HE’S A LUMBERJACK AND HE’S NOT OKAY
Pacific Northwest, 1983 A.D. Outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence in near isolation. When their pine-scented splendour is savagely destroyed by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand and his cult “The Children of the New Dawn,” Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire. Armed with a hand-forged battle axe and an insane thirst for revenge, Red won’t stop until he has destroyed Jeremiah and his disciples.
From the visionary mind of Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow), Mandy is an ultra-hard, stylishly told hell-trip with heavy metal symbolism, demonic motorcycle mutants, buzzing chainsaws, and a phenomenal performance by Nicolas Cage as an unstoppable, single-minded avenger. Arrow Video proudly presents this modern grindhouse classic for the first time on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.
HAPPY CANADA DAY!
MMC! is happily celebrating this Canada Day with Wavelength (1967), Michael Snow’s legendary experimental film. Essentially a slow 45-minute zoom through an empty Canal Street industrial loft (save for four brief sequences of human presence), Snow has called the film “a summation of my nervous system, religious inklings and aesthetic ideas.” Notwithstanding the appearances of its few human beings (including experimental filmmaker Hollis Frampton and art and film critic Amy Taubin), Snow aimed to create “a definitive statement of pure Film space and time, a balancing of ‘illusion’ and ‘fact,’ all about seeing.” The camera is Wavelength’s true subject and its presence is always foregrounded thanks to the intervention of gels, superimpositions, and other visual effects and the intensifying sound of a sine-wave increasing the speed of its repetition. The artificial mechanism of Snow’s reproduction is never lost, but the slow progress of the camera, the static space of the room, and the drone of the sine-wave creates an experience that is both tedious and anxious, however the effect is also meditative, providing the spectator with room to consider Wavelength’s tensions between outside and inside, permanence and impermanence, and the space between ourselves and the cinematic apparatus. This “diary of a room” is hailed as the definitive “structural film,” an experimental mode typified by a fixed camera position, a flicker effect, loop printing, and rephotography, and it has become a canonical work of avant-garde cinema, with its initial screening in 1967 being hailed by experimental filmmaker Jonas Mekas as “a landmark event in cinema.”
For those without the patience for Wavelength, there is WVLNT (Wavelength for Those Who Don’t Have the Time) (Michael Snow, 2003) which cuts the film into three equal portions and then superimposes them, creating a new film experience in the process (although one that is likely most rewarding having first seen the original).
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Man Who Stole the Sun.
Junior high school teacher Makoto Kido attacks a nuclear power plant to steal a plutonium capsule and then succeeds in building an atomic bomb by himself in his apartment. Calling himself “Number 9” and claiming to be a new nuclear power of his own, Kido extorts the government with demands for uninterrupted baseball games and a concert by the then-banned Rolling Stones, even going so far as to appoint his own negotiating partner, hardened police inspector Yamashita. Pitting rock icon Kenji Sawada with legendary tough guy Bunta Sugawara, Kazuhiko Hasegawa’s celebrated Japanese cult film explores the nation’s growing generation gap and the proliferation of nuclear power with black comedy, stylistic invention, and a heavy, controversial premise.
- New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
- The Legend is Lebon Video Testimony, an 84-minute documentary on the making of the film, with interviews and on-set footage
- Walking With the Movie, a tour of the film’s locations with Japanese singer Masaki Ueda
- Enthusiasm, Talk, Talk, My “Man Who Stole the Sun,” a 35-minute interview of director Kazuhiko Hasegawa by actor Masatoshi Nagase and special effects director Shinji Higuchi
- 11 p.m. “Wonderful!! Is Julie a Strong Guy Like Genbaku?!,” a 20-minute edited version shown prior to the film’s theatrical released on September 20, 1979
- English subtitle translation supervised by screenwriter Leonard Schrader
- PLUS: A new essay by Japanese film scholar Tony Rayns
These last ten films I’ve screened leans heavily on the We Are One online film festival. Adele Hasn’t Had Her Dinner Yet (a wacky Czech comedy featuring a famous American detective and a carnivorous plant), Tremble All You Want (a quirk-heavy Japanese rom-com about a neurotically shy young woman), and Epic of Everest (a silent document of the tragic 1924 Mount Everest expedition) were all very good, however Ulrike Ottinger’s Ticket of No Return woozily stands atop the digital heap. Subtitled “Portrait of a Female Drunkard,” Ottinger’s film offers an intoxicatingly experimental and oddly hilarious tale of a woman who travels to Berlin with plans to binge-drink out her final days. It shouldn’t be surprising to see Ticket of No Return make another appearance on MMC!
