Handpicked By The Amoeba Staff

Films selected and reviewed by discerning movie buffs, television junkies, and documentary diehards (a.k.a. our staff).

The Dead Girl

Dir: Karen Moncrieff. Starring: Toni Collette, Britney Murphy, Giovanni Ribisi. English. Drama/Thriller/Mystery.

Broken down into roughly five stories, The Dead Girl is a film that intersects the lives of complete strangers in relation to the grisly murder of a young prostitute.

Toni Collette plays the unfortunate woman who has the displeasure of discovering a body on a hillside at an anonymous location. Her life is thrown into disarray as the local media and police swarm her once isolated life. As the caretaker of her extremely overbearing mother (creepily played by Piper Laurie), Collette realizes that with her new-found attention, she can move on and develop relationships with others, thus leading her into a strange encounter with a bag boy from the supermarket.

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Posted by:
Travis King
Dec 17, 2007 4:03pm

Daisies (Sedmikrásky)

Dir: Vera Chytilová, 1966. Starring: Jitka Cerhová, Ivana Karbanová. Czech. Foreign.

Daisies begins and ends with stock footage of war and industry. Between these two bookends two charmingly bratty young women (both named Marie) decide that because the world is bad that they will be too. They spend a lot of their time engaged in elaborate pranks often involving getting free meals from old men and creative slapstick destruction involving fire, scissors and lots of food.

The cinematography of Jaroslav Kucera is amazingly beautiful and innovative. His jarring use of colors, beautiful compositions and dreamy visual effects contribute to a carnivalesque mood that is both heavily psychedelic very New Wave. The distorted, strange sounds, the amazing sets and the wonderful costumes all reinforce Chytilová's wonderful vision.

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Posted by:
Eric Brightwell
Dec 5, 2007 3:38pm

You Are Alone

Dir: Gorman Bechard, 2005. Starring: Jessica Bohl, Richard Brundage. English. Drama

At first look, a film entitled You Are Alone, may not be at the top of your list of must sees unless, perhaps, you are alone. However, one must never judge the straight to DVD video by its title.

You Are Alone centers on two primary characters. Well, actually three. There is Daphne. She’s been accepted into Harvard, she’s beautiful and she’s alone. Then there is Britney. She’s seen things that most people won’t see in their lifetime. And then there is Buddy, a sad sack whose wife has left him, whose dog has recently died and his empty dark encapsulation that he calls home.

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Posted by:
Travis King
Nov 28, 2007 7:01pm

Year Of The Dog

Writer/Director: Mike White, 2007. Starring: Molly Shannon, Peter Sarsgaard, Laura Dern and John C. Reilly. English. Comedy/Drama

Mike White has a knack for making you feel uncomfortable. After all, he did pen Chuck and Buck as well as several episodes of Freaks and Geeks (both bodies of work are highly underrated). His characters can be so awkward that I sometimes need to look away.

Shannon plays a lonely executive assistant whose life spins out of control due to the untimely death of her dog, Pencil. Pencil was her life and now she has no life. That is until a kind veterinarian (Sarsgaard) offers Shannon a new dog to adopt. Not only does she fall in love with the dog but with the vet as well.

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Posted by:
Travis King
Nov 17, 2007 5:35pm

The Addiction

Dir: Abel Ferrara, 1995. Writer: Nicholas St. John. Starring: Lily Taylor, Edie Falco, Christopher Walken. English. Horror/Drama.

From the deranged mind that brought you Bad Lieutenant, Ms. 45 and King of New York comes a horror tale involving drug addicts, graduate students and vampires.

Not particularly scary or even bulging with production value, the film is still great fun for any fan of the vampire sub genre.

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Posted by:
Travis King
Nov 17, 2007 5:27pm

Tekkonkinkreet

Dir: Micheal Arias, 2006. Rated R. Anime.

