Archive for August, 2012

Foreign Films Sep 12

Friday, August 31st, 2012

Le Combat dans l Ile, directed by Alain Cavalier

(In French, with English subtitles)

Clément is active in a small but lethal rightwing terrorist group in early 1960′s France. His wife, Anne, while remaining ignorant of his true interests, nevertheless suspects that evil is afoot and warns her husband to stop his association with the dour leader of the terrorists. When Clément finds himself betrayed, he and Anne flee to the country cottage of his friend Paul. But matters become more complicated when, again, against Anne’s pleas, Clément seeks revenge on the one who betrayed him. In stark black and white, the film captures the chill and isolation that enemies of society must feel and embrace, while the scenes in the country stress both that isolation as well as the warmth and security that connection, something Clément doesn’t understand, brings to people of a higher moral standard. Jean-Louis Trintignant, who plays Clément, also stars in The Conformist, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, which HCPL owns.

Footnote, directed by Joseph Cedar

(In Hebrew, with English subtitles)

Eliezer Shkolnik is a Talmudic scholar, who works quietly and tenaciously in the archives and stacks of libraries, searching through texts and tomes for obscure fragments of information. He has done this all his working life, and he remains a man in obscurity but for mention in one footnote in a scholarly text published years before. His son, Uriel, is also a scholar, but a highly successful one, published, admired by his students and peers, the winner of awards, honored several times over. Does this evoke pride in Eliezer? No, on the contrary. He seethes with envy and resentment. So when Eliezer gets word that he’s to be awarded the Israel Award, the highest in the land, we wonder if this will appease his damaged soul. Not so. Comedy and tragedy mingle freely in this film, and laughs from viewers might be followed swiftly by sorrow at the bitterness of a man, lost in his Casaubonian research, and blind to what really matters in a person’s life. Cedar also directed the award-winning Beaufort, which HCPL owns.

In Darkness, directed by Agnieszka Holland

(In Polish, with English subtitles)

Lvov, Poland, 1942. Germans and Ukrainians occupy the war-torn and war-weary city. Nazis openly murder Jews. Leopold Socha continues to inspect the sewers of the city and do a little thieving on the side. When he discovers a group of Jews huddling in the sewers, he decides to thieve from them as well, to make a little extra money from desperate people. The group is as diverse as it gets: a wealthy couple, some children, a drug addict, an adulterer and his mistress, and more. They fight, struggle to survive, occasionally laugh, make love. Socha will protect them, hide them, and take money from them, until they are of no use to him. But Socha then begins to change from an apathetic money-seeker, ready to take full advantage of terrified people, to a man who feels pride in saving people from certain death. Based on a true story, In Darkness explores more than what life was like during that nightmare in history. It also looks at people in their flawed humanity as they rise above or fall below expectations, in short, as they emerge as humans. Other titles of Agnieszka Holland’s work may be found in unusual places in the HCPL collection, in episodes of The Wire, Treme, and the children’s DVD The Secret Garden.

Leaving, directed by Catherine Corsini

(In French, with English subtitles)

This is a familiar story. Plenty like it are found in both book and film. Wife meets guy – usually some sort of handyman – you know, dark, nice looking, earthy, etc., a foil to the more staid husband. Wife and guy have an affair. Disaster looms. The problem with this sort of story is that seldom is there a strong reason for wife to leave husband, break marriage vows, and immerse herself in heedless passion. In this case, Suzanne seems to have a pleasant enough if perhaps a bit dull life. Married to Samuel, a successful physician, she has two lovely and, I might add, well-behaved teenagers (the realism is slipping away even before the affair begins), and is just about to embark on a rewarding second career, when she meets Ivan, a handsome Catalan (said handyman). It isn’t quite love at first sight, but when circumstances thrust Suzanne and Ivan together, and they always do, the two fall hopelessly and passionately in love. You can guess the rest: beautiful, writhing bodies, distress at home, hurt feelings from the betrayal and then from the lack of understanding on Samuel’s part when Suzanne wants to leave, and so on and so forth. Still, the scenery is lovely, and that includes the countryside of Southern France as well as that of Suzanne and Ivan, even if tragedy lingers on the edges of the story.

