Saturday, February 28, 2009

Mobile Blogging Test

Holy shitballs, I'm blogging from a phone. An iPhone, no less. It's like the 21st Century up in here. When I tried to do this using my TyTn II, it flagged this blog as containing naughty content. But who cares about that shitty phone anymore; I'm free! I have my own lovely iPhone 3G to defile with my greasy fingers. I can finally forget all of the flaws of the TyTn II, such as sending empty texts because the send button was too low and got in the way while typing on its lovely keyboard (its one good feature). No more losing all of my info through repeated crashing (O2 has a backup feature called Blueroom). No more messy interfaces and glitches.

Best of all, no more dealing with Orange and their useless cover (no signal at home or at work, which rendered it almost useless. Or should I say uselesser), and no more dealing with their awful customer service. Yesterday's call to Orange to get a PAC code (so I can retain my phone number, natch) was enlivened by two call-centre jerks forgetting to put me on hold during a transfer, meaning I got to hear them refer to me as a stalker, ha fucking ha. This after one letter of complaint and one phone call following up on their reply, which they wrote six months after I contacted them. Six months!? One call? That's not exactly Mark Chapman territory.

So, in conclusion, fuck Orange. Fuck HTC. Re-fuck Orange just for good measure. Long live the iPhone and all its pretty apps!


Le Chat qui fume, a French distribution company of experimental cinema and erotica, are releasing their first DVD in the US through Music Video Distributions. Angélique Bosio's Llik Your Idols, a documentary about underground and transgressive cinema, will be released on 15 May. Llik Your Idols features interviews from Richard Kern, Nick Zedd, Lydia Lunch, Bruce LaBruce, Richard Hell, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore, author Jack Sargeant and artist Joe Coleman. Also featured on the disc is Nick Zedd's War Is Menstrual Envy, which was previously only available through his website; only a clip of the film, which stars Zedd, Annie Sprinkle and Kembra Pfahler, shows up on the Abnormal: The Sinema of Nick Zedd disc. Zedd's short Police State is also on the disc.

César Winners 2009

Séraphine appears to have been the big winner at yesterday's César Awards, taking home the Best Picture, Actress, Original Screenplay and Cinematography, as well as for Art Direction (Décors) and Costume Design (Costumes). Séraphine depicts the life of painter Séraphine de Senlis, played by Yolande Moreau. Music Box Films will release the film within the coming months. Both Mesrine, a two-part biopic on gangster Jacques Mesrine, and Le premier jour du reste de ta vie, a family drama starring Jacques Gamblin and Zabou Breitman, went home with two awards apiece. According to the IMDb, Mesrine will be released in the US by a company called Senator, and though Le premier jour du reste de ta vie is without US distribution, the DVD was released on Region 1 in Canada from Séville Pictures on 3 February. Waltz with Bashir took home the Best Foreign Film prize, a category often dominated by American films; previous winners include Little Miss Sunshine, Million Dollar Baby, Mystic River, Lost in Translation, Bowling for Columbine and Mulholland Drive, as well as non-American films The Lives of Others and In the Mood for Love. Agnès Varda was awarded with the César for Best Documentary for Les plages d'Agnès, which will be released by Cinema Guild in the US sometime this year. Like all award shows, the Césars have their strengths and weaknesses. Awarding a director for their first feature film adds a nice touch, even if their choice this year (Il y a longtemps que je t'aime) was pretty awful; previous winners in that category have included Persepolis, Quand la mer monte... [When the Sea Rises...], Depuis qu'Otar est parti... [Since Otar Left...], Darwin's Nightmare, No Man's Land and Ressources humaines [Human Resources]. However, the usual gray area arises in their "newcomer" category, of which I couldn't find any set regulations. Doesn't it kind of defeat the purpose when this year's winner, Déborah François, has already been nominated in that category twice before (for L'enfant and La tourneuse de pages [The Page Turner])? I've reposted all the nominees below with the winner in bold.

Meilleur film français [Best French Film]

Entre les murs [The Class] - dir. Laurent Cantet
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime [I've Loved You So Long] - dir. Philippe Claudel
Mesrine (Mesrine: L'instinct de mort; Mesrine: L'ennemi public n° 1) - dir. Jean-François Richet
Paris - dir. Cédric Klapisch
Le premier jour du reste de ta vie [The First Day of the Rest of Your Life] - dir. Rémi Bezançon
Séraphine - dir. Martin Provost
Un conte de Noël [A Christmas Tale] - dir. Arnaud Desplechin

Meilleur réalisateur [Best Director]

Rémi Bezançon - Mesrine
Laurent Cantet - Entre les murs
Arnaud Desplechin - Un conte de Noël
Martin Provost - Séraphine
Jean-François Richet - Mesrine

Meilleur acteur [Best Actor]

Vincent Cassel - Mesrine
François-Xavier Demaison - Coluche, l'histoire d'un mec
Guillaume Depardieu - Versailles
Albert Dupontel - Deux jours à tuer
Jacques Gamblin - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie

Meilleure actrice [Best Actress]

Catherine Frot - Le crime est notre affaire
Yolande Moreau - Séraphine
Kristin Scott Thomas - Il y a longtemps que je t'aime
Tilda Swinton - Julia
Sylvia Testud - Sagan

Meilleur acteur dans un second rôle [Supporting Actor]

Benjamin Biolay - Stella
Claude Rich - Aide-toi, le ciel t'aidera
Jean-Paul Roussillon - Un conte de Noël
Pierre Vaneck - Deux jours à tuer
Roschdy Zem - La fille de Monaco

Meilleure actrice dans un second rôle [Supporting Actress]

Jeanne Balibar - Sagan
Anne Consigny - Un conte de Noël
Edith Scob - L'heure d'été
Karin Viard - Paris
Elsa Zylberstein - Il y a longtemps que je t'aime

Meilleur premier film [Best First Film]

Home - dir. Ursula Meier
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime - dir. Philippe Claudel
Mascarades - dir. Lyes Salem
Pour elle - dir. Fred Cavayé
Versailles - dir. Pierre Schoeller

Meilleur scénario original [Original Screenplay]

Séraphine - Marc Abdelnour, Martin Provost
Le premier jour du reste de ta vie - Rémi Bezançon
Bienvenue chez les Ch'tis [Welcome to the Sticks] - Dany Boon, Alexandre Charlot, Franck Magnier
Il y a longtemps que je t'aime - Philippe Claudel
Un conte de Noël - Arnaud Desplechin, Emmanuel Bourdieu

Meilleur scénario adaptation [Adapted Screenplay]

Deux jours à tuer - Eric Assous, Jérôme Beaujour, Jean Becker, François d'Épenoux
Le crime est notre affaire - François Caviglioli, Pascal Thomas
Entre les murs - François Bégaudeau, Robin Campillo, Laurent Cantet
Mesrine - Abdel Raouf Dafri, Jean-François Richet
La belle personne - Christophe Honoré, Gilles Taurand

Meilleure photographie [Best Cinematography]

Séraphine - Laurent Brunet
Mesrine - Robert Gantz
Un conte de Noël - Eric Gautier
Home - Agnès Godard
Faubourg 36 [Paris 36] - Tom Stern

Meilleur film étranger [Best Foreign Film]

Eldorado - dir. Bouli Lanners - Belgium
Gomorra [Gomorrah] - dir. Matteo Garrone - Italy
Into the Wild - dir. Sean Penn - USA
Le silence de Lorna [Lorna's Silence] - dir. Jean-Pierre Dardenne, Luc Dardenne - Belgium
There Will Be Blood - dir. Paul Thomas Anderson - USA
Two Lovers - dir. James Gray - USA
Valse avec Bashir [Waltz with Bashir] - dir. Ari Folman - Israel

Meilleur film documentaire [Best Documentary]

Elle s'appelle Sabine [Her Name Is Sabine] - dir. Sandrine Bonnaire
J'irai dormir à Hollywood [Hollywood, I'll Sleep over Tonight] - dir. Antoine de Maximy
Les plages d'Agnès [The Beaches of Agnès] - dir. Agnès Varda
Tabarly - dir. Pierre Marcel
La vie moderne [Modern Life] - dir. Raymond Depardon

Meilleur espoir masculin [Best Male Newcomer]

Ralph Amoussou - Aide-toi, le ciel t’aidera
Laurent Capelluto - Un conte de Noël
Marc-André Grondin - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie
Grégoire Leprince-Ringuet - La belle personne
Pio Marmai - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie

Meilleur espoir féminin [Best Female Newcomer]

