Track Down These Video Gems And You’ll Be Nicely Rewarded
If you haunt only the mainstream movie complexes, especially those located adjacent to or right in the middle of major shopping malls, you’re likely to miss many of the smaller films that regularly play specialty houses.
Of course, if you live in Spokane, you’re likely to miss such films, period. Which is reason No. 377 for why home video is, indeed, good for the soul.
You may have to look hard for them, in between, say, the gazillion copies of “Dante’s Peak” and “The Devil’s Own.” And you may even have to call around (or even go on the Internet).
But if you try hard enough, you can find them. And to help you separate the intriguing from the merely interesting, here’s a critical list of small-film releases past, present and immediate future:
(Cabin Fever, released Aug. 26)
Helena Bonham Carter portrays a young woman whose battle with emotional demons is exacerbated by the Nova Scotia mines that, one by one, claim every man who means anything to her. When she falls in love with a newcomer (Clive Russell), she does so with the understanding that he won’t go underground. But then he loses his job and … Bizarre to the max while at the same time being a tender look at a fragile mind, “Margaret’s Museum” is one woman’s rage against the machine.
(Columbia TriStar, available Tuesday)
Eliza (Hope Davis) loves her life, which revolves around her husband (Stanley Tucci). So imagine her discomfort when she discovers a mysterious letter addressed to her hubby from someone named “Sandy.”
This starts a 90-minute frantic ride in which Eliza, crazed over the idea that her husband may be cheating on her (and equally crazed at her own temerity at doubting him), sets off to confront him with her supremely dysfunctional family in tow. Touching, more than a bit maddening and ultimately entertaining, it boasts a variety of treats - especially Parker Posey.
(BMG, available Tuesday)
Here’s a simple plotline: A number of people sit around at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and tell their stories. Meanwhile, the protagonist, Jim (Richard Lewis), struggles with a personal crisis and finds himself back where he started - counting the days, one by one, that he’s been sober. Alternately hilarious and sad, “Drunks” is a bumpy ride emotionally and artistically. But it does boast a talented cast, from the comedic Lewis (cast against type) to such names as Faye Dunaway, Spalding Gray, the late Howard Rollins and - again! - Parker Posey.
(Republic, available Tuesday) What we’ve come to know as the Seattle musical scene is more than what the mainstream press (OK, The Spokesman-Review, too) would have us believe. This little documentary does a decent job of both featuring all the facets of The Seattle Sound and showing how the press, as it is wont to do, settles for the easiest explanation possible. Of course, such attention aided any number of Seattle bands, so it would be a little hypocritical for many of them to complain. All in all, “hype!” is one of those rare rentals that is both fun and informative.
City of Industry
(MEG, available Sept. 30) In many ways just another in a long line of neo-noirs, this little movie involves - what else? - a heist. There’s also a double-cross. And to make things absolutely perfect, it features Harvey Keitel. But it moves quickly enough, and Keitel is good at what he does (playing the guy who seeks revenge on the traitor). Note to the squeamish: The blood-letting is generous.
The Quiet Room
(New Line, available Sept. 30) This Australian feature provides an answer to the question on many divorced parents’ minds: What do children experience during marital breakup? In the case of this film by acclaimed director Rolf de Heer, the simple answer is - everything you can imagine. And more. The twist that de Heer provides, aided by the fine acting of 7-year-old actress Chloe Ferguson, is to tell the story mainly through the girl’s thoughts. It may be slow, but “The Quiet Room” is never boring.
A Single Girl
(Fox Lorber, available Oct. 14) Cinematic experiments are sometimes interesting (the single-take scenes of Hitchcock’s “Rope”), sometimes absurd (the shock-in-the-seat surprise from “The Tingler”). Benoit Jacquot’s “A Single Girl” plays out its minimalist plotline in “real time,” which means exactly what it says: What passes for the passage of time in the movie matches the time flow for us in the audience. For Jacquot, however, that equates to a lot of watching actress Virgine Ledoyen walk down the street, through hotel hallways, in and out doorways, not to mention sitting in restaurants smoking, pouting and otherwise playing coy with the camera. What, you ultimately ask, is the point?
, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo