Black Dog Newsletter for Week Ending December 26th

It’s the last week before something known around these parts as Christmas. Here’s a few points of interest – the store hours are as follows; Christmas Eve noon till 7pm, closed Christmas Day, regular hours noon till 11 at both stores on Boxing Day. Oh and we’ve extended the Cambie hours until 11pm for this week and next (except Wednesday – still closing at 10pm for Unthank Cinema). We’ll determine what the closing hours will be in the new year. If you’re the type to enjoy Christmas and the movies that the season brings with it, you can rent all or any of our Christmas films for a measly $3.00 for two nights. Good deal. Also, we’re restocked with gift certificates and the famous Black Dog T-shirts to help in the fight against nudity. Take these and stuff them in your stockings.

Since it’s the end of the year that also means it’s time for our much anticipated Best/Worst of the year lists. We’ve been working around the clock at Black Dog Headquarters to bring you the finest in what our not-so humble staff consider to be the finest entertainment the world of cinema has to offer. The first of many lists will appear at the bottom of today’s newsletter. I still have a few that I want to watch before finalizing mine. Feel free to comment on what you think of our selections and what you thought was good/dreadful from the past 12 months.

 New Releases for Tuesday December 20th

Beautiful Lies – The lovely Audrey Tautou receives a love letter in the mail and, being so lovely she can dismiss such things, gives the letter to her bummed out mom. Does a series of misunderstandings and complications ensue? It’s a cheeky French comedy so you be the judge.

Bloodied but Unbowed – Music. Punk. Rebellion. Sex. Drugs. Death. What else is there? Doc about the history of the Canadian punk scene. Good stuff.

Columbiana – After witnessing her parents brutal murder a young girl decides she wants to grow up to become an assassin. Girl’s gotta have dreams! She gets a job with her uncle as a hit-person with the hopes of avenging her parents murder. I wonder what she plans to do after her avenging is all done? Also on the Blu Ray.

Detective Dee and the Mystery of the Phantom Flame – Famed Hong Kong director Tsui Hark is back with this great mystery action thingy that follows and exiled detective as he tries to solve a case involving a bunch of mysterious deaths. Word of mouth has this as pretty pretty good. Also on the Blu Ray.

Dolphin Tale – Bloodthirsty, killer dolphins terrorize some bouncy coeds during an outing to a mysterious island. I may be getting that mixed up with a film about a friendship between a boy and a dolphin whose tail was lost in a crab trap (I assume the dolphin and not the boy lost that tail in that crab trap).

Glee Concert Movie – Concert doc shot during a live tour of Glee? Does that make sense?

Good Old Fashioned Orgy – Nothing says Christmas like a giant orgy. A bunch of horny 30-year olds decide, for some reason, to throw an orgy. Good on ya! On the shelves this Friday.

Hostel Part 3 – Nothing says Merry Christmas like some kids being tortured and dismembered. Don’t really need to go into details as I imagine if this is your bag, you’ll know what it’s all about. This one’s set in Vegas, that’s all the details I can giver you. Not to sure why this film exists. On the shelves this Friday for some reason.

Midnight in Paris – Alright, all you people who’ve been badgering us for months about this can exhale now. Woody Allen’s latest finds Owen Wilson playing Woody in Paris who, for some reason, is transported back in time so he can hang out with Dali, Hemingway, Cole Porter, Picasso and a whole bunch of cool dead people. Come in and get your Woody fix. We got lots! Also on the Blu ray.

Margin Call – Pretty good drama that takes place in some creepy investment firm way back in 2008 on the eve of the financial crisis that these scumbags caused. Great cast – Spacey, Irons, Spock from the latest Star Trek film and a bunch of other dudes help out the proceedings. Could have been better – a little more tension would have been nice. Maybe 3-D? Also on the Blu Ray.

No Fun City – What! Two docs about Vancouver’s punk scene in one week? Glory be!  This one can be described as a punk rock journey through Vancouver’s underground music scene exploring its ongoing struggle to stay alive in a city that is hell-bent on shutting down all the fun. Stupid Vancouver.

