July 2011


Armadillo (FilmBuff) — There have been a lot of documentaries set in Afghanistan during the current war, but Janus Metz’s might be the biggest conversation starter of them all. This time around, the soldiers are Danish yet the stakes are as high as ever. Particularly when this group of young men finds itself within arm’s reach of Taliban soldiers, leading to a firefight that provides thrills but will have you and your viewing buddies discussing it for the rest of the night. (Available on Playstation and Xbox 360)

Grant Morrison: Talking with Gods (Gravitas Ventures) — It seems like through the ‘80s and ‘90s, if you were looking for off-the-wall commentary and plain weird stuff, the UK was where you’d find it in comics. Titles like Flex Mentallo (Morrison’s own run on Doom Patrol), and later revisited in his titles The Invisibles and The Filth. Sounds like a lot of interconnected obscurity for a non-reader, right? Exactly! As Talking with Gods explores the career and the personality of writer Grant Morrison, everything from magic to social gathering and shared consciousness take place side by side. But everything, in a way, is interconnected: ideas transposed to sigils placed in his work caused his success, the 45-minute Disinformation monologue he preaches while on LSD and the rather quiet way Morrison is willing to share the secrets of his universe one hit at a time. (John Lichman) (Available on Cable Video On Demand)

The Myth of the American Sleepover (Sundance Selects) — David Robert Mitchell’s debut feature is a dreamy charmer that isn’t a period piece, per se, but it isn’t set in the very present either. Incorporating personal memories with cinematic influences, this night-in-the-life tale of a group of adolescents and teenagers in the suburbs ebbs and flows in directions both comedic and dramatic, and it marks the arrival of many talented newcomers. It’s also no wonder that the French love it. (Available Through Movies on Demand)


Lucky Life (Film Movement) — It’s perhaps not a surprise, though it remains a tad disappointing, that Lee Isaac Chung’s follow-up to his excellent debut Munyurangabo flew under the radar of just about everybody. That’s what you get for making a sincere, understated drama about a group of young friends who are thrown for a loop when one of their good buddies is diagnosed with cancer. One weekend, they reconnect at a beach house on the Outer Banks, and while they don’t spend much time addressing the situation, Chung’s slowly moving camera keeps it in the forefront of our minds. Lucky Life isn’t flashy, and it threatens to wear its themes too loudly on its sleeve, but Chung exhibits a refreshing measure of restraint that makes it nonetheless linger. (Available on Comcast, Time Warner, Cox, Bresnan, RCN, Brighthouse, etc.)

Monkey Warfare (Film Movement) — It has been way too many years since I first saw Reg Harkema’s charming comedy about romance and revolution, but in a blog post from way back then I wrote: I loved it. Don McKellar’s performance made me feel like I was watching Elliott Gould in The Long Goodbye. Charisma for days. And the fact that they shot this film on the Panasonic DVX-100A is incomprehensible to me. Granted, they used 35mm lenses, but I still can’t believe it. Now that it’s 2011, that DVX talk is quite humorous, but I stand behind my admiration for such a cinematic low-budget Canadian production. To be honest, the only other thing I remember about Monkey Warfare is that Harkema uses some old Leonard Cohen, but if these vague memories are to be trusted, it’s about time this film has been made available to us in the States. (Available on Verizon and Charter)

Wild Card of The Month

Legend of the Fist: The Return of Chen Zhen (Gravitas Ventures) — A bit late on this one, but it just came to Netflix Instant: mainly this is the film where Donnie Yen is incredible for the opening eight minutes. Since the first five minutes are pointless exposition about the Chinese being used basically as slave labor during World War I by the British; then at the six-minute mark, Donnie Yen gets serious and proceeds to knife the sh*t out of some Germans. Riding that high, he leads his fellow Chinese manservants off the battlefield as motherf**king explosions are up in that b*tch!

You may ask, “Boy didn’t this just get vulgar?” I’m trying to convey to you, dear reader, that you should then stop watching this film. Because it only gets more depressingly mediocre (even with Yen as coordinator and Andrew Lau hitting tracking shots so short you almost wonder why he set up the dolly).  Other highlight is watching Donnie Yen sadly smoke a cigarette while everyone else plays a Chinese rendition of Aude Lang Syne. (JL) (Available on Cable Video On Demand)


Filmmaker Magazine’s July VOD Report

On Demand Weekly’s July On Demand Preview / July On Demand — The Indies


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