Children of Men (Alfonso Cuaron, 2006)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Children of Men.

criterion logoNo children.  No future.  No hope.  In the year 2027, eighteen years since the last baby was born, disillusioned Theo Faron (Clive Owen) becomes an unlikely champion of the human race when he is asked by his former lover Julian (Julianne Moore) to escort a young pregnant woman out of Britain as quickly as possible.  In a thrilling race against time, Theo will risk everything to deliver the miracle the whole world has been waiting for.  Employing stunningly long takes filmed by the great Emmanuel Lubezki, Alfonso Cuarón’s Children of Men presents a politically charged, near-future dystopia that is all too recognizable from the present day.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 2K digital film transfer, supervised by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki and approved by director Alfonso Cuarón, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • A new piece on the making of Children of Men, featuring new interviews with actors Clive Owen, Julianne Moore, Michael Caine, Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Clare-Hope Ashitey, co-writer Timothy J. Sexton, Cuarón, and Lubezki
  • The Possibility of Hope, Cuarón’s 27-minute documentary on the issues and theories behind Children of Men
  • Comments by Slavoj Zizek, an extended interview on the film and its adaptation from P. D. James’s novel
  • Theo and Julian, interviews with Clive Owen and Julianne on the development of their characters
  • Under Attack, a behind-the-scenes look at shooting the film’s complicated action sequences
  • Futuristic Design, a review of Children of Men‘s outstanding art direction and world-building
  • Visual Effects: Creating the Baby, an examination of the film’s digital effects
  • A new video piece with scholar James Udden on Children of Men and the long take
  • Quietus “You Decide When” commercial
  • Deleted scenes
  • Gallery of production photos, posters, and promotional art
  • Trailers and TV spots
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring extensive production design artwork, Zizek’s essay “The Clash of Civilizations at the End of History,” and a new essay by film critic Charles Taylor

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The Flesh and the Fiends (John Gilling, 1960)

MURDER WAS THEIR BUSINESS!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddEdinburgh.  1827.  The Scottish capital is the world leader in medical research but a scarcity of legally available cadavers has caused medical schools to turn to “resurrectionists,” grave-robbers selling freshly buried (and not so freshly buried) bodies liberated from local graveyards.  Irish immigrants Burke (George Rose) and Hare (Donald Pleasence) join the ranks of the body-snatchers, striking up an uneasy business relationship with eminent surgeon Dr. Robert Knox (Peter Cushing) and quickly deciding to speed the process along by murdering the poor and the homeless.  Men and women, old and young, everyone becomes a target for the deadly duo, but even as the body count rises, Knox turns a blind eye to their methods in order to further his research.  When Burke and Hare go too far and murder a well known figure of the Edinburgh slums, the public goes mad for the killers’ blood and Dr. Knox’s conspiracy is revealed with harrowing consequences.

John Gilling’s The Flesh and the Fiends is a forgotten and under-appreciated classic of British horror, a historical thriller with a disturbingly black heart that is made all the darker for having told the true account of Scotland’s most famous serial killers.  Violent and salacious, yet grand and expressionistic, The Flesh and the Fiends is presented here, for the first time, in high-definition presentations of both the British and the infamous “Continental” cuts of the film.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer of the British cut of The Flesh and the Fiends and of the “Continental” version with added scenes of nudity and violence shot for the more permissive European market
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • New interview with director Joe Dante and graphic artist Charlie Largent on The Flesh and the Fiends and its subsequent versions
  • In Search of Burke and Hare, a documentary on the West Port murders by David Street and hosted by David Hayman
  • Theatrical trailer for The Fiendish Ghouls, the shortened US re-release version of the film
  • Alternate title sequence from Mania, the first US version of the film
  • Gallery of photos, posters, and lobby cards
  • Collector’s booklet featuring an essay by genre writer Jonathan Sothcott and film scholar Edwin Samuelson

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Rose Hobart (Joseph Cornell, 1936)

Ah, Rose Hobart – our favourite short film of all time.  Salvaged from a discarded print of East of Borneo (George Melford, 1931), recut and shot through the cobalt blue glass of a Noxzema jar, projected at “silent speed” and accompanied by Cornell’s collection of samba music, the artist who couldn’t paint created a film without touching a camera.  Cornell offers a wondrous, dream-like vision of sexual obsession and psychic anxiety, one that seems to originate from dark, exotic lands and even across the vast emptiness of space.  Despite confounding its audience at its initial screening at the Julien Levy Gallery, Salvador Dalí recognized the brilliance of Rose Hobart, kicking over Cornell’s projector in an act of pure envy.  Such is the genius of Cornell and the strange subconscious journey of this found footage fetish object.

