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Employee Picks...

March 15, 2009

Bronwyn - The Lost Room (DVD.SF)
I thought this was a movie when I first checked it out, but it's actually a Sci-Fi channel mini-series. It tells the story of a Pittsburgh cop's desperate search for his daughter, who has disappeared into a strange hotel room which defies the laws of physics. His search brings him into contact with several of the people whose lives have been affected by the room and its contents. The pure randomness of the phenomenon and the characters’ motives makes this an even more enjoyable show.

Bronwyn - Constantine (DVD.SF - Superhero)
It has weird characters and a weirder story, but the camera angles are very cool. Some people don't like this movie, but I can't resist anything about the supernatural. Also, it has one of my very favorite portrayals of the Devil. If you don't like bizarre stuff, you won't like this as much. But if you're a fan of sci-fi, the supernatural, and the whole Heaven vs. Hell genre, you'll get a kick out of this one.

Sarah - Cleo from 5 to 7 (DVD.FRE)
Artfully composed with a simple and beautiful story. It makes me wish I spoke French so I wouldn't need the subtitles...

Sarah - A Streetcar Named Desire (DVD.CLA)
It's amazing to watch Marlon Brando's then nearly unheard of "Method" acting in comparison to the old classical style. He blows my mind *and* he blows everyone else out of the water. Also of interest, young Marlon Brando is very attractive.

Allyson - Spaced: The Complete Series (DVD.BH)
Recommended if you like Shaun of the Dead or anything else starring Simon Pegg.

Torff - Simon of the Desert (DVD.MEX)
The last film Buñuel made in Mexico, this short (only 45 minutes), surreal film, loosely based on the life of Saint Simeon Stylites, is one of the most interesting and entertaining looks at religion and religious devotion I've seen.  But I would expect nothing less from the man who famously said, "Thank God I'm still an atheist."

Torff - Sacco and Vanzetti (DVD.DOC)
I usually hate it when I hear something referred to as "the ____ of the century", but after watching this engrossing documentary about the trial of two anarchists falsely accused of murder, I think it may be safe to say this actually was the trial of the century.  A fascinating look at a piece of our history that, sadly, still has echoes in our world today, and a tragic tale of two men robbed of their lives.

Jennifer - Young at Heart (DVD.DOC)
I love old people!

Jennifer - Alice (1989) (DVD.DOC)
Alice in Wonderland is a weird story all on its own, but just wait until you see it after its gotten the Svankmejer treatment! You ’ll be pulled into Alice’s nightmare as you never have before. This is NOT a movie for small children, or for you, if you are a highly-sensitive scaredy-pants. This IS a movie for fans of David Lynch and Luis Buñuel. Think Alice on acid.

Laura - Before Sunrise & Before Sunset (DVD.AIF)
These films have the most enjoyable and heartfelt dialogue of any semi-recent American film I’ve seen. Both completely satisfy, yet leave you wanting so much more.

Laura - Before Sunrise & Before Sunset (DVD.AIF)
These films have the most enjoyable and heartfelt dialogue of any semi-recent American film I’ve seen. Both completely satisfy, yet leave you wanting so much more.

February 28, 2009

Bronwyn - Crash (2004) (DVD.GEN)
This movie is amazing in so many ways. One of the many ways is that it has no apparent beginning or end, not unlike life. There is no spectacular moral ending, either.

Bronwyn - The Gods Must Be Crazy (DVD.COM)
This comedy documents the journey of a Bushman as he attempts to return the problem-causing Coke bottle back to the ‘god’ (airplane) who gave it to him. Trust me, it’s not slapstick humor. There’s a real story.

Don - Sunshine Boys (DVD.COM)
Walter Matthau and George Burns play an aging vaudevillian comedy team who reunite for a variety show after not speaking for eleven years. Walter Matthau at his best.

Don - Kirikou and the Sorceress (DVD.ANI)
A story about an infant who saves his village from an evil sorceress within a week of being born. Beautifully animated and refreshing.

Jennifer - Bhoot Bungla (DVD.BLW)
A black-and-white Bollywood haunted-house movie. The songs are catchy, several of the dance routines feature acrobatic dancing skeletons(!!), and the special effects (e.g. heads spinning, skeletons running through the air) are delightfully low-budget and endearing. And at 2.5 hours long, it’s short for a Bollywood movie (which usually have runtimes over 3 hours).

Jennifer - White Dog (DVD.GEN)
Just read the back of the box.

Torff - Sunset Boulevard (DVD.FNR)
A great film-noir, and one of the best movies about the movies ever made. This is Billy Wilder at his finest.

Torff - The Exterminating Angel (DVD.MEX)
I love Luis Buñuel. And am thus very excited to see one of his best movies finally get the top notch DVD release it deserves. This absurdist/surrealist tale of a group of bourgeoisie who come for a dinner party and just can't leave (not because they are trapped, they just... can't) is uniquely weird and funny even compared to Buñuel's other work, especially the never explained repetitions throughout the film, some more subtle than others.  The only bad thing about this release is that it lacks the opening statement that was on some prints, which read, "The best explanation of this film is that, from the standpoint of pure reason, there is no explanation."  Amen to that.

Geoff - Corner Gas: Season 1 (DVD.CAN)
You should watch this! It’s great!

Pat - Theodore Rex (DVD.COM)
Drink when:
- a visual or verbal tail joke is made
- Teddy says “Cookie!” or “Cookies!”
- someone says “Coltraine”
- a joke is made about Teddy’s breath

Pat - Napoleon (VHS)
Abel Gance's masterpiece is quite an undertaking, clocking in at just about four hours (and that's only the footage that had been found by 1981 - there's at least 90 more minutes out there somewhere), but it's well worth the watch. A crazy experiment in filming and editing techniques, Napoleon is an engrossing and surprisingly exciting epic about the emperor's rise to power in post-Revolution France.

