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This Week's Releases


Harvard Beats Yale 29-29


I just finished watching this fantastic documentary from Kevin Rafferty, director of Atomic Cafe, and cousin of George W. Bush (!)

With sports and music documentaries, a sign of quality is if it compells a viewer to be drawn into a genre/sport that they are not usually interested in. I'm not much of a football fan; the outcome is already revealed in the title, but watching the game unfold is riveting nonetheless.

Harvard Beats Yale 29-29 is a nailbighter of a documentary that amplifies the drama of a game that was concluded over fourty years ago. Highly recommended.



Read Before Viewing

Sometimes I need some direction. There are literally hundreds of movies that feel like I need to catch up on at any given moment, so I'm often faced with decision paralysis. I'm usually drawn to the new release wall to see what I might have missed in theaters that is new to DVD, but that approach ignores the thousands of other titles that demand attention.

One good remedy for this indecision is maintaining a simple library of movie-related books that can serve as the jumping-off point for DVD marathons and on-a-whim movie nights. I'm currently about halfway through Vern's immensely entertaining Seagalogy, and it's got me on a kick to catch up with some of Steven Seagal's early work. Seagalogy is a pretty silly premise--an entire book devoted to the films of Steven Seagal, who's spent more of his career making DTV misses than big screen hits. With the news today that Seagal is headed back to the big screen in Robert Rodriquez's Machete, I'm even more amped to revisit Out for Justice and some of the better-reviewed DTV titles (OK, maybe just one.)  Vern's book doesn't take itself too seriously--each film gets a few pages of analysis of plot, theme, characters, and counts of improvised weapons and broken glass.  It's been great to read Vern's sincere appreciation for movies like Marked for Death and then to watch them and revel in how weird of an action star Steven Seagal really is.

For a book with more depth about fewer (but arguably better films,) I enjoyed John Pierson's Spike, Mike, Slackers, and Dykes a great deal.  Anyone who has seen Reel Paradise will pick up on Pierson's sense of humor immediately in his book.  Pierson does an amazing job of recounting how he got involved with a handful of film makers in the 80's and 90's and about how he was involved in bringing their first films to the screen.  If Spike Lee, Richard Linklater, Kevin Smith, and Michael Moore are household names now, at least some of that credit belongs to Pierson who helped each of those (and many others) get a foot in the door.  In some cases, Pierson was just in the right place at the right time, but in others, his active role in trying to make independent films profitable got some landmark movies to the screen where they might have otherwise been lost without a distributor.  The book goes into exacting detail about all of the wheeling and dealing that put films like Roger and Me and She's Gotta Have It on the map.  I found it particularly useful for guiding me to movies that I hadn't yet seen.

Lastly, for an even deeper look at even fewer films, Open Wide is the story of Hollywood's obsession with opening weekend box office numbers.  Rather than break down the history of the summer blockbuster from Jaws and Star Wars up to the present day, the authors instead look at a single contested weekend and three films that set up to duke it out for box office supremacy.  The films are Terminator 3, Legally Blonde 2, and Sinbad, and while none of those titles on their own are too inspiring, with the background from this book, I got an itch to go back and see them all.  It's fascinating to read about how the movie industry has changed to be so intensely focused on two or three days worth of a film's theatrical run, and in turn it's worth revisiting movies that have been made with that opening weekend in mind to see why they work or don't work.



Each month Filter magazine has been featuring film reviews from indie video stores across the country. This month it's Videodrome. Check it out at your local magazine shop.


I’m In Love With A Jersey Girl

I can’t lie — I’m pretty stoked that I helped spark an internet flavor-of-the-week. FourFour is one of the first blogs I started reading regularly about 5 years ago, and during America’s Next Top Model season I wait breathlessly with the rest of the internet for Rich Juzwiak’s incomparable weekly recap. But I am more than a fair weather fan – Rich is also an incredible aficionado of House music, R&B, gore films, and new surprises all the time — he is really wise beyond his years.

Every summer Rich heads home to New Jersey and visits the boardwalk at Wildwood where he documents it in all it’s trashiness and throw-back, out-of-place-redneck glory. So three years ago I dubbed him a VHS copy of Atlanta homegirl Ruth Leitman’s 1992 documentary WILDWOOD NJ. This was a tape that I rescued from Videodrome’s sale bin because I always loved it, and all of her other films including ALMA and LIPSTICK AND DYNAMYTE. I had the honor of doing a lecture with her several years ago at The Contemporary on kitch films from our childhood (Me: OKLAHOMA!, her: BILLY JACK). She was also a customer at Movies Worth Seeing where I worked for years and we used to chat a lot about documentaries before she moved away from Atlanta.

So it was crazy yesterday to see stills and clips from my tape all over the internet because of Rich’s wonderful review! Here’s his highlight reel (which has generated over 50,000 views in 2 days!):

The story also got picked up by Jezebel, Buzzfeed, and on G4 Tv’s “Around The Web” it was selected as the #1 video of the day! (Thanks, BazookaLuca!).

Ruth says she’s getting DVD orders by the second, so you should contact her and ask for yours – it’s truly amazing and would make a great, if much more heartfelt, double feature with Heavy Metal Parking Lot. She is in the process of remastering it now due to all of the sudden demand and will have it available on her site in a few days for $22.99 shipped. We’ll definitely get a copy for at Videodrome ASAP.

- John (Reposted from my blog, Black Century).



We'll miss you B Jay

please donate for B Jay's funeral through paypal to chadrad at bellsouth.net

Photo by King Khan.


KILL [Kiru] - Momoru Oshii, Kenta Fukasaku Coming to Japanese DVD

Believe me, we'll get this as soon as we can find a Region 1 with English subtitles. Meanwhile, titillate yourself with the trailer!

From Affenheim Theater:

Geneon Japan will release the Kiru ~ KILL omnibus of sword-fighting climaxes featuring episodes from Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii, Takanori Tsujimoto, Kenta Fukasaku and Makoto Tahara on July 24, 2009.
As expected from Geneon, the 82 minutes long anthology will be released as a Standard DVD and Special Collector’s Edition DVD set. The latter comes with two bonus DVDs full of interviews, trailers, extra footage, making-of documentaries, a replica of a theatrical pamphlet and a “deluxe” guide booklet. The only thing missing are, just as expected, English subtitles...

Official site (Japanese only) here.


Nike's Debacle

First: Nike has become an impressive entity in the world of skateboarding. Second: Jason Hernandez has directed/edited the first HD skate video for Nike called "Debacle". The marriage of high defenition filming and skateboarding is made a happy one by a team of extremely sick Am's and locations including China and Brazil. Third: Nike has put DEBACLE online for FREE and you should watch it now.




Eastbound and Down

Kenny Powers is a fucking champion! Danny McBride (Foot Fist Way, Pineapple Express) is the down home anti-hero only HBO has the brass to release on DVD. McBride stars as a southern character type not yet seen exploited: the bloated Atlanta major league failure. Champions do not settle for humble small town new beginnings or less than glamerous middle school teaching positions. This champion exploits, insults, abuses, and harrasses all that stand in the way of a badass pitcher on a date with destiny, or reality.


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