Thursday, February 21, 2008
Every once in a while you remember an old film and wonder if you actually saw it or just had this amazing dream of an incredible movie. And every once in a while an old film is mercifully released on DVD for a new generation to discover.
Today's dream DVD release is Payday (1973), starring the overboard Rip Torn as an overboard country singer on a three-day binge of life on the road. Torn is incredible and very believable as he rolls through various towns balancing shows, ladies after him, band member disputes and criminal acts. Every inch of Don Carpenter's script feels real, from the internal band issues - they are friends one day and hate each other the next because of a pet dispute - to the heavy pressure felt by radio DJs the singer depends on for popularity. Torn had a run of extreme method performances alongside this gem, including Coming Apart (1969), Maidstone (1970) and The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976). Director Daryl Duke has another great lost film in The Silent Partner (1978).
Musician bio-pics are always fun, but they are even better when they go beyond realism. Original tagline: "If you can't smoke it, drink it, spend it or love it... forget it."
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Monday, February 18, 2008
With more eye-catching docs coming out of Sundance in 2007 (Manda Bala (Send A Bullet), Crazy Love, My Kid Could Paint That, No End In Sight, War Dance, Zoo, ect.), Daniel Karslake's For The Bible Tells Me So was lost in the flurry, but this interesting look at how decades of religious anti-gay bias is based almost solely upon the misinterpretation of the Bible, the film should certainly be in the conversation as one of the best docs that came out of Sundance '07. Hailed at festivals around the country and getting an impressive release through First Run Features, this traditional doc brings clarity to an issue that's been covered numerous times and unveils a film that's as informative as it is touching.
Known mostly for his work as a producer on the Gay and Lesbian newsmagazine In the Life on PBS, in his debut feature Karslake examines how one section in the Bible, Leviticus 18:22, has been the end game to the issue of homosexuality for most Christians -- "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman. It is an abomination." But with interviews by respected religious figures such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Harvard's Peter Gomes, Orthodox Rabbi Steve Greenberg and Reverend Jimmy Creech, we learn that sometimes the words in the Bible should not be taken at face value.
While the film debunks myths, it also highlights five families, all from different lifestyles but all believing that homosexuality is an abomination, until one of their children tell them they are Gay. One family highlighted is that of former House Majority Leader Richard Gephardt (his family's on the cover) whose daughter is a lesbian and how she helped in his run for the presidency in 2004.
If there's one thing you come away with, it's that the words of the Bible are so powerful to some that it will blind them from common sense and as it has with women and African-Americans in the past, alienates a group of people. And sadly sometimes causes worse actions.
DVD includes an interview with Karslake. It hits streets this week from First Run Features for $24.95.
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Monday, February 11, 2008
This heartfelt doc of one man's attempt to give something back to the world before he leaves it has gone on to win the hearts of festival goers all over the world. Following the journey of Mr. Vig, an elderly Danish man who's been a lifelong bachelor and recluse, he offers up his 50 year old castle to the Moscow Patriarchate so that they can turn it into a Russian Orthodox monastery. But seeing it hasn't been inhabited in 20 years there's much work that needs to be done before the church can accept his offer.
When the strong willed nun, Sister Amvrosija, comes to look over the castle that's when the fireworks start as Vig begins to disapprove of her harsh opinions of what needs to be done with the place which leads to Vig rethinking his initial offer of the place.
But as the doc goes on, the connection Vig has with director-cinematographer Pernille Rose Gronkjaer reveals a softer side. We learn that Vig is a bitter man who doesn't get along with people, especially Russians, but with some great insightful questions from Gronkjaer, Vig opens up about his willingness to go on with the renovations and his fondness of Amvrosija, who become kindred spirits by the end of the film which spans five years of the castle's transformation into a monastery.
Vig is quite the character. Hard of hearing and a little eccentric, he walks around with his glasses barely hanging on the tip of his nose and there's that beard. Vig passed away at Christmas, but his lifelong dream to leave his mark on the world didn't go in vein.
Not much to the features, only the theatrical trailer and deleted scenes.
DVD hits streets this week through Koch Lorber Films for $26.98.
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Monday, February 4, 2008
In Julie Delpy's directorial debut she stars opposite Adam Goldberg in this intimate and funny look at a couple, Marion and Jack, who during a trip to Venice stop over in Paris for two days to visit Marion's parents (who in fact are Delpy's real parents) on their way home to New York.
Delpy and Goldberg are perfect together as they argue over petty things like "black mold," their immune systems and terrorism. The film takes off when Marion and Jack have lunch with Marion's parents where the jokes and snide remarks come fast and furious and Jack, knowing very little French, trying his best to keep up. Soon a subplot develops when Marion runs into an old flame who Jack feels is a little too friendly. And his suspicions grow once Marion admits she gave him a blow job once, but says it's not a big deal compared to "George Bush, and the war in Iraq."
Though the two have been together for two years you can tell there's definite jealousy issues with them and soon Marion's innocent flirting brings Jack to his breaking point. But in the process there's effective voiceovers from Marion, they indulge in colorful cab rides and Delpy's eccentric father who steals every scene he's in.
Along with directing and starring, Delpy also produced, wrote, edited and scored the film. A obvious passion project of Delpy's, the film is a perfect mix of Woody Allenesque relationship comedy and Linklater's Before Sunrise and Before Sunset.
Slim extras include an interview with Delpy and extended scenes. Released through Fox Home Entertainment tomorrow for $27.98.
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