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Monday, October 31, 2005

Big DVD price cuts planned for holiday season
According to Video Business, retailers and studios are planning some seriously deep price cuts on DVDs for the holiday season.
Warner Home Video and sister New Line Home Entertainment will offer about 140 titles priced between $4 and $7, according to retailers. Included in the promotion are all three Lord of the Rings films, the three Harry Potter movies and the three Matrix films, as well as older catalog movies Caddyshack and Empire Pictures. Retailers say they plan to sell the DVDs at a phenomenally low $5 to $8 price tag.

Warner spokeswoman Pamela Godfrey called the offer the studio's "most aggressive promotional program ever" and said it is open to all retailers.

Warner will release the discounted movies in waves in November and December.

20th Century Fox Home Entertainment and Lions Gate Home Entertainment also are repricing titles, according to retailers. Discounts are expected on Fox titles Fever Pitch, Robots and Kingdom of Heaven and on Lions Gate movies Crash and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Retailers say they also expect bargain pricing on A-list titles from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/31/2005 Comments (0)
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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Mindjack's Vital Horror
Just (barely) in time for Halloween, we've collected twenty of our favourite horror movies for our first big feature, Mindjack's Vital Horror.

All too often, horror movies are seen as a lesser genre than other films. They are rarely included on lists of the greatest films, and they are even more rarely recognized for major awards. This list, therefore, is our small attempt to bring a bit more attention to a genre that we love but unfortunately doesn't always get the respect it deserves.

Please note, however, that this is not meant to be a list of the 20 greatest horror movies. It is simply a collection of 20 great horror movies, taken from a pool that's full of wonders.

Continue >>
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/30/2005 Comments (0)
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Friday, October 28, 2005

Films of Charles and Ray Eames

Turner Classic Movies reviews The Films of Charles and Ray Eames, a six-DVD set from Image Entertainment. The husband and wife team are legendary in the design field, but their work as filmmakers is an often overlooked. Their educational shorts from the '60s and '70s (Powers Of Ten being the best known) get their points across economically, with a lively visual flair. I can't wait to check this out.
:: posted by Matt, 10/28/2005 Comments (0)
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New Movie & DVD Reviews from Combustible
It's almost Halloween, and Ive been steeped in horror movies. Nothing terribly exciting, except for the uncut DVD release of George A. Romero's underrated Land of the Dead. I also completed a new, updated Top 100 Halloween Films list, as well as a long "Vampire Primer" for Otherwise, I posted reviews of The Entity, Season of the Witch, The Hidden and Pooh's Heffalump Halloween Movie.

As for new movies, I reviewed six this week and liked five of them, though the critical consensus has wandered all over the map. Everyone agrees that The Legend of Zorro is bad and that Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang is good, but I can't understand why Shopgirl, Prime, The Weather Man or Kamikaze Girls aren't getting better notices. That's what makes it fun, I guess.

Finally, I interviewed Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman for Shopgirl and Shane Black for Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. And there it is. Have a great Halloween!
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/28/2005 Comments (2)
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George Takei Comes Out

So, I'm not sure if this fits into the category of gossip, but actor George Takei ("Mr. Sulu") has recently revealed that he's gay. Not a really big surprise (check out his chest-oiling in "The Naked Time"), nor is it really a big deal. Times have changed since the sixties - that's probably why he chose to "come out" now instead of then. The full story is here at CBC.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 10/28/2005 Comments (0)
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Thursday, October 27, 2005

New Details on King Kong
The New York Times reports that Peter Jackson's remake of King Kong will be over three hours long and cost $207 million to make.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/27/2005 Comments (0)
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Decade of Underrated Movies
Explore the overlooked and unfairly maligned with A Decade of Underrated Movies from the Onion A.V. Club. Similarily, they've assembled an Underrated List with Kurt Russell as our most underrated actor.
:: posted by Matt, 10/25/2005 Comments (0)
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Monday, October 24, 2005

DVD Review: The Fly & The Fly II
According to the Internet Movie Database, one of the directors originally attached to the 1986 remake of The Fly was a young Tim Burton (with Michael Keaton offered the Seth Brundle role). That would have likely been a very good movie, but The Fly's subject matter seems better suited to David Cronenberg's unique sensibilities than any other director.