A Matter of Size – Comedy about some fat people in Israel who decide they don’t like the current “thinness” attitude of society so they decide to become sumo wrestlers. Great idea! I would think less chips and fried chicken might be easier than becoming a sumo, but that’s just me. When was the last time you saw an Israeli sumo film?

Sarah’s Key – Heartbreaking tale of the French roundup of Jews back in 1942. Little Sarah tries to hide her brother in a cupboard before she’s sent off to a camp.Things don’t go so well. Flash forward to now and Kristin Scott Thomas, who’s writing a story about the roundup, stumbles across this story. Nothing says Merry Christmas like a sad holocaust film!

Straw Dogs – Happy Holidays – here’s a nasty rape/revenge thriller! Remake of the infamous Peckinpah film from way back about a couple who move to the countryside (never move to the countryside or go camping or leave your house) and are terrorized by the locals lead by Alexander Skarsgård. Then the raping and the revenging start. Maybe watch this with the in-laws? Also on the Blu ray.

Warrior – Dramatic Rocky-type drama about two brothers involved in the mixed martial arts combat world. Crazy Nick Nolte is their dad. Supposed to be quite good. Also on the Blu Ray.

Coming Next Week

Final Destination 5


Apollo 18

Shameless Season 1

Old Stuff Just In

99 and 44% Dead

Nickel Ride

Recently Viewed and Recommended

Margin Call

Tree of Life

The Future

Tucker and Dale vs Evil

Rise of the Planet of the Apes


So here’s the first in many best/ worst of the year lists…

From Joe on the Drive

The Best of 2011 or 13 movies that came out on dvd in 2011 that you might not have seen, but really should have.

The one thing each of these films has in common is that they are unique in the use of story structure, symbolism, and movie cliches. In my opinion each one has aspects that would turn some viewers off altogether (violence, non linear narrative, or simply no “action”) though they all are interesting takes on familiar genres, stories that work better than any of their more famous cousins being all nominated for things and whatnot.

Also ignore the IMDB ratings. those people are even less reliable than the dummies on rotten tomatoes. Listen to me. I know what’s good :p Maybe….

Down Terrace – One of those movies that morphs from family drama to Crime film in all the best “Loachian” manners you could think of. Would make an awesome stage play in fact. The honeyed tones of British crime sing across your brain as the film twists it’s climax in between your ribs. Subtle and preposterous at the same time. England is harsh.

The Girl – This year’s winner of the “Free Range Kids of Yore” award. Leaving your precocious kid alone with her Auntie who’s oh so likely to run off with any hoodlum who strolls past the farm isn’t a good idea in any era apparently. But the kid muddles through, with help from some locals, she manages to survive a kind of horrific all summer “Home Alone” situation. Some amazing performances from young Swedes in this flick, and a strong story that embraces it’s tropes rather than trip over them…. The Auntie for instance isn’t just some floozy prop, in her brief scenes, there’s an entire family history on display. Genius picture.

A Somewhat Gentle Man – If The Coen Brothers were Norwegian, this is what we might be seeing from them… Stellan Skarsgard plays a Stone faced career petty crook, who’s finally had enough of the jail after a long stint. The genius of this picture lies in every single figure on screen being somehow tragic and sympathetic, despite their on screen assholery. It includes the funniest sex scenes on film since Emma Thompson and Jeff Goldblum’s “Tall people sex destroying small bedrooms movie” – The Tall Guy“, Skarsgard’s deadpan expressions alone are worth the rental.

Dogtooth – This film is from another planet called Turkey where a dad is just a wee bit overprotective. It has a story that will shock mostly due to the banality of the evil laid bare. It has humor that makes you ashamed to be laughing, (and again on my list this year performances that are of the most intensely nuanced that I’ve seen in ages. ) The ending is one of my favourites of the year.

Marwencol – Is quite simply the best documentary I’ve seen all year. One of those docs that sucks you in so quickly and fluidly that you forget it’s a documentary. The narrative is that strong. Marwencol is the name of a town of toy soldiers set during WW2. The creator is a brain injured artist recovering from a small town bar ass kicking. As his story unfolds, he heals his physical and emotional trauma through stunning photos of his town of army dolls. Great story, great care taken not to exploit a very damaged, vulnerable person who as the film progresses becomes a fuller, more functional person than you could have imagined at the beginnings. See it now!

