alternate title: “ten movies (and one tv show) i read about, came across or am being reminded once again in the month of january that are related to the movies i watched but are not available in the u.s.” i’m only counting legitimate movie streaming websites (netflix, hulu, crackle…etc) or region 1 dvds even though i have a region free dvd player. some of them can probably be downloaded for free but i am all for physical media and i would not mind giving the following people my money, even though they don’t seem to want it.
1. the extraordinary adventures of adele blanc-sec (2010)
degrees of separation: district 13: ultimatum, point blank (a bout portant).
why queue: directed by district 13: ultimatum producer luc besson, this was released in europe and asia in 2010 and 2011. the imdb plot description sounds like la femme nikita meets the early scenes of the fifth element. or a female indiana jones. besson has often been criticized of making picture book-like movies, this one is actually based on a french picture book by jacques tardi. the title character is played by louise bourgoin from the girl from monaco and black heaven. co-starring mathieu amalric (quantum of solace) and two actors from point blank (a bout portant): gilles lellouche and my new favorite: claire perot.
availability: amazon has the dvd for region 2 and blu-ray for region b between $20-$30.
2. the sleeping car murder (1965)
degrees of separation: the comment section of the a.v. club’s review of night train murders.
why queue: directorial debut of costa-gavras, who is not as acclaimed or famous as his peers at least in the u.s. though he should be. his most famous film is probably z, he also made a few english language movies (he’s greek) in the 80s (missing, betrayed, music box, though his last english language film is the john travolta/dustin hoffman hostage drama mad city). the plot summary sounds to me like a combination of murder on the orient express and ten little indians. or under siege 2: dark territory with a murderer instead of bogosian terrorists. based on a novel by sebastien japrisot, who also wrote the novel a very long engagement is based on. japrisot is also credited as the screenwriter for the story of o. interestingly, costa-gavras is the cousin of filmmaker penelope spheeris. which brings us to…#3.
availability: none. well, there are books and posters and memorabilia.
3. the decline of western civilization 1 – 3 (1981, 1988, 1998)
degrees of separation: costa-gavras, see above.
why queue: i’ve more or less been looking for these since the 90s. part one from 1981 focuses on l.a. punk bands. 1988’s part two is subtitled the metal years while 1998’s part three returns to the punk scene but focuses more on the fans than the bands. i can see it being a series like michael apted’s up series where spheeris revisits every few years. in addition to these three documentaries, spheeris also directed fictional films like suburbia (the 1983 one, not the richard linklater/eric bogosian/giovanni ribisi one), wayne’s world, and…black sheep, the little rascals: the movie, beverly hillbillies: the movie, and senseless.
availability: none of them are on dvd. though you can find vhs copies on amazon: part one is going for $50, part two for about $30 and part three somewhere between $170 – $200. that’s so punk rock, amazon sellers. according to the official website, the dvds are in the works.
4. yamakasi – les samourais des temps modernes
degrees of separation: district 13: ultimatum, luc besson, vern’s review of district b13.
why queue: before district b13 and district 13, luc besson produced this action movie with what is later called parkour. the group in the movie is more racially diverse. david belle, parkour founder and star of the two districts was also one of the founder of the yamakasi group. so yamakasi is kind of like the shaolin monk movies and districts are the jet li movies; yamakasi would be wu tang and districts would be method and red; if the yamakasi is the mickey mouse club, then the districts are ryan gosling and britney spears; yamakasi is n’sync and districts are the timberlakes…the film was never released in theatres in the u.s., we were too busy with kiss of the dragon, the one, and how high.
availability: no dvd released either, region 2 costs between $18-$26.
5. nadzieja (2007)
degrees of separation: kieslowski (the decalogue, heaven)
why queue: as mentioned in the heaven review, this may or may not be purgatory, the third in the heaven, hell purgatory trilogy. kieslowski is credited as the screenwriter. wikipedia states that this is unrelated to those films but imdb says otherwise.
availability: neither the film nor the dvd has been released in the u.s. there is a polish import all region pal dvd that runs about $41-$45.
6. to each his own cinema (2007)
degrees of separation: the passing of greek filmmaker theodoros angelopoulos.
why queue: i’m sure quite a few film fans have run into this title on imdb. it has an impressive list of world renowned directors, 33 to be exact. an anthology film to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the cannes film festival, each director was asked to film a three minute short ode to cinema. i mean, seriously, click on the picture and look at all the names!
availability: the region 2 dvd on amazon runs between $55 – $100.
