Monday, October 22, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Apartment 1303, directed by Ataru Oikawa, 2007, Japan
While celebrating her new apartment with her friends, a young woman suddenly and inexplicably leaps from the balcony, killing herself. Unconvinced that it was a suicide, the victim's sister searches for the sinister truth behind the tragedy. Her investigation into the apartment reveals a dark history and the existence of an unspeakable, powerful evil. What fate awaits the next tenant in this tale of terror?

Autumn Moon (Qiu Yue ), directed by Clara Law, 1992, Japan
When Japanese tourist Tokio travels to Hong Kong, he unexpectedly begins a relationship with 15-year-old Wai, a Chinese girl who cares for her ailing grandmother. Wai invites Tokio for a home-cooked meal, sparking a new friendship. As her family prepares to immigrate to Canada, Wai forms a surprising bond with the young man. This tender coming-of-age story explores the differences in Asian cultures and the joys and sorrows of young love.

Carnival in the Night, directed by Masashi Yamamoto, 1982, Japan
Punk rocker Kumi Ota (Kumiko Ota) leaves her son with her ex-husband and embarks on a long, strange trip through the underbelly of early 1980s Tokyo in this mishmash of narrative and documentary from indie maverick Masashi Yamamota. Featuring a cast of locals from the Japanese punk scene, Yamamota's cult hit is shot in gritty 16 mm black-and-white. The film was an official selection at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The Third Heaven (Los 3 Cielos) directed by Octavio Gasca Holguin, 2007, Japan
The ghost of a young man observes and protects a living woman named Doris in this delightful Mexican drama. Though Doris can't see him, the ghost has fallen in love and spends his time keeping an eye on her as she goes about her daily life. Originally enchanted by her beauty, he grows to love her spirit as well, and as he waits for the eventual day when she'll join him in the afterlife, he considers the meaning of life and love.

Scrap Heaven, directed by Sang-il Lee, 2007, Japan
Humiliated and dejected by his failure to handle a bloody bus hijacking, desk cop Shingo (Ryo Kase) is easily coaxed by one of the victims, Tetsu (Jô Odagiri), into taking part in an underground revenge-for-hire operation. Scribbling on bathroom walls to advertise their business, Shingo and Tetsu journey down a dangerous path and discover who they truly are. Director Sang-il Lee's stylish thriller also stars Chiaki Kuriyama of Kill Bill fame.

Tequila 5, directed by Luis Monterrubio, 2005, Mexico
Love is like a shot of tequila -- strong, hot and intoxicating. For four lonely singles living in Monterrey, Mexico, love will not only make them drunk with passion, it will give them courage to do the impossible and experience something beautiful. That is, until the day love makes them desperate, miserable and downright crazy! Luis Felipe Ibarra stars in this modern-day romance where love tastes great, even when it's hard to swallow.

The Orchestra of Piazza Vittorio, directed by Agostino Ferrente, 2006, Italy
After rounding up musicians from a thriving immigrant neighborhood in Rome to create the eclectic Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio, filmmaker Agostino Ferrente captured their heartwarming individual stories in this captivating documentary. The film reveals that, for many members of the group -- which is made up of Muslims, Jews, Christians, Hindus and atheists from 11 countries -- making music is as second nature as breathing.

Traces of Stones (Spur der Steine), directed by Frank Beyer,1966, Germany
A married East German Communist Party secretary finds himself disgraced, his morals scrutinized and his career in shambles after his affair with a young woman is exposed. Meanwhile, a construction foreman -- who happens to be an outspoken critic of the government -- professes his love for the woman, sparking a complicated love triangle. Banned for 25 years, this 1966 drama released after Germany's reunification met with critical acclaim.

Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico

I'm anxiously awaiting info on "My Brother is an Only Child," our Italian film. The U.S. distributors are as well.

It's a couple weeks out and we need to get clips, images and text the media. We'll make it. It always comes together.

I'm really excited about this film. I have been since I first heard of it last spring. It, along with 'Vier Minuten', was one of the films I never figured we could land.

It's a little unnerving waiting to see what the public reaction will be to all of our films.

You know how tough it is to pick out the perfect film from the local video store? All the selections. Imagine going to Blockbuster to pick out some movies you'd like to show to all of North Texas.