Sarah - This American Life: Season 1 (DVD.TV)
Every bit as engaging and fascinating as its Chicagoland radio broadcast, This American Life the series points the spotlight on real Americans really living their daily lives. Those stories are sometimes funny, sometimes inspiring, and sometimes heartbreaking, but all of them are worthwhile. If you love the show on NPR, Ira Glass, or good TV, you need to watch this.

Sarah - Wholphin: Vol. 01 (DVD.AIF – Short Films)
A collection of shorts including some of my all-time favorites. Definitely check out Miranda July's "Are the Favorite Person of Anybody?" and "Patton Oswalt Stares Into the Camera for Five Minutes Or So." Genius.

Laura - The Hours (DVD.GEN)
Thought provoking. Stunning shots. Haunting score.  Beautiful performances from three of the greatest actresses alive today. This is the film I watch when I want to reflect on regret, friendships, love, and the inextricable uncertainty of life. 

Laura - Anne of Green Gables (1985) (DVD.CAN)
Every summer I watch the entirety of this series and have done so since I was about five.  I believe every little girl should do the same.  It's the story of a young girl who copes with extreme circumstances through creating her own world with an imaginary friend and her favorite books.  It is so easy to get lost with her and remember how to escape, imagine, and how to hope.

Alex - Do Not Adjust Your Set (DVD.BH)
I’m pretty sure this was meant to be a children’s television show. But it’s definitely hilarious and very appealing to adults.

Ian - Our Man in Havana (DVD.FNR)
An awesomely stylized Noir/Spy/Comedy from the same writer and director as The Third Man and The Fallen Idol. Alec Guinness is superb as a man unwittingly recruited by the British government to gather information from various colorful locals in downtown Havana, where he has a vacuum shop. He quickly realizes that the surprisingly lucrative information business can pay for the education he has always wanted for his daughter, he begins to forge plans of a new type of secret Commie superweapon--one that looks strangely like an enormous vacuum cleaner--to sell to the highest bidder. Now he must stay one step ahead of informants and assassins, all while trying to discourage a budding relationship between his daughter and the sleazy chief of police. A great soundtrack and Graham Green’s trademark super sharp dialogue make this movie a lot of fun to watch.

Kinzie - Spellbound (DVD.DOC)
Storytime: When I was in 8th grade, my friend went to the national spelling bee in Washington DC. We watched him live on ESPN 2. It was amazing.  He got out on the word "lumbriciform." Admittedly, I was a little disappointed in myself that I couldn't spell half the words that these 8th graders aced. But sometimes it's nice to be put in your place...

Kinzie - The UP Series: Disc 1 (7 and 7+7) (DVD.DOC)
These dudes interview these adorable British children when they’re seven years old and then follow up with the same kids every seven years. It’s one of the cutest and most honest things I’ve seen in a while.

VALENTINE’S DAY 2009 PICK:

Torff - Lolita (1962) (DVD.BRI - Kubrick)
There's nothing better for this season of love than the timeless tale of this plucky, young nymphette and a charming, British pedophile.  Full of laughs, love, and creepy older men, rent this and share a wonderfully awkward evening with your cherished ones.

Torff - Beauty and the Beast (1946) (DVD.FRE) I like the Disney version, but it doesn't quite approach the beauty, magic, and poeticism of Cocteau's version of this classic tale.  One of the great love stories in cinema.

Don - The Shop Around the Corner (DVD.CLA)
Based on the same play as You've Got Mail and Jimmy Stewart is better than Tom Hanks. Also starring Frank Morgan better known as the Wizard of Oz. Two sales clerks who work together in a small shop can't seem to get along in person, yet fall in love as pen pals. A good date movie.

Don - Crash (DVD.CAN)
This is the worst date movie I can think of. Centers on people who derive sexual excitement from car crashes. Also, there's an interesting scene involving an open wound in someone's leg.

Jennifer - Black Orpheus (DVD.BRA)
What’s sexier than the Portuguese language, bossa nova music, and crowds of scantily clad people dancing the samba? NOTHING. This is a gorgeous love story with a fantastic soundtrack – so if you end up making out with your sweetheart through the last half of the movie, you know you’ll have good music in the background.

Jennifer - City Lights (DVD.CLA – Chaplin)
A Tramp falls in love with a blind flower girl and devotes his life to saving up money so she can have the surgery that will restore her sight. This film has everything you could possibly want in a date movie: It’s sweet, charming, funny, and it has a final scene that left entire audiences weeping and cheering when it was first released in theaters.

Alex - Penelope (DVD.COM)

Alex - Coupling: Complete First Season (DVD.BH)

Ian - Seduced and Abandoned (DVD.ITA)
An hilarious spoof of the traditional boy meets girl love story. It’s a little hard to believe the lengths people go to retain their family honor, but you’ll be laughing the whole way.

Ian - Duel in the Sun (DVD.WES)
Now here’s a love story for you. Gregory Peck and Joseph Cotton play brothers fighting for the love of the same woman. The ending is bloody and strangely beautiful.

Bronwyn - Bride & Prejudice (DVD.BRI)
Combines talented actors, the plot of Pride and Prejudice and the flamboyance of Bollywood.

Bronwyn - Mr. And Mrs. Smith (2005) (DVD.GEN)
Come on. It not only has explosions, blood and some pretty racy imagery, but Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. And they’re married. Where did that come from?

Best thing seen in ’08 (that isn’t still on the New wall):

Torff: 4 Months, 3 Weeks, and 2 Days (DVD.MISC)
One of the best movies I've seen in recent years, this is an intense, rather bleak, but nonetheless deeply moving and realistic film about a girl's attempt to help her friend procure an illegal abortion in Ceauşescu-era Romania.  It will live in your head for days after watching.

Torff: Meet the Feebles (DVD.B)
If William S. Burroughs had been asked to produce a children's show, this is probably what you would have gotten.  You will never look at the Muppets the same way again.

Sarah: The Wire: Season 1 Disc 1 (DVD.TV)
The show was surrounded by so much hype for me it was nearly drowning in it, so I had to give it a shot. I've come to determine that the show is brilliant BUT know it gets off to a slow start. This isn't 24, here. No one will be tortured or exploded in the first episode. But if you stick with it, I PROMISE it's worth it.

