Monday, September 28, 2009

Mates, Music and Mentality on DVD

I haven't posted about DVD, in weeks, because, the DVD releases have been meager. This week the situation improves. In the relationship department we've got Away We Go, which is a modern romantic comedy with a very realistic vibe. The Girlfriend Experience is an artful tail of a prostitute who is looking at marketing and a normal life. A wonderful documentary about the construction of Steinway pianos is called Note by Note, well worth a look.

In my DVD queue, The Brothers Bloom, Management and Shrink. I'm finally excited for my new DVD releases to arrive. Yay!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Jennifer's Body

I have read that Jennifer's Body was one of the first screenplays Diablo Cody wrote. I understand most writers have a horror story in their portfolio. Word is, she used her Oscar clout from Juno to get this film made. I'm glad she did. Basically, Jennifer meets up with some unseemly characters that unwittingly turn her into a man-eating demon. The characters are recognizable, the rules of the demons are clear and the execution is decent. Though it had it's cheesy moments, they gave the film a certain charm. I enjoyed it.

An interesting side note; there was a sign at the box office of a theater in Warwick, warning patrons that there was a scene reminiscent of the Station nightclub fire. A local wound that is still very raw.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Surrogates

Sci-fi seems to be the film genre darling of 2009. Star Trek, Moon and District 9 are a few of the best films released this year. Now, with Surrogates, we have another one. This is the story of a world where people stay home, and safely live their lives through their indestructible surrogates. Of course, things go awry, bad guys are revealed and the good guy is out to save the world. Well done, exciting and entertaining. Another refreshing take on futuristic life. Worth a look.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 9/25/09

Not much to shout about in new releases to RI theaters this week. I am most looking forward to seeing Surrogates. I'm curious about Pandorum and Fame. New to art houses is Bright Star, and It Might Get Loud is held over, SEE IT. There is a sneak peek of Whip It Saturday night at Providence Place. Also in RI theaters are Julie & Julia, 9, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, District 9, The Informant!, Inglourious Basterds, Jennifer's Body and My One and Only.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Happy Birthday Melanie

Today is my daughter Melanie's birthday. Several years ago I made a list of films that were released the year she was born, 1980. Because she is an impressive person, and this is an impressive list I'm posting it again. Happy Birthday Melanie!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Informant!

While watching The Informant!, I kept asking myself: is it the cars? is it the music? is it the ties? is it the acting? is it the cinematography? is it the structure? is it the directing? By the end of the film, I found the answers were: yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes and yes. Really enjoyed this film about corporate corruption, deceit and delusion. Well worth a look.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 9/18/09

The kids will enjoy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs arriving in RI theaters this weekend. New to RI art houses, It Might Get Loud (yes, I'm going to see it again) and The September Issue. The Informant! and Jennifer's Body round out the weekend releases. I'll be seeing The Informant!, Jennifer's Body not so much. 9, Ponyo, District 9, Julie & Julia and Inglourious Basterds are all in the multiplex for your consumption.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Lorna's Silence

Lorna's Silence is the pensive story of a con gone wrong. This Belgian film follows Lorna's struggles with aspects of her personal life. Some are honest, some not so much. As the events unfold, her conscience and emotions take over, and psychological defense mechanisms kick in. An intense drama that's well worth a look.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Tetro

Francis Ford Coppola takes a poetic turn with the film Tetro. Filmed mostly in black and white there is a retro feel to this story of two brothers. Emotions run high and the drama is strong throughout the film. The performances are outstanding, as is the look. I liked this film a lot more than expected.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

9

With intense visuals and crazy chase scenes, we enter the world of 9. A handful of man made characters struggle to stay out of the clutches of evil. It takes a while for their purpose and quest to be explained. This is the second movie I've seen this month that tries to define the soul. It's a tough story arc. No revelations here, but it is a stunning piece of animation.

Monday, September 07, 2009

Adam

I cried at the end of the opening scene of Adam. I cried at the closing scene of Adam. The emotional timbre of this film was consistent and relateable. This film is an examination of life conditions. Love, loss, struggle, success, and all that happens to two people who bring their own baggage to the table. Life happens. I liked this film.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

It Might Get Loud

As I bought my ticket to see It Might Get Loud, the young man handing me my change said, "good choice, this is the best film showing here right now. It's like getting three biopics in one film ... and some really great music." He was right. The film follows Jimmy Page, The Edge and Jack White through their self-told musical histories. Specifically their relationships with their guitars. Vintage footage of U2, White Stripes and Led Zeppelin is a real treat. I have a soft spot for musicians and am especially fascinated by their passion and creativity. All of these men embrace various levels of technology to ply their craft. It was a privilege to get this inside look. Yes, once again, I was the grinning fool in the dark. I'm still smirking thinking of the three jamming with each other on Whole Lot of Love. Watching them follow each other and learn from each other was enthralling. The final collaboration of Take a Load Off Fannie, kept everyone in their seats until the lights came on in the theater. (I'm smiling again just thinking about it) I traveled to see this film because I couldn't wait to see it. I'll see it again when it hits RI in a few weeks. Yeah it's that good. The kid who sold me my ticket was right.

