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Top Ten Movies - July 2005

Top Ten Movies - June 2006


Curious fact: did you know Halliburton is building detention camps, ala Guantanamo Bay, here in the US? I wonder why the government is spying on us. Hmm..well, before we're shipped off to FEMA camps, let's enjoy a few good DVD's and take advantage of the movie theatres' air conditioning. Happy summer, comrades!


Movies on DVD

John Wayne-John Ford Film Collection - This is one of the great joys of the movies. A massive box set from Warner Brothers, including new, painstakingly restored releases of Stagecoach, The Searchers, Fort Apache, The Long Voyage Home, 3 Godfathers, Wings of Eagles, She Wore a Yellow Ribbon, and They were Expendable. There are more extras than you can count, including booklets, audio commentaries, making-of videos, a feature-length documentary on Ford and Wayne's careers, press booklets, a 36-page comic book, special audio features, and John Wayne home movies. Wow! If there's a better DVD release this year, I'd like to find it.

Network - "You have meddled with the primal forces of nature, and YOU...WILL...ATONE...Am I getting through to you, Mr. Beale? You get up on your little 21-inch screen, and howl about America, and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy. There is only IBM and ITT, and AT&T, and DuPont, Dow, Union Carbide, and Exxon. Those are the nations of the world today."

Neil Young - Heart of Gold - In 2005, after Neil Young's father passed away, he was diagnosed with a brain aneurism. Having recovered from the near-fatal ordeal, Neil rebounded with one of his best albums in ages, the quiet, country-fied Heart of Gold. Jonathan Demme recorded this outstanding concert film over two nights at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium. I'm a very devoted fan of Neil's music (Living With War is available now, btw), so this was a deeply moving experience, one of the very best concert movies.

Early Summer, Late Spring - Criterion Collection continues its tribute to one of the greatest of all filmmakers, Yasujiro Ozu. Early Summer was released a number of months ago, and Late Spring is just available now. Ozu's movies are often devoted to the realm of family relationships, and the conflicts of the human heart. The same collection of actors appear again and again, and each experience is overwhelming. I don't think there's a better filmmaker who peels away the layers of a human life. Ozu is a Zen poet, who contemplates the joys and sorrows of life.

F For Fake, The Complete Mr. Arkadin - Criterion's two latest Orson Welles DVD's. What more needs to be said? It's Orson Welles! I'm hopeful that Criterion will be able to grab more of his great movies, like Fallstaff (Chimes at Midnight), The Trial, and The Stranger, which are all outstanding films that still don't have the audience they deserve. Well, make this your starting point.

Boudu Saved From Drowning - Another Criterion release by the masterful Jean Renoir. Boudu, the shaggy-dog story of a homeless man who is taken into a bookseller's home, was remade by Hollywood in the '80s as Down and Out in Beverly Hills." Don't blame Renoir's movie for that, kids. Just be sure to have all your Criterion Renoir DVD's in your library. Speaking of which...

The River - Criterion...Jean Renoir...technicolor...India...beautiful...heartbreaking...I'm out of words. Honestly. Easily among my favorite DVD's of last year, and clearly deserves a space on your shelf alongside Rules of the Game and Grand Illusion. You'll love it. You'll get all verklempt.

Studio Ghibli DVD's - My latest friendly reminder, kids. The American DVD's for Ghibli's My Neighbor Totoro, Whisper of the Heart, and Howl's Moving Castle are available now. The Disney dubs on these movies range from excellent (Howl) to pretty good, if dull (Totoro) to utter, utter shite (Whisper). Subtitles, children, subtitles. Either that, or take up Japanese.

The Muppet Show - Alright, since is this is a looooong overdue catch-up, I'd like to mention that The Muppet Show is now on DVD. For those of us who grew up watching Elton John and Alice Cooper hang out with the Muppets, this is a nice little nostalgia trip. It's also a perfect gift for our own kids. Oh, and go get The Muppet Movie while you're at it.

Any More Notable Releases? - Let's see. Patton has recently been reissued on DVD, and it's worth it just for George C. Scott's greatest performance. De Palma's Casualties of War is now available in a new, director-approved cut, and remains as gripping as ever. Peckinpaw finally got his due with the new DVDs, including The Wild Bunch, one of the greatest Westerns. There's a box set for Mel Brooks fans, even if his best movies (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, Spaceballs) are already available. Everything Warner Brothers touches turns into gold. And, finally, in honor of the late, great Oak Street Cinema, the Minneapolis art-house theatre that got me hooked on the movies a decade ago...Marlon Brando in Streetcar Named Desire. STELLA!!!!

Movies in Theatres

An Inconvenient Truth - Al Gore...remember him? He was that guy who won the Popular Vote in the 2000 Presidential election. He's back with an excellent book and movie about the imminent dangers of globar warming. Our Real President lays out the damning evidence, laying the blame right on humanity's doorstep, and then inspires us to make changes and avert a global catastrophe. We have perhaps a decade to take decisive action to stop global warming before the Earth reaches a point-of-no-return.

Hmm. Sorry, folks. There just aren't any movies in the theatres right now that I want to see. Maybe there are some diamonds buried in the rough, but nothing is really grabbing out at me. Keep your eyes peeled for Richard Linklater's upcoming movies, A Scanner Darkly and Fast Food Nation. Those might be worth the trip.