Sarah: Battlestar Galactica: Miniseries (DVD.SF)
I thought I hated sci-fi. Especially sci-fi television. Apparently I only hate BAD sci-fi television.

Allyson: Doomsday (DVD.GEN)
Many people might think that this movie’s ability to combine almost every movie genre is a bad thing but I think it is perfect. This post-apocalyptic film jumps from cannibals to a medieval castle to a car chase. Plus, the main character is kind of a cheaper Kate Beckinsale and she kicks a lot of ass. It is the best awful movie.

Bronwyn: Jumper (DVD.SF)
Ok, I admit I'm a little biased (the book this movie is based on is one of my favorites) but this flick definitely has it's merits, if only in the fact that it's shot in locations all over the world, and it works on such a cool idea. What would you do if you could be anywhere in the world?

Kinzie: LOTR: Fellowship of the Ring (DVD.SF)
How did I not watch it until 2008?!?  But I'm glad I finally did!

Kinzie: Funny Face (DVD.CLA - Audrey)
I love Audrey Hepburn.  And Fred Astaire.  And France.  And music.  And books.  And fashion.  So much bang for your buck!

Jennifer: The IT Crowd: Season 02 (DVD.PAL)
I’ve watched this show at least ten times through and I’m still not sick of it. Maurice Moss is the funniest character on television (well, okay… maybe tied with Charlie from It’s Always Sunny...) You don’t have to be a nerd to love this show, but it definitely helps.

Jennifer: The Business of Being Born (DVD.DOC)
Watching Ricki Lake give birth in a bathtub may not appeal to most of you, but if you plan on ever having children, you should do yourself a favor and watch this documentary. An educational and emotional rollercoaster of a film that will change the way you think about childbirth and the American healthcare system.

Ian: Prime Suspect 7: The Final Act (DVD.BMS)
You need to see this series from the beginning for the full effect, but this is easily one of the most intense and satisfying shows I’ve ever seen. Helen Mirren’s performance as DCI Jane Tennison is nothing short of phenomenal, and the huge sweeping character arcs (including the redemption of one of Jane’s biggest foes in the final season) are about as well-developed as they come.

Ian: MST3K: Werewolf (DVD.TV)
War-welf? It makes one wonder why someone would make a werewolf movie full of vaguely European actors who can’t pronounce the word “werewolf,” but here it is. This movie is absolutely fascinating.

Allyson: Wonderfalls (DVD.TV)
By the creator of Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies,
this show is just as amazing if not better. Set in Niagara Falls is an apathetic girl surrounded by tourists and a pushy family. To make things even worse, inanimate objects start talking to her. For all of
the times I talk to inanimate objects I'm kind of surprised they haven't started talking back.

Geoff: Shotgun Stories (DVD.AIF)
This film is great! You should see it!

Laura: Double Indemnity (DVD.FNR)
I have never been a huge fan of film noir, but this magnificent Billy Wilder production won me over.  Quintessentially noir and ridiculously entertaining, this film is a perfect starting point for anyone to appreciate the genre.

Laura: Suddenly, Last Summer (DVD.CLA)
Katharine Hepburn + Elizabeth Taylor. 
Need I say more

August, 2008 -- Guilty Pleasures

Pat
The Rock (DVD.GEN)
I don't really feel guilty about any of my pleasures, but my love for Nicholas Cage films even as I generally dismiss his talent and my love for a number of Michael Bay's "movies" even though I recognize his negative effect on filmmaking in general often lead me to make excuses. Today I don't have to. Because it's Guilty Pleasure week.
The Grudge(DVD.HOR)
Yes, I enjoyed (and thoroughly) a PG-13 American remake of a classic Japanese horror film starring Buffy and Ted Raimi. I have tried to pretend like I wasn't absolutely terrified by and in love with this movie for four years now, but it's time to face the facts: The Grudge was pretty good. With blatant disregard for any kind of exposition, every scene save one in the film is a self-contained scare, complete with rising action and climax. It's really kind of funny and ridiculous when you think about it, but it kept me on the edge of my seat when I saw it in the theaters four years ago. But everyone hates this movie. I must be wrong.

Jenna
The Craft(DVD.GEN)
The Arrival (DVD.SF)

Nate
Naked Gun(DVD.COM)
Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii (DVD.MC)

Apparently, Pompeii is the only city on earth mighty enough to host the self-indulgent British rock band Pink Floyd. Young and delusional, these lads think that perhaps their songs rival the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius! Includes two fundamental components of a great rock band movie, brilliant music, and interviews that make you
cringe.

Jess
Signs (DVD.SF)  
This film was pretty much considered the beginning of the end for M. Night Shyamalan, and I totally get why no one likes it, but come on, it has some not awful features.  The child actors are really good, I thought, and the musical score is neat.  And I don't care what anybody says all the alien scenes (except for the very last one) are really scary... like when it's caught on video walking out of the bushes!  I didn't sleep for like a week! And I think M. Night's awkward dialogue, especially when delivered by Joaquin Phoenix, totally works here.  Too bad none of these good points translated to his next three films.
The Cutting Edge (DVD.GEN)
This is one of my childhood favorites that I just can't put behind me. This film about the cold-hearted ice princess meets macho hockey player who become figure skating partners and first hate each other, but then fall in love, and go on to win the gold! Sorry for the spoiler but its the most predictable plot ever. This cinema master-piece has gone on to inspire films such as:  The Cutting Edge 2: Going for Gold, The Cutting Edge 3: Chasing the Dream, The Ice Princess, and of course my favorite remake, Blades of Glory starring Will Ferrell and Jon Heder.