Taking Woodstock

When I first saw the trailer for Taking Woodstock I thought it looked cute. Then during the week of the 40th anniversary of the legendary concert I learned how true many of the events of the film were. The latest movie based on the iconic event has more to do with behind the scenes events than the concert itself. An interesting perspective.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Extract

The factory depicted in the film Extract reminds me of where I work. They make flavor extracts, we make plastics. Manufacturing, is still manufacturing. There are people and personalities. There is strife, success, gossip, politics and drama. An observational comedy that is character driven. Dark at times, but you still want to laugh. Strong performances make this film an excellent addition to the comedies of 2009.

The Tent : Life in the Round

As I sat watching The Tent : Life in the Round, a documentary about the Warwick Musical Theater aka "The Tent", a lot of names came to mind. Tom Jones, Pat Boone, Debbie Boone, Don Rickles, Joan Rivers, Connie Stevens, Rita Rudner, Jesus Christ Superstar, Louie Anderson, Kaleidoscope Theater, George Burns, Tony Bennett. All shows I saw at The Tent, I wish this list were longer. The Warwick Musical Theater was a gem in RI that brought big talent to a small state. The nickname "The Tent" comes from the fact that the original theater was a circus tent, that was put up and taken down every year. The permanent structure was the old AT&T pavilion from the World's Fair. It closed in 1999, and a Lowe's sits on that piece of real estate today. The film is a wonderful collection of memories from past employees, patrons, family and performers. The love for Buster and Barbara Bonoff oozes from this film.

Memories that ran through my head as I watched (close to tears most of the time):

Being freaked out by the pharisees of Jesus Christ Superstar as they entered from the back of the theater. I was on the aisle and 14. The looming, hooded figures thrilled and spooked me.

Being impressed by a guy who went to the box office when it opened the season and bought up tickets to half a dozen shows. Yeah, I married him

Being 8 months pregnant, sitting in those god-awful chairs, and savoring every moment of George Burns' act.

Taking my four year old daughter to the Kaleidoscope Theater children's series. What a wonderful exposure to live theater

Having my date wrap an arm around me during a Tony Bennett performance, a very romantic night (did not marry that one).

Watching the lovely Rita Rudner unknowingly step into the poop that was a banking crisis in RI. She handled it well, but poor thing had no idea why folks laughed at the wrong spots in her jokes.

Watching Joan Rivers give floor plants to folks she picked on during her act.

Rolling down the windows if you drove by the tent on the night of a performance. You could hear the music from the street.

Marveling at the autographed photos of celebrities when you had dinner at the Golden Lantern.

This film is a wonderful archive of a Rhode Island institution that was well used and well loved.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Friday Flick Picks 9/4/09

At the top of my weekend viewing list is the new release Extract. The trailer looks just like my workplace, can't wait. Just Saturday, a good friend recommended Lorna's Silence, which is at the Cable Car this weekend. To catch up with last week's releases, I'll be seeing The Tent:Life in the Round, Taking Woodstock and Adam. Also in theaters are District 9, Inglourious Basterds, (500) Days of Summer Julie & Julia, Ponyo, The Hurt Locker, The Hangover and Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince is at IMAX. Enjoy the long weekend!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Unwigged & Unplugged in DVD

I have volunteered in the transportation department of Newport International Film Festivall since 2002. I started as a dispatcher. In 2005 I was asked to be a talent driver. I was assigned to drive Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer to their performances and screenings. They came to Newport to help celebrate Mike McKean receiving a lifetime achievement award. The three men are very dear friends. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement These gentlemen were friendly, kind and polite to a stranger they trusted to get them to where they needed to be. Their conversation was lively and they performed an acoustic set I will not soon forget. (I was also lucky enough to sit in on a sound check, musical magic). At the Q&A after the performance, they were asked if they would ever perform again as Spinal Tap and the guys laughed. Basically, they said they were over the wigs and costumes, but they really enjoyed performing together in an acoustic, informal format. In the spring of 2009 the three men did just that. They went on tour with Unwigged & Unplugged. The guys describe Unwigged & Unplugged by saying, "Think of the evening as three old friends jamming in your living rooms. As opposed to OUR living rooms; we won't be home." A concert DVD of the event is released today. I can't wait to get my copy. As I watch, I'll remember the moment I got a wink and a smile from one of the guys while I was standing backstage. That kind of thing only happens live, you never forget it.

State of Play also releases to DVD this week. Sin Nombre and Good Dick are in my rental queue.