Le Havre, directed by Aki Kaurismaki

(In French, with English subtitles)

Lisa Schwarzbaum, a critic from Entertainment Weekly, calls Le Havre a fairy tale. It is. But it’s a pleasant one, not really with any evil wizards or stepmothers, although there is one nasty neighbor. Marcel Marx is a shoeshine man, who lives a very ordinary life, a bit hand-to-mouth, but pleasing enough. He and his wife Arletty seem blissfully happy, in fact. But after Arletty falls ill, dangerously so, and begins a long stay in the hospital, Marcel finds a desperate young stowaway from Africa, Idrissa, who is just trying to find his family currently in Europe and start a new life. It seems he’s taken a wrong turn and instead of arriving in the UK, he’s here in France, on the lam, as the police hunt for him. Marcel must now keep Idrissa out of sight, find a way to unite him with his family, and tend to Arletty. Fortunately, his little network of neighbors and friends just might be able to help out here. Kaurismäki also directed The Man Without a Past, owned by HCPL, and for some bizarre Finnish fun, try his documentary Leningrad Cowboys: Total Balalaika Show.

Making Plans for Lena, directed by Christophe Honore

(In French, with English subtitles)

Lena is not happy. She travels to Brittany to join her family for something of a vacation, and wouldn’t you know it? Her happy brother’s annoyingly happy girlfriend is also visiting, her perpetually unhappy sister is still unhappy, her parents are not backing her up as she hoped they would over ex-husband issues, and her ex-husband is going to be there as well. Can it get worse? While some might find the back and forth annoying or tedious, others will find pleasure in this complex family whose issues with the world and life give us some perspective of what it means to be on the edge of fulfillment frustratingly out of reach.

What’s Your Raashee? directed by Ashutosh Gowariker

(In Hindi, with English subtitles)

Ashutosh Gowariker is known for his epic-length movies. (He also directed Lagaan Lagana and Jodhaa Akbar, owned by HCPL.) So it may not be a surprise to find that What’s Your Raashee? will give you a full afternoon or evening of viewing pleasure at well over three hours in length. This plot, after all, needs some time for the full telling of the light-hearted tale. Yogesh needs a bride. It’s really for money – if he marries, he will receive an inheritance – but he wants to remain cautious in whom he chooses to marry. So he plans to date a woman from each astrological sign. Well, that gives us twelve stories right there, not to mention the framing device. Each woman presents a possibility for love, but Yogesh is mighty particular in his choice. You will find lots of song and dance routines here, in the best Bollywood fashion.

Yumurta, directed by Semih Kaplanoglu

(In Turkish, with English subtitles)

In narrative time, this is the third story in a trilogy, preceded by Bal and Sut, both owned by HCPL. Now-published poet Yusuf returns home after his mother’s death, to honor her in a final ritual sacrifice of a lamb. Despite its familiar hominess, the house where he was raised offers him few feelings of attachment. But it is here in his childhood home that he finds his distant cousin Ayla, whom he has not met before. Ayla has been a companion to his mother for the past several years, and despite his mother’s absense now, she seems comfortable in this home. Yusuf gradually begins to understand the importance of family and connection. His poetic soul might just yearn for some grounded companionship whom someone like Ayla can provide.