The film gave Jeff Goldblum one of the best roles of his career (if not the best) as an eccentric scientist who invents a device capable of teleporting objects from one pod to another. He soon encounters a reporter, played by Geena Davis, who aims to document Brundle's work until he reaches his ultimate goal: teleporting himself.

Brundle eventually succeeds at that goal — or at least he thinks he does, until he discovers that a fly was in the teleportation pod with him, fusing its genetic structure with his, thus beginning his slow metamorphosis into a human/fly hybrid.

But The Fly is far from your ordinary mad-scientist-turned-monster movie. As many others have noted, you could simply replace Goldblum's transformation with a debilitating disease and have a very serious, heart-wrenching movie. As it is, it's a prime example of the depth science fiction and horror movies are capable of.

Continue Reading >>

:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/24/2005 Comments (0)
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Sunday, October 23, 2005

More on the Top 15
I second Ian's comment, but I've also been kicking myself for not including anything by Hou Hsiao-hsien (either Goodbye South, Goodbye, Flowers of Shanghai or Millennium Mambo), or my favorite film of 2005: Ingmar Bergman's triumphant return to cinema, Saraband.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/23/2005 Comments (0)
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Friday, October 21, 2005

List Mania
It's interesting to look at what our "best of" lists share... and what they don't. I think any reader of Mindjack Film could assemble a pretty comprehensive must-see list based on what Donald, Jeffery and I have listed here. I feel priviledged at times like these to call these guys my colleagues.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 10/21/2005 Comments (0)
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Jeffrey M. Anderson's IMDB 15
As a confessed list junkie, how can I resist throwing in my personal top 15 from the past 15 years?

1. Pulp Fiction (1994, Quentin Tarantino)
2. Lost in Translation (2003, Sofia Coppola)
3. Close-Up (1990, Abbas Kiarostami)
4. Naked Lunch (1991, David Cronenberg)
5. Eyes Wide Shut (1999, Stanley Kubrick)
6. Goodbye Dragon Inn (2003, Tsai Ming-liang)
7. La Belle Noiseuse (1991, Jacques Rivette)
8. Unforgiven (1992, Clint Eastwood)
9. Yi Yi (2000, Edward Yang)
10. Dead Man (1995, Jim Jarmusch)
11. In the Mood for Love (2000, Wong Kar-wai)
12. Bullet in the Head (1990, John Woo)
13. Crumb (1994, Terry Zwigoff)
14. Russian Ark (2002, Alexander Sokurov)
15. Spirited Away (2001, Hayao Miyazaki)
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/21/2005 Comments (0)
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New Movie & DVD Reviews from Combustible
We're roaring toward the end of the year, and although there have been a few strong award contenders, most of the movies have been pretty weak, and this week's selection is no exception. Leading the pack, we have The Rock's latest outing, Doom, based on a video game. Arguably even worse is Marc Forster's Stay, though it's a close call. North Country will no doubt please a bunch of critics, but it's the worst case of message-mongering I've seen in some time. Most people seem down on Atom Egoyan's Where the Truth Lies, but I liked its frankness and the way its mystery unfolded. Undoubtedly the week's best film, however, is Noah Baumbach's deeply felt The Squid and the Whale.

I also added a review of a small-budget film shot in San Francisco, the excellent Quality of Life, which is playing only in San Francisco at the moment, but will be opening wider. Don't miss it. Finally, I caught up with Serenity, which I missed because of haphazard press screening schedules.