Marilou Berry - Vilaine
Louise Bourgoin - La fille de Monaco
Anaïs Demoustier - Les grandes personnes
Déborah François - Le premier jour du reste de ta vie
Léa Seydoux - La belle personne

Meilleur court métrage [Best Short Film]

Les miettes - dir. Pierre Pinaud
Les paradis perdus - dir. Hélier Cisterne
Skhizein - dir. Jérémy Clapin
Taxi Wala - dir. Lola Frederich
Une leçon particulière - dir. Raphaël Chevènement

Friday, February 27, 2009

Lost - 316

::Disclaimer: Blah blah blah, had no time, blah blah, lots going on so I didn't have time, yada yada yada etc. Do you know what I did with my time this week? Counted pages. Thousands of them. It took four days of my life, just counting pages. Reviewing an episode with a number for a name is too damn ironical. Forgive my tardiness, but those pages won't count themselves! ::goes men'al, on account of the pages::

As surely as night follows day, and muffled annoyance follows Oscar time (love Sean Penn's performance in Milk though I do, Mickey wuz robbed), so does an awesome Oceanic Six episode follow a post from me follow a bunch of complaints about how boring the Oceanic Six stuff has been. My excitement over how amazing 316 was is muted by my shame over the carping of previous weeks.

That said, I don't think I was actually wrong. The scene-setting and game-piece moving was necessary to get us to this point, but it sure wasn't any fun to watch, especially with the island scenes being as exciting as they have been. It just can't be denied that 316 put those dreary scenes in their place, providing us with post-island LA scenes that were way more interesting than anything from this season or last season, Sayid action scenes aside.

316 was as good an episode of Lost I've ever seen, and I'd attribute that excellence to some blatant audience manipulation as mechanical as anything they've done before. Information was held back from us for no reason other than to aggravate us, with the characters having numerous opportunities to explain their situation (Kate and the location of Aaron, Hurley's decision to go back to the island, Ben and his worrying injuries). All of these things will be addressed later in the season, I'm sure, but for once I think there will be a lot less carping about this totally contrived suspense. Firstly, because the majority of the haters have left the building (and good riddance). Secondly, because those of us who love the show are going to relish that suspense, and find that narrative contrivance endearing. I speak for myself, but I suspect the rest of Lost fandom will feel similarly, having grown accustomed to these tricks and knowing that all our questions will be answered in time.

That suspense is delicious for the most part, but in one instance it's also deeply upsetting. The sight of a blood-soaked Ben, coming so soon after his sinister promise to keep a promise he made to an old friend, was horribly worrying. It's obvious he was talking about finding and killing Penny, but we have to wait a week to find out as the next episode, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, shows Locke's efforts to contact the Oceanic Six prior to committing suicide.

I'd be more anxious about this forthcoming revelation if I thought Penny was dead. At first I figured Desmond had intervened; after all, my suspicion has been that Widmore has been manipulating Desmond into protecting Penny, knowing that Ben was going to try to hurt her at some point. That's the Sirens of Titan theory in essence. Then an internet exchange reminded me that Penny is Desmond's Constant. With Penny dead, Desmond would be doomed, which surely can't happen as the island isn't finished with him.

Canyon raised an objection to that. Did Desmond only need a Constant when suffering the deadly time-sickness? Now that he's moored in time again, perhaps he doesn't need Penny anymore. In that case, she could well be dead. Then a bright spark on the AV Club pointed out that Desmond might have a hard time beating the collapsible-baton-wielding mad dog Linus, but Sayid would have a good go at it, which might account for his capture. That theory made me happy for a while.

The only problem with that is that he's not being held in the US for a crime committed there. For a start, he wouldn't be allowed on the same plane as the man he had assaulted. Also, according to someone on the wide world of the web (I can't remember where I saw it), Ajira 316 was going from LA to Guam and then to Baghdad, which sounds like the worst news possible for Sayid. Those luscious curls of his looked particularly raggedy this week. I reckon it's the stress.

The wait for an explanation of these events is naturally more excruciating than waiting for clarification on what's got into Kate, who looks like her life has fallen apart, and that's before she sleeps with Jack. The poor galoot seems to think he got lucky, but it's far more likely that Kate is trying to replicate the original conditions of the Oceanic 815 flight by being a proxy for Claire. This is speculation, but it makes sense considering the sketchy rules provided by Miss Hawking, and it has the added bonus of putting Kate directly into Claire's shoes which, of course, she has been trying to do for three years.

