Friday, November 26, 2010

New this week: 11/26/10

Casablanca (1942)
Entering Casablanca is easy, getting out is much harder, especially if your name is on the Nazis' most-wanted list. At the top of the list is Czech Resistance leader Victor Laszlo, whose only hope is Rick Blaine, a cynical American who sticks his neck out for no one - especially Victor's wife Ilsa, and the ex-lover who broke his heart. So when Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's safe transport out of the country, the bitter Rick must decide what's more important.

Disappearance of Alice Creed
On a suburban street, two masked men seize a young woman. They bind and gag her and take her to an abandoned, soundproofed apartment. She is Alice Creed, daughter of a millionaire. Her kidnappers, the coldly efficient Vic and his younger accomplice Danny, have worked out a meticulous plan. But Alice is not going to play the perfect victim; she's not giving in without a fight.

Eat Pray Love
A happily married woman who is trying to get pregnant realizes that her life needs to go in a new direction. After a very painful divorce, she risks everything and embarks on a journey around the world that becomes a quest for self-discovery.

A team of mercenaries on a mission to overthrow a South American dictator discover that their mission has changed and they must make a choice about whether or not to attempt a dangerous rescue operation.

Her Majesty Mrs. Brown (1997)
Queen Victoria was the world's most powerful woman. Rugged Scotsman John Brown was a lowly servant who looked after her horses. Yet circumstances brought them together...the result was a passionate friendship that scandalized a nation!

House, Season 1
Hugh Laurie stars as the brilliant but sarcastic Dr. Gregory House, a maverick physician who is devoid of bedside manner. Dr. House thrives on the challenge of solving medical puzzles that other doctors give up on.

Pillars of the Earth
In the town of Kingsbridge during the middle of the twelfth century, the lives of those who are working to build the most amazing Gothic cathedral in the world become entwined through their ambitions, loves, and tribulations. At once, this is a sensuous and enduring love story and an epic that shines with the fierce spirit of a passionate age.

Secret of Kells
In a remote medieval outpost of Ireland, young Brendan embarks on a new life of adventure when a celebrated master illuminator arrives from foreign lands carrying a book brimming with secret wisdom and powers. To help complete the magical book, Brendan has to overcome his deepest fears on a dangerous quest that takes him into the enchanted forest where mythical creatures hide.

The Werner Herzog collection:
(all in German)
Enigma of Kaspar Hauser
Based on a real historical event, this is the story of Kaspar Hauser, a young man who appeared in a small German town in 1820 after having lived in total isolation from humans since birth. He is taught to speak, read, and write by townspeople, but is then mysteriously murdered.

Even Dwarfs Started Small
The inmates have taken over an institution in a bleak and savage world in which everyone's a dwarf. As one of the institution's directors holds a rebel hostage while issuing orders for calm, the other inmates run amok, smashing equipment, setting fires, fighting for power and tormenting two blind prisoners. In this land of reversed proportions, these revolutionary outcasts not only destroy the symbols of civilization -- cars, typewriters and dinner plates -- but trees and flowers and animals as well.

Heart of Glass
Set in the 18th-century, this film tells of a Bavarian village that loses the secret of making its unique ruby glass. The townspeople turn to madness, murder, and magic in a desperate effort to recover the pure ingredient they have lost. During the filming, Herzog hypnotized his actors in order to help convey the atmosphere of hallucination, prophecy and the visionary.

Lessons of Darkness
A documentary of 1992 post-Gulf War Kuwait, focusing on the oil well fires ignited by retreating Iraqi soldiers.

Little Dieter Needs to Fly
Growing up in post-WWII Germany, all Dieter Dengler, the son of a Nazi slain during the war, dreamed about was becoming a pilot. At age 18 he immigrated to the United States and worked odd jobs until he was accepted into the Navy and began pilot training. He was sent to Vietnam around 1966 and on his first mission was shot down and taken prisoner. There, the Vietcong tortured him until Dengler engineered a hair-raising escape and eventually returned to the U.S. His story is recounted here via interviews with Dengler, archival footage and new footage seamlessly spliced together.

Bruno Stroszek is released from prison and warned to stop drinking. He has few skills and fewer expectations: with a glockenspiel and an accordion, he ekes out a living as a street musician. He befriends Eva, a prostitute down on her luck. After they are harried and beaten by the thugs who have been Eva's pimps, they join Bruno's neighbor, Scheitz, an elderly eccentric, when he leaves Germany to live in Wisconsin.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Something to look forward to:

Being an avid mystery reader I subscribe to a mystery blog called The Rap Sheet. The last post gave some exciting news for lovers of BBC mystery series: in January they will be airing a 3-part series of Aurelio Zen mysteries.
"The New Year will kick off with one major new detective onscreen – the BBC's Aurelio Zen, played by Rufus Sewell. Set in and around Rome, the three feature-length dramas should be very exciting for fans of the late Michael Dibdin's suave Italian detective." (
Aurelio Zen is from a mystery series written by the recently late Michael Dibdin. According to Wikipedia: Aurelio Zen is "Erratic, emotional and all too human, Zen negotiates the constantly shifting political terrain of both his job and his country through the nineties and into the new century.
Seemingly in his late forties and already somewhat jaded when we first meet him, he has had a longish career in the State Police and is relatively senior. Unafraid to employ radical and even decidedly underhand methods when he feels them appropriate, Zen struggles to manage the competing demands of his aged mother, his girlfriend and his job, sometimes accepting an assignment simply to escape from domestic pressures. Heart mostly in the right place, he does his best to make sense of whatever confronts him." The series is produced by the people who made Wallander so it should be a good one. I can't wait!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Jesse Stone