I love You, Phillip Morris – Was actually made a few years ago, but never got much of a release anywhere because Jim Carrey’s character is “gay”. Sad that an actor’s best performance ever can be overshadowed by a bunch of bigots. But that’s how the world works. Carrey is in my estimation pitch perfect as the bigger than life/real life con man Steven Russell. Knowing this is a true story makes it an even whackier tale. It’s both a crazy comedy and a heart warming love story at the same time.

Rivers Wash Over Me – Speaking of films with well drawn queer characters, Rivers Wash Over Me is a very low budget Queer Indie film that needs to be more widely seen. It takes a few minutes to get past the initial shaky cam stuff and let the tensed up characters unwind and get comfortable with each other. A fish out of water story as the young proud black kid goes to the small hick town his parents came from when he’s suddenly orphaned. He encounters the racism, homophobia you might expect, but he also finds love and friendship that is genuine and understanding. a very real story, if you get my drift.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives – Is a Thai film that casually follows Uncle and other family members as they chat with and catch up with various ghosts, demons from their past (and past lives maybe). Another film on my list where hardly anything happens, yet somehow you (well me at least) are riveted. “Best film of the year that I almost fell asleep in, not once but twice”… is the category I invented for it.

13 Assassins – Film making factory Takashi Miike strikes gold (for the first time in quite some time in my estimation) with his best effort since “The Bird People In China” . A straight up (mostly) Samurai picture of the “Old School” (mostly) … 13 Assassins has the usual cast of weirdo Ronin/Samurai who come together to save the country from the current Evil Shogunate, so they can install their own. All the cliches are hit with a gorgeously cast silver hammer. The end chase through a village is one of the best choreographed sequences I’ve seen in any Samurai (or any other violent chase scene genre) picture, ever. And I’ve seen a lot of them. Bloody greatness.

Meek’s Cutoff – Director Kelly Reichardt has composed yet another genius film about people and how they act. Old Joy explored the world of hot spring bros trying to re-kindle their bro-ness. Wendy & Lucy is the best Girl & her Dog movie of all time. Meek’s Cutoff is again in Oregon, but this time back in wagon train days. Michelle Williams and the rest of the cast give Oscar (or any other acting award out there)  quality quiet performances… People stuck in their traditional roles seek a new life, and get it despite their best efforts at self sabotage. My other fave ending of the year. Reichhardt is maybe America’s answer to Ming-Ling Tsai.

Attack The Block – In an era where the alien invasion movie has kind of petered out, Attack The Block is a refreshing kick in the crotch. Aliens traveling by meteorite drop into the wrong end of London, and get a right kicking. Okay maybe the aliens are a bit tougher than that. But so are these South London kids. Played by mostly non-actors, the kids bluster their way through levels of face saving machismo, and eventually figure how to take out the very cleverly thought out Aliens. Good tension, great pace. unlikable characters that become people you like almost sort of by the end. Ripping flick!

TrollHunter – Trolls are very real in this other great film from Norway. Apparently Norway is hilarious. Some annoying college kids are making a docu about poachers in the North. they come across someone they think is the “big poacher” of the area, but it turns out he’s Norway’s version of MIB. (small country, really only need the one guy) … I keep saying how I hate the mockumentary style, but sometimes, like this time it’s done right, and all you can do is laugh your ass off.

Rubber – Easily “The Citizen Kane” of movies about old car tires. I went into this expecting it to get stupid fast… it does but in all the right ways. Again with the kinda sorta mockumentary style, but again it works, in such a way actually, that giving plot points works against spoiler-ing the flick. Look for wings Hauser to steal a few scenes, though, and some great editing that gives the old tire more depth that it deserves. Clever without being precious or too naive about the stupid story being told.


And here’s Torsten chiming in with his…

1) The Girl

2)  Drive

3)  Meeks Cutoff

4)  Down Terrace

5)  Dogtooth

6)  Tabloid

7)  Uncle Boonmie Who Could Recall His Past Lives

8)  Cave Of Forgotten Dreams

9)  Marwencol

10) A Somewhat Gentle Man

And over on Cambie St we have the lovely (if not jaded) Jessica’s list…

What a spectacularly terrible year it has been. What sort of hell on earth are we living in when I can’t even pick 10 films that I enjoyed that came out in the past 12 months? Here’s as close as I can get to making sense of what my eyeballs have processed. It’s a strange list for an equally strange year, but I stand by it despite the fact that it makes me seem like I’ve had a mental breakdown.