Hurley's change of heart and Sayid's predicament are both curious too (and seemingly less traumatic than losing a child and then having to do it with Sad Jack), but it's seemingly obvious that Ben's inept manipulations from previous weeks weren't even necessary. Alienating Hurley, Sayid, and Kate got him nowhere, but some other force intervened to get them onboard, with the extra surprise of getting Frank, who should have been on Oceanic 815, back in the game. (An aside; you have no idea how happy I was to see his grizzly face coming out of the cockpit, even though he now has 50% less grizzle.)

Even so, will Ben get his wish of returning to the island? Has the past three years been filled with nothing but efforts to manouevre the pieces into place so that he can return? Almost certainly, but as he was not on Oceanic 815, would he go down? Theories abound that the front cabin passengers of Ajira 316 are all proxies, that Hurley is Charlie (does that mean he's high on smack right now), Sayid is Kate, Kate is Claire, Jack is Jack, Locke is Christian (and Christ), and Frank is the original pilot. What about the other passengers? If the woman with Sayid is Kate's marshall, is Saïd Taghmaoui's mysterious character Sayid? If so, who is Sun supposed to be? Surely she's a better fit as Sayid, as she is travelling across the world to find a lost loved one, much as Sayid was. Perhaps Taghmaoui is Jin, an enforcer for an industrialist if he is indeed the hired gun of Widmore.

While it's up in the air who they all represent, it's fairly obvious who Ben is supposed to be. He's injured, suffering from delusions of grandeur, and filled with obnoxious entitlement. He has to be Locke. The irony is delicious.

Of course, episode's end we only get to see Hurley, Jack and Kate, with Jack saving them both. Of course, during the pilot episode Jack saved Hurley and Claire, as Oceanic 815 exploded around them. Nicely done, though we now have to wait to find out what happened to the others. It seems likely that Ben is stuck with Frank, Sun, Mysterious Saïd Taghmaoui, Sayid, and his captor. Hijinks will ensue, I'm sure. Until then, we have to wrap our brains around the last minute appearance by Jin, decked out in Dharma workclothes. It seems the Island Six's infiltration of the Dharma Initiative has been going full swing while the Oceanic Six have been bickering.

As I said earlier, this episode redeemed all of the tedious LA scenes from the last 19 episodes, but it wasn't all good, sadly. Wrecking one of the most important scenes in Lost's run, Fionnula Flanagan's performance inside the Lamp Post scene was nigh-on toe-curling, a ponderous display of snootiness filled with baffling pauses and self-importance. Compared to the naturalistic performances around her, she looked horribly out-of-place. Never again will I complain about Evangeline Lilly's occasionally flat performance. Compared to Flanagan's Donald-Sinden-esque over-acting, Lilly looks like Brando.

Still, that whole sequence was redeemed by the thrilling info-dump (pithier and more exciting than the confusing babble of exposition hurled at the BSG fanbase in a recent episode), and the sight of Desmond going ballistic at Hawking, which was beautiful. Sadly, that doesn't change the fact that his quest to help Faraday by delivering a message has served only to deliver Penny into Ben's sphere of calamitous intent.

It also featured some lovely compositions from my favourite Lost director, the ever-awesome Stephen Williams. I especially liked this dramatic shot of the Lamppost map, taken from the point of view of the pendulum.

I also like what he did with the lighting scheme with Jack. He was shot either drowned in blue, as in this shot at the church...

...and then again at the bar where he resists getting drunk...

...and again at his apartment.

It was also shown in the background, as in this shot boarding Ajira 316...

...and again on the plane trying to make small talk with Grumpy Kate.

That cold light matches his off-island lifelessness, his cold and miserable demeanour. Then compare that to the vibrant colours on the island, and his mood change.

It wasn't long before he has a beautifully shot and edited dash through the forest, and then some real action. This stunt, with Action Jack leaping to Hurley's rescue, was absolutely fucking awesome.

It was so close to the rocks, which made our hair stand on end. I'm fully aware that people seem to strongly dislike Jack, and I've been moaning about him for weeks, but when he's in Action Jack mode, he's great. It's especially great for him, as he gets to agonise over Kate again.

Remember a couple of weeks ago when I said she used to be a hardass? I'd like that to come back soon. She's no kind of damsel-in-distress. Of course, as Jack has, in the past, been repeatedly thrust into the role of reluctant hero by the island, will his new thirst for validation-by-heroism make the island go off him? Should we even be thinking of the island as The Mover of Events anymore? Isn't it fate and the knotted consequences of time travel that are doing it? I've been moving toward the latter theory for a while now, but Kate's behaviour was troubling.

She's acting like someone approached her. And where is Aaron? General opinion has it that Claire's mom does, or Cassidy. The latter option means we get an appearance by the ever-excellent Kim Dickens, which would be great, but I'm beginning to wonder if it's Widmore. Why else would she voluntarily be getting knocked up by Jack. If indeed that is what she's doing. Gah! What was that I said about delicious suspense? It might taste nice but it's very bad for my health.

Great job from everyone not named Fionnula Flanagan this week, with extra-special kudos to Michael Emerson, back to his brilliant best after a few weeks with little to do. His greatest hits this week were his response to Jack's question about The Lamp Post...

...praying in a manner that can only be described as "sarcastic" (if indeed he is praying)...

...his panicky phonecall, covered in someone's blood (as seen above), and his wonderfully arrogant behaviour on the plane.

Foxy was also great this week, especially his "conversation" with Locke's corpse.

The best part of this moment is that Locke, who is not only doubling as Christ by now, is also Jack's "father". With this new turn of events, and thanks to the machinations of the island / the Mover of Events, Jack's rebellions against Locke now seem like the struggling of a petulant teenager against his father. Does this make Miss Hawking his surrogate mother, considering his earlier tantrum?

Speaking of Christian symbolism, Ben went big on the Doubting Thomas stuff this week, showing off in front of what I hope is a copy of Caravaggio's The Incredulity of Saint Thomas, making Jack feel bad for being a big doubting doubter.

Of course, Jack rebels against the idea that a bigger force is pushing him towards the island, until he finally reads Locke's suicide note. Foxy acts the shit out of that moment.

The message is typically Lockean. Self-aggrandising, passive-aggressive, whiny.

It's also perfectly timed to make Jack finally doubt his doubt, just in time for Ajira 316 to fly over the island. Was this the thing that triggered their teleportation? Whatever it was that made it happen, Locke got his wish, just as Jack got his, to get back to the island. Ben wasn't lying when he said that the island grants wishes.

Speaking of Jack and his doubt, the introduction of his granddad provided him with the first opportunity for doubt-doubt, as he finds the exact item that he needs to "complete" his father, symbolically (i.e. Christian's shoes). That also provided an explanation for why Christian has been walking around the island in white tennis shoes, which was hugely satisfying.

Other than that, the best thing about this scene was yelling, "The wrong kid died!" when Raymond J. Barry appeared. If you don't get that joke, watch Walk Hard as soon as possible. It's imperative that you get that film into your life ASAP.

I'm really glad Saïd Taghmaoui is in Lost. He's a terrific actor. Sadly, my brain is a big shit thing, so my internal monologue finished all of his lines with the phrase, "My main man." I'm sure I'm not the only one. Even worse, then I started thinking about the South Park episode Red Sleigh Down. I wonder if Taghmaoui realises how big an effect his short appearance in Three Kings had? There's a lot to love about that film, but that scene is the one I've not been able to get out of my head since.

It's common knowledge that being a big strapping hero is the thing that makes Jack happiest, but there's something else out there that brings a smile to his face; having the sex with Kate, even if she does look a bit like a corpse lately.

On the other hand, Kate is only in it for the free food; Jack lips.

Slow down there, lady.

I've made no secret of the fact that I fully intend to take a tour of Oahu at some point, so I can see the sights, and I really hope that this place is still open.

That is some chintzy-assed decoration there. I love it and hate it, simultaneously.

Jin's still not dead!

I know this is obvious, but I just can't help being excited about it.

One thing that made us laugh was Sayid's reaction to Jack boarding Ajira 316. He's so shocked!

What was funny was that he did the same thing when Ben walked on.

I had a terrible feeling he would just keep doing this. "Sir, would you care for a packet of pretzels?"

"I'm sorry, sir, we're all out of apple juice. Would you like some pineapple juice instead?"

"For your information, sir, today's in-flight movies are Slumdog Millionaire, Happy-Go-Lucky, and The Reader."

