Wednesday, September 5, 2007

DVD releases for September 4

Considering that the top selling DVDs this week are all TV shows (The Office, Prison Break, Desperate Housewives, Nip Tuck, and Robot Chicken) I am horribly out of the loop. I like TV shows, I just don't have a TV. Someday, the sun will shine down upon me and I will have a TV and maybe even cable. Until then, I will stick to recommending films.

Out this week:

Ping Pong (2003) directed by Fumihiko Masuri
I cannot recommend this movie more. Forget about that ding dong movie Balls of Fury, this film has a heart of gold. Sure, we don't really consider Ping Pong a sport here on this side of the Pacific, but that is not the case everywhere. Ping Pong gets my vote for the best sports film made. Now you will have to see it in order to counter that statement. I first saw this film roughly three years ago via Hong Kong DVD and have since been trying to push it on everyone I know. This is Masuri's first film. Based on popular manga Ping Pong Club, the film stars some of Japan's most popular young stars: Yosuke Kubozuka, Arata and Shido Nakamura. (My boyfriend from Hong Kong, Sam Lee, also stars.) The matches are nothing short of exhilarating and the tender friendship portrayed between the two leads is enough to soften the most jaded of viewers. Please please check it out.

Stranger Than Paradise (1984) and Night on Earth (1991) Criterion
I love Stranger Than Paradise. Unfortunately, I can't say the same about Night on Earth. Nonetheless, Criterion has decided to both of these Jim Jarmusch films out on DVD with nice supplements and no doubt an excellent transfer. The Night on Earth DVD has a commentary by the director of photography and sound editor and a Q and A with Jim Jarmusch, but the real story is the extras on the Stranger Than Paradise DVD: Permanent Vacation (1980, 75 minutes), Jarmusch's first full-length feature, presented in a new, restored high-definition digital transfer supervised by the director; Kino '84: Jim Jarmusch: a 1984 German television program featuring interviews with cast and crew from Stranger Than Paradise and Permanent Vacation; Some Days in January, 1984, a behind-the-scenes Super-8 film by Tom Jarmusch; A booklet featuring Jarmusch's 1984 "Some Notes on Stranger Than Paradise," Geoff Andrew and J. Hoberman on Stranger Than Paradise, and Luc Sante on Permanent Vacation. Pretty cool.

City of Violence (2006) directed by Ryoo Seung-wan
This Korean film got mixed reviews so I passed on buying it when it came out in Korea. I'm glad to see it is being released here, so I can simply go rent it and see for myself. Supposedly this film is a return to the raw action that Ryoo so brilliantly caught on film in Die Bad, and away from his more conventional, crowd pleasing films like Crying Fist and Arahan - which to me is a good thing. I'm a sucker for action-for-action's sake, even if it means sacrificing a nuanced narrative. Ryoo has signed on action superstar Jeong Du-hong for the lead role. I'm ready!

The Wind that Breaks the Barley (2006) directed by Ken Loach
This was the granddaddy prize winner of the Palme d'Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, and that alone is a pretty good reason to rent this DVD (although I admit that I am having a hard time getting very motivated to watch this film.) It had a brief run here in the Cities without much fanfare, save the good reviews.

Francois Ozon: A Curtain Raiser and Other Shorts
Okay, this is kind of a head scratcher. I didn't realize that Francois Ozon warranted a release of his short films, but I'm curious. Ozon is an interesting director that is a bit of a shape-shifter tackling mysteries (Swimming Pool, See by the Sea), musicals (8 Women), and dramas (Time to Leave, Under the Sand). I'm sure his short films are just as eclectic in theme.

Dog Soldiers (2002) directed by Neil Marshall
This is a better than average horror film from the director who brought us The Descent.This is a reissue of a movie that didn't get much press outside of cult circles. I remember Box Office Video got it when it first came out and some arse-hole stole it and it was already out of print.

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