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Yard sale, T'giving

NIK & NANCY are having a garage sale (surprise, surprise!!!!) . . . Come see
what new treasures will be unearthed in our basement . . .Something for
everyone . . . from an opera Supernumery Breast Plate to vintage clothing
and household gadgets (a couple we are still trying to guess what they are).

WEATHER PERMITTING!!!!!! CANCELED IN CASE OF BAD WEATHER

2066 30th Avenue (between Pacheco & Quintara)

If you don't need anything just come by and say hello . . .

AND don't forget Thanksgiving Dinner here! -- bring something to eat or
drink to share and non perishable food for the food bank barrel!!!

Blogs

PES Screening & Reception

PLEASE NOTE!!!!

If you receive this and ARE NOT interested in animation PLEASE NO NOT come
to the party!!!! This is an ASIFA event and everyone is welcome... but if
you just want to come to a party at our house - wait until Thanksgiving
Day!!! Thanks,
Nik and Nancy

Thursday, November 3 8:15 PM

San Francisco State's Coppola Auditorium, Fine Arts 101 Free and Public
Invited

to a special

SCREENING OF ANIMATION BY

PES,

ONE OF NEW YORK'S HOTTEST ANIMATION DIRECTORS

Our reception and screening for PES will include his award winning ROOF SEX
plus several amazing stop-motion commercials (and we do mean amazing!!!).
His "Coinstar Shoe" ad just won Best Animated commercial at Ottawa. You can
see lots of work by PES at eatPES.com, but the excitement will be greater on
a big screen at SF state with a receptive audience.

Blogs

THE COURT JESTER (1956) (****)

This Danny Kaye swashbuckler spoof is driven by a complicated, yet ingenious, plot, highlighted by stellar dialogue.

King Roderick I (Cecil Parker, SWISS FAMILY ROBINSON) has usurped the throne of England from the rightful heir, an infant boy with the family birthmark of a purple pimpernel on his bottom. Hubert Hawkins (Kaye, THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY) is part of the rebels trying to the get the true heir on the thrown. Disguised as the new court jester Giacomo, he infiltrates the palace to get the key to the secret passage into the castle.

Along the way he has fallen in love with the female fighter Maid Jean (Glynis Johns, MARY POPPINS), who is kidnapped as a wench for the king, who is arranging an unwanted marriage for his daughter Gwendolyn (Angela Lansbury, TV’s MURDER, SHE WROTE), who threatens to kill herself along with her witchcraft welding maid Griselda (Mildred Natwick, SHE WORE A YELLOW RIBBON), who ends up bewitching Hubert, who is mistaken by conniving Sir Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone, THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD) as the real Giacomo, an assassin sent to kill the King so Ravenhurst can take the thrown. Woo, take a moment to catch your breath.

Blogs

BOOGIE NIGHTS (1997) (****)

Like THE GODFATHER, BOOGIE NIGHTS brings a story of family into a sleazy world, but this time it’s the porn industry and not gangsters.

The most simple plot explanation is that the film follows the rise, fall and redemption of porn star Dirk Diggler (Mark Wahlberg, THE ITALIAN JOB). His real name is Eddie Adams and he comes from a family were his mother is verbally abusive. Rumors abound at the nightclub where he works that he has huge talent in his pants. Porn director Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds, DELIVERANCE) takes Eddie under his wing and turns him into Dirk. If Jack is Dirk’s mentor/father-figure than veteran porn star Amber Waves (Julianne Moore, FAR FROM HEAVEN) is his surrogate-mother/lover.

Blogs

KWIK STOP (2002) (***1/2)

This film has been on my list to see ever since it received such praise from Roger Ebert, who programmed it at his Overlooked Film Festival. It’s a wonderfully smart film filled with surprises throughout.

Didi (Lara Phillips, ROAD TO PERDITION) meets Mike aka Lucky (Michael Gilio, DON KING: ONLY IN AMERICA) at the Kwik Stop convenience store where she spots him shoplifting. She threatens to turn him in unless he gives her a ride home before he heads off to Los Angeles to start an acting career. Along the way, Didi convinces Mike to take her to LA with him.

At first you think, the film will be a quirky romantic comedy/ road movie, but the film is too good to fall into a simple label. Other key characters include the sad alcoholic Emil (Rich Komenich, MR. 3000) and the heartbroken waitress Ruthie (Karin Anglin, DIRTY WORK).

