VOD REPORT

August 2010

KEY:

— A three-star marking (***) equals a very high recommendation.
— A two-star marking (**) equals a high recommendation.
— A one-star marking (*) equals a recommendation.
— A no-star marking is reserved for those titles that are worth mentioning in some way, shape, or form.
— [Haven’t Seen Yet But Wanna] is self explanatory.

VIDEO ON DEMAND – AUGUST 2010

Cinetic FilmBuff

Who Killed Nancy? [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (New Online and Theatrical; Available on iTunes, Playstation, Cable VOD)

The Dungeon Masters [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available on Amazon VOD, iTunes, Playstation, Cable VOD)

Shades of Ray [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available on Amazon VOD, iTunes, Cable VOD)

Film Movement

The following titles are available through Movies on Demand on Time Warner, Comcast, RCN, Brighthouse, and Cox Cable systems nationwide:

New:

1981 [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

Nurse.Fighter.Boy [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

The Man Of The Year [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

The Rage In Placid Lake [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

Still Showing:

*** Alamar — This breathtaking little gem of a movie is executed with such seeming effortlessness, I was fully convinced I was watching a documentary the whole way through. While it might be lazy—and not entirely accurate—to call it Malickian, Pedro Gonzalez-Rubio shows a similar reverence for nature that isn’t overly simplistic and hippified. It’s a touching story of a young boy and his father spending time in Mexico’s Banco Chinchorro coral reef, fishing and existing meal-to-meal, day-to-day, with their father/grandfather, before the child leaves his father behind once and for all to go live with his mother in Italy. This magical world is a pleasant reminder that industrialization hasn’t steamrolled its way into every corner of the world (not yet, at least). And when it’s time for the little one to leave that paradise behind, Gonzalez-Rubio doesn’t provide an obnoxiously loud contrast between the sea and the city. Back on land, in this more developed Italian setting, the beautiful memories of that quiet life linger. To paraphrase my smarter-than-I girlfriend, Alamar isn’t just a profoundly touching metaphor for parenthood in general; it’s like watching a father’s gorgeous dream in which he basks fully in the love of his child. It would have to be a seriously triumphant year if, at the end of 2010, Alamar doesn’t make my overall Top 10 list.

Jaffa [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

Bomber [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

(The following titles are available through Movies on Demand on Verizon Fios & Charter Cable systems nationwide)

*** Alamar (see above)

*** Children Of Invention — Tze Chun’s finely crafted drama deals with familial bonds and how outside circumstances can weigh so heavily on certain situations it’s a wonder they don’t snap in half. Children of Invention is an accomplished feature-length debut that deserves to be reach as wide an audience as possible. Hopefully now it will. (Read my full review and visit the film’s official website to purchase a DVD.)

Still Showing:

* Entre Nos — Largely based on the immigration story of co-director-co-writer Paola Mendoza’s mother, Entre Nos is shot in fairly standard American indie style, on locations with mostly non-actors in Jackson Heights, Queens. The performances of Mendoza and the children, Sebastian Villada Lopez and Laura Montana Cortez, are what give this sneakily powerful film its weight. (Note: this capsule is updated from a Brandon Harris post written during 2009 Tribeca Film Festival.) Visit the film’s official website to learn more.

Storm [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

Also, don’t forget to check out Film Movement’s Film Festival On Demand channel for more options.

Gravitas Ventures

New:

** The Living Wake — Producer Sol Tryon (Bomb the System, Explicit Ills) makes a bold directorial debut with this unique low-budget American effort. Co-writer Mike McConnell portrays K. Roth Binew, an Ignatius J. Reilly type who is as confident of his own genius as he is sure that today is the day he’s going to die. Along with his devoted sidekick Mills (Jesse Eisenberg), K. Roth spends his last day saying farewells and building to an epic folly of a wake that night. The Living Wake is one of those movies that will wow your pants off if it catches you on the right day, and confound you if you sit down to watch it in the wrong frame of mind. But in either case, it’s a wonderful example of a filmmaker taking a gigantic risk, and for that alone, it deserves to be seen. (Available through Amazon VOD AT&T, Cablevision, Charter, Verizon, Rogers, Mediacom, Insight, Suddenlink, Apple iTunes, or buy it on DVD)