Torff
Cruel Intentions (DVD.GEN)
There is very little redeemable about this movie.  Pretty much all the main characters are despicable non-persons--caricatures of real human beings.  Except, of course, when the movie needs them not to be, in which case they magically transform into one-dimensional almost-persons whom we are meant to sympathize with.  Truth be told, though, the world would be better off if all these characters were burned at the stake.  On top of that, the plot is basically predictable, and the dialogue is mostly stilted and ridiculous.  And yet... and yet I like this movie.  I am drawn to it, for reasons beyond my own comprehension.  Kafka once wrote, "How pathetically scanty my self-knowledge is compared with, say, my knowledge of my room."  Tru' dat Franz, tru' dat.
Bio-Dome (DVD.COM)
Here is a movie starring the single most annoying individual to ever regularly grace both our television and movie screens.  I am talking, of course, about the infamous Pauly Shore.  Shore is awful in everything he ever did, and this movie isn't just bad, it actually got a score of 1/100 on Metacritic--the lowest score ever received.  I put this film in the category of Guilty Pleasure not because I particularly like it, but because I feel ANY pleasure at all while watching it, which is far more than it deserves.  That I laugh at maybe 40% or so of its jokes, or somewhere thereabouts, surely has relegated me to a lower level of hell.

Sarah
You've Got Mail (DVD.COM)
One of my favorite guilty pleasures. A general liking of it upon my first viewing of it sometime back in the day turned into the intense desire to watch it every single time I catch it on TV. Which, thanks to TBS, is something like every other day. A harmless, stereotypical romantic comedy. Ho-hum Meg Ryan and a forgettable performance by Dave Chapelle (pre-Comedy Central show and Africa freak-out) plus ever-charming Tom Hanks makes for a reasonably enjoyable time. What can I say? I like it when Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan fall in love (yes, specifically them).
Muppet's Treasure Island (DVD.COM)
Post-Muppet heyday, meaning post most people caring that this movie existed, but Tim Curry belting out mind-numbingly catchy tunes with a pegleg is simply one of the few things I can't get tired of seeing. As Spam-a-lot fans can attest, that man can sang. I can't say the same for Kermit and Miss Piggy, but regardless I know every single word to every single song and if you watch it, it will be easy to see why. I also may or may not still own the ancient CD-ROM for Windows '95, but that's a concern to be discussed another day...

Ian
Torque (DVD.GEN)
I can't claim that this is a true guilty pleasure because I don't feel guilty for liking it, but I guess I do feel a little sheepish for just how much I like this movie.  And the reasons I like this movie are plain and simple: a) the visuals are just amazing (come on, that light-speed bike race on top of a moving train is pretty intense) and b) Ice Cube is in it.
Phenomena (HOR)
Like most Argento movies, Phenomena has its share of pretty colors, unexpected (and genuinely scary) violence, and a completely implausible storyline.  But this is also arguably his most misogynistic and pervy (really, how many excuses can you come up with in one movie for a 15-year-old Jennifer Connelly to be terrorized in a nightgown?), and I can't help feeling a bit sleazy for liking it.  It also has one of the most ridiculous endings I've ever seen.   

Alex
What a Girl Wants (DVD.COM)
I think my love of this movie comes from the nostalgia I feel for the good old days of Nickelodeon, when Amanda Bynes was on All That.  While this movie is more serious than any of her old skits, she still runs around accompanied by strange sound effects, which kind of makes me laugh at the silliness of it all.  Also, it is just so mindlessly enjoyable, requiring little effort to understand or connect to the characters that whenever it is on the Oxygen Channel (about once every few weeks) I just have to tune in and waste a couple hours of my life.
Princess Diaries 2 (DVD.COM)
Chris Pine.

Allyson
Grease 2 (DVD.GEN)
kind of blame my mom for liking this one. She made/let me watch so many awful movies. Many don't believe in sequels but I think this one is brilliant. They moved from cars to motorcycles! The songs are in a league all there own. The talent show at the end of the movie is priceless. Plus Michelle Pfeiffer. Also, Maxwell Caulfield is hotter than John Travolta. I'm so ashamed.
Coyote Ugly (DVD.GEN)
Lucky for me this one is on TV all the time. Which often involves a painful process of me changing channels convinced there has to be something better on inevitably giving in to watch this peach of a movie. Piper Perabo plays a good girl from New Jersey or something that moves to New York City hoping to make it as a songwriter. Of course she does just that in the end. Big surprise, right? But, she meets some interesting people along the way, like Tyra Banks and Leann Rhymes. And she knows how to sing and dance on top of a bar. You couldn't really ask for more from a movie...or maybe you could.

Don
Phenomenon (DVD.GEN)
Certainly corny and sentimental. A man with a brain cancer gains super powers for the last few months of his life. Look for the cameo by Brent Spiner, better known as Data from Star Trek.
Best of the Best (DVD.GEN)
The story of the American Karate team preparing for a competition against the feared Korean team, the five fighters come together for training montages and bar brawls and finally make it to the karate championship, but don’t think you’ve got it all figured out. Best of the Best has some surprises in store.
“A team is not a team if you don’t give a damn about each other”
-Coach Couzo (James Earl Jones)

Jenn
Field of Dreams (DVD.GEN)
I feel so dirty for liking this movie, and the worst part of it is I can’t explain why I like it so much. I can’t stand Kevin Costner, I think baseball is boring (except maybe for this ’08 season – GO CUBS!), and heartwarming family dramas make my eyes roll back in my head. But if you want a movie that the AFI listed as one of its “Top 10 Fantasy Genre” films ever, or a movie that’s been parodied a million times (see: Family Guy, Wayne’s World 2, The Cable Guy, PCU, etc.), or if Catcher in the Rye is one of your favorite books, this is the film for you.
Homeward Bound (DVD.GEN)
Not to be confused with Milo and Otis, which is essentially 76 minutes of cute puppy & kitten footage. This anthropomorphic gem contains some of the best animal “acting” I’ve ever seen (don’t tell my behavioral psychology professor – I could get in some serious trouble with him for admitting that I like this movie). To make matters worse, I’m 25 years old and the ending still makes me cry.

