Wednesday, October 22, 2008

What to rent, what to rent ...

Too cold to go outside? Week too long to bother with company? Sounds like a rental weekend to me. You can just pop some corn and open a bottle, slide into your slippers and enjoy your couch. All you have to do first is drag your lazy butt to the video store. This is where I come in. Let me make the daunting task of scanning shelf after shelf a little easier to make it all go a little faster. The video store is a place where all movies, big and small, come to live forever. It is my mission to make sure that some of the small don’t get lost amidst the masses. The following are not to be missed …


When I saw this film in theatres, I was taken with just how well it navigated between the quiet of lonely spaces, the ambiance created by people making music and the deafening inner turmoil of love being torn apart. Seeing it again in my living room, showed me sides I hadn’t seen the first time out. Richard Jenkins is superbly subtle as Walter Vale, a university professor who has been sleep walking through his life ever since the death of his wife. He wants to wake up; he wants to be present, participating in the same moments of life as the people he sees him passing him bay every day. Only, Walter’s life is without inspiration. It isn’t until he begrudgingly travels from Connecticut to a New York City apartment he rarely uses and finds that a couple have been living there for two months without his knowledge, that he wakes up. All Walter needed was something real and that is precisely what he gets with Tarek and Zainab (Haaz Sleiman and Danai Gurira), two immigrants trying to make a life for themselves in a foreign land. This may not be their original home but it is Walter who is visiting the land where they live.


Everyone has to start somewhere. Even emperors can have humble beginnings. And so the great Genghis Khan, emperor of the Mongol Empire in the 12th century, was once a boy whose name was Temudgin. Great leaders and warriors don’t just become these things though. The values and strengths that make them great can be seen at a very young age and Temudgin definitely had what was needed all along. Russian director, Sergei Bodrov’s epic, MONGOL, follows Temudgin as he grows from a precocious child to an honourable master and does so with as much calculated structure and beauty as the Mongolians had regulation to follow.

North American art house audiences flocked to see MONGOL when it was released domestically following its Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language film. The stunning battle sequences satisfied those who wanted to see Khan (played in the film as an adult by Tadanobu Asano) as a warrior and a conqueror while the respectful and dedicated romance between Temudgin and the bride he chose when he was just 9, Borte (Khulan Chuluun) showed a civil side to Khan. The duality of the film is most suitable considering historians are divided on the kind of man Khan was. Ultimately though, Bodrov sides with those who believed Khan to be a fair leader, a reverential husband and father and a great man whose accomplishments earned him a rightful place in the history of the world.


I don’t usually do scary. It keeps me up at night; it makes me jumpy in the middle of the day. I don’t see any actual need to put myself through this sort of torture. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed this seemingly conventional fright flick called THE STRANGERS. Written and directed by first-timer, Bryan Bertino, THE STRANGERS gets you right where it counts, at home. This is all the more reason to bring this one home with you – so that you can wonder what that noise was you heard in the kitchen. Liv Tyler and Scott Speedman play a couple on the verge of either getting engaged or breaking up. While this is never a good place to be, it is a much better place than his family’s country house. The couple has come up for the night after a wedding and is subsequently terrorized by a threesome of psychopaths. Bertino is having such a blast playing with time, space and sound, you won’t know what is coming or from where most of the time. The whole thing doesn’t amount to very much nor does it have anything distinct to say about senseless violence but it sure scared the crap out of me and ‘tis the season after all.



And thus concluded my first WHAT TO RENT feature. Should you need any advice on what to rent, feel free to write me anytime. You can ask about specific titles or for recommendations … I’m here for you.

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