Make Mine Arrow!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddWe’re real fans of Arrows Films, particularly its Arrow Video label which offers Criterion Collection-level special editions of great retro-cult titles.  These are stacked packages with fantastic cover and insert designs by artists like Graham Humphreys and Rick Melton.  We’re particularly fond of Arrow Video’s region-free edition of Pit Stop (Jack Hill, 1969), a nihilistic little film set in the dangerous world of crash’em up auto-racing and featuring all the wreckage a figure-8 race track can provide.  Needless to say, we were overjoyed to discover that “the world’s premier cult film label” was expanding to North America with announced titles like Blind Woman’s Curse (Teruo Ishii, 1970), Day of Anger (Tonino Valerii, 1967), Mark of the Devil (Michael Armstrong, 1970), and Yasuharu Hasebe’s Massacre Gun (1967) and Retaliation (1968).  With an Indiegogo fundraiser demonstrating an available market that has already surpassed its funding goal, we’re looking forward to seeing some North American releases from Arrow Video in early 2015.

In anticipation of Arrow Video crossing the pond, “Make Mine Arrow!” posts will soon appear here at MMC!, proposing quality editions of some of our favourite genre titles that just don’t fit the profiles of the Criterion Collection or Drafthouse Films.  Next month, our first Arrow Video wish will appear – another car crash celebration, this time featuring outlaws on the run and an uneasy balance between crime drama and sex comedy.

Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, 2004)

“The Citizen Kane of animation” – Bill Plympton

Drafthouse Films LogoBased on Robin Nishi’s underground manga, Masaaki Yuasa’s Mind Game is a singularly daring first feature that fully embraces the creative freedom of animation.  This surrealistic adventure follows aspiring comic book artist Nishi from death and back again, then into the belly of a whale where he learns to pursue his dreams and take charge of his life while in the company of his childhood crush, her no-nonsense sister, and an elderly man trapped inside for more than 30 years.  Mind Game, another vibrant and imaginative work of Japan’s celebrated Studio 4°C, blends flat animation, CGI, and digitally-painted live action into a roughly hewn, artistically exaggerated, cult masterpiece.  Technically surreal and aesthetically defying, Mind Game is a brave and inspiring work of art unlike anything in Japanese anime and global animation.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with director Masaaki Yuasa
  • Footage from the Mind Game completion reception
  • Pre-screening discussions at the Mind Game premiere
  • Cast and crew interviews
  • Koji Morimoto’s Noiseman Sound Insect, a 15-minute anime produced by Studio 4°C and featuring the designs and animation of Masaaki Yuasa
  • Cat Soup, Tatsuo Sato’s experimental 33-minute anime written and produced by Masaaki Yuasa
  • Masaaki Yuasa’s crowd-funded short, Kick-Heart
  • Trailer
  • A 16-page booklet featuring an interview with Yuasa and an essay by Japanese film scholar Mark Shilling

Kami-sama Edition – Package Includes:

  • Mind Game on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 4 hours of bonus material!
  • DRM-free Digital Download of the film in 1080p, 720p, and mobile/tablet formats
  • Instant Download of Original Motion Picture Soundtrack by Seiichi Yamamoto and including Fayray’s closing song “Saisho de Saigo no Koi”
  • Storyboards and concept art by Masaaki Yuasa
  • Complete Mind Game manga by Robin Nishi
  • Illustrated Postcards

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Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? (Miguel Arteta, 2005)

We’ve thought a lot lately about short films (their prevalence and the limits on their circulation).  More specifically, we’ve been thinking about McSweeney’s too short-lived DVD/magazine series “of unseen things,” Wholphin.  Over 15 issues (and a Best of edition), Wholphin provided a much needed opportunity to explore film in its short format and its selections were brilliant.  The Criterion Collection remains decidedly auteur-focused in its approaches to short films, while Drafthouse Films’ recent Confetti of the Mind, a compilation of Nacho Vigalondo’s shorts, has yet to claim a spine number or a place on hard media (which it should).  Shorts, particularly those made by filmmakers not yet acclaimed or defined as auteurs, need forums like Wholphin to circulate and find appreciation.  Both Criterion and Drafthouse could find a space for something akin to McSweeney’s now-defunct series.  This is our modest call for more short films on hard media.  We’ll respectfully label these posts “Son of Wholphin” and use these spaces to celebrate our favourite short form works, regardless of whether they’re new and unheralded or already circulated and admired.