August, 2008 - Week 1

Ian
Chet Baker: Let’s Get Lost (DVD.JAZZ)
A superb, beautifully filmed documentary that seems to ask us: What happens to the drug-addicted jazz legends that don’t die young? Are the interviews with the aging Chet Baker, strung out and barely able to form complete sentences, sad? Or is this simply the inevitable flip side to his brilliant early career? You might come up with an answer, but most likely you’ll just find yourself lost in the music.
Come Drink With Me (DVD.CHI)
I will gladly endorse any film with a hero named Drunken Cat. Aside from that, this is one of Hong Kong’s most beloved kung-fu flicks, and it’s easy to see why (Ang Lee cited this as one of the biggest influences on his Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon). Beautiful to look at, fast-paced, and funny, this movie is just plain fun.

Eric
Symbiopsychotaxiplasm (DVD.AIF)
Quite frankly, I’m not sure exactly how to describe this film without being longwinded. I suppose one might say it is a postmodern film about the making of a film that itself is not sure what it is. I know, it sounds pretentious, right? But it actually works and is compelling, and is an odd/interesting tribute to the power of movies. Worth checking out, if for no other reason than there is nothing quite like it.

Nate
Ravi Shankar: In Portrait (DVD.MUS)

Jenn
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (DVD.TV)
HILARIOUS!!!
Recommended If You Like: My Name is Earl, Curb Your Enthusiasm, awkward silences, the seedy (but oh so loveable!) underbelly of America, political incorrectness

Allyson
The Muppet Show, Best Of: Vol. 01 (DVD.TV)
Muppets + great music = (smile)

Torff
House of Games (DVD.GEN)
A great directorial debut by David Mamet. A rich, fun neo-noir about con men, and a best selling author/psychologist who gets pulled into their world, this is Mamet at his best. The staccato dialogue (affectionately known as Memetspeak), moody atmosphere, poetic clichés, deceptions upon deceptions – it’s all there. Also worth watching for its historical impact, as you can see its stamp on many films which followed.

July, 2008 -- Part II (Comic Books made into films)

Don
Josie and the Pussycats (DVD.COM)
Admittedly, a guilty pleasure. Josie is about a conspiracy to brainwash the youth of America through subliminal messages and has a pretty catchy soundtrack.
Sin City: Director’s Cut (DVD.GEN)
A visual masterpiece. In trying to faithfully adapt Frank Miller’s graphic novel series, Robert Rodriguez brings some of the most refreshing and startling images ever put on film. The movie has its faults but it certainly makes up for them by being so different from everything else around it. The Special edition DVD contains some of the best special features I’ve ever seen: two commentary tracks, a green screen version of the film and a delicious recipe for breakfast tacos.

Jess
Akira (DVD.JAN)
Blade (DVD.HOR)

Torff
American Splendor (DVD.COM)
A History of Violence (DVD.GEN)

Darcy
Flash Gordon (DVD.PAL)
Batman Returns (DVD.GEN)

Lou
Ghost World (DVD.COM)

Nate
Ghost World (DVD.COM)
Men In Black (DVD.SF)

Millie
Batman Begins (DVD.GEN)
Batman is the shit
Batman (DVD.GEN)
Batman is the shit

Ian
Danger: Diabolik (DVD.ITA)
Ping Pong (DVD.JAP)

Pat
Superman Returns (DVD.GEN)
Superman Returns is not a perfect film and earned the ire of the internet fanboy base for being the "movie where Superman lifts stuff," as he seems to solve each successive problem in the film by lifting an object of increasing size (a car, the Daily Globe globe, a small continent). But this action-light romance is a daring adaptation of the Superman mythos in that it actually tries to add something to the character instead of merely reiterating 60 years' worth of good stories. Kal-El's struggle to come to terms with his Kryptonian identity and his absent father(s), the theme on which Richard Donner/Mario Puzo/Tom Mankiewicz built the first Superman film (1978), comes to a head here, with a fitting conclusion to the story started in the 70s. Here's to an action film with the balls to have an emotional climax instead of the typical villain-vanquishing.
Batman: The Movie (DVD.GEN)
As a typical 20-something Batman fan, I prefer the darker Batman of Denny O'Neill, Frank Miller, and yes, even Tim Burton, but Adam West and crew get too bad a rap. The old Batman show is deliciously campy and even has moments of witty brilliance, and this film, based on that show, is no different. Though Batman comics of the last thirty years more closely resemble the films of Christopher Nolan, Batman in the late fifties and mid-sixties was very campy, just like this show (and, admittedly, only became more so because of this show) so I don't understand my fellow Bat-fanboys who have an irrational hatred of this stuff. This is Batman too; the Batman who existed between the Baby Boom and the Sexual Revolution/Watergate - silly, brightly colored, unaware that the world is truly an ugly place. From the Shark Repellent Bat-Spray to the trained, exploding shark and beyond, this Batman film might just be in the top six ever made.

Jenn
Cromartie High School: Vol. 1 (DVD.JAN)
HE ATE IT! HE ATE THE PENCIL!
Kamikaze Girls (DVD.JAP)
Two unlikely friends bond over motorcycles and high-end fashion in this colorful film about friendship, acceptance, and refusing to conform to social norms.

July, 2008 -- Part I

Jess
Twister (DVD.GEN)
Probably my favorite summer movie, with two of my favorite stars. No elitism here, this is just a fun high-action summer flick  for anyone who grew up in the midwest and knows that wicked weather and summer come hand in hand. (Also showcases Philip Seymour Hoffman's earlier acting)
Jaws (DVD.GEN)
What can I say, A summer-time classic. (Also recommend Jaws 3-D! with a young Dennis Quad)

Jenn
Wet Hot American Summer (DVD.COM)
The Sandlot (DVD.COM)

Torff
Dazed and Confused (DVD.COM)
M. Hulot’s Holiday (DVD.FRE)

Lou
Daria: Is it Summer Yet? (DVD.ANI)
Spirited Away (DVD.JAN)

Don
Lilo & Stitch (DVD.ANI)
I suppose that, since this movie is set in Hawaii, it doesn’t necessarily take place during the Summer, but it certainly feels like summer. Also, it’s great.
Home Movies: Season 4 Disc 1 (DVD.ANI)
The first episode on this disc, entitled, “Camp” takes place at a performing arts Summer camp. Two of the counselors in the episode are voiced by the two Johns from They Might Be Giants. If you like this, watch the rest of the show because every episode is solid gold.