Blogs

THE INTERPRETER (2005) (***)

Silvia Broome (Nicole Kidman, THE HOURS) is an interpreter for the UN. One night she overhears a plot to assassinate a dictator named Zuwanie (Earl Cameron, THUNDERBALL), who will be visiting the UN for a speech. After she reports the incident, secret service agents Tobin Keller (Sean Penn, MYSTIC RIVER) and Dot Woods (Catherine Keener, BEING JOHN MALKOVICH) are assigned to the case. At first, Keller doesn’t believe Broome, because it seems kind of fishy that someone overhears an assassination plot in a language that she happens to know that most people in American couldn’t even understand a word of.

The film keeps the suspense level high throughout and the film is filled with strong central characters. The underlying message isn’t revolutionary, but it adds a topical intelligence to the film that has been lacking from thrillers since the 1970s.

Blogs

FEVER PITCH (2005) (***1/2)

Based on a Nick Hornby book, this romantic comedy was directed by the Farrelly Brothers, who brought us THERE’S SOMETHING ABOUT MARY and SHALLOW HAL. The film is far more typical Hornby than Farrelly.

Ben (Jimmy Fallon, 2004’s TAXI) is a school teacher who meets Lindsey (Drew Barrymore, EVER AFTER) while he is taking his students on a field trip to where she works. She’s not really gung ho about the frumpish teacher at first but he wins her over with his charm and sweetness. Then he drops the big “relationship killer” on her. He’s a Red Sox fanatic, who has been religiously following the team since he was seven and has inherited season tickets from his uncle.

The film truly understands the nature of obsessing on one pastime and how others react to that passion. The story makes Ben an over-the-top fan, but you believe it 100%. I know people like Ben and I understand the passion one can develop on one thing. I loved the scene when Ben takes Lindsey to her first game. He knows all the people around him. They related the losing history of the team with a sad reverence. It’s their shared misery. The film gets it right.

Blogs

3-IRON (2005) (***1/2)

From Ki-duk Kim, the director of SPRING, SUMMER, FALL, WINTER… AND SPRING, comes this haunting romance that plays like a silent film. It contains imagery that I will never forget. Or more accurately, never want to.

Tae-suk (Hyun-kyoon Lee) is a college grad who has disappeared into a simple existence of taping menus to doors and then breaking into the houses that don’t remove the menus when he returns later in the day. He’s not a criminal; he just needs a place to stay. He washes the clothes of the people who live there and often fixes or plays a trick with an item in the house. For instance, he changes a scale in one house to read weights much lower than they are.

One day he enters a mansion where a beaten woman named Sun-hwa (Seung-yeon Lee) is quietly hiding. Tae-suk doesn’t notice she’s there for quite some time as she watches him. Then her businessman husband Min-gyu (Hyuk-ho Kwon) comes home and is abusive to Sun-hwa again. Eventually, Tae-suk and Sun-hwa run away together having never spoken a single word to each other.

Blogs

ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (1969) (***1/2)

This film is definitely the most unique of the James Bond films. It was the first non-Sean Connery Bond film. Bond actually has a serious relationship in the film. For the most part the film plays the material straight. And the ending is quite unexpectedly sad.

George Lazenby (THE KENTUCKY FRIED MOVIE) plays James Bond and after a rough outing at the start of the film, he gets to utter the line, “This never happened to the other fella,” which has spurred fans to assume that James Bond is more of a persona that various spies don over the years. However, this reading of the line discounts his interaction with Miss Moneypenny (Lois Maxwell, THE HAUNTING), but I digress.

The film starts with Bond following the daughter of a crime boss named Contessa “Tracy” Di Vicenzo (Diana Rigg, TV’s THE AVENGERS), whose attempt at killing herself is thwarted by 007. Later, Tracy’s father Marc Ange Draco (Gabriele Ferzetti, 1977’s THE PSYCHIC) offers Bond one million pounds to marry Tracy, but the secret agent isn’t keen on the money, but offers to romance the girl for information leading to his archrival Blofeld (Telly Savalas, TV’s KOJAK), who he tracks to a remote hideaway disguising itself as a research center studying allergies.

Blogs

THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST (1988) (****)

As one of the most controversial films of all time, Martin Scorsese’s picture is a provocative study of the struggle between divinity and human nature within all of us.

In the film, Jesus (Willem Dafoe, THE ENGLISH PATIENT) is a carpenter, working on crosses, when he begins to hear the voice of God calling him. At first he is reluctant to believe that he is the messiah. His friend Judas (Harvey Keitel, THE PIANO) is part of a revolutionary movement against the Romans and when Jesus starts preaching peace to all, he is in conflict with his friend.

The film chronicles the journey Jesus takes in preaching and trying to revolutionize the world. The film has the characters debate many theological issues. The portrayal of Jesus here is more human than anywhere else. The film really tackles the concept of him being divine and human at the same time. The picture is also practical about how people can misinterpret religious teachings to fit their own agenda.

Blogs

KING OF NEW YORK (1990) (**)

This violent gangster/ Robin Hood story seems to have a point, but doesn’t want to make it clear to the audience. There’s nothing wrong with a film not wanting to be obvious, but this film is just thin.

Frank White (Christopher Walken, THE DEER HUNTER) is a drug kingpin who has just been released from prison. Prison seems to have changed him in various ways (which the film never makes clear). He sets out to take over all the crime operations in New York City and use the money to create a state-of-the-art hospital in a poor section of town. Good premise for a film, but this film doesn’t make it plausible.

Jimmy Jump (Laurence Fishburne, BOYZ ‘N THE HOOD) is White’s top hitman, who seems to have watched a few too many John Woo films with his two pistol killing technique. Besides every other crime boss (representing all the races) in town, the cops are gunning for White as well. They hate the fact that he’s a drug-dealing killer who runs around town like a sainted socialite. Dennis Gilley (David Caruso, TV’s CSI: MIAMI) creates his own vigilante campaign against White along with his good friend and fellow cop Thomas Flanigan (Wesley Snipes, BLADE). Veteran cop Roy Bishop (Victor Argo, GHOST DOG), who is hiding an inner turmoil, desperately wants to hold onto the right way of doing things.

Blogs

THE VANISHING (1993) (**)

If you have not seen the original French version of this film then you might actually enjoy his remake. However, this film is a shining example of the bad Hollywood remake. It takes the original film’s premise removes the character moments, crams in a false love story and tacks on a happy ending.

The original was a character-based thriller — the remake is a serial killer cliché. The film begins with a brief introduction to Barney Cousins (Jeff Bridges, THE BIG LEBOWSKI), a frumpish science teacher who is meticulously planning a kidnapping and possible murder. Then we meet Jeff Harriman (Kiefer Sutherland, LOST BOYS) and Diane Shaver (Sandra Bullock, SPEED) as they are on the road on vacation.

Blogs

HOMBRE (1967) (***)

Based on an Elmore Leonard novel and directed by Martin Ritt (NORMA RAE), HOMBRE is the typical kind of Western of the ‘60s and ‘70s. Genre films were safe arenas to tackle political and social issues of the day without being directly obvious with the message.

Simply put the film is a stagecoach hold-up combined with a siege tale. John Russell (Paul Newman, THE STING) is a white man who was raised by Indians. He’s soft-spoken, but quick to use violence. He’s cold and distant. He doesn’t get involved in other people’s business, putting himself first. His dual ethnicity gives him an interesting perspective. He inherits a boarding house and decides to sell it. This puts its manager Jessie (Diane Cilento, THE WICKER MAN) out of work. This is the first bit of tension that is attached to the stagecoach ride.

Blogs

HENRY & JUNE (1990) (***)

For film trivia fans this film was the first film to receive an NC-17 rating. Based on a book by Anaïs Nin, the film chronicles Nin’s relationships with writer Henry Miller and his wife June.

Nin is played by Maria de Medeiros (PULP FICTION) with Miller played by Fred Ward (SHORT CUTS) and Uma Thurman (KILL BILL) playing June. Nin is married to a slightly prudish banker named Hugo Guiler (Richard E. Grant, WITHNAIL & I), who she loves but isn’t excited about. When Miller comes into her life, she is sexually as well as artistically awakened. Miller’s passion for June is his muse for writing TROPIC OF CANCER and Nin soon becomes infatuated with her as well. June is sexy and mysterious, which makes her very intriguing.

Blogs

THE VANISHING (1988) (****)

French filmmaker George Sluizer’s character-based thriller is compelling on so many levels. The film opens up with an introduction to the young couple Rex Hofman (Gene Bervoets) and Saskia Wagter (Johanna ter Steege, IMMORTAL BELOVED). A common argument sets up a tension that drives the narrative and displays a fine eye for human nature. It's a petty fight that Rex will come to regret for the rest of his life.

