6/29/2007

A Simple Curve

Director: Aubrey Nealon

Cinematographer David Geddes’s exquisitely natural photography of a remote town in British Columbia becomes a silent character in its own right in the first feature from writer/director/producer Aubrey Nealon. Gorgeously and deceptively simple as the title implies, the film, which was nominated for fourteen awards (winning several) was an Official Selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and chosen for inclusion in America’s prestigious Film Movement Series. A Simple Curve introduces us to twenty-seven year old Caleb (a wonderful, understated Kris Lemche), the Canadian born son of American hippie draft dodger Jim (Michael Hogan) who has since joined his father in a fledgling, expensive carpentry business that’s beginning to suffer in the economic climate as luxury handcrafted items are being overlooked by furniture surplus stores and the woodworking trade is becoming as extinct as the fond hippie days that once defined the community. When an old wealthy American friend Matthew (Matt Craven) arrives, Caleb strikes up a secretive deal to try and get out of debt, thereby letting Caleb move out of the environment he’s grown to despise, without the inclusion of Jim until the past catches up with the three men. All of the actors are wonderful and subtle given their quiet turns in this powerful film, which would probably be overlooked by most audiences as it does take a little while to get into but the rewards are rich—it’s a refreshing look at the ways that one generation’s actions influence that of another and the way that behavior and values are filtered and shared as time goes on as the past is presented in an unromantic way, giving a new look at the usually revered hippie generation displayed in films like Easy Rider. One truly feels that Nealon, the son of a dodger himself, has made a vital, intensely personal film and it’s one of the most memorable offerings from Film Movement in the past several months, given a gorgeous transfer in its DVD release that manages to dazzle the senses with the lush cinematography by Geddes and love of storytelling by Nealon and his fine trio of actors.


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Breach

Director: Billy Ray

As he did with his brilliant first film, Shattered Glass, director Billy Ray proves to have a knack for creating riveting drama from shocking fact-based events about men who betray not only their colleagues but virtually everyone affected by their work. In the case of Shattered, he told the tale of New Republic journalist Stephen Glass who fabricated numerous pieces and with that plot Ray created one of the best newspaper dramas since the legendary All the President’s Men. With his ambitious follow-up, Breach, he takes on an even bigger challenge in relaying the tale of the greatest traitor the United States government has ever known, respected FBI agent Robert Hannsen who sold top-secret intelligence data to the Russians for over fifteen years. The film, like Shattered, works best as an ensemble piece in giving the audience part of the role in figuring out the depth of betrayal as we meet our hero, the young aspiring agent Eric O’Neill (Ryan Phillippe in another terrific performance that illustrates his ability to disappear into a role and let others shine) who is recruited by agent Kate Burroughs (Laura Linney) to go in undercover as Hannsen’s new office assistant, only being told that there’s been alarming reports of his behavior as a “sexual deviant.” After spending some time with the devout Catholic and computer wizard, O’Neill begins to struggle with his detail, until reluctantly he is finally told about Hannsen's ties to espionage and the rest-- as Americans well remember from winter and spring of 2001 when the truth came to light-- is history. The riveting film plays like a stellar John Grisham thriller with plenty of nail-biting moments where our hero is almost caught and it’s even more disturbing when you realize that you are watching a villain dressed in a respected official’s clothing and all the events are true. Had this film been released during the fall of 2006, I have little doubt that Chris Cooper (who is unnervingly intimidating as Hannsen in his best role since American Beauty) would have received an Oscar nomination but unfortunately it was relegated to a February 2007 release date where the film was virtually ignored. Now that it’s been release on DVD, hopefully it will find the audience it deserves and if you haven’t already seen Shattered Glass, do rent that one as well as former screenwriter Billy Ray proves a natural for direction and I can’t wait to see what he does next.

Unhook the Stars

Director: Nick Cassavetes

With Unhook the Stars, Nick Cassavetes proves he inherited his father’s love of character-driven drama that made the elder Cassavetes (the legendary John), the so-called grandfather of independent film. Starring Nick’s mother (and John’s wife and favorite leading lady) Gena Rowlands, this intimate family drama deals with finding a new path during middle age. Millie Hawkes (Rowlands), a widowed suburbanite who finds herself lonely after her adult children have left the nest to lead their own lives, is one of those warm-hearted cinematic characters whose life is given meaning by looking after others. Not only is Rowlands severed by a terrific script penned by Nick and co-writer Helen Caldwell, but the own inviting personality that Rowlands embodies helps make Millie a fully realized character, brought even further to life by costar Marisa Tomei as her wild neighbor Monica Warren. After Monica’s abusive husband leaves, she is forced to turn to Millie who quickly becomes the caretaker and unlikely best friend of Monica’s young son, J.J. (Jake Lloyd). Rowland’s scenes with Lloyd are filmed with a fondness and nostalgia that makes one wonder if it’s Nick’s way of paying homage to the mother he remembers growing up and he does indeed salute both parents by naming some of the female characters after John’s famous characters during his cinematic career. Gerard Depardieu (also a producer on the film) turns in a fine albeit understated and brief role as a trucker named “Big Tommy” who develops an attraction to Millie when Monica grudgingly forces her out of her house for a night on the town. While the roughly ninety minute film does grow a tad long given a lengthy depressing section of self-pity when Millie finds herself once again alone, the film’s spirit wins us over and ultimately makes us forgive the vague ending that raises several questions. Both Rowlands and Tomei were nominated for their fine performances by the Screen Actor’s Guild Awards in 1997 and Nick Cassavetes won the Director’s Week Award at Fatasporto.

Brassed Off

Director: Mark Herman

Suffering from yet another ill-conceived marketing campaign (this time by Miramax) that advertised the film as a laugh-a-minute UK comedy in the tradition of Four Weddings and a Funeral, Mark Herman’s brilliantly social-minded atypical drama (with some inclusions of absurd humor) calls attention to the devastating loss of over 250,000 jobs by the Tory Party’s closing of several mines over the last twenty years. Alternately angry and inspiring, the film avoids any Norma Rae similarities by instead focusing more of its energy outside of the workplace by centering around the Grimley Colliery Brass Band, led by ailing, elder Pete Postlethwaite, who finds that his loyal band that’s been a staple for a century is beginning to crumble under the pressure of the upcoming vote for or against redundancy or keeping the mine open at the risk of both jobs and band member’s families. At the heart of the film, there are some bright bursts of humor and life with the arrival of Tara Fitzgerald as Gloria, a musician who returns to her hometown and tries to join the all-male band which contains her former flame, Andy (Ewan MacGregor), providing the film with a valuable romantic subplot diversion from the overwhelming drama and sadness brought forth by the story of Phil (Stephen Tompkinson) as Postlethwaite’s son who loses his family, dignity and optimism during the taxing time. The film’s name, similar to France’s 400 Blows, is a slang term for being upset or fed up with one’s place in life and the film is a bitter call to attention to a government that many of the miners feel have betrayed them over the years and the ending of the film ends on a bittersweet note that I defy one to view without tears. This worthwhile film earned prizes across the globe including accolades from the Tokyo International Film Festival, Paris Film Festival, Lumiere Awards, German Film Festival, France’s Cesar Awards, among others including three award nominations in its own British homeland.