We’ll kick this off with our favourite from Wholphin No. 1, a 4-minute contemporary classic shot with a budget of only $150, written by Miranda July, and directed by Miguel Arteta (director of Cedar Rapids (2011), another favourite here at MMC!).  Are You the Favorite Person of Anybody? (2005) stars John C. Reilly asking this simple survey question to a series of passers-by (July, Mike White, Chuy Chavez) with delightful results.  Interestingly, Arteta comments in Wholphin on the poignancy of the film as he became aware during filming that his relationship with July was winding down.  The shoot was pleasant, but they were broken up by editing, and Arteta looked fondly on the film “like a rear-view mirror that survived a fabulous, painful crash.”

Night of the Demon (Jacques Tourneur, 1957)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Night of the Demon.

criterion logoWhen psychologist John Holden’s colleague, Professor Harrington, is mysteriously and brutally murdered, Holden denies that it is the devilry of satanic cult leader Doctor Julian Karswell, until he becomes the next target of Karswell’s demonic curse!  A cult classic starring Dana Andrews as the unyielding debunker of the paranormal, Peggy Cummins as Harrington’s devoted niece, and Niall McGinnis as the charming master of dark forces, this British horror noir recalls director Jacques Tourneur’s previous work with famed B-horror film producer Val Lewton and stands as the filmmaker’s last great masterpiece.  Presented here in new restored editions are both the original version released in the UK and the truncated American version, re-titled Curse of the Demon.

Disc Features:

  • Includes new digital transfers of both versions of the film: Night of the Demon, the 96-minute British cut, and Curse of the Demon, the 81-minute version released in the United States
  • New video introduction by Martin Scorsese
  • Interview with Peggy Cummins
  • A video essay with film critic Chris Fujiwara
  • Samuel Wigley on the script of Night of the Demon
  • Gallery of production photos and promotional materials
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Danny Peary and M. R. James’s 1911 source story, “Casting the Runes”

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Alias Nick Beal (John Farrow, 1949)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Alias Nick Beal.

criterion logoRay Milland stars in this modernized Faustian tale as the mysterious Nick Beal, a Mephistophelean tempter who emerges from the fog to corrupt District Attorney Joseph Foster (Thomas Mitchell) under the guise of helping him convict an elusive gangster.  Foster’s success turns to a bid for governor and Beal is only happy to help with the uncertain assistance of devil doll Audrey Totter, a fallen woman who has her own issues with Nick.  Little known and difficult to see since its initial release in 1949, the Criterion Collection is proud to present John Farrow’s Alias Nick Beal, a brilliant and atmospheric work of supernatural film noir.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by film noir scholar Eddie Muller
  • New interview with John Farrow’s daughter, actress Mia Farrow
  • The Screen Director’s Playhouse 1950 radio dramatization of Alias Nick Beal featuring Ray Milland
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by filmmaker Guy Maddin and film scholar Inez Hedges

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It’s Tough Being a Man: The Complete Tora-san

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents It’s Tough Being a Man: The Complete Tora-san.

criterion logoFor more than twenty-five years, writer-director Yoji Yamada and iconic actor Kiyoshi Atsumi entertained Japanese audiences with the exploits of Torajiro Kuruma, better known as Tora-san, a boorish but kind-hearted street peddler unlucky in love.  In each of the forty-eight feature films released between 1969 and 1995, Japan’s loveable loser returned home to Shibamata to upset the lives of his aunt, uncle, and half-sister and ultimately find himself heartbroken over yet another failed infatuation.  This gently sentimental comic series, known domestically as It’s Tough Being a Man, was an iconic part of Japanese culture that combined a nostalgic vision of post-war community with an unusually unreserved protagonist and traced the fortunes of a country through four decades.  This deluxe set features all forty-eight Tora-san films, presenting many of the beloved classics for North American home-viewing for the first time.

Disc Features:

  • New digital restorations of all 48 films, with uncompressed monaural and stereo soundtracks on the Blu-rays
  • Audio commentary by Japanese film scholar Stuart Galbraith IV for the first Tora-san film, It’s Tough Being a Man
  • Atsumi Kiyoshi no Tora-san kinzoku 25 nen, a 1995 documentary on Kiyoshi Atsumi, along with a new interview with director Yoji Yamada and actress Chieko Baisho
  • Tora-san’s Japan, an interactive map tracing Tora-san’s travels across Japan throughout the films
  • Tora-san’s Shibamata, a guided tour of Shibamata with journalist Jake Adelstein
  • Orangina commercials starring Richard Gere as Tora-san, with behind the scenes footage
  • Trailers
  • PLUS: A book featuring essays by Japanese film scholars Stuart Galbraith IV, Kevin Thomas, Alexander Jacoby, Michael Jeck, Donald Richie, Dave Kehr and a message from director Yoji Yamada

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