As for new DVDs, I'm in love with the new Hitchcock Masterpiece Collection. I also checked out more Batman DVDs, Batman Returns and Batman Forever. Herbie Fully Loaded is a lot more fun than people give it credit for, and I even watched it a second time. The new House of Wax remake didn't, however, warrant a second viewing, and Martin Scorsese's No Direction Home: Bob Dylan isn't quite all it's cracked up to be. But Abbas Kiarostami's little-seen ABC Africa debuts on a suberb new DVD from New Yorker. Finally, High Tension, The Interpreter, Kicking and Screaming and Kingdom of Heaven all recently made their DVD debuts.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/21/2005 Comments (0)
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Thursday, October 20, 2005

The IMDB Challenge
Well, I've never been one to turn down an opportunity like listing favourite movies. I'm not sure 15 years can be narrowed down to 15 movies, but I did have the opportunity some time ago to put together what I think are the strongest films of the 1990s. For the first half of the current decade, I'd have to put films such as Bowling For Columbine and a few others, but here's my entirely non-comprehensive and bias-filled list of the top 10 movies of the 1990s, in no particular order:

1. Pulp Fiction (1994)
2. Seven (1995)
3. Trois couleurs: Bleu (1993)
4. Dark City (1998)
5. Magnolia (1999)
6. The Fisher King (1991)
7. Thirty-Two Short Films About Glen Gould (1993)
8. The Thin Red Line (1998)
9. Hoop Dreams (1994)
10. The Sweet Hereafter (1997)

...yeah, 10 movies isn't enough. I'd love to have Dead Man, Unforgiven, The Remains of the Day and many others on that list. I guess the 1990s were good to movies.
:: posted by Ian Dawe, 10/20/2005 Comments (0)
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Wednesday, October 19, 2005

IMDb turns 15, and the best movies of 1990-2005
This week marks the 15th anniversary of the invaluable Internet Movie Database, although the website itself didn't launch until 1993 (it existed on Usenet before that). To celebrate the occassion the site's editors have compiled lists of their favourite movies of the past fifteen years (1990-2005). Topping the collective list are: Fight Club, The Matrix, Pulp Fiction, The Usual Suspects, and The Shawshank Redemption. The individual editor's lists are also available.

That seemed like a challenge to me, so here's my not-entirely-thought-out list of my top fifteen movies of the last fifteen years.
  1. Pulp Fiction
  2. Quentin Tarantino, 1994
  3. The Three Colours Trilogy (Blue, White, Red)
  4. Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1993-1994
  5. Chungking Express
  6. Wong Kar-Wai, 1994
  7. Mulholland Dr.
  8. David Lynch, 2001
  9. Flowers of Shanghai
  10. Hou Hsiao-Hsien, 1998
  11. Unforgiven
  12. Clint Eastwood, 1992
  13. Fargo
  14. Joel Cohen, 1996
  15. The Thin Red Line
  16. Terrence Malick, 1998
  17. Eyes Wide Shut
  18. Stanley Kubrick, 1999
  19. The Age of Innocence
  20. Martin Scorsese, 1993
  21. Dark City
  22. Alex Proyas, 1998
  23. Minority Report
  24. Steven Spielberg, 2002
  25. Ed Wood
  26. Tim Burton, 1994
  27. 12 Monkeys
  28. Terry Gilliam, 1995
  29. Felicia's Journey
  30. Atom Egoyan, 1999
To get this down to fifteen I limited it to one film per director -- even so, there's at least another fifteen movies that could easily make the list. Feel free to post your own list, or rip into mine, in the comments area.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/19/2005 Comments (0)
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Monday, October 17, 2005

BMW's "Hire" Films Going Offline
BMW has announced that they will be taking their series of short films, The Hire, offline on October 21st. The series starred Clive Owen (and various BMW vehicles) with each installment helmed by a different director, including John Frankenheimer, Ang Lee, Wong Kar-Wai, and John Woo, among others. You can also order the series on DVD, although it's not clear if that's still going to be available after October 21st or not.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/17/2005 Comments (3)
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Friday, October 14, 2005

Meeting Glamorous Hollywood People
People are always interested to hear about interviewing movie people, but the experience depends entirely on the conditions. Over the past week, a virtual army of filmmakers and movie stars have descended upon my hometown to talk about their latest projects. It's exhausting; each interview takes hours to do. First you have to see the movie, then do research and come up with a list of questions -- enough to fill your time. It's good to have more, but it's a disaster to have too few (it has happened to me, many times). Then there are tapes to transcribe and stories to write, edit and shape.

