Very Happy Alexander (Yves Robert, 1968)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Very Happy Alexander.

criterion logoAlexander is a good-natured farmer in Northern France.  His unchanging days of constant toil are directed by La Grande, his ambitious and tyrannical wife who exploits his superhuman strength and endurance with a daily list of back-breaking chores.  When Alexander suddenly becomes a widower, he decides to devote his existence to laziness, throwing his small community into turmoil and catching the eye of a work-shy shop girl.  Yves Robert’s ode to idleness stars Phillipe Noiret as the mountainous Alexander and Kaly as his faithful dog and finest friend.

Disc Features:

  • New digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Yves Robert: The Right to Laziness, Dominque Maillet’s documentary featuring interviews with Marlene Jobert, Pierre Richard, Andre Legrand, Françoise Brion, Jean-Denis Robert, son of director Yves Robert, and others
  • New interview with André Rauch on Very Happy Alexander and the refusal to work
  • Theatrical trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: Booklet featuring a new essay by critic David Cairns and Paul Lafargue’s 1883 essay The Right to Laziness

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A Liebster of My Own!

liebster2Big thanks to Blogferatu for the Liebster Award nomination!  This is MMC!‘s first and I’m really glad it came from Blogferatu who writes a great horror-themed blog and whose bio suggests a kindred spirit.  I too love tattoos (just not on me) and the idea of being a Horror Host (or any kind of movie host for that matter – watch you back Robert Osborne!).

A Liebster Award is essentially a friendly chain letter/questionnaire shared between small or newer blogs to provide encouragement, raise their respective profiles, and help everyone get to know each other a little better.  MMC! isn’t new but it is small, and I’m happy to participate and thankful of the nomination.  Blogferatu has been kind enough to post some rules for Liebster Award nominations, which are:

  1. Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you;
  2. Answer the 11 questions the blogger gives you;
  3. Nominate up to 11 bloggers of your own choosing (blogs should have fewer than 200 followers);
  4. Let the nominees know (in a comment) of their nomination;
  5. Give them 11 questions of their own.

That sounds reasonable enough to me, and so I’ll proceed accordingly.

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Make Mine Shout Select!

Shout SelectMMC! is positively giddy with the opportunity to obsess over more spine numbers.  The good folks at Shout! Factory have announced a new spine numbered imprint called Shout Select.  In their own words:

Presenting Shout Select, a Blu-ray, DVD & Digital imprint of SHOUT! FACTORY.  Shining a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf, Shout Select Titles are handpicked by the film buffs at Shout! Factory.  From acknowledged classics to cult favorites to unheralded gems, Shout Select celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving these movies the love and attention they deserve.

Already announced as receiving the Shout Select treatment are W. D. Richter’s The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984), John Carpenter’s Elvis (1979), Martin Brest’s Midnight Run (1988), Rowdy Herrington’s Road House (1989), and both Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (Stephen Herek, 1989) and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey (Peter Hewitt, 1991).

This line is still in its infancy and it will be interesting to see in what directions Shout! takes the imprint and if it decides to pull some existing titles into the fold.  At the moment, Shout Select looks like a label devoted to paracinematic favourites (but no horror movies) released by Hollywood in or around the 1980s and starring high profile talent.  MMC! has a few favourites of its own that fit this description, so don’t be surprised if some suggestions for Shout Select canonization appear in the near future!

Matango (Ishiro Honda, 1963)

A HORROR THAT GROWS ON YOU!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddAfter a yacht is damaged in a storm and stranded near a deserted island, its passengers – a psychologist, his student, a wealthy businessman, a famous singer, a popular writer, a sailor, and the boat’s skipper – take refuge on a fungus covered ship marooned on the island’s shore.  With food scarce and the ship’s logs warning that the island’s plentiful mushrooms, called “Matango,” are to be avoided, the castaways find their characters tested, leading to private deals, sexual tension, and violence.  But when the hunger of the shipwrecked party becomes too great and its members begin eating the forbidden fungus, the true horror of Matango is revealed, transforming the castaways in mind and body into hideous fungal monsters!