New Release Tuesday – September 4

Friday, August 31st, 2012

New Release Tuesday, September 4:

Billy Blank’s Tae Bo: Bootcamp Shred

Bored to Death Season 3

Criminal Minds Season 6

Criminal Minds Season 7

David E. Talbert’s Suddenly Single

Five Year Engagement

Fringe Season 4

The Good Wife Season 3

Leslie Sansone 3 Mega Miles

The Office Season 8

Parks and Recreation Season 4

Safe

Spot: Storytime with Spot

The Tracy Anderson Method: Mat Workout

The Tracy Anderson Method: Post-Pregnancy

Vegucated

New Release Tuesday – August 28

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

New Release Tuesday, August 28:

America & the Civil War

Anthony Bourdain No Reservations #7

Battleship

Big Time Movie

Boardwalk Empire Season 2

Darling Companion

E2: Intervention Architecture

The First Ladies

Headhunters

Homeland Season 1

Monsieur Lazhar

The Pirates! Band of Misfits

Sons of Anarchy Season 4

Think Like a Man

Two and a Half Men Season 9

The Walking Dead Season 2

 

Foreign Films Aug 12

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

Vol. 6, No. 8
The Foreign Films New to View newsletter is a monthly publication designed to keep you up to date on some of HCPL’s latest foreign films on DVD. The selections in this newsletter are just a sample of the rich variety of films available to you through your library. Use the sign-up box above to have this newsletter sent directly to your e-mail every month, with new, recommended movies for you to view. See Foreign Films Archive.


Big Deal on Madonna Street, directed by Mario Monicelli
(In Italian, with English subtitles)

It may sound like a cliché now – bumbling petty thieves attempt a break-in and meet every mishap possible – but in 1958, Big Deal on Madonna Street was probably the first of its kind. The cast includes Marcello Mastroianni and Claudia Cardinale, just on the threshold of becoming stars, blossoming in their talents. The criminal gang zeroes in on a pawn shop with a safe that will be a piece of cake opening. So the friends think, but the reality of the heist includes an almost epic journey from the street to the apartment next door, through courtyards, across roof tops, and finally into the neighboring house, where the problems get even worse. The heist-goes-wrong plot is fresh and riotous in this early Monicelli.

The First Beautiful Thing, directed by Paolo Virzì
(In Italian, with English subtitles)

Valeria must use strong persuasion to get brother Bruno to visit their dying mother, Anna. He hasn’t seen her in years and doesn’t particularly want to do so. She hasn’t led the most virtuous life, in his eyes. Who has? But Bruno doesn’t see his own severe transgressions in quite the same light. His range from being a curmudgeon to having a serious drug habit. In fact, one great lesson he needs to learn is, “Like mother, like son.” Through a series of well-paced flashbacks, viewers follow the young Bruno and Valeria from the time Anna leaves her overbearing and abusive husband, through her many travails as she tries in her inept way to hold her little family together. In the young Bruno’s eyes, she is a source of constant embarrassment, but he fails to see that she has always had plenty of love for her children. That love persists to the present, when reconciliation is so important between mother and son. The movie contains some rich surprises and elicits a few laughs and tears, as the audience travels with Anna, the young Bruno, and Valeria in their journey through life. Paolo Virzi also driected Caterina in the Big City, owned by HCPL.

The Hedgehog, directed by Mona Achache
(In French, with English subtitles)

Renée Michel is a concierge in Paris, a lowly position for a lowly woman – older, lacking in wealth and beauty, just a frumpy, invisible person, like so many people who take care of matters for the wealthy. She may perform her caretaker tasks in a perfunctory manner, but in her real life, the life she loves, she reads books, teaches herself about the world, and gains wisdom missing in the wealthy people around her. Paloma, a young resident in Renée’s building, is a girl considering suicide on her next birthday, just weeks away, but first she wants to document her family, the source of her contention, by videotaping them. Paloma’s determination to end her life loses some inertia when she witnesses an enigmatic exchange between Renée and Monsieur Ozu, a new tenant. M. Ozu finishes Renée’s quote from Anna Karenina. And so a firm friendship develops among the three. While it will take more than friendship to jar Paloma from her ennui, this remains a story of connection and realization, as three people find a bond that celebrates the true riches of life. The movie is based on Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog.