Although you may still think of Tom Selleck as the lovable Thomas Magnum in his 1980’s hit TV show Magnum P.I., Selleck , as an older, weathered man, is still upholding the law in his Jesse Stone series. From the novels of Robert B. Parker, Selleck plays Jesse Stone, the police chief of a small New England town. He is a flawed, mournful man, yet still rebellious, demanding that the town council accept him and his methods on his terms, not theirs. Sellecks’ Jesse is a quiet, thoughtful man who provides a sense of comfort and solace to those deserving but doesn’t fail to get the bad guy and ensure that they get the kind of punishment they deserve. So far there are six Jesse Stone movies all of which are great fun to watch. If you haven’t seen them yet, give them a try; and if you have, enjoy them all over again!
Jesse Stone: Stone Cold (2005)
Jesse Stone: Night Passage (2006)
Jesse Stone: Death in Paradise (2006)
Jesse Stone: Sea Change (2007)
Jesse Stone: Thin Ice (2009)
Jesse Stone: No Remorse (2010)
And watch for Jesse Stone: Innocents Lost coming out on TV in 2011

New this week:

Big Easy (1988)
A criminal's murder triggers a bloody gangland drug war. A saucy blend of New Orleans nightlife, romance and suspense. “"The Big Easy" is one of the richest American films of the year. It also happens to be a great thriller. I say "happens," because I believe the plot of this movie is only an excuse for its real strength: the creation of a group of characters so interesting, so complicated and so original they make a lot of other movie people look like paint-by-number characters.”—Roger Ebert

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1961)
Holly Golightly is an eccentric New York City playgirl determined to marry a Brazilian millionaire. Her next-door neighbor, a writer, is "sponsored" by a wealthy patroness. Guessing who the right man is for Holly is easy; seeing just how romance blossoms is one of the enduring delights of the film.

Charlie St. Cloud
Charlie St. Cloud is a small-town hero and an accomplished sailor who has it all: the adoration of his mother and younger brother and a Stanford scholarship. His bright future is cut short when tragedy strikes and takes his dreams with it. Now Charlie is torn between honoring a promise he made years ago and pursuing his newfound love with a former high school classmate.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
Ebenezer Scrooge begins the Christmas holiday with his usual miserly contempt, barking at his faithful clerk and his cheery nephew. But when the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come take him on an eye-opening journey revealing truths Old Scrooge is reluctant to face, he must open his heart to undo years of ill will before it's too late.

Grown Ups
Five friends and former teammates reunite on the Fourth of July weekend to honor the passing of their former high school basketball coach.

Jonah Hex
Having survived death, Jonah's violent history is steeped in myth and legend and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the 'other side.' His one human connection is with Lilah, whose life in a brothel has left her with scars of her own. But Jonah's past catches up with him when the U.S. military makes him an offer he can't refuse: to wipe out the warrants on his head, he must hunt and stop dangerous terrorist Quentin Turnbull.

The Killer inside Me
A sheriff is on the case to solve a string of murders in his small town, knowing that he is the killer. “…the craftsmanship on display is undeniable, and the black-hearted storytelling, true to the noir novel on which it's based, pulls in those with the stomach for it.”--DVDtalk

Nightmare on Elm Street
Five teenage friends living on one street all dream of a sinister man with a disfigured face, a frightening voice and a gardener's glove with knives for fingers. One by one, he terrorizes them within their dreams, where the rules are his and the only way out is to wake up. But when one among them dies, they soon realize that what happens in their dreams happens for real and the only way to stay alive is to stay awake.

Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Meet charming and jobless Scott Pilgrim. A bass guitarist for a garage band, the 22-year-old has just met the girl of his dreams, literally. The only catch to winning Ramona Flowers? Her seven evil exes are coming to kill him. As Scott gets closer to Ramona, he must face an increasingly vicious rogues' gallery from her past, from infamous skateboarders to vegan rock stars and fearsome identical twins. If he hopes to win his true love, he must vanquish them all.

Sex and the City 2
The fun, the fashion, the friendship: this sequel brings it all back and more as Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda come together to take another bite out of the Big Apple and beyond. What happens after you say 'I do?' Life is everything the ladies ever wished it would be, but it wouldn't be Sex and the City if life didn't hold a few more surprises. After all, sometimes you just have to get away with the girls.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

What to get for Christmas:

There’s a movie for every taste but it helps to know what you’re looking for. Here are some suggestions that might please those on your list.
If you’re like me and love a good mystery you can’t go wrong with three new foreign films: The Secret in Their Eyes (Argentinean), where a retired lawyer re-opens a closed case with surprising results, Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Swedish) and Girl Who Played with Fire (Swedish), both from the popular books by Stieg Larsson.
And if you want something fun try the great HBO comedy series Bored to Death or Robert Downey Jr. as a very energetic Sherlock Holmes. For the younger set watch for Scott Pilgrim vs. the World which is due out in DVD in November. City Island is another film that is sure to please.
For great documentaries the variety is amazing! Everything from the delightful Babies to Michael Jackson’s This is it to Bill Maher’s Religulous or Michael Moore’s Capitalism: a Love Story to the incredible Oceans.