While I keep trying to work out the best approach to the next MMC! proposal, let’s wonder at the trippy, loopy joy that is Double King. This hilarious tale of rippling, obsessive regicide trended hard earlier this year, but maybe a reminder for one of 2017’s best films (short or feature-length) is now in order. Give all the credit goes to Australian artist Felix Colgrave who took two years to create Double King and even composed the short’s music.
The star of the last ten movies I’ve watched is Bruno Dumont’s feature film/television mini-series Li’l Quinquin (2014). Twin Peaks fans finding themselves in withdrawal from their favourite surreal murder investigation should consider Dumont’s quirky take on the procedural, something my wife ably called “the Napoleon Dynamite version of True Detective, but French.”
- Creepshow 2 (Michael Gornick, 1987)
- Blood Simple (Joel Cohen, 1984)
- Li’l Quinquin (Bruno Dumont, 2014)
- George Best: All By Himself (Daniel Gordon, 2016)
- Hellish Spiders (Federico Curiel, 1968)
- Good Time (Ben Safdie and Josh Safdie, 2017)
- Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer, 2017)
- Hellish Love (Chûsei Sone, 1972)
- Kedi (Ceyda Torun, 2017)
- C.H.U.D. II: Bud the Chud (David Irving, 1989)
Moving past Li’l Quinquin, these last ten screenings found a number of very enjoyable films. Blood Simple remains a neo-noir classic with its spare story-telling and its misapprehended characters. Good Time is an exceptionally tense crime story that features an astonishingly captivating performance by Robert Pattinson. Creepshow 2 is a fun triptych of PG terrors wrapped up in an R-rated package. Kedi‘s presentation of the cats of Istanbul was utterly charming, while Hellish Love delivers a pleasingly familiar, period-set, Japanese ghost-lover horror story. And finally, Hellish Spiders is an incredibly fun Blue Demon vehicle with great wrestling, some atmospheric cinematography, and some gloriously wobbly science fiction staging.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.
In the summer of 1962, small town Finnish baker Olli Mäki (Jarkko Lahti) has a shot at the world featherweight boxing title held by dominating American champion Davey Moore. Olli is thrust from his countryside home into a fraught training camp with the pressures of national stardom and a draining publicity circuit, but he has bigger problem – he has just fallen in love with a sweet country girl (Oona Airola) and can think about little else. Based on a true story, Juho Kuosmanen’s exquisitely lyrical, verité-styled inversion of the sports biography won the Un Certain Regard Prize, charming Cannes audiences with its gentle humor and bittersweet romance.
- High-definition digital master, supervised by cinematographer Jani-Petteri Passi, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interview with director Juho Kuosmanen, production designer Kari Kankaanpää cinematographer Passi
- New interviews with actors Jarkko Lahti, Oona Airola, and Eero Milonoff
- Roadmarkers (2007), Citizens (2008), and The Painting Sellers (2010), three award-winning short films by Kuosmanen
- New English subtitle translation
- PLUS: A new essay by critic Manohla Dargis
I’ve been catching up on short films lately and filling out my “Top Films of 2017” list. One favourite has been Makoto Nagahisa’s And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool (2017), the Short Film Grand Prize Jury Winner at Sundance earlier this year. The short follows Mayu (Reina Kikuchi), Tamiko (Rina Matsuyama), Ryoko (Marin Nishimoto), and Akane (Nina Yukawa), a quartet of rebellious sixteen year-olds unfulfilled in their hometown of Saitama and who release 400 goldfish in their high school swimming pool. Nagahisa aimed to emphasize “speed, dialogue, and sound” in Soushite watashitachi wa pûru ni kingyo o and the short draws quick comparisons to Edgar Wright for its exuberant style. For those won over Nagahisa energetic portrait of teenage apathy and cynicism, we encourage you to explore his previous works in music video and commercial film profiled on his website.
Trouble is just a beat away in this action-packed ’80s classic starring the Kings of Rock, Run DMC. The up-and-coming hip-hop trio of Run, DMC, and Jam Master Jay are signed to Strut Productions, a crooked booking agency laundering drug money for gangsters and aiming to exploit the group’s growing popularity to further their criminal schemes. When their close friend and roadie Runny Ray stumbles upon the illegal operation and is murdered in cold blood, the devastated musicians take the law into their own hands to avenge their friend’s death, facing racist thugs and armed gangsters in their pursuit of justice.
Co-written, co-produced, and directed by superstar record producer Rick Rubin and supported by a hard-hitting soundtrack featuring music by Run DMC, the Beastie Boys, Slick Rick, the Junk Yard Band, and Public Enemy, Tougher Than Leather is an urban Western that’s too tough to miss.
- New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
- Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- Grammar Like a Hammer: The Making of Tougher Than Leather, a new documentary containing interviews with Darryl McDaniels, Rev Run, Rick Rubin, Russell Simmons, Chuck D, and Eddie Murphy
- Run DMC music videos for “Run’s House,” “Mary, Mary,” and “Christmas in Hollis”
- Theatrical trailer
- Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring an interview with photographer Glen E. Friedman and a collection of his on-set photographs
November will add three new spine numbers to the Criterion Collection – Desert Hearts (Donna Deitch, 1985), The Philadelphia Story (George Cukor, 1940), and Jabberwocky (Terry Gilliam, 1977) – and in a case of First World/film nerd problems, none of these upcoming versions port over all the special features of the existing editions I own! Ugh, how I must suffer. Thankfully, the trailer for Jabberywocky scores high marks for Pythonesque recklessness and a great series of gag warnings. Brilling!