My Afternoons with Margueritte, directed by Jean Becker
(In French, with English subtitles)

Germain has always been bullied for who he is: a big, slow, good-natured slob of a guy. If he were a female character, he’d be totally unloved, but since Germain is played by Gérard Depardieu, he manages to have, if nothing else, a much younger, very attractive girlfriend. Be that as it may in this pleasant if unrealistic movie, he has a mother who doesn’t love him much, if at all. So when while in a park one day he meets Margueritte, an aged pensioner who reads Camus and likes pigeons, a friendship begins. Here at last is the mother and teacher Germain never had. Even his beloved Annette, young, lithe thing that she is, can’t fill his need for a loving and nurturing mother. Despite the sentimentality of the film, viewers may enjoy the genuine warmth that radiates from the story. And Margueritte is a complete delight as she pulls from the more dense Germain an understanding of the great questions of life found in the works of Albert Camus and Romain Gary.

Norwegian Wood, directed by Tran Anh Hung
(In Japanese, with English subtitles)

Based on the novel of the same title by Haruki Murakami, this film explores the young, passionate love between two students, Toru and Naoko, in Tokyo in the turbulent 1960′s. They share a tragedy in the death of a young man, Toru’s best friend and Naoko’s lover. The suicide of Kizuki has devastated both of them. When they turn to each other for comfort, the solace seems only to send the beautiful Naoko into a deeper chasm of despair. Confinded to an asylum in the countryside, she occasionally sees Toru, but any hope he has of pulling her out of her depression seems to evaporate each time he departs for Tokyo. Flirting with Toru is the willful and vibrant Midori, a survivor of hardship as well, whose determination to overcome obstacles is the antithesis to Naoko’s descent into madness in the face of tragedy. Tran Anh Hung directed The Scent of Green Papaya, also owned by HCPL.

Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
(In Turkish, with English subtitles)

Ah, now here is a movie for those who may long for the esoteric: a Turkish police procedural that focuses more on the detectives who are unraveling the case before them than on the crime itself, with questions of good and evil, betrayal and repentence, the purpose and meaning of life itself permeating the long night of investigation. The film opens with a small caravan of vehicles traveling on a lonely road in the barren landscape of the highlands of Anatolia. The occupants include a police chief and his driver, a prosecutor, a physician, some soldiers, aides with shovels, a transcriber, and finally two suspects in a murder case. They are looking for a buried body, the victim of the crime in question. Since the murderers were drunk at the time that they hid the body, they can’t be certain where it lies now in the vast landscape. So the journey continues, and as it does, we learn more of the characters, who they are, what they feel, how they behave. The surface story of crime and justice takes on deeper meanings as the men search a desolate land for a body. If you like Nuri Bilge Ceylan, try these other DVDs owned by HCPL: Distant, Climates, and Three Monkeys.

Tomboy, directed by Celine Sciamma
(In French, with English subtitles)

Laure is a young child who wants to run and tumble and play soccer, but to do that she needs to be one of the young guys. So she calls herself Mikael, when she moves to a new neighborhood and meets lots of friends. Unfortunatley, Lisa starts to like her, in that 10-year-old way, feeling some innocent and quiet urges to give Mikael a kiss. In a movie about children who want the freedom to play and carry on, despite society’s senseless gender restrictions, Mikael wants no part of being a Laure. Her heroic masquerade may lead to the inevitable sorrow that comes with a mask removed, but children are pretty resilient creatures, finding ways to pick themselves back up, dust themselves off, and move on. Sciamma also directed Water Lilies, another film about young girls.

New Release Tuesday – August 21

Friday, August 17th, 2012

New Release Tuesday, August 21:

Bernie

Freelancers

Payback

Pocahontas and Pocahontas II

Shiva Rea Core Yoga

Separation

The Tigger Movie

New Release Tuesday – August 14

Monday, August 13th, 2012

New Release Tuesday, August 14:

Art is the Permanent Revolution

Community, Season 3

Dalziel & Pascoe

Dexter, Season 6

The Gruffalo’s Child

Inventing Our Life

Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory

 

New Release Tuesday – August 7

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

New Release Tuesday, August 7:

Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Extra Credit

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax

Jesse Stone: Benefits of the Doubt

Marley

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic

Parenthood Season 3

Shunning Sarah