Rex and Saskia come to a rest stop on their way to the country. Then we are quietly introduced to Raymond Lemorne (Bernard-Pierre Donnadieu), a shady character that we know is up to no good. Then Saskia vanishes and Rex becomes distraught. From here we flashback to Lemorne meticulously planning his crime, which is fascinating in its detail. Then we move ahead three years from the crime and witness Rex’s obsession with finding out what happened to Saskia. Lemorne taunts Rex with letters to meet with him. Rex is driven more by the nagging desire to know what happened than revenge.

Blogs

TIMELINE (2003) (*1/2)

From what I have read, based is the key word in the phrase “based on the Michael Crichton novel” when one describes this film.

The movie opens with an archeological dig where Prof. E.A. Johnston (Billy Connolly, MRS. BROWN) searches for clues about a famed battle between Lord Oliver of England (Michael Sheen, KINGDOM OF HEAVEN) and Lord Arnaut of France (Lambert Wilson, CATWOMAN). The dig is funded by a mega-corporation run by Robert Doniger (David Thewlis, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN). He has devised a teleportation machine that he hopes will put Fed Ex out of business. However, when the machine crosses wormholes, well, lets just say things end up in the past.

Blogs

THE GRUDGE (2004) (*1/2)

Where the blame lies for the disaster that is this film, I am not quite sure I know. It would be an easy target to say it’s Hollywood execs remaking a foreign film and sucking out everything that made it good. However, the film was directed by Takashi Shimizu, the creator of the original JU-ON series, which this film is based on.

Having seen all four films in the original series, I can say that this film plays for the most part like Gus Van Sant’s PSYCHO, a shot for shot remake of the original. The film is like a highlight reel of the “scariest” moments from the entire series.

One of the major problems with the film is the cast, combined with the setting. Set in Japan, Karen Davis (Sarah Michelle Gellar, TV’s BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER) is working at clinic, because I guess there are no old people to take care of in the U.S. One day she goes to take care of an old lady named Emma (Grace Zabriskie, GONE IN SIXTY SECONDS) and witnesses the ghosts of the young boy Toshio (JU-ON: THE GRUDGE) and his mother Kayako (Takako Fuji, JU-ON). Then we flashback to see what happened to Emma and her family when they moved into the house. Police officer Nakagawa (Ryo Ishibashi, AUDITION) later tells Karen that, “when someone dies in the grip of a powerful rage, a curse is born. The curse manifests in that place of death. Anyone who encounters it is consumed by its fury.”

Blogs

TARNATION (2004) (***)

Made for $218 on an iMac, Jonathan Caouette transforms home videos and stills, amateur short films and interviews into a personal diary film that holds true power.

Caouette tells the story of his mother Renee Leblanc through home footage edited in an experimental way. Leblanc was a beauty and was modeling by age 12. However, a fall from the garage left her paralyzed. A neighbor of her parents Rosemary and Adolph told them the paralysis was in the girl’s mind. So Renee’s parents took her to a psychiatrist who advised Renee’s parents to give her shock therapy, which she received two times a week for years. Renee recovered from the paralysis, but sunk into a variety of mental illnesses. She married young and her husband Steve left before Jonathan was even born.

Blogs

THE FUGITIVE (1993) (***1/2)

Hands down the best film ever based on a TV series, THE FUGITIVE is a wonder thriller that combines nice action with original characters.

Dr. Richard Kimble (Harrison Ford, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK) has been convicted of murdering his wife. He claims to be innocent and that a one-armed man did the crime. As a result of an amazing action sequence involving a prison bus and a train, Kimble escapes and sets out to find out more about the one-armed man. Meanwhile, U.S. marshals led by Samuel Gerard (Tommy Lee Jones, MEN IN BLACK) take over the mission to recapture Kimble.

The true originality of the script is with Gerard. Unlike a typical cat-and-mouse capper, this film develops Gerard as a determined and no-nonsense man just doing his job. He’s not portrayed as a villain out to get Kimble. He’s a fully developed character.

Blogs

THE SNAKE PIT (1948) (***1/2)

One of the first films to really deal with mental illness as a feature topic on screen, THE SNAKE PIT is brought to life through its amazing central performance by Olivia de Havilland (GONE WITH THE WIND), who plays Virginia Stuart Cunningham, a woman who has suffered a mental breakdown.

The film begins with Virginia in an asylum suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, unable to even remember her husband Robert (Mark Stevens, OBJECTIVE, BURMA!) or even how long she was been in the institution. Her doctor Mark Kik (Leo Genn, THE LONGEST DAY) cannot get through to her, so he begins shock treatment to “awaken” her. Eventually, the treatment unclouds Virginia’s mind enough that her and Dr. Kik can delve into the source of her mental hang-ups.

