Hollywood: A Celebration of the American Silent Film (Kevin Brownlow and David Gill, 1980)

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

The award-winning team of David Gill and Kenneth Brownlow present a definitive and unparalleled look at the history of silent film in America with Hollywood: A Celebration of American Silent Film. Narrated by actor and silent film enthusiast James Mason, this 13-part series celebrates the birth of an industry and the town and people who made it happen. From the arrival of the filmmaking pioneers early at the dawn of a new century, through the outbreak of the First World War; from the rise of romance to the demise of the Old West; from when comedy was king until the advent of sound, this stunning television program surveys the enormous range of spectacular, innovative, and exciting films created by a business still inventing itself. Brilliantly edited and featuring a multitude of invaluable interviews by stars, directors, and below-line personnel, Hollywood is an irreplaceable document on cinema history and a loving tribute to those that made a legend out of a modest California town.

With notes by Kevin Brownlow.

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In Fabric (Peter Strickland, 2018) – Chattanooga Film Festival 2019

FIRST FLOOR: WOMEN’S FASHION, ACCESSORIES, TERROR

Writer-director Peter Strickland’s latest effort is his most demented vision to date, a bizarrely terrifying combination of Suspiria and Phantom Thread that is awash in blood (and other bodily fluids). Set in the world of 1970s fashion, In Fabric is a psychosexual phantasmagoria initiated by a murderous dress that is sold by an unusual department store and the hypnotic coven that runs it. Recently divorced bank clerk Sheila is the garment’s first victim, completely unaware that her purchase at Dentley & Soper’s will unleash the frock’s curse and set in motion an absurdly brutal chain of fashion related brutality.

With In Fabric, Peter Strickland blends Italian supernatural horror and Europudding erotica with corporate micromanagement and baroque customer service-speak, producing an incisive parody of consumer culture that still manages to feel legitimately unsettling and truly terrifying. In Fabric is a must sees for surreal fashion addicts and kinky horror fans alike!

Special Edition Comments:

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by horror film journalist Mark Kermode and excerpts from the Dentley & Soper store catalogue

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10 on the 10th – May 2019

With the NBA Playoffs in full swing (plus devoting some time to some TV programs and getting sick over the last couple of weeks), my usual pace for watching movies has slowed considerably. Accordingly, these last ten films I’ve watched extend back to last month’s Calgary Underground Film Festival and screenings of Harpoon and Foosballers (both of which were enjoyable films, particularly the latter).

  1. Amazing Grace (Sydney Pollack and Alan Elliott, 2018)
  2. MFKZ (Shoujirou Nishimi and Guillaume Renard, 2017)
  3. Madman (Joe Giannone, 1981)
  4. The Last Circus (Álex de la Iglesia, 2010)
  5. Murder Obsession (Riccardo Freda, 1981)
  6. Crazy Thunder Road (Gakuryū Ishii, 1980)
  7. The New Rijksmuseum (Oeke Hoogendijk, 2014)
  8. Foosballers (Joe Heslinga, 2019)
  9. Harpoon (Rob Grant, 2019)
  10. Welcome Mr. Marshall! (Luis Garciá Berlanga, 1953)

Actually, this list has some sneaky good titles in it. The New Rijksmuseum is a rather fascinating observational documentary about the ten year renovation of Holland’s iconic art museum, offering a complicated survey on the intersection of art and creativity on the one hand and democracy and bureaucracy on the other. Ishii’s Crazy Thunder Road is an underappreciated classic of Japanese cinema that is not merely about punks but also is punk from its production to its aesthetics. The Last Circus, a story of mad love and violent clowns in Franco-era Spain, and MFKZ, a Studio 4°C adaptation of a French comic book, turned out to be a pair of secret successes, proving to be surprisingly entertaining despite their relatively poor critical reputations. The Criterion Channel’s Berlanga titles included Welcome Mr. Marshall, a sweet Andalusian comedy in the best spirit of an Ealing film that concerned some opportunistic townsfolk greedy for some sweet foreign aid. Amazing Grace looks like it’s cobbled together from off-cuts (a testament to the degree Pollack struggled in filming the two-night performance) but the janky camera movements and haphazard focus pulls somehow work to only revere Aretha Franklin’s singing, as if the film production is staring into the sun itself and struggling to depict its full glory.

blank vhs covers were kinda beautiful (4096, 2018)

After sitting far too long on my bookshelf, I’m finally reading Lucas Hilderbrand Inherent Vice: Bootleg Histories of Videotape and Copyright, a fascinating exploration of the analogue era’s aesthetic and legal upheavals. What better timing to share animator 4096’s blank vhs covers were kinda beautiful (2018), a tribute to artwork that adorned blank videocassette sleeves. From Aphex to Memorex, TDK to JVC, Super Avilyn to Silver Shadow, 4096 finds graphic dynamism and free-flowing inspiration in these designs sure to feed the nostalgia engines of time-shifters and bootleggers alike.

Monos (Alejandro Landes, 2019) – Chattanooga Film Festival 2019

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

On a far away South American mountaintop, a group of adolescent child soldiers guard a kidnapped American woman for the Organization, a bandit militia that demands complete obedience from the youngsters. When a borrowed milk cow is killed and a battle approaches their mountain refuge, the group is sent to guard their prisoner in the dense jungle below where resentments, paranoia, and power struggles turn into a nightmarish fight for authority and survival. Charged by Jasper Wolf’s crisp, concentrated cinematography and Mica Levi’s titantic score, Alejandro Landes creates a monumental and hallucinatory war film that evokes Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and William Goldings Lord of the Flies.

Disc Features:

  • 4K digital master, approved by cinematographer Jasper Wolf, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interviews with director Alejandro Landes, composer Mica Levi, actress Inés Efrón, and cast members
  • Video diary shot during the film’s production
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Manuel Betancourt

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Chuffed for CUFF

The Calgary Underground Film Festival kicks off a week of cinematic goodness with tonight’s screening of Abe Forsythe’s zombie comedy Little Monsters and MMC! couldn’t be happier! CUFF 2019 looks stacked with great titles sure to satisfy cinephiles looking to scratch hard to reach places. Eccentric documentaries, up and coming indie mavericks, art house genre masterpieces, and all around weirdness are waiting to be discovered at Calgary’s Globe Cinema this week. MMC! has seen almost half of CUFF’s programmed features already and so we are happy to point the way for those looking to navigate this great roster of titles.

Knife + Heart (Yann Gonzalez)

Friday 9:30 p.m.

I’m not sure how many times MMC! can keep waving the flag for Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart. It was our favourite film at the 2018 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and landed at #17 on MMC!‘s top 20 films of 2018. This sex-positive, queer riff on Italian giallo cinema is lushly sleazy in all the right ways, beautifully merging art cinema sophistication and exploitation sinema salaciousness. Set in the Parisian gay porn industry of 1979, Vanessa Paradis impresses as a third-tier production company’s matriarchal head struggling with the murders of her cast by a leather masked killer. Gonzalez makes no half-steps in Knife + Heart and viewers are rewarded with outlandish porn scenes, wild physical deformities, truly phallic murder weapons, and even a bizarre bear attack. This is a film that perfectly walks the line between creating a pastiche that respects its precedent and revising a familiar genre to reflect the diversity of people and stories that demand representation today. Knife + Heart should not be missed!

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