In the Land of Women

Director: Jonathan Kasdan

Following in the footsteps of his impressive father Lawrence (Body Heat, The Big Chill, The Accidental Tourist) and brother Jake (Zero Effect), Jonathan Kasdan makes his cinematic debut with In the Land of Women. From the studio's erroneous previews, the film appeared to audiences like a teen-friendly comedy in the vein of Elizabethtown and Garden State as we meet yet another twenty-seven year old man at a crossroads who returns to his roots to evaluate his life. Adam Brody-- that memorable actor with a unique delivery for dialogue that made him steal every scene he was in opposite Dennis Quaid in the Weitz brothers’s In Good Company and during the Hollywood sequence of Thank You for Smoking-- stars as Carter Web, a screenwriter who makes a dispassionate living writing adult movies. As the film opens, Carter is dumped by his successful, smart and beautiful, Spanish actress girlfriend and tries to fight tears as teenage girls beg for his now ex girlfriend's autograph. Sensing a dead-end and lack of inspiration in his work which frankly just pays the bills-- Carter tells his mother (JoBeth Williams) that he will fly out to Michigan to stay with his elderly grandmother (Olympia Dukakis) who is suffering from dementia. By this point, the comedic previews start to replay in our heads as we meet another set of characters and hope for a humorous diversion only to realize that we’re in for more depression as we encounter Sarah (Meg Ryan), a beautiful but less than happy housewife dealing with both a breast cancer scare and her challenging teenage daughter Lucy (Kristen Stewart). Ryan is excellent in one of her best-written roles in years and her scenes with Brody provide the film’s heart and humor as the two unhappy souls begin spending time with one another going for walks and grocery shopping while bonding over their theories, regrets and ambitions, only for their relationship to get even more complicated when he becomes the confidant of her daughter as well. While the film is much more devastatingly sad than one was prepared for, despite the misleading previews, it’s best to approach the film without any of the advertising in mind for, as is the Kasdan family trademark, Jonathan proves adept at mixing both the joy and pain in life with earnest, thoughtful characters who feel much more worthy of our investment than the average one-dimensional cardboard cut-outs usually served up by Hollywood. Cameron Crowe fans will relish in another intriguing highly verbal male character who, like John Cusack’s Lloyd in Say Anything, feels more at home in the company of women as the title of Kasdan’s film implies and while the finished result does not provide quite the emotional payoff we were expecting, it’s a very impressive debut and one that makes us look forward to the next work from the director.

Raving

Director: Julia Stiles

Actress turned writer/director Julia Stiles was given complete creative control and freedom in her gorgeously photographed work (available for free on iTunes) as one of the film shorts produced by Elle Magazine. Starring Zooey Deschanel as an aimless party girl who scams strangers on the street with sob stories, apologetically begging for money in order to “get a ride home,” we watch as Zooey goes from club to club until her path crosses a widowed, jobless, and equally "lost" middle aged business man and the two forgotten people strike an unlikely chord. He invites Zooey home to clean and pack his apartment for a hefty sum and she is told to take anything she’d like when he leaves her to her work. Given a chance to riff and quote old movies, she tries on an exquisite designer dress which, as the film’s plot summary promises, leads her to make a change in her life although the transition is uneven, as the two characters are never fully fleshed out and a strange segue bursts into the plot during the last portion of the film that seems like it was mostly included as an excuse to showcase Deschanel's extraordinary vocal talents. Although the short format is hardly beneficial in telling a complete story, we’re left wanting to know more about the heartbreaking man, played well by Bill Irwin. While we feel we understand a bit of what he’s experiencing due to Stiles’s usage of flashbacks and a well-timed freak-out, we suffer from a serious lack of information problem, making the film raise more questions than answers. Still, worth a look for the sheer beauty of the piece and the musical conclusion.



Raving
(Free on iTunes)
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Raving

6/22/2007

Summer In The City: Movies to Beat the Heat

Even if you don't have expensive European vacations or fabulous cruises on your summer agenda, you can still travel to Amazon.com, the video store, your local library or Netflix to check out some of these summer recommendations. I've tried to list movies that either take place during the summer or will put you in a "Summer State of Mind."

Here's the list in alphabetical order:

* Amelie * American Graffiti * The Birds * Blue Crush * Body Heat * Bull Durham * The Burbs * Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid * Caddyshack * Cat on a Hot Tin Roof * Cinema Paradiso * Dead Calm * Dirty Dancing * Do the Right Thing * East of Eden * Emma * The Endless Summer * Gas, Food, Lodging * The Graduate * Great Expectations (new version) * The Great Outdoors * Il Postino * Indian Summer * It Happened One Night * Jaws * Keeping the Faith * L'Auberge Espagnole * The Last of Sheila * The Long Hot Summer * The Man in the Moon * Miss Firecracker * My Girl * National Lampoon's Vacation * On Golden Pond * Once Upon a Time In Mexico * The Palm Beach Story * The Parent Trap * Passion Fish * Rich in Love * Roman Holiday * The Sandlot * Say Anything * Scoop * sex, lies, and videotape * The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants * Speed * Stand By Me * Summer Stock * Two Family House *

