VOD PICKS

July 2012

VIDEO ON DEMAND PICKS — JULY 2012

Our deepest apologies to those of you who only access new cinema through that format they call VOD. We have let the past few months slip through the virtual cracks. But fear not. We are back to quench your summer thirst with a fresh batch of cool picks that will entertain and enlighten you in all sorts of ways. So turn on the A/C, lock the front door, and get to watchin’.

***PICK OF THE MONTH***

Found Memories (Film Movement) — Julia Murat’s small, patient movie—a short story as opposed to a novel—concerns a young photographer who arrives in a seemingly forgotten Brazilian town and finds shelter in the home of a stern older woman. As she adjusts to the quiet rhythms in this environment that has not been touched by industry or technology, a tender friendship blossoms, leading to a wisp of a punchline that ties everything together. (Verizon & Charter)

***THE REST, ALPHABETICALLY ARRANGED***

2 Days in New York (Magnolia Pictures) — I’ve been known to knock the French, toodling around on bicycles with their phallic baguettes, vin rouge, and perennial boredom with all things Americain. But is there any way to withstand the Julie Delpy charm offensive? She had me at bonjour in this witty comedy, a sequel to her earlier film 2 Days in Paris. Delpy (who wrote and directed the film) reprises her role as Marion, now living with her boyfriend Mingus (Chris Rock, nicely subdued, and funnier for it). On the eve of a big gallery opening of her photography, Marion’s very French father and sister come to visit, and hilarity ensues. The film is silly, and light on its feet, but I know this sort of influx of European family members very well, and Delpy gets it right. If you surrender to the madcap humor, 2 Days in New York can be a very good time. Read Susanna Locascio’s full HTN review. (Amazon Instant, Video on Demand)

Cook County (FilmBuff) — Anson Mount gives an authoritative performance in this Super-16mm shot indie drama about the dangers of meth. If you weren’t aware, selling and especially doing meth tends to not end well! But that lesson isn’t the reason to watch Cook County—Anson Mount’s performance is worth the price of rental/purchase on its own. (Amazon Instant, iTunes, Movies on Demand, and also available on DVD, Blu-ray, and Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy)

Engagement (FilmBuff) — With Engagement, Jon Lefkovitz delivers a clever psychological thriller that is about much more than simply playing tricks with the audience. Soon-to-be-groom Henry (Andrew Perez) says goodbye to his fiancee Carolyn (Erika Rankin) for a few weeks. While she’s gone, her unbeknownst-to-him-previously twin sister Laura (Erika Rankin) visits LA and asks to stay with him. No, that wasn’t a typo. Yes, Erika Rankin plays both roles. In the same way that Eraserhead exists as a nightmarish fantasy of encroaching parenthood, Engagement plays like a similar head-game, albeit with regards to the momentous topic of marital commitment. For those of you who just proposed, or were just proposed to, watch with caution! (Amazon Instant, iTunes, YouTube, Xbox 360, Playstation Network, Movies On Demand, Vudu HD Movies, Best Buy CinemaNow)

Goodbye First Love (Sundance Selects) — Camille (Lola Créton) is a bright Parisian high school student in love with Sullivan (Sebastian Urzandowski), a teenage boy whose wanderlust overwhelms his ability to participate in a real relationship. When Sullivan decides to drop out of school and travel the world, he leaves Camille to suffer his loss and to flower in his wake. Beautifully shot and told in the classic tradition of the best in French cinema, Mia Hansen-Løve’s Goodbye First Love is a classic coming of age story, a meditation on how to mend a broken heart and find happiness by engaging the beauty of life’s opportunities. At only 31 years old, with only three features under her belt, and without the use of an overtly “showy” style, Mia Hansen-Løve has nonetheless done something it takes most young filmmakers a lifetime to (never) achieve: she’s found her true voice. It’s an ethereal balance of intuition and intelligence that is suffused with a wisdom that is light years beyond her actual years. It is cinema of the most crush-worthy order. Read Tom Hall’s HTN Conversation with Mia Hansen-Løve. (Video on Demand) ***ENDS ON JULY 19TH***

Surrogate Valentine (Warner) — Dave Boyle’s third feature is a comedy, like his previous film, the 2009 crowd-pleaser White On Rice. But where WOR was a sharp blast of laughing gas, Surrogate Valentine is a mellow buzz that steals up on you slowly. There’s a gently lulling rhythm to the storytelling; scenes unfold with a looseness that feels semi-improvised. This mood fits with the energy level of the main character, who is also the movie’s co-writer (with Boyle and Joel Clark), the talented San Francisco-based singer/songwriter Goh Nakamura. Playing himself or a version thereof in his feature-film debut, Nakamura isn’t an obvious choice for what’s essentially a romantic lead part—soft-bodied and moon-faced, he’s likable enough but doesn’t project much presence until he picks up a guitar and sings, which he does with grace and wit and leisurely command. Read Nelson Kim’s full HTN review. (Amazon Instant, iTunes, YouTube, Vudu)

Vacation! (FilmBuff) — After only two features, Zach Clark has established himself as a worthy member of the shock-schlock club in which Russ Meyer and John Waters are kings of the throne. This time around, a group of gal pals head to a beach house in North Carolina for a fun, debauchery-soaked holiday, but when one night of substance abusing goes horrifically wrong, Clark’s chipper, upbeat first act takes a turn for the truly acidic. If you’ve never done LSD, there’s a sequence in this film that will allow you to officially check that off your to-do list. (iTunes, Amazon, Playstation, Roxionow, Xbox, Vudu, YouTube)

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