1. Rise of the Planet of the Apes: What an exhilarating roller-coaster ride of a film this is. I never thought I’d see the day that I enjoyed a film with computer generated characters so immensely. Also, fun fact, a lot of this film’s exteriors were shot at Columbia & 10th Avenue, VANCOUVER, BC, CANADA (RIGHT ACROSS FROM WHERE I LIVED!) and not only stars Jimmy Franco, but TYLER LABINE! (YES THAT’S RIGHT: JIMMY FROM BREAKER HIGH. HA! take THAT Ryan Gosling – who was also on Breaker High, but failed to be in a film that I enjoyed this year. YES. Take that INDEED.)

2. The Muppets: If you think you’re too cool to see and enjoy this movie, frankly I don’t care to know you. It had me laughing so hard I cried, and I sort of cried for real out of nostalgia I didn’t even know I had. If it’s still playing in theatres by the time you read this grab someone you don’t hate and GO WATCH IT! You will not regret it. Even the most jaded, uncaring old bastard can’t help but love this.

3. Friends With Benefits: Let’s get one thing straight. I hate chick flicks, I hate romantic comedies and I usually don’t care much for shiny Hollywood flicks, but this year I don’t know what snapped in me, or what sort of crazy pills I’ve started OD’ing on, but I sincerely love this film. I’ve seen it twice now, just to double check that I didn’t momentarily lose my sanity, and YES, it’s delightful and hilarious.

4. Dogtooth: (yes technically this is not from 2011, but it only came out on DVD this year.) OK FINALLY, a film in my top-5 that sort of makes sense for me: What happens when a Greek couple decide to never let their 3 children out of the house for 25 years and basically raise them wrong as hell? A beautiful, disturbing and somewhat hilarious depiction of a family so dysfunctional it will make your own issues seem pathetic. Oh boo-hoo you’re your own sister? BIG DEAL! TRY NOT KNOWING THERE IS AN OUTSIDE WORLD YOUR ENTIRE LIFE UNTIL YOU SECRETLY WATCH ROCKY: IV ON VHS AND LEARN TO DANCE FROM WATCHING ANOTHER SECRET VHS OF FLASHDANCE (this happens in the movie). This may not be making any sense to you right now, as I’m rambling on cold medicine and may be running a fever, but please just trust me, and rent it.

Honorable mentions:

The Trip: Watch 2 hilarious men drive around to different fancy restaurants as each attempts to out-do the other’s Michael Caine impression. Pretty great.

Cave of Forgotten Dreams: Werner Herzog succeeds again at making me obsessed with an obscure aspect of life on earth. Making me somehow feel simultaneously inspired and insignificant.

X-Men: First Class: Young X-men & X-men-ettes hang out in a GEODESIC DOME in the 1960’s while they try to defeat evil Kevin Bacon?! I love it.

Limitless: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is pretty much just Limitless with chimpanzees instead of Bradley Cooper. Enjoyable & ridiculous. Plus old useless Robert De Niro!

On the other hand, I had no problem selecting my top 10 worst films of the year which are as follows:

1. The Future: BLEAUGH! If this is what “quirky” and “arty” have become synonymous with, then PLEASE NEVER USE THESE WORDS TO EVER REFER TO ME OR ANYTHING I LIKE EVER AGAIN, thanks.

2. Submarine: I could say the same for this as I said for The Future. This took some great elements (i.e. coming of age romance, aquatic imagery, Paddy Considine) and RUINED THEM FOREVER!

3. Due Date: Zach Galifianakis, how could you? You can do so much better than this. I’m not mad I’m just disappointed. (I’m also mad.)

4. The Hangover Part II: ZACH GALIFICANAKIS! WHAT DID I JUST SAY???? (Although he did redeem himself slightly with his amazing cameo in The Muppets.)

5. Drive: This was painful to watch. Some of the worst performances from actors I expected a lot more from. Completely baffled at how it wound up on so many best of the year lists.