6/17/2007

8 Minutes to Love

Director: Thom Harp

Speed-dating-- that ever popular phenomenon that lets singles meet briefly at a safe location and take turns alternately summing up their personalities in a few minutes with the rationale that first impressions rarely lie, is used as an intriguing springboard by screenwriter Jennifer Matte in Thom Harp’s short film 8 Minutes to Love. When beautiful Joy (Sandra Oh) attends a speed dating event in Seattle, Washington, she’s alarmed by the attendees including a woman who tries to seduce men with photos of her cats and a man named Archer who has created what looks like an extensively prepared Power Point presentation illuminating his financial and relationship portfolio to prospective mates. However, only moments later, Joy is ambushed by her cheating ex-boyfriend who she’d been with for two years before she cruelly walked in on him having sex on the couch with her roommate. At first, Joy gets up to leave but then reluctantly lets her ex Scott use up his speed-dating time to try and win her back in a film that begins humorously but ends with refreshing drama that seems truer to life than the immediate set-up for which Harp had prepared the viewer. Although it runs longer than its eight minute title, the film is a clever slice-of-life that, due to Oh’s stature as an independent actress and given her popularity on Gray’s Anatomy, helps win audience empathy immediately even before we hear of Scott’s betrayal. Thom Harp, a director who studied film and theater at Occidental College, won the award for Best Short Fiction (2005) from the Forest Film Festival in Oregon for 8 Minutes to Love. Those curious about speed-dating and fans of not only Oh but short filmmaking in general will definitely want to check it out—it’s an excellent example of what the medium can do and would probably make a wonderful choice to screen for an Introduction to Production film class.

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8 Minutes to Love

The Girl on the Bridge

Director: Patrice Leconte

French pop singer Vanessa Paradis (long term girlfriend of Johnny Depp and mother of their two children) turns in a visually expressive performance in Patrice Leconte’s exquisitely photographed black and white film about destiny, telepathy, magic, and unlikely companionship co-starring Daniel Auteuil, who earned the Best Actor Cesar Award in France for his role. As the film opens we meet Adele (Paradis) as she is being interrogated about her unhappy relationship with men and sex as well as her perpetual misfortune and bad luck. After her speech ends, we soon see this gorgeous young woman leaning over the Seine River, her tear-stained face and suicidal glare catching the attention of Gabor (Auteil) who recruits Adele to be the mysterious beautiful target in his traveling knife throwing act, which seems like a natural transition because he needs women unafraid of death. At first skeptical of the situation, Adele goes along with the eccentric and once Adele and Gabor begin their journey, they realize that their luck has changed entirely—the two unlucky oddballs suddenly can’t miss (which helps not only with the knife throwing but also in Adele’s casino gambling as they go on tour), forming a sensual companionship that borders on a romantic flirtation without ever crossing over into a sexual relationship. It’s sexier and erotic without showing anything (a trademark of Leconte) and soon we realize that the two are actually unlikely soul mates who can speak to each other telepathically and their form of romantic consummation is onstage dazzling others with the rush of knife throwing. When the promiscuous Adele impulsively launches into a romantic relationship with a newlywed aboard a cruise ship, the two part ways only to realize later that their lives only made sense together. The Girl on the Bridge is a unique, strangely addictive and dizzifyingly romantic film that should attract lovers of foreign art romances that never quite work out, including Wong Kar-Wai’s In the Mood for Love. Leconte’s film was nominated for Best Foreign Film by the Golden Globes, earned the same award from the Las Vegas Film Critics Society Awards and a special mention "Don Quijote" Award from the Karlovy Vary International Film Festival.

Yo Soy Boricua pa’que tu lo sepas!

Translated Title: I’m Boricua (Puerto Rican), Just So You Know!
Directors: Rosie Perez and Liz Garbus

Within the first few moments of Rosie Perez’s alternately funny, engaging, and angering documentary, as we are shown footage of New York City’s Puerto Rican Pride Parade she asks the question that will become the film’s thesis, namely, “Why are Puerto Ricans so damn proud?” Perez, an entertaining host (most famous for her spirited turns in films including her debut Do The Right Thing) reportedly did not want to be onscreen during her feature debut but producers (including her co-director Liz Garbus) prevailed in changing her mind. Rosie's involvement helps make the film--which succinctly chronicles the entire controversial history of the commonwealth of Puerto Rico-- into a personal all-access home movie. Featuring not only Rosie but her sister Carmen and cousin Sixto, Yo Soy benefits from the intimate approach as we come along for the ride while they introduce us to the Nuyorican Café poets, the Young Lords who helped fight for civil rights in 1960’s America and duing their search for the history of the land itself (both hidden and placed proudly in museums) as well as their relatives throughout America. The history they uncover is shocking and tragic as our lead trio along with narrator Jimmy Smits relay the commonwealth’s oppression over hundreds of years as they were first taken over by the Spanish government, with devastating results. Finally, last century America stepped in with both positive (but mostly negative, depending on viewpoint) results as we learn about the forced sterilization by the government that forced Puerto Rican women to “control the population,” including using the Vieques island for sixty years of bombing tests from the Navy and turning the inhabitants into test subjects for numerous unsafe pharmaceutical tests. Discovering the vast range of ethnicities mixed into the Puerto Rican bloodline, including Tanio, Spanish, African, Irish, Scottish, and French, one feels instantly connected to the plight of the people who-- although given United States citizenship and the duty of paying taxes, are denied the right to vote. While admittedly one-sided and it’s tough to whittle down the history of an entire population into a brief ninety minute film, Perez’s inquiry does make one want to learn more about Puerto Rico and her admirable film brought to viewers from IFC and Netflix will help open one’s eyes about a culture usually ignored in textbooks.

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Candy

Director: Neil Armfield

Based on the novel by Luke Davies, Neil Armfield’s beautifully tragic film haunted me for days after I first saw it. Divided into three parts aptly named Heaven, Earth, and Hell, the film tells the story of Dan, a young aspring poet (Heath Ledger) who meets a beautiful art student, Candy (Abbie Cornish in a star-making performance) only for the two to fall not only completely in love with each other but with heroin as well. Beginning in Sydney, Australia, we first meet the two young lovers at their happiest spending their days swimming, visiting amusement parks (in a scene that pays homage to The 400 Blows) and going through car washes stoned with their habit often fed by a chemistry professor, Casper (Geoffrey Rush). Soon, their addiction and relationship spirals out of control as they become more dependent on the drug and Candy goes from call girl to streetwalker until an ultimate nervous breakdown when they move to Melbourne to try and get clean with the aid of methadone. The film is an unnerving portrait of addiction and the way that it replaces one's true personality-- turning whole and passionate individuals into obsessed junkies and making them act in ways they’ve never imagined. While it does reach melodrama in the third segment, it will no doubt grip viewers without letting go until the conclusion, however I still found myself yearning for a bit more of the back-story that would have been available in the book. The film earned awards and played as an official selection at festivals around the globe and also did extraordinarily well in its native Australia when award season rolled around. Like Requiem for a Dream, it’s difficult to stomach, but an important film made all the more relatable by natural cinematography and outstanding performances by the two leads.