Nate
Sleepaway Camp (DVD.HOR)
Dirty Dancing (DVD.GEN)

Darcy
Independence Day (DVD.SF)

Allyson
My Girl (DVD.GEN)
Finding Nemo (DVD.ANI)

Ian
Whisper of the Heart (DVD.JAN)
Tekkonkinkreet (DVD.JAN)
All About Lily Chou-Chou (DVD.JAP)

June, 2008 -- Part II (Re-Makes)

Don
Seven Samurai (DVD.JAP)
Yeah. I picked Seven Samurai. You wanna fight about it? Villagers hire seven samurai to help protect them from bandits in what is frequently called the greatest film of all time.
The Magnificent Seven (DVD.WES)
Essentially Seven Samurai lite. An extra helping of the action, easy on the character development. Lose those obnoxious subtitles and make it color while you’re at it. In all honesty, though, a tredmendous film even if it doesn’t live up to its predecessor.
A Bug’s Life (DVD.ANI)
Hexapedal Seven Samurai with a Three Amigos twist. A colony of ants hires a troop of circus bugs to help protect them from grasshoppers.

Jess
U-Carmen e-Khayelitsha (DVD.AFR)
This remake of the famous opera Carmen is set in a modern-day slum in post-apartheid South Africa, a setting that offers an interesting interpretation of the context and violence of the original.  The musical score remains as European-opera, but is sung in the African language of Xhosa. The star, Pauline Malefane, came to Champaign when this film was played at Ebertfest. Recently the film was given a golden bear award at the Berlin Film Festival.
Karmen Gei (DVD.AFR)
A Senegalese adaption of the opera Carmen that is far apart in style and script from the original.  It's been awhile since I've seen this one, but I think I remember there was more sex and violence than I had anticipated, with a lot of color and good music.  Not your average opera adaptation.

Jenn
La Jetee (DVD.FRE)
Do you like 12 Monkeys? (Who doesn’t?)
Did you know that 12 Monkeys is a REMAKE?
La Jetee is the original – check it out! (Note: It’s short – REALLY short – like, half an hour… so you get the bonus film Sans Soleil with this rental, too!)
12 Monkeys (DVD.SF)
Did you know that this is a remake?! Neither did I, until a week or so ago! The concept is taken directly from La Jetee (DVD.FRE) – watch them both and see which one you like more!
Infernal Affairs (DVD.CHI)
Tony Leung and Andy Lau star in this action-packed crime thriller that was later remade into The Departed.
The Departed (DVD.GEN)
If you like this movie, check out the original: Infernal Affairs (when it’s not an employee pick, you can find Infernal Affairs in our Chinese section).

Pat
Fistful of Dollars (DVD.WES)
Clint Eastwood's first silver-screen Western (he was already a star on one of those terrible Western TV shows) was made by an Italian and based on a script by a couple Japanese. Of course, the original, Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo, was actually based on a story by American pulp novelist Dashiell Hammett . . . just goes to show you that you don't have to be original to be freakin' awesome.
Last Man Standing (DVD.GEN)
When first watching A Fistful of Dollars a few years ago, I thought to myself "Hey, this is a lot like Yojimbo." Then, as it progressed, I thought, "Actually, it's even more like Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis." Though this underappreciated Willis actioner is probably closer to Dashiell Hammett's original story, it still gives script credit to Kurosawa and his screenwriter. Go figure.

Torff
Solaris (DVD.RUS)
Solaris (DVD.SF)

Nate
Nosferatu (DVD.GER)
Nosferatu: The Vampyre (DVD.GER)

Lou
The Wiz (DVD.GEN)
The Wizard of Oz (DVD.CM)

Millie
The Manchurian Candidate (DVD.GEN)
The Manchurian Candidate (DVD.FNR)

June, 2008 -- Part I

Torff
The White Diamond (DVD.DOC)
No one else could have made this movie but Werner Herzog--the subject matter, style, and themes are so distinctly his--a worthy addition to his canon of great documentaries.  A moving, beautiful, and fascinating piece of filmmaking.

Allyson
Charade (DVD.CLA)
The Quiet Man (DVD.CLA)

Lou
Paris is Burning (DVD.G&L)
This is my FAVORITE movie. It's hard to talk about it, because I've seen it so many times and it's so close to my heart. Drag balls, created families, struggle. Fashion, queer love, survival.
Chasing Amy (DVD.COM)
A bad-ass chick. Love, changing, fluid relationships. Comics. It will make you laugh and crush you just a little.
Saving Silverman  (DVD.COM)
This movie makes me LOL every time. I watched it for my 20th birthday. I guess you could call it a romantic comedy. More comedy than romance, though, just so you know.

Don
My Name Is Earl: Season 1 Disc 1  (DVD.TV)
A show that is consistently funny and inventive about a man, played by Jason Lee, who tries to right all of the wrongs in his life so that Karma will bring good things to him. Jaime Pressly, who plays Earl’s ex-wife Joy, seems to have as much fun as any actress has ever had in any role ever.

May, 2008

Torff
Kiss Me Deadly  (DVD.FNR)
Amongst the best of the classic films-noir.  It's stark, paranoid, nihilistic, wonderfully shot, and has a mostly amoral, sleazy private eye as its main character---who could ask for more?
Zodiac  (DVD.GEN)
In a year of great movies, this one was was sadly overlooked.  A nontraditional serial killer movie that is equally about the obsessions and psychosis of the killer and the psychosis of those trying to capture him, while also being a bit of a commentary on the influence of the media, this was one of the best movies of 2007, and arguably David Fincher's best work to date.  Not to be missed.  

Jenn
The Red Balloon  (DVD.FRE)
One of my childhood favorites, and the only short ever to have won an Oscar outside of the Shorts category (it won for Best Original Screenplay). The Criterion re-issue is absolutely stunning.
Dog Day Afternoon  (DVD.GEN)
Based on true events! Al Pacino got so into his role that he had to be hospitalized for exhaustion halfway through production.