Famed Japanese director Ishiro Honda assembles an all-star cast from his previous sci-fi films and monster movies for Matango, featuring performances by Akira Kubo, Kumi Mizuno, Kenji Sahara, Hiroshi Koizumi, and Yoshio Tsuchiya.  Captivating hallucinatory sequences, impressive set designs, and fantastically horrifying special effects by the celebrated Eiji Tsuburaya make this colorful B-movie a little known tokusatsu classic.  Based on the 1907 story “The Voice in the Night” by William Hope Hodgson, Matango is one of the strangest, most horrific Toho productions to date and is presented here, for the first time, in high-definition presentations of its original Japanese version and its American cut, Attack of the Mushroom People.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer of the Japanese cut of Matango and of the 1965 American version Attack of the Mushroom People edited for TV by American International Television
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary by star Akira Kubo
  • Interview with SFX cinematographer Teruyoshi Nakano
  • Spoken word reading by screenwriter Masami Fukushima
  • Vinyl Fungus – Artist Barry Allen Williams on Matango and its collectibles
  • “Voice in the Night,” a 1958 episode of Suspicion based on the same source material as Matango
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Production sketches
  • Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by scholar Richard Pusateri and William Hope Hodgson’s original 1907 story “The Voice in the Night”

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The Human Vapor (Ishiro Honda, 1960)

IS HE MAN OR ASTRO-MAN?

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddSomething evil has drifted into Tokyo.  High security banks have been mysteriously robbed with only murdered staff left to mark the crime.  The police are baffled – no fingerprints, no weapons, no clues are found.  The culprit is THE HUMAN VAPOR, an atomic age nightmare spawned of science-gone-mad!  Once just a harmless librarian, a scientific experiment grants him the power to disintegrate into an indestructible gaseous thing.  With a city on edge and journalists keenly following this fantastic figure of modern terror, the police pursue their only clue – a beautiful dancer with an unknown sponsor financing her comeback.  Is she the key to stopping the Gas Man from ruthlessly killing again?

Following in the footsteps of their 1954 sci-fi classic Godzilla, director Ishiro Honda, special effects designer Eiji Tsuburaya, editor Kazuji Taira, and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka create a new story of irradiated horror, this time with a human face.  The Human Vapor is presented here, for the first time, in high definition presentations of both the original Japanese version and the recut American version that transforms Honda’s film from a science fiction mystery into a flashback tale told by the Gas Man himself.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer of the original Japanese cut of The Human Vapor and of the American version recut by Brenco Pictures
  • High definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Japanese and English mono audio soundtracks (uncompressed PCM on the Blu-ray)
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Japanese soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • Audio commentary by actress Kaoru Yachigusa
  • Interview with special effects designer Koichi Kawakita
  • Half Man … Half Beast! – featurette on Eiji Tsuburaya’s special effects with special effects photographer Motoyoshi Tomioka
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by David Kalat, an essay by special effects designer Koichi Kawakita, behind the scenes photos, and poster art

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10 on the 10th – May 2016

The last ten films I’ve watched offers a variety of pet favourites – Japanese industrial espionage, French BD adaptations, Pam Grier, Jean Dujardin, the American Experience series – and most made for worthwhile screenings.  Corridors of Blood was surprisingly entertaining, while Macbeth had moments of fascinating invention trapped in an otherwise slow and dreary presentation.

  1. High Rise PosterIndustrial Spy (Eiichi Kudo, 1968)
  2. Corridors of Blood (Robert Day, 1958)
  3. Quick Change (Howard Franklin and Bill Murray, 1990)
  4. Asterix: The Land of the Gods (Alexandre Astier and Louis Clichy, 2014)
  5. Black Mama, White Mama (Eddie Romero, 1972)
  6. The Connection (Cédric Jimenez, 2014)
  7. The Human Vapor (Ichiro Honda, 1960)
  8. The Mine Wars (Randall MacLowry, 2016)
  9. Macbeth (Justin Kurzel, 2015)
  10. High-Rise (Ben Wheatley, 2015)

I’ve come to think of Ben Wheatley’s films much as I do about the cinema of Stanley Kubrick – often hard to watch and aggressively distanced, but unavoidably compelling nonetheless.  Perhaps this comparison is appropriate given Wheatley’s own admiration for Kubrick.  Wheatley’s latest, High-Rise, is yet another captivating exercise in pure nightmare fuel, featuring a snappily dressed (and sometimes undressed) Tom Hiddleston, a lovely Elisabeth Moss, and Portishead’s unexpected cover of ABBA’s “SOS.”  Those looking for a heavy dose of ’70s materialism and class warfare will likely do well with Wheatley’s dystopian latest.