6/09/2007

The Painted Veil

Director: John Curran

I didn’t realize just how enormous of an absence was left in American cinema during Edward Norton’s hiatus from his breakneck schedule until 2006 gave us another glimpse of his sheer chameleon-like nature and undisputed gift for performance with turns in three very different films including Down in the Valley, The Illusionist, and The Painted Veil. When it came time to shoot Philadelphia screenwriter Ron Nyswaner’s adaptation of M. Somerset Maughan’s novel The Painted Veil, he “personally recruited” his ideal co-star Naomi Watts for John Curran’s lush 1920’s period drama, according to IMDB. Although Watts had worked before with director Curran in the very different contemporary marital infidelity drama We Don’t Live Here Anymore, she’s truly memorable in her role as the rebellious Kitty Fane, who is pushed with guilt by her family into marriage with a bacteria and disease specialist she does not love (Norton) and launches into an affair with the dashing and equally married Charlie Townsend (Watts’s real-life love Liev Schreiber) while she is relegated to Shanghai for her husband’s work. After he learns of her indiscretion, William (Norton) offers her divorce with the condition that Townsend split from his wife as well, knowing full well he will not, only to force Kitty along with him to an isolated cholera ridden Chinese village where the two first argue and ignore one another until circumstance and the absence of their fast paced world, with nothing but honesty between them, makes them discover each other's true nature and they fall in love. A beautiful, grand epic in the tradition of Out of Africa, The Painted Veil which earned Nyswaner the National Board of Review Award for his adapted screenplay boasts a gorgeous piano-heavy Golden Globe winning original score by Alexandre Desplat that classical music lovers will immediately want to check out. While the turns by the film’s two leads (and producers) Watts and Norton are classy and appropriate for the time and place, look for a memorable turn by Toby Jones (Truman Capote in last year’s Infamous) as Waddington, their sole friend in the remote locale. While it does end with a heartbreaking conclusion, The Painted Veil is a worthwhile, old-fashioned piece of Hollywood entertainment (although independently funded and filmed) that will delight lovers of classics from yesteryear.

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Alexandre Michel Desplat, Lang Lang, Prague Symphony Orchestra & Vincent Segal - The Painted Veil

Movie Review: Once (2006)

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Director: John Carney

Once is the perfect title for this critically acclaimed sleeper by writer/director John Carney that was not only nominated for the Grand Jury Prize but earned the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival.

A movie this rare and beautiful can only be named Once and as I sit down to collect my thoughts, I realize that it seems nearly impossible to describe the film in a way that would do it justice.

Sure, it’s charming and magical, yet real and simplistic—nearly perfect musical filmmaking, although to call it a musical is an inappropriate shortchange as it contains no dance numbers, doesn’t follow the genre mold and relies solely on people expressing earnest emotion through song for personal and artistic reasons instead of simply the big razzle dazzle showstoppers we’re used to viewing.

However, this being noted, you will catch yourself nodding and toe-tapping along from the heartfelt compositions in this partially autobiographical work from Carney, formerly a member of the band The Frames who was a struggling Dublin musician while his love lived in London.

Carney cast his old band-mate Glen Hansard as a character simply named “Guy," who lives with his father and works as a “Hoover” repairman by day but comes alive at night singing his lungs out on street corners.

And it's there where he meets “Girl,” (Marketa Irglova) a Czech immigrant with whom he embarks on a musical friendship with the stirrings of a romantic attraction, although they are still stuck on past loves and sublimate their budding feelings through gorgeous collaborations.

Not only have most critics expressed in their reviews that they found themselves wanting to see the film more than once, I found myself instantly curious about the film’s singer who struck me as a cross between Connor Oberst and Damien Rice.

Simply put, I was ready to not only immediately view the eighty-eight minute whirlwind one more time but purchase the soundtrack as well. It’s a hopeful movie that will make audience members long to have kept up practicing their pianos and guitars all those years ago and music lovers shouldn’t miss it.

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Welcome to Collinwood

Directors: Joe and Anthony Russo

The debut film of writer/director brothers Joe and Anthony Russo begins as a lively, vibrant and eccentric American remake of the classic Italian heist film where everything goes wrong, Big Deal on Madonna Street. While Madonna Street is still the far superior telling of the tale and it’s always refreshing to see anything other than those completely smooth, slick and overly hip Ocean’s Eleven or Thomas Crown Affair styled crooks, the Russo brothers benefit heavily from its stellar cast and production team, George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh (ironically two men affiliated with the Ocean’s remakes). Featuring William H. Macy, Isaiah Washington, Andrew Davoli, Sam Rockwell, Michael Jeter, Luis Guzman, Patricia Clarkson, George Clooney, Jennifer Esposito and Gabrielle Union, the film, which premiered to great buzz at the Toronto Film Festival and was later an Director’s Fortnight Official Selection during the 2002 Cannes Film Festival tells the story of an unlikely group of misfits who band together for the score of a lifetime, they call a “Bellini.” Reminiscent of Swingers with its own inventive language filled with slang and double-speak, some of the film’s jokes, including the unique dialogue play even better on a second viewing. While it feels like an admittedly old-fashioned live-action version of an old Warner Brothers cartoon, one is instantly aware of just how much fun the actors had on the set and their energy is contagious, even though we’d have to wait for the ultimate comedic payoff from the Russo brothers when they went to work directing episodes of the groundbreaking, unfairly canceled sitcom Arrested Development. A lot of fun—Welcome to Collinwood is a wonderful choice for a brainless night in, and plays even better especially if you haven’t seen Big Deal or are a fan of indie stars such as Clarkson, Rockwell and Macy.