* The Living and the Dead — Simon Rumley’s dementedly comic drama is about a troubled lad living losing his mind in a decrepit mansion. Think The Young Ones meets The Shining. Try this one late at night. (Available through Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Verizon, Insight, Mediacom, Brighthouse)

Ip Man [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available through Amazon VOD Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Charter, Verizon, AT&T, Apple iTunes, Sony Playstation, X-Box)

9th Company [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (AT&T, Charter, Verizon Fios, Rogers, Mediacom, Insight, Suddenlink, Apple iTunes, Amazon VOD)

You’re So Cupid [Have Not Seen Yet But Maybe Wanna?] (Available through AT&T, Charter, Verizon Fios, Rogers, Mediacom, Insight, Suddenlink, Apple iTunes, Amazon VOD)

IFC In Theaters + On Demand

New:

Cairo Time [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available until November 6)

Still Showing:

** Valhalla Rising — Walking out of Valhalla Rising, it struck me: Nicolas Winding Refn, Lars von Trier, and Gaspar Noe really need to get it over with and start their own European Auteurs Fight Club. While I knew full well what I was getting into with this thing, Refn still managed to outdo himself. Which is to say that he almost went too bloody far. While Refn’s Nordic death march starts with a genuine bang—and by “bang” I mean a huge title card reading “NICOLAS WINDING REFN PRESENTS”—by the time the third act rolls around and he starts resorting almost exclusively to super-slow-motion, it borders on self-parody (I’ve heard that if you play Valhalla Rising on 45rpm, it’s actually only eleven minutes long). Midway through the film, I started jotting down a list of my own alternate titles: Severed Bronson, Lord of the Nords, Legends of the Fjord, and my own personal favorite: Heart (Pulled Out of Chest) Of Darkness. To be honest, I still think Melissa Auf der Mar and Tony Stone’s Out of Our Minds is a more genuinely butt-kicking experience, but that film doesn’t have the commanding presence of Mads Mikkelsen. (Note: this is a slightly reworked version of my initial reaction to this film when I saw it at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival.) (Available until October 16)

* The Killer Inside Me — I’m still not sure what I think of Michael Winterbottom’s controversial adaptation of Jim Thompson’s classic 1952 novel. Especially since I didn’t read said novel until directly after watching the movie (note to self: that was probably a bad idea). I will say that when taking the book into account, the excessive pummeling of Joyce Lakeland (Jessica Alba) by the story’s psychotic protagonist, Deputy Sheriff Lou Ford (Casey Affleck), seems appropriate. But as often happens in these types of translations, a hefty amount of the character’s interior dialogue is left on the cutting room floor, leaving him more two-dimensional than he is on the page (though Affleck is once again ace here). Having said that, I doubt most late-night channel scanners will be wondering if this is “an accomplished adaptation” or not. I have a strong hunch that this will be, without question, June’s most successful new VOD release. Why? It might have something to do with the tags “Strong Sexual Content” and “Jessica Alba” in the film description. That’s just a hunch, though. Visit the film’s official website to learn more.

*** The Father of My Children — Mia Hansen-Love’s piercingly honest drama is, without question, one of the best films of 2010. It’s all the more remarkable when one takes into account the realization that Ms. Hansen-Love is not yet 30 years old. Her understated screenplay and sure-handed direction convey the authority of an already blossoming master. Do not miss it. Read Tom Hall’s review here.  (Available until August 17)

** Looking For Eric — Ken Loach just about bites off more genres than he can chew in this story of a downtrodden single father whose life is falling apart, until his hero, ex-Manchester United footballer Eric Cantona, miraculously appears in his life to provide him with some healthy perspective and advice. Part social drama, part uplifting comedy, part crime thriller, Looking For Eric is a surprisingly sweet entry in the Loach canon. (Available until August 19)

IFC Midnight

New:

Vengeance [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available starting August 4)

Still Showing:

Bunny and The Bull (Available until October 7)

Following (Available until October 7)

Exam (Available until October 23)

Doghouse (Available until September 9)