7. ripley under ground (2005)
degrees of separation: hmm…good question…possibly exploding helicopter’s james bond reviews. roger spottiswoode also directed tomorrow never dies.
why queue: the con men movies is one of my favorite subgenre. patricia highsmith’s ripley character has been the basis of rene clement’s purple noon with alain delon, wim wender’s american fiend with dennis hopper, anthony minghella’s miramax talented mr. ripley with matt damon, and the lesser known ripley’s game with john malkovich. this version directed by spootiswoode (stop or my mom will shoot, tomorrow never dies, the 6th day, turner and hooch, and air america) stars barry “man animal” pepper in the title role. its cast also includes pretty well known names like claire forlani (mallrats, mystery men, the rock, in the name of the king), alan cumming (josie and the pussycats: the movie, spice world, spy kids, romy & michelle’s high school reunion, x-men 2), tom wilkinson (in the bedroom, duplicity, michael clayton), and willem dafoe.
availability: it went direct to dvd in most countries. it was never released here in the u.s., theatrical or otherwise.
8. stone age warriors (1991)
degrees of separation: jackie chan’s project a part ii, power kids (force of five) as both take place in south east asia.
why queue: director stanley tong directed several jackie chan’s crossover successes such as rumble in the bronx, supercop, and first strike. stone age warriors is tong’s first movie as a director. it was a surprise minor hit in hong kong. the story and the footages looks like a martial arts version of romancing the stone, with a bit of ong bak. though it’s not a jackie chan movie, the lead is played by siu-wong fan, who’s also in corey yuen/yuen biao’s above the law (righting wrong), all the ip man movies, and the u.s. cult favorite riki-oh: the story of ricky. interestingly, the chinese title for this movie is the same as the dungeons and dragons movie. yes, the one with hans gruber jr. and marlon wayans.
availability: surprisingly, there is nothing listed on amazon, not even a bootleg, vcd, or dvd in any region.
9. darker than amber (1970)
degrees of separation: the a.v. club interview of steven soderbergh while promoting haywire
why queue: soderbergh said all the things that action fans everywhere want out of an action movie. the hotel scene in haywire though, is specifically inspired by the rod taylor hotel fight sequence. it’s a movie that i have never heard of before, and doesn’t look like very many bloggers have. directed by robert clouse four years before enter the dragon, before mma, avid, frame-fucking, swish/swoosh, a.d.d. editing, and post-action existed. it’s also actress jane russell (gentlemen prefer blondes)’s last movie. ebert seemed surprised that the movie is good and gave the movie 3.5 out of 4 stars.
availability: no dvd release. but you can get a copy on vhs between $80 – $100.
10. the oscar (1966)
degrees of separation: the academy awards at the end of this month. numerous bad movies books.
why queue: every year around this time i look up this movie just to see if it’s available. as mentioned, it appeared in several books on bad movies. stephen boyd plays a douchey actor who is nominated for best actor. tony bennett plays his best friend and milton berle plays his agent. there are plenty of cameos from stars of that era. harlan ellison is credited as one of the screenwriters.
availability: no dvd but a vhs copy can be yours for the low low price between $40 – $100.
11. the tv show: karen sisco (2003 – 2004)
degrees of separation: possibly haywire, and tv’s justified now with carla gugino, she’s also in snake eyes, which recently showed up on netflix instant. also, albert brooks’ snub at the oscars for drive. more on that later.
why queue: there are so many connections here. elmore leonard is one of my favorite author of all time. his novels inspired three of my favorite movies of all time: get shorty, out of sight, and jackie brown. other works based on his writings include tv’s justified, killshot, 3:10 to yuma, the tv movie gold coast, paul schrader’s touch, abel ferrara’s cat chaser, 52 pick-up, burt reynolds’ stick, charles bronson in richard fleischer’s mr. majestyk, paul newman in martin ritt’s hombre, and the upcoming freaky deaky starring christian slater, michael jai white, crispin glover, and bill duke. though let’s forget that be cool and the big bounce actually got made.
so the tv show karen sisco is actually a spin-off of soderbergh (haywire)’s out of sight. it’s the character that was played by jennifer lopez in the movie, back when she was respectable. to put a (max) cherry on top, they also got robert forster from jackie brown to play karen’s dad, played by dennis farina in the movie. and african-american actor/director bill duke (exit wound, payback, predator) plays a character named amos andrew. produced by danny devito’s jersey films, they also produced out of sight, pulp fiction, get shorty, and soderbergh’s erin brockovich (and yes, be cool), they are able to maintain the mood and tone of the movie. in fact, the opening credits of the tv show used a song from the movie: the isley brother’s it’s your thing.
albert brooks (another one of my favorite filmmakers) plays against type as kind of the rich villain, which is a role less obvious than drive. if anything, out of sight is a bigger snub than drive this year. i guess the academy members just don’t like crime films, unless it’s crimes against humanity like holocaust, genocide, or racism. naming characters oskar helps too.
availability: abc canceled the show before all the episodes were aired. the usa network aired the series later. it’s never been released on dvd. you can find stray episodes on various streaming sites but we need a dvd release with special features and commentaries. there’s never too much gugino.
once again this is longer than expected. i have to give a special thanks to can i stream it, which saves me time from having to search for the same ten titles on four to five different sites.