Trees Lounge

Director: Steve Buscemi

According to Roger Ebert, when the feature film debut of actor turned writer/director Steve Buscemi premiered at the 1996 Cannes Film Festival, Buscemi told the famous critic that the film “was a portrait of a direction his life was going in before he started acting.” This being said, after watching this aching glimpse of a thirty-one year old barely functioning alcoholic, we are instantly grateful that he chose his career, thanks to all of Buscemi’s memorable turns in films such as Ghost World, Reservoir Dogs and Fargo. In Trees Lounge, Buscemi stars as Tommy, an unemployed former auto mechanic who has recently lost his job for “borrowing” money without asking and whose pregnant girlfriend (whose baby may be Tommy’s) has left him for his former employer. He spends most days and nights at the local bar, named Trees Lounge, which is run by Carol Kane and attracts most of the neighborhood drunks such as Mike (Mark Boone Jr.) who befriends Tommy and remains oblivious to the fact that his nightly ritual and devotion to the bar is alienating his wife and child. After the death of the neighborhood’s beloved Uncle Al, Tommy reluctantly takes over his job driving an ice cream truck and finds his life heading in an even riskier direction when he befriends the seventeen year old niece of his ex (Chloe Sevigny). Their time together which starts as merely a friendship becomes tinged with flirtation and danger as he and Sevigny spend more time together, much to the dismay of her parents (Daniel Baldwin and Mimi Rogers). Featuring small turns by actors such as Samuel L. Jackson, Michael Buscemi, Debbie Mazar, Michael Imperioli, Elizabeth Bracco and Anthony LaPaglia, Trees Lounge proves to be one of the most realistic, unapologetic and impressive independent films about alcoholism, earning Steve Buscemi nominations from the Independent Spirit Awards for Best First Feature and Best First Screenplay.

Out of Time

Director: Carl Franklin

As he proved with One False Move and Devil in a Blue Dress, director Carl Franklin has a knack for sexy, mature adult mysteries that play on old film noir conventions with wondrous twists and while Out of Time isn’t quite in the same league as his aforementioned films, it’s wonderful fun made all the more possible by a great script from first time writer David Collard (a former staff writer for TV’s Family Guy) and re-teaming with the charismatic Devil leading man Denzel Washington. As Matthias Lee Whitlock, Denzel plays a small town chief of police in sleepy Banyan Key Florida where most nights are spent slyly drinking on the job or having an affair with his beautiful former girlfriend Sanaa Lathan, now married to domineering ex-NFL player Dean Cain. After a shocking, suspicious crime finds his lover dead and all evidence points to Whitlock, Denzel is literally a man running out of time to clear his name when his estranged soon to be ex-wife, the sexy detective Eva Mendes (his law enforcement superior) arrives to decipher the case as he tries to intercept everything incriminating while getting to the bottom of the puzzle. The film, which begins like a slow character piece filled with humidity and mood befitting to its Florida locale becomes fast paced and engrossing thanks to excellent portrayals by not only leads Washington and Mendes (who reminded me of the Karen Sisco character from Out of Sight) but also John Billingsley as Chae, Whitlock’s sole friend and sidekick, the hard-drinking, joking medical examiner who puts his trust in his colleague in helping to throw Mendes off the trail. Although one can see one or two of the final twists coming a long time before the finale, it’s a worthwhile thriller and filled with enough intrigue to turn what may have otherwise been a B picture into an A thanks to the performances, writing and Franklin’s deft direction that breathes surprising humor and life into a stale genre.

The Good German

Director: Steven Soderbergh

From the opening nostalgic Warner Brothers logo filmed with black and white photography in a square shaped aspect ratio with 1940’s period lenses, The Good German appears at first glance to be a film shot in 1945. We remain dazzled by the studio sets and lack of microphones highlighting the mannered and old fashioned portrayals of the leading characters, that transport us back in time until Steven Soderbergh jolts us from our deception with the inclusion of certain actions that wouldn’t have gotten past the strict production code of the 40's. Highly stylized and filled with literary narrations of multiple characters, this quite complicated film is confusing enough that it helps to watch along with someone else and with the aid of a DVD remote for rewinding, but in the hands of a master like Soderbergh, Paul Attanasio’s adaptation of Joseph Kanon’s novel will remind film buffs instantly of Casablanca, The Third Man, Chinatown and numerous other movies of Hollywood's Golden Age. When journalist for The New Republic Captatin Jack Geisman (George Clooney) arrives in postwar Berlin to cover the Potsdam Conference, he soon finds the political proceedings taking a backseat when he finds himself preoccupied with a murder investigation after the death of his driver (Tobey Maguire) and involvement of his former married mistress now forced into wartime prostitution, Cate Blanchett. As Lena Brandt, Blanchett proves her chameleon-like ability to disappear into any role and she is stunning-- an actress who seems made to be in films of the 1940’s (it’s a shame we couldn’t see her in a battle of wits and skill opposite actors like Gary Cooper or Cary Grant in their prime)—in a performance that according to IMDB, she modeled after the work of Ingrid Bergman and Marlene Dietrich. Although it’s a bit hard to follow at times and film buffs find themselves suffering from sensory overload by guessing which film Soderbergh and Co. are paying homage to at any given moment, it’s still an exciting offering, however, I would’ve liked to have seen more back story or more careful editing in places to aid in some of the needless confusion. It’s a shame that more were unaware of the film’s release—to which I blame the title as the culprit as The Good German is not really one that will grab anyone’s attention (and after viewing the work in its entirety, I have no idea who the title character is without making an allowance for extreme irony) and Soderbergh's opus had the misfortune of being released during the height of awards season around the same time as Robert De Niro’s similar titled epic The Good Shepherd.

Venus

Director: Roger Michell

Inspired by Juichiro Tanizaki’s Diary of a Mad Old Man (according to IMDB) for what feels like a natural reverse-gender companion piece to The Mother, their previous study of sexuality in the winter of life, director Roger Michell teams once again with writer Hanif Kureishi for Venus, their story about an aging actor who forms an irrational obsession with a girl roughly fifty years his junior. Although the trailers and clips featuring the legendary Peter O’Toole as Maurice made the character look like a sleazy Humbert Humbert Nabokovian styled lothario, the content is surprisingly tame (unlike The Mother) as we watch him become enchanted by the brash, junk-food eating, hard drinking, and frankly obnoxious aspiring model/party girl Jessie (Jodie Whittaker), the niece of his good friend Ian. As Ian, Leslie Phillips turns in a stellar performance equally worthy of critical awards and acclaim, although his less than showy role was lost in the shuffle during 2006 awards time when O’Toole was the toast of tinseltown earning an Academy Award nomination for Best Actor, and despite my admiration for the man, I frankly didn’t feel it was Oscar worthy, especially given his far better work for over forty years. An understated film that plays better as a character piece especially in dealing with the complex sexually charged power dynamic between Jessie and Maurice as the two form an unlikely friendship that is always tinged with psychological mystery as they use each other throughout until a thoroughly earned emotional payoff that at last gives the audience some slight sympathy for Jessie near the end of the film. While Whittaker does hold her own in her cinematic debut (which is no small feat opposite Mr. Lawrence of Arabia), I think the film would’ve been even more intriguing had they given Jessie even the smallest kernel of integrity or likability from the start as we’re mostly annoyed from start to finish by her entire persona and don’t fully agree with Maurice’s Venus nickname. It would be interesting to see the same tale told from Jessie’s point-of-view or in the hands of a female writer/director. In fact, for something even more gripping about May-December love/lust, check out Audrey Wells’s Guinevere.


