Movie Of The Day: Hiroshima Mon Amour (1959)

In early August 1945, the USA dropped two atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, effectively ending the Second World War. A little more than a decade later, fresh off his acclaimed Concentration Camp documentary short Night And Fog (original title Nuit Et Brouillard), French filmmaker Alain Resnais (Last Year At/In Marienbad) was asked to direct another short documentary, about the atomic bomb. Unconvinced, Resnais ended making not only his first feature-length film, but his first work of fiction as well, Hiroshima Mon Amour (literal translation Hiroshima My Love).

Written by celebrated author Marguerite Duras (The Lover), the film tells of the love story between a French actress shooting a film in Hiroshima and a Japanese man she spent the night with, during her last day in town before returning to Paris. The unexpected emotions stir up some old painful feelings from the actress’ past, and serve as a metaphor to Hiroshima’s tragedy. It stars Emmanuelle Riva (Three Colors: Blue) in her first film role, Eiji Okada (Woman In The Dunes) who had to learn his dialogue phonetically, and Bernard Fresson (Brotherhood Of The Wolf) among others. Trailer and first five minutes of the film’s infamous fourteen minute long opening sequence after the jump. Continue reading

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Movie Of The Day: The Stone Council (2006)

Since his first novel’s release in 1994, ex-reporter Jean-Christophe Grangé has taken the position of France’s top thriller writer. His novels always feature tortured characters, graphic depictions of violence and an intrigue bordering on the supernatural. His success has naturally been translated several times in film, with The Stone Council (original title Le Concile De Pierre), his third novel and most supernatural-minded work, being his third book adapted for the silver screen after The Crimson Rivers and Empire Of Wolves.

The Stone Council follows Laura Siprien, an interpreter in French and Russian who goes to Mongolia and adopts a little baby boy, Liu-San. Everything’s fine until a few days before the child’s seventh birthday, when strange events start to happen. Laura and her son seem to share the same nightmares night after night, a strange unexplainable mark appears on Liu-San’s chest and Liu-San starts to chant in an old dialect he’s never learned while sleeping. While attempting to learn more about what’s going on, Laura falls victim to countless hallucinations and is followed by a string of brutal murders.

Directed by Guillaume Nicloux (the A Private Affair/Hanging Offense aka That Woman/The Key trilogy), the adaptation was co-penned by Nicloux and Stéphane Cabel (Brotherhood of The Wolf). It stars Monica Bellucci (Shoot ‘Em Up), Catherine Deneuve (Dancer In The Dark), Moritz Bleibtreu (Speed Racer) and Sami Bouajila (The Siege) among others. Subtitled trailer and review after the jump. Continue reading

New Region 1 DVDs

Movies

Brotherhood Of The Wolf: Director’s Cut

I can’t believe this hasn’t been released in the US until now, I’ve owned it for eons. This French movie is, in my opinion, one of the best films ever made. Gorgeous cinematography, atmosphere, romance, history, humor, drama, kickass action,… Brotherhood Of The Wolf has got it all. Think of it as Sleepy Hollow, only better, and that was already a very good film. Also, in addition to being entertained, you’ll learn something too, as the movie is (loosely) based on the true story of an unknown “monster” that terrorised the French Gévaudan province during the mid eighteenth century. Damn, I need to watch this again now.

The Director’s Cut adds 9 minutes to the film, and the DVD includes two discs filled with extras. However, some countries have three or four disc editions, so if you really care about bonus features, you should enquire about those.

 

The Nightmare Before Christmas: Collector’s Edition

While its popularity among oh-so-trendy emos and goths who hail it as the greatest thing ever made is extremely annoying, The Nightmare Before Christmas is a superb holiday movie, a marvel of stop-motion animation and a movie you should really see if you haven’t already, if only because it comes from a time where Tim Burton still had soul (yes I think his last three movies were very lackluster). While Tim Burton didn’t actually direct Nightmare, he wrote it, produced it, and his influence can be felt throughout.

This new edition comes with two discs shock full of extras, including a digital copy of the film. If you’re an über-fan, you may want to check out the limited “Ultimate Collector’s DVD Set”, in which the discs are kept in a bust of the main character.

Virgin Territory

Crap, crap, crap. Virgin Territory, which is pretty much American Pie in a medieval setting, is watchable, but that doesn’t mean you should, you know, watch it. Stupid storyline, unfunny jokes, plenty of random nudity, horrible acting (but then, what else would you expect from these leads?),… The fact that the movie finished filming in early 2005 and is only released now should tell you something. I’d recommend you skip it, except if you’re really, really into one of the wooden leads (but even then…).

Virgin Territory is released as “unrated”, but that’s because it never made it to the theaters in the US. Extras basically include a couple of uninteresting-sounding featurettes.

What Happens In Vegas: Jackpot Edition

If you’re not into romantic comedies, even those that have a lot of “man jokes”, What Happens In Vegas is probably not going to change your mind. For those who do appreciate them (or at least not mind them), …Vegas is a decent, if unremarkable movie. I’d recommend watching it if you’re a fan of the genre or of one of the actors involved, whilst knowing that it’s far from their finest work. Still, it’s funny enough.

The Jackpot Edition comes with two discs full of deleted scenes, interviews, bloopers, and a digital copy of the film, which seems to be the new cool extra these days.

Also in Movie DVDs: My Sassy Girl, Postal, Redbelt, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden?,…

TV

Heroes: Season 2

Heroes, the hit show about super-powered characters trying to figure out what’s going on with them, suffered with its shortened second season, many fans calling it crap. Personally, I’m halfway through it, and sure there are some weak points but it’s not that bad for now and there are plenty of good elements to keep you interested. In short, if you enjoyed Season 1, go for it, and in any case, from what I hear, Season 3, whose first episode premiered at this year’s Comic-Con, will be much better.

Season 2 starts four months after the events of the 1st Season’s finale, with the various characters trying to deal with the aftermath. Season 3 will start broadcasting on September 22nd in the US & Canada, on NBC and Global respectively, followed shortly by the UK on September 25th, on the BBC. Also, Season 1 was released on Blu-Ray.

One Tree Hill: Season 5

One Tree Hill is viewed by many people as being just some stupid thing for tween girls, but I personally think it’s a really solid, one of the very best “teen shows”, in fact. The writing is solid, the acting ranges from good to great, the characters are interesting (most of the time), the balance between humor and drama is just right and there are some really standout episodes. I’m sure that if you gave One Tree Hill a chance, and just stopped judging, you might actually enjoy it. In any case, it’s a much better show than cult favorite and similar series The O.C., whose first season was genius but was never matched by later episodes (especially Season 3, ugh).

In Season 5, the show fastforwards four years after Season 4, and focuses on the characters’ lives after college, dealing with the realities of adulthood. Season 6 will premiere in the US on September 1st, on The CW.

Also in TV DVDs: Entourage: Season 4, NCIS: Season 5, The Shield: Season 6,…