Friday, September 16, 2011

New York Characters & New Releases...

Bill Cunningham New York, a delightful documentary on the eccentric and wonderfully good-natured octogenarian photographer, familiar to all readers of the New York Times' Sunday Style section and many others, received its DVD release this week, and I highly recommend it. It's hard not to be taken with the man - his philosophy, his humor, and his work. Watching it called to mind some other great profiles of New York characters, of all stripes...

I Like Killing Flies
The irascible and oddly endearing chef and diner owner Kenny Shopsin pontificates on food, community, and... whatever else crosses his mind in Matt Mahurin's lo-fi doc.

Pie in the Sky: The Brigid Berlin Story
The daughter of Manhattan socialites, Berlin left behind the world of debutantes and soirees at a young age to pursue a more idiosyncratic path. A regular amongst the New York underground scene, Berlin was a famed member of the Warhol Factory and a good friend of Andy himself. In addition to pursuing her own artistic muse (ie, her "Cock Book" and appearances in John Waters' films), she also candidly battled eating disorders and obsessive compulsive tendencies. In Shelly Dunn & Vincent Freemont's documentary, she holds forth on her past and present accomplishments and challenges with refreshing honesty.

The Cruise
A tour guide of New York's Gray Line double-decker buses, Timothy "Speed" Levitch treats his captive audiences to stream-of-consciousness musings on subjects ranging from historical and architectural trivia to philosophical conjectures to reasons why he loves his city. Levitch is also featured in Richard Linklater's doc, Live From Shiva's Dance Floor.

Public Speaking
Martin Scorsese directs this portrait of noted writer and iconoclastic thinker Fran Lebowitz, who delivers witty and provocative reflections on an impressive range of topics.

This week's new arrivals:

This week's superhero quota is fulfilled by Thor and his mighty hammer. Kenneth Branagh directs!

Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a rough-living loner who becomes entwined in one family's lives. Also stars Rainn Wilson and Natalie Portman.

Denis Villeneuve's Oscar-nominated film is a riveting, Middle Eastern set mystery (based on a play by Wajdi Mouawad) that leads to a sucker-punch of an ending.

Meek's Cutoff
The latest from Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy, Old Joy) is a slow-burning Western, starring Michelle Williams, Bruce Greenwood, and Paul Dano.

American Breakdown
This omnibus film strings together several shorts, featuring James Gandolfini, Steve Carell, Eric Stonestreet, Paris Hilton, and many others.

Blades of Blood
The latest Korean martial arts flick. Original title: Goo-reu-meul beo-eo-nan dal-cheo-reom... Not sure why they changed it.

True Legend

Another martial arts offering, this one directed by Woo-ping Yuen (fight choreographer for Kill Bill; The Matrix; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; and many others).

Son of Morning
Nothing like being mistaken for the messiah to make you famous overnight.

Brand New Day

Geoffrey Rush stars in this Australian musical comedy.

Wishful Drinking
Carrie Fisher's wonderful one-woman show. Read a great AV Club interview with Fisher here.

Conan O'Brien Can't Stop

When Conan becomes contractually forbidden from performing on television, radio, or the interweb, he takes it on the road. Read Margot Harrison's here, part of her Movies You Missed blog series for Seven Days.

Vidal Sassoon: The Movie
Documentary profile of the influential stylist.

The National: A Skin, A Night
Vincent Moon's impressionistic portrait of the band as they record their album Boxer.

'Tis the season for TV on DVD! This week's arrivals:

Rescue Me - 6th & Final Season

Glee - 2.2nd Season

Camelot - 1st Season

Spartacus: Gods of the Arena - 1st Season

The Big Bang Theory - 4th Season

Grey's Anatomy - 7th Season

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia - 6th Season

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