I cannot wait to see Sayid kicking some motherfucking ass ASAP because this easily shocked version is not what I pay nothing to see.

Best. Nerd Reference. Ever.

It's a comic by Brian K. Vaughan, it's about a pregnant woman, and it's a Spanish language version of a comic released by DC, just like the original comic owned by Walt on Oceanic 815. That's just about the most perfect moment in the whole episode. Plus, it might inspire some Lost fans to get read Y-The Last Man. I heartily recommend it. Despite the soul-crushing final six issues. ::shakes fist at BKV::

This looks like a playset, with action figures arrayed around the outside.

If I believe in Locke, will my wish for a Lamp Post action playset (complete with Miss Hawking action figure) come true? And if I pull the cord on the back of that action figure, will all of her recorded phrases sound really stupid?

Oh boy, I hope we don't get to spend much more time with this character now. Two seasons waiting for her to come back, and we get all of this ham? Oy.

Okay, time to eat, and watch the next episode. See you in a couple of months week.

Suzuki, Lang, an untalented actress' cans can't justify a theatrical release and some talking dinosaurs for good measure...

Apologies for not updating the blog sooner, but my Internet connection has been a hot mess all week. Hopefully yesterday's schizophrenic day will be the last of those woes. Also, I must have written a DVD release update blog in one of my dreams, because I seem to recall mentioning some of these releases on here before... but a quick search provided those thoughts false. So whoops... or maybe I forgot to publish that particular blog. Alas... here are some DVD updates.

Two Seijun Suzuki will make their U.S. DVD debuts in the coming months. The first, Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell Bastards, will be released through Kino on 19 February. The second, A Tale of Sorrow (also translated as Story of Sorrow and Sadness or A Tale of Sorrow and Sadness), will be out from Cinema Epoch on 2 June. Also upcoming from Kino is Tan Ida's action flick 3 Seconds Before Explosion on 19 May, as well as the critically acclaimed Momma's Man from director Azazel Jacobs, on 5 May. Jacobs' previous feature The GoodTimesKid is slated to be Benten Films' next release sometime this summer.

Kimstim, who released DVDs through Kino, are boxing together their four Alain Resnais films for a 28 April release. The titles are Life Is a Bed of Roses [La vie est un roman], Love unto Death [L'amour à mort], Mélo and I Want to Go Home [Je veux rentrer à la maison]. I would doubt any new material has been added to the discs for this release. Image Entertainment are bringing Woody Allen's first directing foray What's Up Tiger Lily? out from the vaults on 16 June (helpful suggestion: sell your old copy now, as it goes for about $40 used on Fritz Lang's Man Hunt will make its DVD premiere from 20th Century Fox on 19 February as well. Magnolia is putting their two recent Wayne Wang films out on 26 May. They are A Thousand Yeard of Good Prayers and The Princess of Nebraska and will be available together or separate. Magnolia also moved the date for James Gray's Two Lovers to 30 June.

MGM has announced a handful of action/western/war flicks for 12 May. The choice pick of the five titles (though I haven't seen any of them) is Frank Perry's Doc, the much-disliked western with Faye Dunaway and Stacy Keach. The other four are: Raoul Walsh's The King and Four Queens with Clark Gable, J. Lee Thompson's North West Frontier with Herbert Lom and Lauren Bacall, Karl Malden's Time Limit with Richard Widmark, Rip Torn, Richard Basehart and June Lockhart (nice cast, eh?) and Burt Kennedy's Young Billy Young with Robert Mitchum, Angie Dickinson and David Carradine. Also look for a 50th Anniversary Edition of Pillow Talk from Universal on 14 April.

There's also a good number of films you've likely never heard of starring people you have lined up. Morgan Spurlock's distribution company, formerly Arts Alliance America and now Virgil Films, set a 12 May date for M. Blash's Lying, starring Chloë Sevigny, Jena Malone, Leelee Sobieski and Meryl Streep's son Henry Grummer. Also on tap from Virgil is Richard Ledes' The Caller, with Frank Langella, Elliott Gould and Laura Harring, on 7 April. Kim Basinger and Lukas Haas star in While She Was Out, a thriller produced by Guillermo del Toro, from Anchor Bay on 28 April. Michelle Pfeiffer should pray that her performance in Stephen Frears' Chéri is as good as everyone was claiming it would be last year, because another film of hers is heading straight-to-video. Personal Effects, which also stars Kathy Bates and Ashton Kutcher, will hit shelves on 12 May from Screen Media Films (who have a tendency to release 'doomed' films with big stars like Smother with Diane Keaton and Battle in Seattle with Charlize Theron).