6. Our Idiot Brother: It’s insulting to cinema to even call this piece of crap a film. AVOID THIS LIKE THE CLAP.

7. The Rum Diary: Johnny D, how could you be so boring and puffy? Hunter S Thompson is vomiting on your from whatever hell-dimension he is now stuck in.

8. Arthur: Bleaugh. I tried to sleep through this, but it was so obnoxious I couldn’t.

9. Real Steel: Basically the plot to Rocky but instead of Sylvester Stallone there’s a ridiculous dancing robot, and instead of Talia Shire, there’s an obnoxious child teaching the robot to dance, and instead of Burgess Meredith there’s Hugh Jackman probably wishing he had more than just a cameo role in the new X-men film instead of being reduced to dancing with a CGI-robot and an obnoxious kid. Still pretty hilarious though. Maybe more hilarious after a few beers?

10. Trespass: By far the most enjoyably bad film I saw all year. Watch it if you’re in the mood for a laugh, but remember this fun fact: “Tresspas broke the fastest-ever-from-theaters-to-Home-Video record previously held by 2003’s From Justin to Kelly. That film took 29 days to get to DVD, Trespass made it in only 18.”

Other dishonorable mentions:

Thor: What was happening in this film?! Why was Natalie Portman there?? Pretty great if you’re in the mood to make fun of a film.

Somewhere: I never thought I’d say this, but Sofia Coppola may be getting lame. I’ll give her another chance before I decide to take her out back and shoot her though.

Best TV:

1. The Heart, She Holler: An insane 6-episode miniseries starring Patton Oswalt as a boy who grew up inside a wall who inherits a strange southern town filled with sci-fi and incest. A MUST SEE!

2. Children’s Hospital: Another hilarious season has passed of this great hospital-drama-mocking comedy-show and STILL NOBODY IS WATCHING. HILARITY from the mind of Rob Cordry. DO NOT MISS IT IF YOU ENJOY HAPPINESS.

3. Portlandia: if you love making fun of Portlandians as much as you love gazing upon at the gracefully aging patina of Kyle Machlaclan’s beautiful face then watch this! Also features great guest-stars such as Steve Buscemi and Gus Van Sant!

4. NTSC:SC:SUV: The hilarious Paul Scheer wears a wig and makes fun of CSI-like shows along with a cast full of hilarious comedians and awesome guest-stars (i.e. Jeff Goldblum!)

5. Curb Your Enthusiasm: I don’t know how but each season seems to be better than the last. This show gets an A+ for featuring Michael J. Fox in the season finale. You’ll pee with laughter.

Honorable TV mentions:

Boardwalk Empire & Breaking Bad: still the best big-budget entertainment on TV.

Oh and don’t forget enjoyable fluff like Parks and Recreation and the heartier 30 Rock!

And from the lovely Shiobhan….

1) Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols

2) Lemmy by Greg Oliver & Wes Orshoski <3

3) I Saw the Devil by Jee-Woon Kim

4) Drive by Nicolas Winding Refn

5) Tabloid by Errol Morris

6) Life During Wartime by Todd Solondz


8) The Trip by Michael Winterbottom

And from the lovely John…

That’s it? The year is over?  Okay.  There were a lot of really good films this year and most of them are already on the shelves of Black Dog Video.  Here’s my top ten list:

1. Bill Cunningham New York

2. Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives

3. Trollhunter

4. Nostalgia for the Light

5. The Trip

6. Take Shelter

7. Melancholia

8. Win Win

9. Shame

10. Tree of Life

And last but not least, the enchanting Patrick…


1. limitless

2. oki’s movie

3. meek’s cutoff

4. the tree of life

5. captain america

6. le havre

7. the trip

8. rise of the planet of the apes

9. secret world of arriety

10. prom


1. just go with it

2. drive

3. bellflower

4. submarine

5. the change up

I’ll bore you with my list next week along with whoever else wants to contribute.

In the spirit of the season, I’ll leave you with this nice little Christmas tale as told by a drunk guy and acted out by some actors…

I hope that everyone has a safe a swell holiday, eat too much, drink too much and watch too many films!

Black Dog Video





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