Batman: Gotham Knight
Yeah, I know, this seems like a cheap marketing ploy for the pre-Dark Knight excitement, but I'm willing to guess it may be a little more worthwhile than that. Although this has DC Comics and Warner Brothers and "from the producers of the Dark Knight" written all over it, what isn't readily evident is the production team that will make these six straight to video animated episodes worth watching. First and foremost, the animation was done by Japan's Studio 4°C, Production I.G. and Madhouse (in other word easily the three best production studio in Japan.) Secondly, all five directors hail from across the Pacific and have contributed to various animation projects: Shoujirou Nishimi (Mind Game, Tekkonkinkreet), Futoshi Higashide (Giant Robo), Hiroshi Morioka (.hack//SIGN), Toshiyuki Kubooka (Gunbuster, BAOH), and Jong-Sik Nam (BASTof Syndrome). What all that says is that there was actually some careful planning behind this project even if the dollar signs were the motivator. The dark, moody look of the animation perfectly mimics that of Batman Begins and, maybe even more so, The Dark Knight. (Arkham Asylum anyone?) Gotham Knight is the perfect filler for the 10 days we have to wait for The Dark Knight.
Chop Shop (2007) directed by Ramin Bahrani
Perhaps one of the most depressing things so far in my 2008 movie-going experiences is being the soul viewer on the night I went to the Parkway Theater to see this poetic film. Obviously, that was just one night in its two-week run at the Parkway, so no doubt more people saw this film. BUT I regretted that the Parkway's gamble on this arthouse gem (that no one else was screening in town) seemed to be a failure. It's a great film: unassuming and very well-acted by the two young stars.
The Tracy Fragments (2007) directed by Bruce McDonald
Ellen Page (before she was Juno and after she was Hayley Stark as a character that is oddly somewhere in between) stars in this film that made the rounds via festivals. Hailing from Canada, this film looks promising, but a brief look at other's reviews do not look too good. Despite my best intentions, I missed this screening at the local film festival.
Bat Without Wings (1980) directed by Chor Yuen
A hilariously muddled supernatural wuxia flick from the Shaw Brothers, with an appearance by a Gene Simmons look-a-like. The plot is a head-scratcher, but the details of the sets and costumes and pre-CGI special effects are really great. Personally, I love this movie, but don't hold that against me.
So Much Rice (2007) directed by Li Hongqi
Here's kind of an interesting DVD to come along, although I can't tell you much about it. From Mainland novelist and poet, an "ineffably eccentric debut, centred on an enigmatic sexual triangle, with an amazing score by cult musician Zuoxiao Zuzhou." (BFI) These are the kind of films that make me glad I do actually subscribe to a DVD service.
The Future is Unwritten (2007) directed by Julian Temple
There is no shortage of Joe Strummer and/or Clash documentaries, but this seems to be one of the best.
Stop-Loss (2008) directed by Kimberly Peirce
I refuse to believe that this film is as bad as the trailer and the screaming MTV sponsorship insists, and most of the critics back me up on this. Stop-Loss is Kimberly Peirce's first film in nine years, since the award-winning but no less controversial Boys Don't Cry.
Mon Oncle Antoine (1971) directed by Claude Jutra
Greatest Canadian film of all time? Really?