Venus

“Put Your Records On" by Corinne Bailey Rae
Corinne Bailey Rae - Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On

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Venus

Inside-Out

Directors: Charles and Tim Guard

In this adorable seven minute short, which recalls silent film influences such as Duck Soup and The Gold Rush, a marketing man with a clipboard fails to convince one person to stop and talk as a beautiful woman dressing a window watches the events from the inside out, as the title denotes. Nominated for the First Prize in Short Film at Montreal World Fest and winner of the Golden Centaur Award from St. Petersburg’s Message to Man Film Festival, this enchanting and flirtatious British film written by Dylan Kitson quickly evolves into a would-be romance when the man (Simon McBurney) realizes he is being watched by the window-dresser (Lena Headey) and devotes the rest of his energies not to getting responses on his clipboard but instead to making her smile as his routines get funnier and more outrageous. Shot completely on Oxford Street in Selfridges, directors Charles and Tim Guard, who worked as camera department trainees on major studio works such as Judge Dredd and 1492: Conquest of Paradise respectively, manage to impress more than most feature length works with this charming and good-natured work. Ultimately, as it wraps to a close, we realize that instead of simply a piece of amusement, it’s actually about trying to seize the day as the characters border on the cusp of a possible romantic acquaintanceship but although they never make the connection, nonetheless it’s one of the better short films available online courtesy of iTunes.

Download Inside-Out Now
Inside Out

6/01/2007

Waitress

Director: Adrienne Shelly

While it is impossible to view the final film of the tragically murdered forty year old actress turned writer/director Adrienne Shelly without being haunted by the shocking events of her abrupt end, her bittersweet film Waitress is one of the most enjoyable movies I’ve seen so far this year. Although it’s a beautiful way to end her career, it is quite upsetting to realize that she was unable to see its wonderful critical and audience reaction because she was killed shortly after its acceptance to Sundance.

Keri Russell puts Felicity behind her in a big way and proves to be the most talented former Disney Channel star with her excellent turn as Jenna, a young waitress and naturally gifted pie inventor at a diner in the heart of the American south. After a regrettable alcohol induced night with her controlling and abusive husband Earl (played to menacing perfection by Jeremy Sisto), Jenna finds herself as unhappily pregnant as she is in her marital relationship.

In the house of Earl, Jenna is relegated to hiding money throughout her home and without a car of her own to aid in her liberation, she dreams of creating the perfect pie and entering a contest that would win her enough money to escape her homebound prison. She practices on a daily basis by sublimating her dissatisfaction with her station in life by concocting ingenious recipes with titles such as I Hate My Husband Pie.

Her pies get more elaborate as her life gets increasingly complicated when she develops an attraction to the new arrival in her community, her married gynecologist Dr. Pomatter (Nathan Fillion) who not only reciprocates the crush but wants to run away with his patient. However Jenna is an unlikely feminist character in not wanting to be saved and Shelly is smart enough as a director to avoid the knight in shining armor cliché.

In most critical responses the film has been referred to in ways that pay homage to the delicious creations crafted with love in the kitchen at Old Joe’s Diner by Jenna (with Joe being played by Andy Griffith relishing his turn as a curmudgeon) and while it’s hard to avoid such terminology as the food in the film is enough to make one crave pie, I was mostly struck by the performance of not only Russell as a fiercely determined young woman overwhelmed by her ability to feel love for a new man and later a child she didn’t want, but also the deft comedic portrayals by her fellow waitresses Becky (Curb Your Enthusiasm’s Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Adrienne Shelly).

The film makes one realize just how easy it is to overlook the people serving us food at restaurants—we can’t forget that there are lives behind that practiced smile and that sometimes the faces serving us are hiding pain dressed up in fancy uniforms with entrees that are guaranteed to drive us to distraction without guessing the depths of the people we encounter on a daily basis.

While it’s not as heavy as I just made it sound and the film is a heartbreaking darkly funny crowd-pleaser in the same mode as another Fox Searchlight offering, Little Miss Sunshine, there’s something noble to be said for these quirky slice-of-life pictures that strive to unite us rather than divide by reminding us all that no matter what our station, we all have engrossing stories to behold. I’d hope for an Oscar nomination for Russell as it’s one of the most difficult and layered roles a young woman has encountered thus far in 2007 but its early calendar release date is probably destined for it to be overlooked by the Academy—however, don’t let it escape you.

From Waitress

“Short Skirt/Long Jacket” by Cake
Cake - Comfort Eagle - Short Skirt/Long Jacket

Bottle Rocket

Director: Wes Anderson

Proof of the inaccuracy of test audience screenings, director Wes Anderson’s first film Bottle Rocket, co-written and starring his college classmate (a then unknown) Owen Wilson, received the worst test screenings point scores of any film in the history of Columbia Pictures at the time of its release, according to IMDB. Now a cult favorite, Bottle Rocket, a remake of Anderson’s short film of the same name developed a small loyal following that grew successively with the release of Anderson’s follow-up films Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Winner of the MTV Movie Award for Best New Filmmaker and numerous accolades for the debuts of Wes, Owen and co-star Luke Wilson, Anderson also received a double honor for both Rocket and his next film Rushmore from the LA Film Critics Association. Rocket, which benefits from a highly intelligent, offbeat and genuinely funny screenplay—complete with unexpected warmth and heart (that would become their trademark as evidenced in Tenenbaums) was produced by director James L. Brooks (Broadcast News and As Good As It Gets) and Polly Platt (producer of The Last Picture Show). Owen is terrific as aimless slacker Dignan, who, at the start of the film helps plan the “escape” for his friend Anthony’s release from a voluntary mental hospital in Arizona where Anthony had checked himself in for exhaustion, despite as his kid sister points out, the fact that he’s never actually worked a day in his life. Once back in Texas, Dignan, Anthony and their wealthy friend Bob (who joins the gang simply because he has a license and access to a car) concoct a plot to rob a local bookstore for no apparent reason other than boredom, although in the mind of Dignan, the robbery is the start of a grand plan to live a lucrative life of crime, working for his former landscaping company boss Mr. Henry (James Caan). Once on the lam, the three have differences in priority as Anthony finds love with a beautiful maid, Bob feels a sense of familial obligation when his brother Future Man (another Wilson brother) is apprehended, and Dignan tries to get everyone else interested in hiding their identities and moving on to an even bigger score. Innovative, hip and delightfully nerdy—one critic called Bottle Rocket “Reservoir Geeks,” which, while an admitted understatement, does make sense as the film relishes in its laid-back approach to crime, with characters who are earnest and naïve as opposed to Elmore Leonard rip-off cardboard cut-outs spouting pop culture, anger and exposition. Simply put they are three basic twenty-somethings trying to get on with their lives and it’s a delightful treat to watch. While Tenenbaums is their undisputed masterpiece, Bottle Rocket is still my favorite Anderson film for frequent viewings and helps set up the cinematic promise and mastery produced in the others. Note: The film also gained a fan in director Martin Scorsese who, when a guest critic on Ebert’s TV show selected the film as one of his personal favorites from the 1990’s.