Darcy
Endless Summer  (DVD.SPO)
I’m Alan Partridge  (DVD.PAL)

Nate
Ginger Baker: In Africa (DVD.MUS)
The British drummer of Cream decides to drive a jeep across the Sahara desert to meet and play music with African musicians. The result - some totally great jams! Includes some amazing live footage of Fela Kuti and his band. For fans of afro pop, psychedelic rock, and seriously impressive booty shakin.'
L’Iceberg (DVD.FRE)
The only romantic comedy I've ever enjoyed. Almost without dialog, this story is told with some of the goofiest body language since Buster Keaton. For fans of America's Funniest Home Videos, Amélie, Long walks on the beach...

Don
The Station Agent (DVD.GEN)
One of those rare movies that trusts its audience to get what it is trying to do rather than feeling the need to make it overly clear.
Stay (DVD.GEN)
A sadly overlooked film. It does things visually that I’ve never seen in any other film. Ryan Gosling gives an amazing performance as a suicidal college student.

Halloween, 2007

Millie
Psycho (HIT, DVD)
This movie is scary if you were born before, like, 1960, but it is still one of the greatest classic thrillers.
Nightmare Before Christmas (ANI, DVD)
I’m a weenie. No clever Halloween picks from this Rentertainer.

Jessica
Hocus Pocus (COM, DVD)
I don’t remember too much about this film, but it was one of my childhood favorites. Bette Midler can be scary.
The Stuff (HOR, DVD)
I don’t like scary movies unless I can laugh at them.

Mattie
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown (ANI, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!

Nikki
Basket Case (HOR, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!
Rosemary’s Baby (HOR, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!

Stefanie
Brain Damage (HOR, DVD)
This movie is disgusting…and hilarious. Not for the squeamish or easily offended. Happy Halloween!

Ian
Frankenstein Conquers the World (JSF, DVD)
If you do not love this movie, I will tell you to look in the mirror and ask yourself who the real monster is.
Perfect Blue (JAN, DVD)
The debut film from Satoshi Kon (Paprika, Tokyo Godfathers) is one of the most intense and genuinely creepy slasher films I’ve ever seen.

Leah
It (HOR, DVD)
If you’re not already afraid of clowns, this movie will probably do the trick.
The Exorcist (HOR, DVD)
This movie starts out a little slow as everyone tries to figure out what’s wrong with Regan. But don’t worry, there’s some good, scary stuff ahead.

Darcy
Kingdom Hospital (HOR, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!
The Pest (COM, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!

Mackenzie
Wolf Creek (HOR, DVD)
If you aren't already terrified of camping in the outback, watch this movie to show you why you should never do it.
Practical Magic (GEN, DVD)
Watch this supernatural comedy about a family of witches that stars Nicole Kidman in her best performance.

Pat
Hostel (HOR, DVD)
Issues with “gorn” aside, this is a disturbingly interesting take on horror films. Eli Roth does some cool stuff with familiar horror conventions, exposing some and playing others for laughs.
The Descent (BRI, DVD)
The only movie that’s really scared me in a long time. It’s not without its campy moments, but I wouldn’t want a horror film that didn’t have at least a little camp.

Don
Mortal Kombat (SF, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!
Ghostbusters (COM, DVD)
This movie is really great. You should watch it!


Older Picks

We've always wanted to have an "Employee Picks" section in the store but never really got around to doing it. One day, Shannon said she'd take care of it and that's why you'll now see it right when you walk in. Every couple of weeks we switch out the DVDs on the "Employee Picks" wall. Here is a list of some of the previous picks:

Alex:
Office Space (DVD, COM) – Valentine’s Theme
A League of Their Own (DVD, COM)
Lumumba (DVD, FRE)
In My Skin (DVD, FRE)
Life & Debt (DVD, DOC)
Shrek (DVD, ANI)
Salaam Bombay (DVD, IND)
Three Amigos (DVD, COM)

Amanda:
Together (DVD, SWE)
10th Victim (DVD, ITA) – Valentine’s Theme
Rejected (DVD, ANI) – Valentine’s Theme
Lucky People Center International (SWE)
Salesman (DVD, DOC)
Umberto D (DVD,ITA)
Gumball 3000: The Movie (DVD, PAL)
Withnail & I (DVD, BRI)
Grey Gardens (DVD, DOC)
Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe (GER)
Better Than Chocolate (DVD, G&L)
Show Me Love (DVD, G&L)
Man Bites Dog (FRE, DVD)
Gleaners & I (FRE, DVD)
C’etait Rendevous (FRE, DVD)
Sherman’s March (Doc, DVD) – worst film 2004
Hollentour (Pal, DVD)
Le Belle Nouisse (Fre, DVD)

Becca:
Three Thousand Miles from Graceland: Bonnaroo 2003 (DVD, MUS)
Run Lola Run (DVD, GER) – Valentine’s Theme
Soap Dish (DVD, COM)
Okie Noodling (DVD, DOC)
Adventures in Babysitting (DVD, COM)
Twin Peaks: Pilot Episode (DVD, TV)
Dazed and Confused (DVD, COM)
All the President’s Men (DVD, GEN)
Better Off Dead (COM)
All About My Mother (DVD, SPA)(X2)
Me Without You (DVD, BRI)
Dancer In The Dark (DVD, Int.Misc)
Raising Victor Vargas (Gen, DVD)
A Clockwork Orange (BRI, DVD) – picked by Shadie
Bad Boys II (Gen, DVD)

Beth:
Umbrellas of Cherbrough (Fre, DVD)
Waiting for Guffman (Com, DVD)

Eric:
101 Rykjavik (DVD, Int.Misc)
Leon, The Professional (DVD, GEN)
Chunking Express (CHI) – Valentine’s Theme
All The Real Girls (DVD, AIF) – Valentine’s Theme
From Dusk Till Dawn (DVD, HOR)
City of God (DVD, PAL)
FLCL: Vol 01 (DVD, JAN)
Requiem For A Dream (DVD, GEN)
My Own Private Idaho (G&L)
Grosse Pointe Blank (DVD, COM)
Knightriders (HOR)

