Criterion Made Mine! The Safe Edition

CC SafeIt might be a day late, but Criterion’s December titles have been announced and Todd Haynes’s Safe (1995) is on the slate.  This is a great announcement, as the Criterion Collection version seems to preserve the audio commentary of the previous DVD edition, as well as include new interviews and Haynes’s 1978 short film The Suicide.  Check out our post from last October for [Safe], which includes some great links to interviews with Haynes, discussions of the film, and a wonderful short video piece by Amber Jacobs and Catherine Grant.

I love writing Criterion Made Mine! posts.  Here’s hoping we get to do it more often!

The American Astronaut (Cory McAbee, 2001)

“Imagine a Laurel & Hardy skit directed by Salvador Dali.” – ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY

“More original than almost anything you’ve seen this millennium.” – SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL

“Now that’s entertainment!” – FILM THREAT

“Surprising and hilarious! May be the most wonderfully strange film experience you have this year.” – ELLE MAGAZINE

Drafthouse Films LogoSpace travel has become a dirty way of life dominated by derelicts, grease monkeys and hard-boiled interplanetary traders such as Samuel Curtis.  Written, directed and starring Cory McAbee of the legendary cult band The Billy Nayer Show, this sci-fi musical-western uses flinty black-and-white photography, Lo-Fi sets and the spirit of the final frontier.  We follow Curtis on his Homeric journey to provide the all-female planet of Venus with a suitable male, while pursued by the enigmatic killer, Professor Hess.  The film features music by The Billy Nayer Show and some of the most original rock ‘n’ roll scenes ever committed to film.

Also included are McAbee’s hour-long, genre-defying space western Stingray Sam, his 52-minute fantasy Crazy & Thief, and his award-winning short films Reno, The Ketchup and Mustard Man, The Man on the Moon, and Billy Nayer, collected together here for the first time and providing a comprehensive review of one of America’s most audacious independent filmmakers.

Special Features:

  • Live audio commentary with writer, director, and star Cory McAbee
  • Gallery of production stills, storyboards, graphic designs, and sidewalk drawings
  • Ceres walk test footage
  • Trailers
  • Stingray Sam, McAbee’s 2009 musical-comedy, sci-fi-western serial recounting Stingray Sam and the Quasar Kid’s mission to save a kidnapped girl, with behind the scenes extra footage
  • Crazy & Thief, McAbee’s 2012 fantasy about a seven year-old girl who takes her two year-old brother on a voyage through a world of homemade mythologies
  • Reno, a 2007 short starring McAbee as a singing cowboy bragging about his travels through Nevada
  • The Ketchup and Mustard Man, a stream of consciousness-narrated musical
  • The Man on the Moon, McAbee’s short film about a dejected husband exiled on the moon, shot on a Fisher Price Pixel Camera
  • Billy Nayer, an animated short film direct by and starring McAbee as a singing bar patron
  • 24-page booklet of photos, production stills and promotional materials, plus a new interview with Cory McAbee

“Hertz Donut” Edition – Package Includes:

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Fire Line (Hiromichi Takebe, 1961)

Eclipse LogoWritten by Teruo Ishii and director Hiromichi Takebe, Fire Line broke new ground for the Line series, leaving tales of underworld prostitution rings and focusing on the double dealings and triple crosses of rival gangs over 100 pistols sold by a shady black market arms dealer.  In this twisty tale of gangland betrayal, a young sharpshooter and his friend are enlisted by a gang to help steal the guns but are then betrayed and blamed for the heist by the gang’s leader.  The arms dealer, the sharpshooter, and the boss’s girlfriend concoct a plan to rob the gang and escape to South America, but members of the mob have other plans.  The bankruptcy of Shintoho studios marks Fire Line as a premature conclusion to the series and Takebe’s only directorial effort, but the film remains a canny and faithfully hardboiled approach to noir sensibilities.

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Sexy Line (Teruo Ishii, 1961)

Eclipse LogoWhen a young journalist is framed for the murder of his fiancé and discovers her secret life as a moonlighting prostitute, he finds unlikely assistance in a thrill-seeking female pickpocket intent on helping him clear his name and entertaining herself while doing so.  Their investigation reveals a secret organization of criminals and call girls serving the sexual demands of senior executives and other powerful Japanese figures.  Shot on city streets amid the bustling crowds of Asakusa and Ginza, Sexy Line is a witty and energetic journey into Tokyo’s licentious underworld.

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Yellow Line (Teruo Ishii, 1960)

Eclipse LogoAn exotic dancer is kidnapped from Tokyo by a betrayed hitman bent on vengeance.  Her reporter boyfriend follows their trail to Kobe and to the port city’s dangerous red light district, afraid that she may have been kidnapped by that city’s prostitution ring, the Yellow Line.  The only color film in the Line series, Teruo Ishii bathes Yellow Line in ghastly greens and punctuating reds that perfectly express the moral decay of Kobe’s decadent and disreputable kasbah.  This seedy vision of underworld crime continues Ishii’s documentary approach to location shooting and his play with American film noir conventions while wallowing in its bizarre setting and garish aesthetic, resulting in a nightmarish, otherworldly atmosphere unlike any other in the series and anticipating the director’s gory classics that followed.

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Black Line (Teruo Ishii, 1960)

Eclipse LogoFreelance reporter “Scoop” Machida is hot on the trail of a prostitution ring called the Black Line, when he is framed for the murder of a young woman.  Forced to clear his own name, the handsome journalist sinks deeper into the Black Line’s rotten swamp of drugs, prostitution, and murder and finds unexpected help in Maya, a steamy female gambler familiar with the neon-lit streets, shadowy alleyways, and seedy nightclubs he must navigate.  The closest film in the Line series to classic American film noir, Ishii’s Black Line is a pulpy assortment of crime film conventions including the starkly expressionistic black and white cinematography by Jûgyô Yoshida, a jazzy music score by Michiaki Watanabe, and a sleazy screenplay by Ishii and Ichirô Miyagawa.

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