Official and unofficial Criterion announcements having been rolling in since our last “Trailer Tuesday” and fans of the Collection are naturally excited for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979). They’re certainly great movies by celebrated directors, but MMC! will take a moment to praise the teased addition of Albert Brooks’ Lost in America (1985), a film that I saw for the first time a few years ago, introduced by Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald, and that has been fixture on my own proposal list for some time. There are plenty of other great films by Brooks that could bear a wacky “C” and so hopefully we’ll find an opportunity to stump for one of those other titles soon.
FROM BEYOND OBLIVION, THE SPOOKIES ARE HERE AGAIN!
An old, abandoned, isolated mansion seems like the perfect place for a group of young couples to party and let loose, but it may be perfect trap to lose their souls. Inside, a strange Ouija board leads the group into a supernatural web of terror, all plotted by an ancient sorcerer gathering sacrifices to restore his unwilling bride once again to life. Just a few more humans are needed to complete his spell …
A dizzying array of monstrous creatures are conjured by the wizard – hellish lizards, skeletal reapers, demons, zombies, seductive spider women, entrancing ghosts, and flatulent muck men, all empowered with a singular instinct to kill – and one by one, each guest is victim to this twisted, supernatural onslaught. Nothing can prepare you for the incredible special effects of Spookies, a horror cult classic that must be seen to be believed!
- New high definition digital transfer
- 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
- Introduction by the filmmakers
- Audio commentary with film historian Max Evry
- Interviews with actor Anthony Valbrio, visual effects artist Al Magliochetti, and co-producer Frank Farel
- Original ending taken from the interpositive held by the production’s original visual effects artist
- Theatrical trailer
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by regional horror historian Brian Albright
The only real disappointment amongst the last 10 movies I’ve watched was Searchers (1986), an Inuit take on John Ford’s The Searchers (1956). While having a fascinating sound design and an impressive arctic re-imagining of Monument Valley, it’s little more than home invasion genre exercise and is beneath Kunuk’s usual standard. Best in Show is shared between The Gate, a wonderful kids’ horror flick with stellar special effects, and Millennium Actress, an impressive survey of Japanese national and cinema histories told through a personal meta-narrative. The fact that there will be no more films by Satoshi Kon is tragic.
- The Gate (Tibor Takács, 1987)
- Sólo con tu pareja (Alfonso Cuarón, 1991)
- Millennium Actress (Satoshi Kon, 2001)
- Santo vs. las lobas (Rubén Galindo and Jaime Jiménez Pons, 1972)
- Dead End Drive-In (Brian Trenchard-Smith, 1986)
- Babo 73 (Robert Downey Sr., 1964)
- Searchers (Zacharias Kunuk and Natar Ungalaaq, 2016)
- Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
- Tora-san’s Lovesick (Yoji Yamada, 1974)
- I Am Not Your Negro (Raoul Peck, 2016)
I saw I Am Not Your Negro and Get Out about 12 hours apart, making them into something of a double bill and I very much recommend that pairing. James Baldwin’s commentaries in I Am Not Your Negro movingly describe the challenge of living in an environment that is openly resistant to your presence, yet dubiously blind to that opposition. Taking Baldwin’s frustration and lament at being an alien within your own country and transposing that into the experience of Get Out is particularly informative, as the micro-aggression paranoia of this post-racial Twilight Zone episode encapsulates then allegorizes Baldwin’s view of American racial hegemony. Get Out isn’t a perfect film. It’s premise is easily foreseeable, making it slow to progress toward its reveal, then brief in its resolution, but its concept and execution display a confidence and an intelligence that makes Jordan Peele a rising new voice in feature filmmaking.
I like asking – if your life required narration, who would you want to provide it? No one has ever chosen Tom Waits, which is too bad because he does have a great voice. I like the idea that Tom Waits’s voice is a natural starting point for this micro-portrait of artist John Baldessari. It’s an entertaining short, full of wry humour and clever edits and Looney Tunes momentum thanks to its classical score. This is me enjoying A Brief History of John Baldessari (Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman, 2012).
Very much in the same vein is Ed Ruscha: Building and Words (Felipe Lima, 2016), another micro-portrait of another California artist narrated by another celebrity. This time it’s Owen Wilson, and while he’s no Tom Waits, he has pretty good voice for this too. I wouldn’t second guess anyone choosing him to narrate their life. Lima’s short takes a similarly machine gun approach to surveying the artist’s vast catalogue, and expands the talking head count along the way. It’s all enough to make you move to California and start exploring the artistic possibilities of label makers, road paint, or portraits of diner specials.
Big thanks to Charlene and her (Mostly) Classic Movie Reviews blog and to joey halphen of wolffian classics movies digest for both nominating MMC! for a Mystery Blogger Award (the creation of Okoto Enigma). Charlene keeps up a prolific pace over at C(M)CMR and provides plenty of great takes on many Criterion Collection titles, while joey provides elaborate multi-media posts on a great selection of movies, some bearing wacky”Cs” as well. MMC! is honoured to receive these nominations and is happy to find fellow travelers in cinematic devotion. Please head over to their sites and check them out!
Criterion’s announcement of new releases for May was a landslide of titles with a stunning nine new films joining the Collection and two blu-grades thrown in for good measure. It’s pretty impressive for a month without any titles including the name “Zatoichi.” And while Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 2 is an amazing addition that includes titles by Edward Yang, Lino Brocka, and Apichatpong Weerasethakul, MMC! is most excited by the new edition of Yasujiro Ozu’s Good Morning (1959), a delightful film with a very dated DVD. Here’s hoping that Shochiku’s 4K restoration is as great an up-grade as Tatsuro Kiuchi’s new cover treatment!