Jacob:
Cannibal! The Musical (DVD, TRO)
10 Things I Hate About You (DVD, GEN) – Valentine’s Theme
Upright Citizens Brigade (DVD, TV)
Attack The Gas Station (DVD, KOR)
Crimson Tide (DVD, GEN)
Clear and Present Danger (DVD, GEN)
PCU (COM)
Billy Madison (DVD, COM)
Sandlot (DVD, COM)
Dead Like Me (Vol 1, TV, DVD)
Heat (Gen, DVD)

JB:
Alphaville (DVD, FRE)
Sid and Nancy (DVD, GEN) – Valentine’s Theme
SAFE (GEN)
Pootie Tang (DVD, COM)
Grapes of Wrath (DVD, CLA)
Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (DVD, COM)
Chris Rock: Best of (SUC)
Deep Rising (DVD, SF)
Repo Man (DVD, GEN)

Jon:
Roger and Me (DVD, AIF)
Breakfast At Tiffany’s (DVD, CLA) – Valentine’s Theme
DC Cab (COM)
Rules of the Road (DOC)
Good, Bad, the Ugly (Wes, DVD)
Death Wish (Gen, DVD)
King of Beggars (Chi, DVD)

Kelly:
Mission to Mars (DVD, SF)
Great Expectations (DVD, GEN) – Valentine’s Theme
Harold and Maude (DVD, COM)
Feel Like Going Home (DVD, JAZZ)
Bug (DVD, COM)
Journeys With George (DVD, DOC)
Bob Roberts (COM)
Where the Buffalo Roam (Com, DVD)
Slam (AIF, DVD)
Tupac: Resurrection (Doc, DVD)
You’ll See Me Laughing (Jazz, DVD)

Lindsay:
Strictly Ballroom (DVD, AUS)
Chunhyang (DVD, KOR) – Valentine’s Theme
This is Spinal Tap (DVD, COM)
So I Married An Axe Murderer (DVD, COM)
Emperor’s New Groove (DVD, ANI)
Priscilla Queen of the Desert (DVD, G&L)
Jack The Bear (GEN)
In The Praise of Love (DVD, FRE)
Bamboozled (DVD, GEN)
Network (DVD, GEN)
Labyrinth (DVD, SF)
Best of Bowie (MUS, DVD)
Headcases (AIF, DVD)
Farewell My Concubine (G&L, DVD/VHS)
Invasion USA (GEN) – worst film 2005

Mackenzie B:
Shattered Glass (Gen, DVD)
Little Monster (Com, DVD)
Love & Basketball (Gen, DVD)
Big Night (AIF, DVD)
Tic Code (Gen, DVD)
Tom Petty: Pick the Plantation Live (MUS)

Mitch V:
Enigma of Dr Kasper (Ger, DVD)
Oasis (Kor, DVD)
Harold & Maude (Com, DVD)
Day of the Dead (Hor, DVD)
Dawn of the Dead (Hor, DVD)

Nate L:
Short Circuit (DVD, COM)
Party’s Over (DVD, DOC)
Red (DVD, FRE)
Best In Show (DVD, COM)
Roger Dodger (DVD, AIF)
Twin Peaks: Disc 1 (DVD, TV)
Educational Archives: Patriotism (DVD, DOC)
Amelie (DVD, FRE)
Jeff Buckley (DVD, MUS)
Sealab: Season 1 (Ani, DVD)
Spanish Apartment (Fre, DVD)
Central Station (Csa, DVD)

Nichole W:
Secret Garden (DVD, BRI) – Valentine’s Theme
Flamenco (DVD, CSA)
Trouble Everyday (DVD, PAL)
Oklahoma (DVD, CM)
Hendrix: Band of Gypsies (DVD, MUS)
Troma’s War (TRO)
George Washington (DVD, AIF)
Walkabout (DVD, AUS)
Fando & Lis (Csa, DVD)
Element of Crime (Misc, DVD)
House of Flying Daggers (Pal, DVD)
Owning Mahoney (AIF, DVD)

Shannon C:
Once Upon a Time in the West (DVD, WES)
Double Suicide (DVD, JAP) – Valentine’s Theme
Audition (DVD, JAP) – Valentine’s Theme
Bird People In China (DVD, JAP)
Unknown Pleasures (DVD, CHI)
Three Outlaw Samurai (DVD, JAP)
Getting Any? (DVD, JAP)
Old Boy (DVD, PAL)
Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (DVD, PAL)
Sharkskin Man and Peach Hip Girl (DVD, JAP)
Versus (DVD, JAP)
Visitor Q (DVD, JAP)
Zatoichi Meets Yojimbo (DVD, JAP)
Doppelganger (DVD, PAL)
Hero (DVD, CHI)
Battle Royale (DVD, JAP)
Shaolin Soccer (DVD, CHI)
Sonatine (JAP)
Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengeance (DVD, JAP)
Happy Funeral Director (Kor, DVD)
Foul King (Kor, DVD)
Waterboys (Jap, DVD)
My Beautiful Girl Mari (ANI, DVD)
Blue Spring (Jap, DVD)
Last Life in the Universe (Misc, DVD)
Hana & Alice (Jap, DVD)
9 souls (Jap, DVD)
Bob the Gambler (Fre, DVD)
Le Samourai (Fre, DVD/VHS)
Tale of Two Sisters (Kor, DVD)
House on Haunted Hill (HOR, DVD)
Slim Susie (Swe, DVD)
Lilja 4-ever (SWE, DVD)

Stefanie P:
Dreams
Jeff Buckley: Live in Chicago

Zack A:
Ice Storm
Matewan
Ballad of Ramblin' Jack
King of the Hill
Night of the Hunter
Twin Peaks (Pilot)

(you can find a list of Employee Top 10 Picks here)

 



 

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