So welcome to my world for the last couple months.

In the meantime, here's something I found in the 'Hollywood Reporter'.

My Brother Is an Only Child
Bottom Line: A fine and engaging study of two personalities, seemingly in sharp contrast, that prove awfully alike in the end.
By Kirk Honeycutt

May 23, 2007

Daniele Luchetti keeps the story focused on people's inner lives.

CANNES -- Italian filmmakers have a unique facility for tracking the lives, loves and coming-of-age of a group of characters, usually families, through the social and political changes within Italy over a number of years.

Daniele Luchetti's "My Brother Is an Only Child" (Mio Fratello e Figlio Unico) is one of the better examples of the genre, focusing on a pair of brothers who struggle to make sense of the social turbulence of the 1960s and '70s.

For all the concentration on politics, the film isn't really political at all, but rather a fine and engaging study of two personalities, seemingly in sharp contrast, that prove awfully alike in the end. All the characters are immensely charismatic, and Luchetti shows a firm hand though a light touch in keeping the story focused on people's inner lives rather than the eye-catching turmoil that surrounds them. Theatrical prospects look promising throughout the world in specialty adult venues.

The two brothers, first seen at an early age in the small town of Latina in 1962, are enough to drive a mother crazy as they grow older. Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio) is handsome and intelligent, a smart catch for any of the young women who eye him. But his younger brother, Accio (Elio Germano), is a born rebel, causing trouble at the seminary to which his parents have so misguidedly sent him. He questions everything with vigor as a self-righteous anger smolders within him.
Naturally, Accio is our protagonist in this script by Luchetti, Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, based on a semi-autobiographical novel by Antonio Pennacchi. Accio veers from the family when he senses his elder brother and sister, Violetta (Alba Rohrwacher), are the more favored.

He is thus susceptible to the poisonous blandishments of an unrepentant Fascist. He soon joins the party to the horror of his left-leaning, working-class family. While his elder brother gets involved in agitation for better working conditions and housing with communist organizations, Accio learns how to disrupt leftist protests and to smash things including, sometimes, people.

Manrico never accepts his brother's rightist politics, thinking -- correctly, as it turns out -- that this stems more from issues of personal insecurity and identity than conviction. What really unites but also divides the brothers is Manrico's new girlfriend, Francesca (Diane Fleri), with whom Accio has fallen madly in love.

Accio eventually loses his innocence with the wife (Anna Bonaiuto) of his Fascist mentor, but he still longs for Francesca. She is the one that, in a sense, draws him back to Manrico and his family, if only to argue politics with Francesca.

Meanwhile, as Accio grows repulsed at the Fascists' increasingly violent tactics -- especially when his brother and, later, sister get caught up in melees -- Manrico drifts into the dangerous fanaticism that Accio himself gave up, that of crime and terrorism.

Things play out in unexpected and dramatic ways in a terrific third act. For all the intriguing plot twists though, Luchetti remains firmly committed to all the action springing from characters.

In this regard, he is blessed with a terrific leading performance by Germano. The young actor convincingly conveys the shifting personal and political perspective as his character matures. You enjoy watching Accio grow and learn from life, in contrast to his brother who seems to regress as ideology engulfs him.

All tech credits gleam with professionalism, especially the camerawork by Claudio Collepiccolo, who often favors close shots of actors even when they are embroiled in hot and heavy action.

Warner Bros. and Cattleya in association with Babe Films and StudioCanal
Director: Daniele Luchetti
Screenwriters: Sandro Petraglia, Stefano Rulli, Daniele Luchetti
Based on a novel by: Antonio Pennacchi
Producers: Bruno Ridolfi, Matteo De Laurentiis
Director of photography: Claudio Collepiccolo
Production designer: Francesco Frigeri
Music: Franco Piersanti
Costume designer: Maria Rita Barbera
Editor: Mirco Garrone
Cast: Accio: Elio Germano
Manrico: Riccardo Scamarcio
Francesca: Diane Fleri
Violetta: Alba Rhorwacher
Mother: Angela Finocchiaro
Father: Massimo Popolizio
Bella: Anna Bonaiuto
Running time -- 104 minutes
No MPAA rating