The Servant (Joseph Losey, 1963)

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

criterion logoBritish class distinctions are abused and upended in Joseph Losey’s adaptation of Robin Maugham’s 1963 short novella, where Tony (James Fox), a rich, ineffectual Oxford bachelor, is gradually debased by the insidious influence of his newly hired manservant, Hugo Barrett (Dirk Bogarde).  Despite the suspicions of Tony’s girlfriend Susan (Wendy Craig) and her opposition Hugo’s constant presence, Tony’s servant ingratiates himself to his naïve employer and becomes an indispensable facet of Tony’s lifestyle, all while slowly subjugating his employer through subtle manipulation.  This superb, shadowy study of brooding decadence and corruption features the claustrophic cinematography of Douglas Slocombe, the uneasy jazz score of John Dankworth, and marks the first of three cinematic collaborations between Losey and celebrated playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction by experimental electronic musicians Matmos
  • Interview with actor James Fox by actor-director Richard Ayoade
  • Interviews with actors Wendy Craig and Sarah Miles, producer-director Stephen Woolley, Pinter-associate Harry Burton, and Dirk Bogarde biographer John Coldstream
  • New interview with scholar Amy Sargeant on the design and context of The Servant
  • Audio interview with cinematographer Douglas Slocombe
  • Interview of screenwriter Harold Pinter from the 1965 British television show Tempo
  • Archival interview with Joseph Losey on The Servant
  • Excepts from the 1963 television show Camera Three featuring Losey, filmmaker Adolfas Mekas, New York Film Festival director Amos Vogel, and festival organizer Richard Roud
  • Stills gallery
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: Booklet with essay by Peter Bradshaw and the 1948 novella by Robin Maugham

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10 on the 10th – April 2016

Much of my time of late is being spent watching short films in preparation for a future MMC! proposal/event, but features are still getting screened and here are the last 10 films I’ve watched!

  1. The Abominable Dr Phibes Ghoulish Gary PullinDead Heat (Mark Goldblatt, 1988)
  2. Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon (Yoshio Kuroda and Sanae Yamamoto, 1965)
  3. Capone Cries a Lot (Seijun Suzuki, 1985)
  4. King of the Hill (Donald Brittain and William Canning, 1974)
  5. Wings (Larisa Shepitko, 1966)
  6. 20,000 Days on Earth (Jane Pollard and Iain Forsyth, 2014)
  7. The Organizer (Mario Monicelli, 1963)
  8. The Abominable Dr. Phibes (Robert Fuest, 1971)
  9. Blood Rage (John Grissmer, 1987)
  10. The Hateful Eight (Quentin Tarantino, 2015)

For the most part, all of these films prove quite enjoyable within their own specific parameters, whether that’s art cinema, documentary, or weirdo trash.  (Admittedly, Gulliver’s Travels Beyond the Moon is not the finest example of Toei Doga.)  And while Dead HeatCapone Cries a LotBlood Rage certainly stand on their own for sheer nuttiness, a special place has been set aside in my filmic heart for The Abominable Dr. Phibes, a movie I’ve only just seen for the first time and now stands as the pinnacle of Vincent Price’s malevolently peculiar career.  Easily the best film I’ve ever watched combining a revenge plot inspired by a series of biblical plagues, a clockwork orchestra, and disfigured theologian/musician wildly playing an organ embellished in red lucite.

Road Games (Richard Franklin, 1981)

ONE GAME KILLS TIME – THE OTHER KILLS PEOPLE!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddStacey Keach is Pat Quid, an eccentric trucker who plays games to keep his sanity on long hauls through the desolate Outback.  With his pet dingo keeping him company, Quid creates imaginary lives for the people he sees on the road – families, hitchhikers, cyclists.  A mysterious green van picking up young female hitchhikers arouses the trucker’s suspicions, leading Quid to the conclusion that its driver may be a maniac killer butchering women across Australia.  A free-spirited hitchhiker (Jamie Lee Curtis) joins Quid in his game of detective, but when the killer raises their stakes, the game becomes personal and fun turns to fear.

Director Richard Franklin packs plenty of wry humor and Hitchcockian suspense into this psychological shocker that was nominated for four Australian Film Institute Awards and remains one of the most surprising thrillers of the 1980s.

Special Features:

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Glengarry Glen Ross (James Foley, 1992)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Glengarry Glen Ross.

criterion logoAdapted from his Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Glengarry Glen Ross shows David Mamet at his searing, profane best.  A group of hard-luck real estate salesman/con artists eke a livelihood out of bad leads and duplicitous sales tactics, but when an emissary from their employer arrives from downtown to abusively inform them that half of the sales team will be fired in a week, desperation leads to a plot to burglarize the office, steal the company’s new, winning leads, and find employment with a rival across the street.  Featuring one of cinema’s greatest movie ensembles, including Al Pacino, Jack Lemmon, Kevin Spacey, Alec Baldwin, Ed Harris, Alan Arkin, and Jonathan Pryce, director James Foley forges a tragically hard-bitten portrait of the American dream’s misuse, where survival means always selling and always closing without care or conscience for how it’s done.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, with 2.0 surround DTS-HD Master audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New audio commentary with playwright and screenwriter David Mamet and producer Jerry Tokofsky
  • Scene commentaries with director James Foley, actors Alan Arkin and Alec Baldwin, production designer Jane Musky, and cinematographer Juan Ruiz Anchía
  • New interview with Al Pacino
  • ABC: Always Be Closing, a half-hour documentary on salesmanship including interviews with Foley, documentarian Albert Maysles, and director Gregory Mosher
  • Magic Time: A Tribute to Jack Lemmon, a half-hour appreciation of the late actor
  • Appearance by Jack Lemmon on the Charlie Rose Show
  • Appearance by Kevin Spacey on Inside the Actor’s Studio
  • J. Roy: New and Used Furniture, Tony Buba’s 10-minute profile of legendary salesman Jimmy Roy
  • Theatrical trailer, with an appreciation from John Landis for Trailers from Hell
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by scholar Ira Nadel and critic Stuart Klawans

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A Three Reasons Preview

It seems like our latest post is taking longer than expected and so we thought we might offer another “Three Reasons” preview in the meantime.  I don’t expect too much difficulty figuring out our next title and I can definitely picture what this video would look like – assuming Criterion still made “Three Reasons” videos!  (Criterion – Please bring them back!)

Three ReasonsHere are our “Three Reasons” for MMC!‘s next Criterion Collection hopeful:

  1. It’s All About the Leads
  2. The ABCs of Sales
  3. A Profane Classic

The Reel Infatuation Blogathon

Reel Infatuation BannersRuth at Silver Screenings and maedez of A Small Press Life have enticed us to join one more blogathon (no more please!), this one to celebrate crushes on fictional characters.  “The Reel Infatuation Blogathon” already boasts a Criterion connection with an upcoming post on King Vidor’s Gilda (1946), a worthy cinema crush if there ever was one.

MMC! will celebrate its favourite actress of all time – Greer Garson!  We’ll promote Mervyn LeRoy’s Random Harvest (1942) for a wacky “C” and spend some time gushing over how much we love Garson in the role of Paula Ridgeway/Margaret Hanson.  Garson steps out of her typical role here (and into a rather short kilt!) with great skill, being funny and sexy without losing her inherent dignity, compassion, or sophistication.  And has Hollywood ever a better pair of voices to headline a film than Garson and Ronald Coleman?!?  Enough for now – we better get writing!