Brittany Murphy is an American in Tokyo in The Ramen Girl, a romantic comedy from director Robert Allan Ackerman that will be out through Image on 26 May. The film also stars Sohee Park (Big Bang Love). Daniel Barnz's directorial debut Phoebe in Wonderland, which premiered at last year's Sundance Film Festival, will be out from ThinkFilm/Image on 23 June. Felicity Huffman, Patricia Clarkson, Elle Fanning, Campbell Scott and Bill Pullman star. Image will release yet another star-studded (but apparently ill-fated) film, Powder Blue on 9 June. The film, which will be better known as the film a couple of straight dudes mentioned to me last year where Jessica Biel takes her top off, also stars Kris Kristofferson, Lisa Kudrow, Ray Liotta, Eddie Redmayne, Forest Whitaker and two Swayzes (Patrick and brother Don)! Those guys forgot to mention whether any of the other actors were doing the same.

Howard Hawks' El Dorado and John Ford's The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (one of my personal faves) will be the two latest releases in Paramount's Centennial Collection. Anchor Bay will release Elie Chouraqui's almost-unwatchable O Jerusalem, which laughably chronicles the religious struggle for Israel and stars Saïd Taghmaoui, JJ Feild, Patrick Bruel and a hammy Ian Holm, on 12 May. The week prior to that, Anchor Bay will release Adam Rifkin's Look with Giuseppe Andrews. Miramax is releasing their first catalogue title in over three years with Mike Newell's Enchanted April, which stars Joan Plowright, Miranda Richardson, Polly Walker, Jim Broadbent and Alfred Molina. Let's hope they don't wait as long to get their other films out there. Menemsha Films are releasing Sam Garbarski's (Irina Palm) Rashevski's Tango [Le tango des Rashevski], starring Hippolyte Girardot and Jonathan Zaccaï on 28 April.

I was unaware (and likely unwilling to notice) that the Steven Spielberg-produced animated film We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story won't make its official DVD debut until 26 May. Funny story about that film... When I was about 10 or 11, my parents signed me up for some lame, populist cartoon animation after-school class. The teacher was a total dolt who looked like Dom DeLuise. His talents at teaching and "drawing" were limited, so he was basically an overpaid babysitter. Among the fellow "students" was the classic brown-noser, a portly mouth-breather who'd taken at least three other classes with Dom. Thanks to both of those morons' love for John Goodman, we got to spend our entire class session "drawing" while being visually "inspired" by watching We're Back! A Dinosaur's Story. It was the continuation of the John Goodman lovefest that had begun earlier with that hideous live-action Flintstones movie, which I remember Dom had rented from Blockbuster the day it was released on VHS. The fucking movie hadn't been on home video for more than twenty-four hours and that parasitic brown-noser had memorized at least three-fourths of the entire movie! I remember him being particularly amused by something about John Goodman's toes during a bowling scene. I also strangely remember a barefooted Elizabeth Taylor being a terrifying sight. Anyway, I don't plan to relive that experience by picking up We're Back when it makes its overdue(?) premiere to DVD, but hey, if John Goodman isn't enough for you, the vocal talents of Rhea Perlman, Jay Leno, Julia Child (!), Walter Cronkite, Yeardley Smith and Martin Short are also on display!

I digress... rounding up this DVD update are three titles unavailable in the US coming on Region 2. Jack Smight's action/comedy Kaleidoscope starring Susannah York and Warren Beatty comes on 20 April from Digital Classics. They're also putting out Mel Ferrer's Green Mansions, which stars Audrey Hepburn and Anthony Perkins, on 6 April. Mary Lambert's Siesta is its European DVD premiere in Germany from Concorde 16 April. I actually haven't seen it, but I remember thinking the word siesta meant something really slutty after walking past the box at Blockbuster nearly every time I rented a video. After looking at the cast, it appears to matter even less whether it's good or not. How could I say no a film with Ellen Barkin, Julian Sands, Isabella Rossellini, Gabriel Byrne, Grace Jones, Martin Sheen and Jodie Foster? That's all for now.