Don’t Look Back — If you’ve seen actress-turned-auteur Marina de Van’s In My Skin, you know that homegirl has a seriously twisted vision. Which is what makes Don’t Look Back so surprising. While there is certainly deviousness on display here, de Van’s film plays more like a Hollywood thriller than the scuzzier film one might have been expecting. Which is fine. Just maybe not great. Still, if you’re into psycho-dramas like Don’t Look Now and Antichrist and Cache and enjoy looking at the faces of Sophie Marceau and Monica Bellucci, you could certainly do worse than this rent this film. (Available until September 23)

The Overbrook Brothers

Night And Day

I’m Gonna Explode

Medicine For Melancholy

Goliath

Magnolia Pictures

Still Showing:

The Extra Man — There’s a reason Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s big-screen adaptation of Jonathan Ames’s novel has earned the unofficial crown of 2010’s Primary Opening Night Choice Of Film Festivals Everywhere. It’s a smart charmer that tells its story with a heavy measure of pizazz. Kevin Kline delivers a typically sharp performance as an out-of-his-time New York City eccentric who takes a young man (Paul Dano) under his wing. I think the most appropriate term for this one is witty. (Available through Amazon VOD, Direct TV, Dish Network, Playstation. Xbox Live, Vudu)

Centurion (Available through Amazon VOD, Xbox Live, Playstation, Vudu)

[REC] 2 (Available through Amazon VOD)

Sundance Selects

New:

Colin Fitz Lives! [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna] (Available starting August 4)

Still Showing:

*** Johnny Mad Dog This disturbingly visceral movie recreates, with terrifying immediacy, the Liberian war in which child soldiers wreaked havoc on citizens everywhere. Director Jean-Stephane Sauvaire, who must be borderline insane, cast actual former child soldiers to reenact their country’s darkest days. Not for the faint of heart, but an undeniably striking work nonetheless.

The Shock Doctrine [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

A New Protocol [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

* Sorry, Thanks — Dia Sokol’s Sorry, Thanks has all the pleasures of the [Mumblecore] “genre”: wince-worthy awkwardness; a loving eye cast on the mundane and aimless; freckled, chubby people you could easily know. But the film avoids the pitfalls that make films like Funny Ha Ha and Kissing on the Mouth obtuse to the average cinema-goer. Someone whose tastes don’t lean toward the indie can clearly recognize Sorry, Thanks as a real live movie: the sound is clear, the image is steady and the plot is tight. (Read the rest of Lena Dunham’s review here.)

White Lightnin’ [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

No One Knows About Persian Cats [Have Not Seen Yet But Wanna]

Cinemax on Demand

** Burn After Reading (July 29-August 25)

** Casino (August 2-August 31)

Cool Runnings (July 22-August 18)

I’m Not There (August 2-August 31)

** Mr. Death: The Rise and Fall of Fred A. Leuchter, Jr. (July 22-August 18)

*** Raging Bull (August 12-August 31)

The Box (August 5-September 1)

The Fountain (August 12-August 31)

Transamerica (July 22-August 18)

HBO on Demand

*** 12th and Delaware — Rachel Grady and Heidi Ewing’s documentaries have always provided fodder for those on both sides of the political/religious/ethical divide. 12th and Delaware upholds that tradition. This time, the setting is Florida (of course it is), where in reaction to an abortion clinic, a group of pro-lifers have set up shop directly across the street in order to try to convince confused mothers-to-be that mothers is what they must be. For the first half of 12th and Delaware, we don’t venture inside the abortion clinic, instead focusing on “Anne,” the leader of the pro-life center (which isn’t outwardly advertised as such to more easily recruit potential mothers). I’m not a psychic, but I’m not an idiot either. I would bet my own personal sperm count that Anne’s real problem is that she is unable to have children herself and has yet to come to terms with that dilemma head on. Instead, she has repressed her personal sorrow and is pouring all of her energy into this dangerously misguided cause. (If I’m wrong, Anne, write me and I’ll post a formal apology. Just be sure to attach a PDF of your medical reports, please!) Ultimately, the real power of this riveting film is that it remains so even-handed and balanced enough that viewers on both sides of the divide will be able to wield it as an exhibit for their prosecution and/or defense. (August 2-September 7)

*** GasLand — Please read my full review of Josh Fox’s tour-de-force documentary, then watch it for yourself! (June 21-September 7)

* Drag Me To Hell (August 9-September 5)

Also, go here to find out about HBO original programming that’s yours for the On Demand taking.

— Michael Tully

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