Blogs

THE SEARCHERS (1956) (***1/2)

John Ford’s THE SEARCHERS is considered one of the best Westerns ever made by many critics. It was ranked 96th on the AFI’s 100 Greatest American Films. The film made SIGHT & SOUND magazine’s coveted top ten list in 1982 and 1992. That poll asks critics every decade what they believe are the 10 best films of all time. Director Ford is considered one of the best, influencing filmmakers like Orson Welles, George Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Francois Truffaut and Jean-Luc Godard.

But I try not to hold influence as top criteria for judging the quality of a film. Quentin Tarantino has been influenced by a lot of crappy films, but I’m not going to go out and say that SWITCHBLADE SISTERS is a masterpiece. I’m not saying that THE SEARCHERS is awful, but its flawed in such a way that it’s hard for me to overlook those flaws. Yet, the film still works remarkably well.

Blogs

FELLINI SATYRICON (1969) (***1/2)

Federico Fellini as a director had two periods in his career. His early work takes a neo-realistic approach while his later work is absurdist and surreal. His film 8 1/2 is the bridging film in his resume that makes the shift from realism to surrealism. SATYRICON definitely falls into the latter category.

Part historical drama, part modern social satire, the film follows two students Encolpio (Martin Potter, NICHOLAS AND ALEXANDRA) and Ascilto (Hiram Keller) as they stumble through 25 distinct adventures in ancient Rome. We first meet them as they are fighting over the affections of the boy Gitone (Max Born, only screen performance). Throughout the film, Encolpio finds himself at an orgy-like party, sold as a slave, married off to a gladiator, taken prisoner, having a three-some with a slave girl, enlisted in the army that leads to meeting a nymphomaniac in the desert, kidnapping an albino hermaphrodite healer, committing murder, facing a minotaur, being forced to impregnate a queen, visiting a witch and partaking in a very strange last request.

Blogs

RODENTZ (2001) (BOMB)

It’s been so long since I’ve seen a film this bad that I had forgotten just how fun a bad movie can be. Inept is too light a word to describe this piece of rat droppings.

It’s a jumble of horror clichés as old as the movies. A mad scientist named Professor Irwin (Guy Vieg, FLASH!) is doing experiments on rats that have gotten him ostracized from the scientific community. However, his dutiful, but clumsy assistant Walter (Allen Lee Haff, DEEP FREEZE) still thinks he’s brilliant. Now cue drunken college students. Alicia (Leah Rowan, LOST FOCUS) is Walter’s girlfriend and she convinces her party-hardy friends to pay a visit to the lab.

The friends are supposed to represent classic types like the jock and rebel, but the performances are relatively interchangeable and all look like they bought their clothes from the same preppy store except that the “rebel” can accessorize better. I’d list them but I’ll just save the actor’s the embarrassment and I’d probably mix them up anyway. So anyway they’re in for some trouble because the professor’s florescent green formula has leaked into the basement and transformed one of the rats into a six-foot man in the worst rat suit in film history. It makes Godzilla look good.

Blogs

PRIZZI'S HONOR (1985) (***)

This gangster spoof is a dark comedy that’s more ironic than it is funny. The film begins with Don Corrado Prizzi (William Hickey, MY BLUE HEAVEN) making a blood oath to be like a father to the newborn son of Angelo Partanna (John Randolph, CHRISTMAS VACATION). Then we jump forward in time to when the baby boy, Charley (Jack Nicholson, AS GOOD AS IT GETS), has grown up to be the top soldier in the crime family. At a wedding, he instantly becomes enraptured by the beautiful blonde Irene Walker (Kathleen Turner, BODY HEAT). A passionate and quick romance springs forth between them. However, she turns out to be not what she seems.

The film pits the honor of the gangster code of loyalty against love. Nicholson plays Charley as a slightly dim thug. His performance ranges from subtle to just hamming it. Turner plays Irene as a chipper go-getter who doesn’t think twice about the world of violence that she has entered. Great supporting work comes from Anjelica Huston (ROYAL TENENBAUMS) as Charley’s ex-fiancee Maerose Prizzi, Lee Richardson (THE FLY II) as Maerose’s gangster boss father Dominic and Robert Loggia (AN OFFICER AND A GENTLEMAN) as family lawyer Eduardo Prizzi.

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