Having a video store membership is really quite old fashioned in a world that has to up to your door movie delivery, but I like the staff at my local Hollywood Video store and I like their easy to use Power Play program. It may not have quite the price break as Netflix or have the convenience of delivery like other services do but I like the ease of use of movie selection in real time. I like wandering in the stacks, enjoy the slow pace of picking up this box or another and reading the descriptions on the back. There is something thrilling about that completely analog experience of reading and walking and musing in real time, in a real brick and mortal store that I just can't get from online shopping. I can't see doing business any other way.
Foreign films have been my latest film genre kick. I don't attend flicks in movie houses too often but I do love it when I find quality foreign films out in town to buy or borrow. I find non-Hollywood titles second hand every now and again, which is great as it helps to pad out my film collection with stuff that is just far and away from what the bean counters and the franchise operators in Hollywood consider entertainment.
For instance today I found a copy of Once Upon a Time In China Pt III directed by Tsu Hark at Goodwill for fifty cents, which is fine since I saw the first part and know that I'll someday stumble upon the second. I also came across a copy of Wages of Sin the other day, too. I can only wish that it was the latest Criterion print but it wasn't. Rather, it was produced by some long lost transfer house who stumbled upon the rights to print it. They did, but badly, with the subtitles printed directly into the movie in some washed out typeface the color of the film. There were more passages than not where I had to fake out what was happening on the screen and just pretend I knew the language being spoken. All the same it was a grand time. A classic is a classic no matter what the quality of the print.
My local video house has a wide variety of international films to choose from, which is surprising considering how slowly they move. Today I dropped off two catalog titles at Hollywood, District B13 and Dynamite Warrior. I can only wish the latter was worth recommending. Pity, as the trailer looked great and the promise of an action packed martial arts film was what I was craving last night. Great idea, though. A sort of revenge flick set in some Thai kind of wild west setting, with big lumbering water buffalos standing in for steers. Truly a kooky kind of cowboy action film, but only for those who have die hard tastes for the genre.
But the Luc Besson produced District B13 more than made up for the lack in the other film. Fast paced contemporary crime film set in a somewhat futuristic walled in ghetto in Paris where the criminals run the show and the cops stand back and let them do their thing. Once the criminals get ahold of a nuclear device the film switches gears and turns into one of those strange kind of buddy films, the one where the maverick cop and the gangster with a conscious get together to save the world, or, in this case, Paris. Grand stunt work, totally jaw dropping action. Highly recommended.
Today I picked up a Spanish film that, even as I write this, continues to produce shivers. Funny, as that is the English language title: Shiver. Incredibly scary in that non-slasher, not a zombie in the house kind of way. The film centers around a boy who has an extreme reaction to sunlight who is moved up the mountains by his mother to a little village where some strange and wicked kind of stuff is happening in the woods. All too many moments of what I would consider extreme psychological terror to recommend this to just anyone. You have to have a strong desire to be scarred out of your wits in order to watch this one. Highly recommended for those late night date nights where you want your sweetie to dig her nails into your arm.
Lastly I picked up a copy of Schultze Gets the Blues. World wide winner of 10 International Film awards. Haven't watched it yet but idea of a German protagonist heading off to Louisiana to adapt his polka playing skills to Zydeco music sounds pretty wonderful to me. I'll let you know if it deserved all those awards or not.
Oh, and speaking of foreign, be sure to attend the fundraiser at the Historic Orchard this Tuesday if you can. Twelve bucks gets you in the door to see Like Water For Chocolate plus a small drink and popcorn. Proceeds go to the Immigrant Assistance Center to help buy books for immigrant children. I'll be learning how to work their film projectors that evening, maybe I'll see you there. And if not, well, maybe I'll see you in the aisles of my local Hollywood Video store!