The Deadly Invention (Karel Zeman, 1958)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Deadly Invention.

criterion logoCalled “the Czech Méliès” and “the Walt Disney of Czechoslovakia,” Karel Zeman created worlds of fantasy that seemed to pre-date cinema’s invention.  His masterpiece, The Deadly Invention, loosely adapts Jules Verne’s Facing the Flag, bringing to life the etched illustrations of Verne artists like Edouard Riou and Leon Bennett.  Mixing real actors and sets with stop-motion animation, cut-outs, mechanical props, and other visual effects, Zeman produces a monochromatic world of steampunk imagination that transcends notions of reality and unreality at the same time.  A forgotten classic in science fiction cinema, Zeman’s 1958 version is presented here, along with the 1961 American version of its release, The Fabulous World of Jules Verne.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored high-definition digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Isolated score by Zdenek Liška
  • Introductions by filmmakers Terry Gilliam and Tim Burton
  • The Fabulous World of Jules Verne, the 1961 American reworking of the original film, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Inspiration, Zeman’s 10-minute stop-motion short featuring blown glass figures
  • The Magical World of Karel Zeman, Zdenek Rozkopal’s 1962 documentary on Zeman
  • The Special Effects of Karel Zeman, a 1980 documentary on Zeman’s ingenious techniques
  • Video tour of the Karel Zeman Museum with museum director Jakub Matejka and a video essay from the museum on the making of The Deadly Invention featuring Zeman’s daughter Ludmila Zemanová
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring new essays by film archivist and Jules Verne Scholar Brian Taves and journalist Andrew Osmond

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Barfly (Barbet Schroeder, 1987)

“He said he was going to cut off his finger if I didn’t make his film.” – producer Menahem Golan.

“Terrific.  Completely original from beginning to end.” – Roger Ebert, SISKEL & EBERT.

Drafthouse Films LogoAmerican poet and novelist extraordinaire Charles Bukowski drew upon his own life to script this story that tickles and jabs the social underbelly of booze, bars and brave madness.  Downtrodden writer Henry (Mickey Rourke) and distressed goddess Wanda (Faye Dunaway) may be wedded to their bar stools, but they like each other’s company and that says a lot, but when a young publisher smitten with Henry’s outsider mystique appears, Henry must choose between life as a literary lion or a freewheeling alley cat.  Barbet Schroeder directs this “classic one-of-a-kind comedy” (Vincent Canby, The New York Times), offering a giddy, whisky-soaked vision of life on the skids and the proud individuals who refuse society’s demands.

Special Features:

Golden Horn Edition – Package Includes:

  • Barfly on Blu-ray or Standard DVD booklet featuring over 6 hours of bonus material!
  • DRM-free Digital Download of the film on 1080p, 720p, and mobile/tablet formats
  • 27″ x 40″ reversible poster
  • Charles Bukowski’s novel Hollywood, inspired by the making of Barfly

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The Beach Party Blogathon!

beach-party-flipperFor those of us too fixated on the world of film to venture out into the sun and sand, Ruth of Silver Screenings and Kristina of Speakeasy are bringing the seaside frolics to us with the Beach Party Blogathon!  The rules are off with this one as long as the choice of film involves the beach or the seaside, so head over and sign up.

Here at MMC!, we’ll be bringing some French misfortune to the Blogathon with Yves Allégret’s beautifully dreary Such a Pretty Little Beach (1949).  With its off-season showers and its noir-ish despondency, Such a Pretty Little Beach is a decade-late classic in poetic realism sure to move even the most frivolous of surfer dudes and beach blanket babes.

Thanks once again to the Beach Party Blogathon‘s organizers for letting us participate and we’ll see you in the second week of June for some fun in the sun pain in the rain.