Music from Bottle Rocket

“Alone Again Or” by Love
Love - The Best of Love - Alone Again Or

“7 and 7 Is” by Love
Love - The Best of Love - 7 and 7 Is

“2000 Man” by The Rolling Stones
The Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request - 2000 Man


Separate Lies

Director: Julian Fellowes

Halfway through the debut film of Julian Fellows (the Academy Award winning writer of Gosford Park), a man named James meets his wife’s lover Bill for lunch. While their relationship with the same woman lies underneath the dialogue as delicious subtext in the minds of viewers as they discuss topics even more intriguing such as manslaughter, guilt, implications and alibis, the love triangle and power struggle of the men is always present as the camera swirls around the characters back and forth in an off-balance and circular motion, illustrating the unsteady states of the men in that very moment. Based on the novel Through The Wood by Nigel Balchin, the film begins as an overly polite character drama of a comfortably married but bored childless couple that consists of the middle-aged, high priced solicitor James (the always underrated Tom Wilkson) and his much younger, beautiful wife Anna (Emily Watson) who finds herself alone in the country during most evenings as her husband’s work schedule grows increasingly demanding. Therefore, it’s only a matter of time that the neglected Anna seeks amusement elsewhere in the form of her dashing, wealthy, and unemployed man-of-leisure neighbor Bill (Rupert Everett), who’s only too happy to distract her from her loneliness as a stereotypical “trophy wife,” (made all the more intriguing by the curious casting of usually type-cast serious, brainy Watson as the overly blonde and sexy housewife, not to mention the gay Everett as a heterosexual lothario). While this does sound like the making of a typical soap opera, it’s all handled with tact and intriguing twists as Fellowes respects his audience’s intelligence enough not to let the film fall into any clichés and all infidelity occurs off-screen, as the film quickly becomes a complicated and engrossingly sophisticated crime drama when the two lovers are involved in a serious crime and then must enlist the help of James in order to save them all, while each at an emotional boiling point trying desperately not to unravel. From the previews, the film appeared to be in the same vein as The End of the Affair meets a PBS styled mystery, but it’s clever and had me on the edge-of-my-seat throughout—a nice surprise all around with stellar performances.

Borat


Full Title:
Borat: Cultural Learnings of America
for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan

Director: Larry Charles

Easily the most controversial and discussed film of 2006, Borat (gleefully played by Sacha Baron Cohen) burst onto the American scene after appearing in sketches on Da Ali G Show in Britain with this big screen tale about the overzealous, unapologetically prejudiced and absurdly friendly TV reporter from Kazakhstan. At the beginning of the film, we see Borat Sagdiev in his natural setting just before he journeys to America, which helps establish the film’s fish-out-of-water paradigm or, as director Harold Ramis mentioned on TV’s Ebert and Roeper, the idea of Borat as one of the more recent incarnations of mythic characters on a Gulliver’s Travels styled hero’s journey. Borat, who ventures to the states in order to report on our cultural differences to (as the title notes) “make benefit” for his homeland arrives with his loyal sidekick Azamat Bogativ (a hilariously understated Ken Davitian) in tow. The two men bicker and make up like an old married couple as they encounter a wide variety of Americans from a driving instructor to a hooker, feminists, hotel clerks, and rodeo cowboys before Borat’s educational journey takes a detour of the heart after an accidental TV channel change causes a romantic obsession with Baywatch television star Pamela Anderson, whom Borat decides he will wed. Admittedly, the hilarious film was a bit over praised before and after its theatrical release (setting up viewers for a slight let-down due to the exhaustive media coverage) but there are certain scenes that you’ll find yourself wanting to rewind again and again because you may have laughed over one or more of the jokes. The film is funnier on repeat viewings as Borat’s antics will cause you to squirm on the initial screening when you realize that it’s a mockumentary wherein most of the people involved were not in on the joke and multiple lawsuits did ensue (thereby some of the anti-humanitarian, offensive and prejudiced sentiments of a few of the “average” Americans depicted will justly tick some off) and the police were called on Cohen over ninety times during the film’s production. The film earned numerous critical awards and nominations including a Golden Globe for the Best Performance by an Actor in a Musical or Comedy for Cohen in 2006 and the award for Best Comedy Movie by the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

10 Items or Less

Director: Brad Silberling

We’ve all heard about experimental cinema and stunts that had varying degrees of success from the disastrous reception of Steven Soderbergh’s Full Frontal to the sheer brilliance of numerous independent pictures shot in less than a month such as The Station Agent and Half Nelson. While Brad Silberling’s fifteen day adventure 10 Items or Less will never be held in the same company as the aforementioned acclaimed indie works, most likely due to some of the quality sacrificed by its sheer brevity, the film is nonetheless surprisingly worthwhile and one of the better sleeper offerings in recent memory, especially when one realizes that it takes place over the course of a day with two unlikely characters bonding in commercial American settings including car washes, Arby’s Restaurants and Target Stores. Most likely playing a fictitious version of himself (and indeed his character is simply called “Him”), Morgan Freeman is at his freewheeling and charismatic best as a once highly successful actor coming out of semi-retirement to research a role for a low-budget independent film about a grocery store manager. Dropped off in a deserted Los Angeles store, he becomes inspired by the mathematical talent and strong-willed personality of twenty-five year old clerk Scarlet (Paz Vega of Spanglish) and the two form an impulsive and oddly natural bond over the course of the day as she offers the stranded actor a ride home and he tags along on the rest of her errands as she drops her no-good cheating managerial boyfriend (Bobby Cannavale) and prepares for a secretarial interview. Freeman’s “Him” offers pearls of wisdom and mentions a few in-jokes that seem to reflect Freeman himself, name-dropping former real life costars Ashley Judd and Clint Eastwood and constantly being inspired by everyone he meets by trying to engage strangers in conversation. Some of the film’s highlights include Freeman basically playing jazz with his role—leading a group of car wash men in an improvised dance as they towel off a few cars and adopting the walk and mannerisms a la Chaplin of an elderly employee at a grocery store. While the film doesn’t offer enough in the long run to make us feel so invested that we want to know much more about either character, they’re both excellent and obviously having a ball and we're completely engaged. Hopefully this will lead to more work for Vega, who although unforgettable in Spanglish, was at times only relegated to an object of beauty whereas in Silberling’s hands, she’s a fully realized, complicated, messy, and ambitious twenty-something woman at a crossroads in her life.

