Here's the list for the week. Also note that Harlots of the Caribbean, Knocked Up and Black Book came out on DVD this week, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend them.
Bug (2007) directed by William Friedkin
"Having escaped her abusive ex-husband Goss (Harry Connick Jr.), recently released from state prison, Agnes (Ashley Judd), a lonely waitress with a tragic past moves into a sleazy, run-down motel and her lesbian co-worker R.C. (Lynn Collins) introduces her to Gulf War veteran Peter (Michael Shannon), a peculiar, paranoiac drifter and they begin a tentative romance. However, things don't always seem as they appear and Agnes is about to experience a claustrophobic nightmare reality as the bugs begin to arrive. Directed by William Friedkin (The Exorcist) and adapted by Trecy Letts from his hit off-Broadway play." This is one of the best films I've seen so far this year. It was marketed as a horror film, but was far more subversive than that. The two leads, Judd and Shannon, are amazing in this very intense film about paranoia and obsession.
Tekkon Kinkreet (2006) directed by Michael Arias
"From the creators of Animatrix comes this visually-stunning new anime film based on a popular Japanese manga written by Taiyo Matsumoto. In Treasure Town, where the moon smiles and young boys can fly, life can be both gentle and brutal. This is never truer than for our heroes, Black and White, two street urchins who watch over the city, doing battle with an array of old-world Yakuza and alien assassins vying to rule the decaying metropolis. Tekkon Kinkreet is a dynamic tale of brotherhood that addresses the faults of present day society, true love lost, and the kindness of the human heart." This is the release of the week for me. The two noteworthy items about this Japanese production are that it was directed by an American (albeit an American who has lived in Japan and worked in the animation industry for over 15 years) and it was animated by Studio 4°C, the geniuses behind Mind Game. It is the Mind Game-like visuals that first drew me to this release. To see what I'm talking about, check out the trailer here. (If you liked that, check out the Mind Game trailer here. It is just as amazing as it looks. If I owned a theater, I would show this.)
Ten Canoes (2006) directed by Rolf de Heer, Peter Djigirr
"As narrator David Gulpilil Ridjimiraril Dalaithngu sets up the story, we watch a group of tribesmen led by elder Minygululu (Peter Minygululu) set out on an expedition to gather bark for canoe building and collect the precious eggs of the magpie geese. It has become clear to Minygululu that his younger brother Dayindi is infatuated with the youngest of his three wives, and Minygululu wants to be sure Dayindi doesn't do something he'll regret later on. To teach his brother a lesson, Minygululu shares with him a long story about Ridjimiraril, a warrior who finds his brother Yeeralparil has become a rival for the affections of his bride. However, while Minygululu's story caries a clear message for his brother, it also goes on long enough with enough twists, turns and digressions that it gives Dayindi little opportunity to get into mischief during the trip." Huge critical acclaim for this film. A not-to-be-missed film that most of us missed when it made it through town during the International Film Festival.
The Hand (1981) directed by Oliver Stone
"Jon Lansdale (Michael Caine) is a comic book artist who loses his right hand in a car accident. The hand was not found at the scene of the accident, but it soon returns by itself to follow Jon around, and murder those who anger him." Wow. A film from my youth. Have I mentioned that I rented every film in the horror section at my local video store when I was a kid? Well, this was one of them and I remember it well. What I wasn't aware of until now was that it was directed by Oliver Stone. What a hoot. This film was silly when I was 13, and I'm sure it hasn't gotten any better. Prepare not to be scared!
Cinema 16: European Short Films
I love DVDs like this. A version of this came out in the UK a couple years back, but this one includes more films, most notably Run Wrakes amazing Rabbit. Some of these shorts are available elsewhere, and others not. Everyone will see a familiar name on the list of film directors. Here's the list: The Man Without a Head - Juan Solanas (France), Wasp - Andrea Arnold (United Kingdom); Doodlebug - Christopher Nolan (United Kingdom), World of Glory - Roy Andersson (Sweden), Je T'aime John Wayne - Toby MacDonald (United Kingdom), Gasman - Lynne Ramsay (Scotland), Jabberwocky - Jan Svankmajer (Czech Republic), Fierrot Le Pou - Matthieu Kassovitz (France), Rabbit - Run Wrake (United Kingdom), Copy Shop - Virgil Widrich (Austria), Boy and Bicycle - Ridley Scott (United Kingdom), Nocturne - Lars Von Trier (Denmark), Before Dawn - Balint Kenyers (Hungary), Election Night - Anders Thomas Jensen (Denmark), Six Shooter - Martin McDonagh (Ireland), The Opening Day of Close-Up - Nanni Moretti (Italy).
Suspiria (1977), The Stendhal Syndrome (1996) , Opera (1987), Cat O' Nine Tails (1971)
Four Dario Argento films newly out on DVD this week from Blue Underground. The Stendhal Syndrome (starring Asia) and Cat O' Nine Tails seem to have been previously unavailable on DVD and the other two boast '2 disc special editions' that may or may not be very special. I don't think of Blue Underground, who handles cult horror and the like, as a particularly good DVD label, but who knows. (Above links go to Blue Underground and each one has original previews plus more info.)
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid (1972) directed by Philip Kaufman
"The two most famous bandits, Jesse James and Cole Younger join forces in the most daring bank robbery in the history of the West!" Well, this is a timely release with a little local flair. I will not attest to the quality, but the popularity of filmic adaptations regarding Jesse James will probably explode faster than you can say 'Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck in The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.'