- Blood Machines (Seth Ickerman, 2019)
- The Telephone Book (Nelson Lyon, 1971)
- Onward (Dan Scanlon, 2020)
- Adele Hasn’t Had Her Dinner Yet (Oldrich Lipský, 1978)
- Tremble All You Want (Akiko Ohku, 2017)
- The Epic of Everest (J.B.L. Noel, 1924)
- Ticket of No Return (Ulrike Ottinger, 1979)
- The Forest for the Trees (Maren Ade, 2003)
- Promare (Hiroyuki Imaishi, 2019)
- The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo (Shinya Tsukamoto, 1987)
The remainder of these last ten films I’ve watched were enjoyable films that speak to very specific interests. Do you like cringing (A LOT)? Watch The Forest for the Trees! Do you miss your subscription to Metal Hurlant? Blood Machines is for you! Are you a fan of Criterion’s William Klein and Robert Downey Sr. Eclipse sets? Check out The Telephone Book! Do you like cyborgs, vampires, time travel, and a DIY spirit? The Adventure of Denchu-Kozo is your jam! Want to level up from Hiroyuki Imaishi’s Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, and Sex & Violence with Machspeed? Try on the neon-coloured epilepsy test that is Promare!
(And for the record, I quite enjoyed Onward but felt that it really missed an opportunity to provide a relatable perspective on metalheads and feature a Pixar-friendly metal soundtrack. Still lots of fun.)
MMC! is lamentably late in acknowledging its nomination for a Sunshine Blogger Award by Tony Nash of Movie Fan Man! Cinema fans (particularly those of Euro-crime) should make Movie Fan Man a regular stop as Tony’s valuable appraisals of movies high and low shouldn’t be missed. And, of course, MFM has become a stalwart follower of MMC! and its fantasies, and I am exceptionally grateful for that support!
Now, to the questions!
MMC! is happy to report that one of our favourite film festivals, the 2020 Chattanooga Film Festival is virtually here! That’s “virtually” in the sense that the festival opens on Friday, March 22 and “virtually” in the sense that the CFF has converted to an online edition available to US residents and featuring a wide array of feature films, shorts, panels, and live events, including MMC! favourite Scare Package (Baron Vaughn, Courtney Andujar, Hillary Andujar, Anthony Cousins, Emily Hagins, Aaron Koontz, Chris McInroy, and Noah Segan, 2019). Virtual badges are currently on sale and are very reasonably priced. And while MMC! may be headquartered outside of the CFF’s digital jurisdiction, you might just see some CFF coverage appearing here in the near future …
From the Chattanooga Film Festival:
ICE-T, GWAR, JOE DANTE HEADLINE VIRTUAL EDITION OF THE 2020 CHATTANOOGA FILM FESTIVAL
The Chattanooga Film Festival’s revolutionary online genre festival includes a lineup of electrifying and provocative features, shorts, events, and surprises, including notable guests: Ernest Dickerson, Joe Bob Briggs, Alex Winter, and more!
Chattanooga, TN (May 13, 2020) – The Chattanooga Film Festival (CFF) along with its presenting sponsor Gunpowder & Sky’s ALTER and media partner Bloody-Disgusting.com, are thrilled to announce their innovative lineup of features, panels and live events set for May 22 to May 25. In unprecedented times, the festival is offering a full-access badge price of $30 and divvying up a portion of the proceeds back to participating filmmakers.