The Valet

Director: Francis Veber

Yet another hilarious French comedy from Francis Veber—the man behind such hits as The Dinner Game, The Closet, and many others.



Filled with in-jokes that will delight those who have seen his other films including naming his forever bumbling main character Francois Pignon, who in each of his works finds himself (while played by different actors) in situations of misunderstandings and mistaken identity, wherein he must play a vital role.

In the case of The Valet, Gad Elmaleh stars as Francois, an unassuming young valet without much in the way of career goals or prospects. In the beginning of the piece, he proposes marriage to Emlie (the beautiful Virgine Ledoyen), only to be shot down by his gal-pal with her confession that she merely thinks of him as a “brother-type.” Chance intervenes when he’s photographed walking by supermodel Elena Simonsen (Alice Taglioni) and her married lover, CEO Pierre Levasseur (Daniel Auteuil).



Sensing disaster and fearing a scandalous divorce that could make him lose control of his stocks and company, Pierre and his lawyer quickly enlist a complicated scheme for Elena to move in with Francois in order to fool his wife (Kristin Scott Thomas with a perfect French accent), convincing the world that the Chanel knockout is really the girlfriend of an ordinary young man.

Of course, Pierre underestimates his wife’s intelligence when she learns of the game and manages to intervene with all parties playing with the minds of everyone else in hilarious, slightly predictable yet absolutely enjoyable ways. One of the more refreshing films to hit theatres so far in the summer of 2007 in the wake of so many bloated Hollywood sequels, The Valet is intelligent, silly fun for audiences whose brain-power is respected by the director and never once does the film hit a false note, despite a slightly hurried and grammatically incorrect subtitle track that plays throughout and will hopefully be fixed for the DVD.

In addition, fashion enthusiasts and Chanel devotees will relish in the showcase of Chanel runway apparel. Overall, it’s one of my very favorite Veber films—up there with the aforementioned Dinner Game (which gets a mention in the film as one character is unknowingly invited to a dinner for fools) and The Closet (also starring Auteuil).

Note: the word Pignon in French is defined in Larousse’s English/French dictionary with the following, “to be a person of substance,” making the recurring name all the more humorous for those familiar with the language.

From The Valet
“No Particular Place to Go”
by Chuck Berry


Chuck Berry - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Chuck Berry - No Particular Place to Go


24 Hour Party People

Director: Michael Winterbottom

It’s hard to make a film about rock and roll that works without seeming overly nostalgic, sanitized or fake. Only a few films have succeeded in this goal such as Almost Famous and the more recent borage of musical biopics including Ray and Walk the Line; however it’s even more challenging to make a film about punk rock. Steve Coogan’s masterful portrayal of Tony Wilson, the Cambridge educated, Granada TV journalist who finds his life changed after seeing the Sex Pistols perform in 1976, is utterly fascinating in Michael Winterbottom’s lurid, wild, funny, shocking, and no-holds-barred postmodern true story about the punk boom in Manchester, England. The film benefits not only from the astute direction and acting but also by Frank Cottrell Boyce’s pitch-perfect script that, like the best of the music of the genre, celebrates the rebellion and desire not to sell out as we watch Wilson struggle with super-fame and all of the joys and pain that go with his delusions of grandeur when he, along with friends, creates the label Factory Records, signs Joy Division, A Certain Ratio and the Happy Mondays before ultimately opening Manchester’s version of Studio 54, the Hacienda. Nominated for numerous awards including the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival for Winterbottom, 24 Hour Party People also received an accolade from the British Independent Film Awards for Best Achievement in Production. Note: Music lovers will want to check out the soundtrack including iTunes selections below.

Music featured in 24 Hour Party People


“24 Hour Party People” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Squirrel and G-Man - 24 Hour Party People

“Janie Jones” by The Clash
The Clash - The Clash - Janie Jones

“Blue Monday” by New Order
New Order - International - The Best of New Order - Blue Monday

“The Passenger” by Iggy Pop
Iggy Pop - Lust for Life - The Passenger

“Here to Stay” by New Order
New Order - International - The Best of New Order - Here to Stay

“Digital” by Joy Division
Joy Division - Still - Digital

“Loose Fit” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Loads - Loose Fit

“World In Motion” by New Order
New Order - Singles - World In Motion

“Kinky Afro” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Step On - Kinky Affro

“Transmission” by Joy Division
Joy Division - Heart and Soul - Transmission

“WFL (Wrote For Luck)” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Step On - WFL (Wrote for Luck)

“In The City” by The Jam
The Jam - The Sound of The Jam - In the City

“Sunshine and Love” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Yes, Please - Sunshine and Love

“Go” by Moby
Moby - I Like to Score - Go

“Love Will Tear Us Apart” by Joy Division
Joy Division - Permanent - Love Will Tear Us Apart

“Solid Air” by John Martyn
John Martyn - Solid Air - Solid Air

“Hallelujah (Club Mix)” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Hallelujah - Hallelujah (Club Mix)

“Atmosphere” by Joy Division
Joy Division - Permanent - Atmosphere

“Tart Tart” by Happy Mondays
Happy Mondays - Squirrel and G-Man - Tart Tart

“Anarchy in the U.K.” by The Sex Pistols
Sex Pistols - Submission - Anarchy In the UK

“She’s Lost Control” by Joy Division
Joy Division - Permanent - She's Lost Control

“No Fun” by The Sex Pistols
The Sex Pistols - Spunk - The Official Bootleg - No Fun

“No More Heroes” by The Stranglers
The Stranglers - Peaches: The Very Best of the Stranglers - No More Heroes