Welcome to Treasure Town. It's an old and fading fantasy town quietly disappearing under the spread of modern Japan. But it doesn't stand alone. Black and White, two street orphans, rule Treasure Town with all the charm and wild crazy that every classic Peter Pan deserves. Don't confuse these cats with Disney's version. These lost boys live just this side of lunacy but are not without heart.

Change arrives like a slow earthquake and soon they are battling real gansters, alien assassins and urban development. Truth is a major player here and gives the fantastical its impact. Mythology explodes from every corner of this tale and threatens to trample our heroes, who are only children after all, into the dark recesses that inevitably follow change.

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Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Nov 17, 2007 5:22pm

Follow The Fleet

Dir: Mark Sandrich, 1936. Starring: Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, Randolph Scott, Harriett Hilliard. English. Musical.

Follow the Fleet is not the formula that the Astaire/Rogers team is best known for. He's a sailor, and she's single gal making a living in the busy port of San Fransisco as a dance hall girl. Theirs isn't even the the only love story. Historically it's a piece that goes back a picture to when they were the lovable comic relief playing second fiddle to the more glamorous duo, Irene Dunne and Randolph Scott, in Roberta.

However, Fleet is loaded with adult humor and childish charm. Astaire in a sailor suit is hilarious. He looks so young and tiny compared to the bulky and once again co-lead, Scott, and Rogers seems a little crass standing next to the lithesome beauty of a young Harriet Hilliard (of Ozzie and Harriet fame). However their chemistry and spunk make the other two seem as flat and as interesting as soggy pancakes.

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Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Nov 17, 2007 5:16pm

Breakfast On Pluto

Dir: Neil Jordon, 2006. Starring: Cillian Murphy, Liam Neeson, Stephen Rea, Gavin Friday, Brendan. English. Comedy/Drama.

First you must know that, to me, men or women in drag are magical creatures - like unicorns. I love them with a wonderment I can't explain or dare not lest I somehow diffuse the potent joy I get just from admiring their mystical powers of fashion and daring.

That said, Breakfast unfolded for me like a rose in the gutter. At first a quaint story of a misfit orphan in an unflinching Irish landscape, it quickly becomes a quixotic journey of a boy/girl in search of love. And the best part is that our hero/heroine, who has always known who he/she is, just becomes more and more himself/herself no matter the hardship or heartache.

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Posted by:
Jessica Kaman
Nov 17, 2007 5:09pm

The Birds

Dir: Alfred Hitchcock, 1963, ca.120 min. Anamorphic widescreen. Too scary for children.

Isn't it funny that few people have not heard of The Birds, and yet fewer would vote it one of Hitchcock's best? Perhaps the reason is that more than any other Hitchcock film, The Birds leaves the viewer with the very unsettling feeling of a nightmare without end.

The basic story of a beautiful, spoiled socialite chasing after her beau to small-town (and fictitious) Bodega Bay seems insignificant to the film. Even the underlying message of the mass revolt of nature, as symbolized by birds against man, seems insignificant. In the end, it is the experience of going through the nightmarish bird attacks that will haunt us forever. Hitchcock unceremoniously throws the audience in with the unfortunate lot of the characters. We were scratched, bitten, terrorized right alongside Tippi Hedren.

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Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 5:02pm

Porco Rosso

Dir: Hayao Miyazaki, 1992, 93 minutes. Anamorphic widescreen. Suitable for all ages.

I have been an avid Miyazaki fan since the Hong Kong Film Festival of 1984, when I saw Nausicaä and Castle in The Sky. I think Miyazaki-san did his greatest work in the 90s, before Spirited Away brought him fame and fortune in Hollywood. And of his 1990s films, there is none more mature, moving, and masterful as Porco Rosso, the story of World War I flying ace Marco Porcellino, whose disillusionment with the rise of fascism made him choose to become a pig.

In abandoning the world, Marco also left behind people who loved him, especially the beautiful Gina, widow of his wartime comrade and owner of the best club in the Adriatics, where bounty hunters and air pirates alike leave their guns (and troubles) behind.

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Posted by:
Franklin Lei
Nov 17, 2007 4:57pm
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