become a young seamstress, leave to become a mistress to a wealthy man where she begins making hats. When this relationship dissolves she tries to make a go of the hat-making business on her own but fails until she meets with an old friend, another wealthy man, who becomes partners with her, financially and romantically. He becomes the love of her life. We hear her opinions on woman’s clothing and we see glimpses of her designs but little time is spent on the creative process or the history of fashion. As a fan of “Project Runway”, that is what I wanted to see. I did learn a little about why Chanel is an important fashion icon so I was pleased about that but I didn’t see enough of her clothes to be able to recognize her style—except that she made a lot of suits. If you are interested in fashion this film is worth watching. If you’re not, there is little in this film that grabs you and draws you into the story.

Thursday, October 1, 2009


Anatomy of a Murder (1959)
One of my all-time favorites this courtroom murder mystery stars Jimmy Stewart as a country lawyer, Lee Remick as a rape victim, and Ben Gazzara as her husband who is pleading insanity for murdering the rapist. Stewart’s scenes have an atmosphere of calm which contrasts with the partying lifestyle of the killer and his wife. The film is based on the book of the same title which was written by a former Michigan Supreme Court justice and was based on a 1952 murder case in which he was the defense attorney. It’s a fascinating case and has made for a great film.

A tale of domestic ennui and awkward coming of age in the Manhattan suburbs starring an all-star ensemble cast. “It's a film of tremendous humor and wit, but also a potent portrait of adolescent longing and a painfully heartfelt depiction of deteriorating families.”—DVDtalk.com

Observe and Report
Seth Rogen plays “a belligerent, Clozapine-popping shopping-mall security guard who sees himself locked in a life-and-death struggle with the forces of crime…Observe and Report is not for every taste … But writer-director Jody Hill is audacious enough to stay true to a defiantly twisted, non-politically correct comic vision.”—DVDtalk.com

O’Horten (Norwegian)
Odd Horten is a neat, meticulous, pipe-smoking train conductor. He is winding up 40 years of service for the Norwegian railways. He wonders: when a man's life has been determined by timetables and clearly-defined journeys along narrow tracks, how he will now spend his free hours. Horten goes about his final work shifts and then enters into the uncertain world of retirement. He meets the dilemma of buying a new pipe using the same placid curiosity he brings to meeting a stranger who invites him to his home. “The thing about a deadpan comedy is, it has to think. It must involve us in the lives of its characters, so we can understand why they are funny while at the same time so distant. "O'Horten," a bittersweet whimsy by the Norwegian director Bent Hamer, finds that effortless.”—Roger Ebert

Paris 36 (French)
When Pigoil's adulterous wife leaves with his beloved son, he gambles everything to get him back. As the previous manager of the now closed Chansonia Theatre, he makes a deal with the new owner to give him one month to turn the theater around and make a profit. “This is not a great film, a masterpiece of cinema-as-art. It is, however, a wonderful movie that will delight you while you watch it and leave you with many happy musical memories after it has finished.”—imdb.com

Valentino: the Last Emperor
This film is a behind-the-scenes look at the world of fashion, featuring unprecedented access to the high temples of Haute Couture. Follows the legendary Valentino and his longtime business partner, Giancarlo Giammetti during the final two years of their careers, and shows the struggles the two men face as they confront the final act of a nearly 50-year career at the top of the world's most glamorous and competitive game. It is an intimate, engaging and very funny fly-on-the-wall exploration of the singular world of one of Italy's richest and most famous men. Tells the story of his extraordinary life and work, and also explores the larger themes affecting the fashion business today.

Tiling Countertops
Demonstrates techniques for tiling countertops. Presents an overview of basic procedures and shows how to solve problems.