Last Friday, I met with two film directors, Richard Shepard (The Matador) and Duncan Tucker (Transamerica), back to back in the same hotel, each sequestered in some windowless, anonymous room. I didn't know what either of them looked like and had been previously unfamiliar with their films, so I didn't know which was which. When I walked into the first room, I had to peek at a clipboard lying on the table to figure out whether I should start asking about Pierce Brosnan or about transsexuals.

Saturday, I spoke with Philip Seymour Hoffman (Capote) via phone. He called me from his cell while riding in his limo to the airport while on his way back to the Mission: Impossible III set. It was less than ideal and we only had a short time, but I can say that Phil is a true gentleman and a great interview.

Sunday I had to drive all the way out to Mill Valley (about 45 minutes each way, plus a $5 toll to cross the Golden Gate Bridge) to speak with Felicity Huffman, the star of Transamerica. Her director, Duncan, was there, and we chatted some more, this time about movies we both liked. My interview with Felicity took place outside, in the fresh air and October sunshine. She had a cold, but she was warm and vibrant, and looked smashing in a black suit. I had about 20 minutes, but I was one of only three people granted an interview.

Monday, it was back to anonymous hotel rooms for Claire Danes and Jason Schwartzman (Shopgirl). There was some kind of a flap over whether I could use the photographer the paper assigned me, and I had to wait as faxes and e-mails flew back and forth. They were apparently afraid that, unless the paper owned the photos outright, that the pictures would wind up in the Inquirer or something. Hollywood publicists are weird. Fortunately, I partook of a free sandwich. After all was said and done, I had to send the photographer home, and then I got a measly 15 minutes with both of them. Schwartzman is kind of a goofball, so it takes that long just to get warmed up. It was a letdown, but Claire -- with long, blonde ringlets -- looked far more amazing in real life than I've ever seen her in the movies. And she gave me a cookie.

Sometimes the suffering is worth it.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/14/2005 Comments (1)
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Daniel Craig is the new Bond (really)
Well, it's finally official. Daniel Craig, star of Layer Cake, has been named as the sixth James Bond. He'll succeed Pierce Brosnan in Casino Royal, directed by Martin Campbell (GoldenEye). Filming begins in January.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/14/2005 Comments (0)
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New Movie & DVD Reviews from Combustible
After a few high points like Good Night, and Good Luck and Capote, we're sucked back down into the mire that is the 2005 movie year. Our two big weekend contenders are both turkeys; Cameron Crowe's Elizabethtown is a mess, and Tony Scott's Domino is only slightly less so. Even the art house fare is uninspiring. We get two ultra-serious medidations on war, Innocent Voices and The War Within, both of which sink into their own timid good intentions. If you're anywhere near San Francisco, however, definitely check out Thom Andersen's Los Angeles Plays Itself, which played some time ago in the bigger cities. It's the week's one must-see.

The week's DVDs are another thing entirely. Movie fans could put away the entire weekend laying on the couch. First we have all five Batman films, starting with Tim Burton's 1989 original and Christopher Nolan's new Batman Begins. (Reviews of the other three coming later.) The Criterion Collection has finally released Jean-Pierre Melville's ultra-cool Le Samourai (1967), and Fox has graced us at Halloweentime with a new double-disc edition of David Cronenberg's The Fly (1986). Warner Home Video delivers all nine of Val Lewton's horror films in a five-disc box set called The Val Lewton Horror Collection, and cult fans will rejoice over a new edition of The Big Lebowski from Universal, featuring Jeff Bridges's amazing photographs from the set. Finally, Paramount's Mad Hot Ballroom should appeal to just about anyone with eyes and ears.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/14/2005 Comments (0)
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Sunday, October 09, 2005

DVD Review: Kingdom of Heaven
by Ian Dawe

For all its aspirations to be the next Lawrence of Arabia, I felt truly stirred by Ridley Scott's latest film only once. Balian (Orlando Bloom), a French blacksmith and illegitimate son of a crusading nobleman, arrives in Jerusalem for the first time. Poor and unrecognized, he asks an old man, "Where was Christ crucified?" It's the kind of question you can ask in Jerusalem, even now. The old man points to a hill. Balian climbs the hill and in an absorbing, spiritually-charged montage, searches his heart for signs that God is speaking to him in this holiest of places. He does not hear much. In that lies the most intriguing notion in this attractive but otherwise unsatisfying historical epic.

Ridley Scott is one of those directors that can always be relied upon to deliver a visually interesting film, often with good performances from good actors, but sometimes he simply drops the ball. Legend (1986) suffered from a glut of contemporary fantasy films and Kingdom of Heaven perhaps suffers from the same symptom. If it had come along before Scott's own Gladiator (2000), it would have been seen as a landmark achievement in historical re-imagination. As it stands, there is so much sound and fury in the film that it ultimately grows more tiresome than inspiring.

Continue Reading >>

:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/09/2005 Comments (0)
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Saturday, October 08, 2005

I've just come off of a week that included 10 movies and 2 interviews, plus two more this weekend and two more next week. I would have seen more movies still if not for my Thursday class. What's the sitch? The Mill Valley Film Festival and the fall movie season. Almost every movie is some kind of event, and each deserves consideration for the "year's best." It's not like summer when you can blow off something like "Stealth" and get away with it...

In new movies, we have the superb double-bill of Capote and Good Night, and Good Luck, both movies set in the 1950s about real people -- both writers -- who tried to do something different. Curtis Hanson's chick flick In Her Shoes isn't too bad, but Julian Fellowes' directorial debut Separate Lies is pretty forgettable. Wallace & Gromit fans will rejoice when they see The Curse of the Were-Rabbit beautifully make the transition to the big screen.

As for new DVDs, I checked out: Devo - Live: 1980, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, The Story of Marie & Julien, Voyages and The Warriors: Ultimate Director's Cut.

I also have a new interview with David Strathairn, the star of Good Night, and Good Luck in the Examiner. So, there it is.
:: posted by Jeffrey M. Anderson, 10/08/2005 Comments (0)
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Friday, October 07, 2005

DVD Review: Evil Dead 2
by Donald Melanson

Some people like the fall movie season because it's when all the "serious" films are released -- when Oscar buzz is more important than box office receipts. One of the reasons I like it is because it's when studios unload lots of great (and not-so-great) horror films on DVD. And this year has been uncommonly good for horror fans.

Last month Universal released their complete library of Hammer films in one shot, as well as some of Bela Lugosi's and Boris Karloff's best films. Warner Bros. has just released the long-awaited Val Lewton collection. And Anchor Bay, a company known especially well for their horror titles, has just put out a new and improved edition of Sam Raimi's great Evil Dead II.

Continue Reading >>
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/07/2005 Comments (0)
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Monday, October 03, 2005

January '06 Criterion DVDs Announced
According to Image Entertainment's website, The Criterion Collection will release Akira Kurosawa's The Bad Sleep Well, John Ford's Young Mr. Lincoln, Vittorio DeSica's The Children Are Watching Us and Ingmar Bergman's The Virgin Spring in January 2006.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/03/2005 Comments (0)
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Sunday, October 02, 2005

31 Days of Horror
We're in the process of putting together a Halloween feature here but Not Coming to a Theater Near You beat us to the punch with their sure to be excellent 31 Days of Horror. So far they've covered Roger Corman's The Premature Burial and the 1926 silent film The Bat, promising a new movie review every day until Halloween.
:: posted by Donald Melanson, 10/02/2005 Comments (0)
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