The Hitcher (Robert Harmon, 1986)

THE TERROR STARTS THE MOMENT HE STOPS

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddWhile driving in heavy rain on a deserted road, Jim Halsey (C. Thomas Howell) pulls over to pick up a hitchhiker (Rutger Hauer).  Halsey quickly regrets his decision to stop as the hitcher puts a knife to Jim’s throat and tells him to pass a car on the side of the road.  Its occupants have already been brutally slaughtered by the ominous stranger.  Now a bloody game cat-and-mouse is about to be played out on these desolate stretches of Texas highway, and every car that passes, and every soul that drives those roads, will have death, destruction, and mayhem along for the ride.

TERROR ALERT!  The Hitcher is a stretch for actress Jennifer Jason Leigh, especially when she’s tied between two vehicles headed in opposite directions!

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround options
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction by director Christopher Nolan
  • Audio commentary by director Robert Harmon and writer Eric Red
  • Scene-specific audio commentary with Harmon, Red, stars C. Thomas Howell and Rutger Hauer, producer Edward S. Feldman, composer Mark Isham, and cinematographer John Seale
  • The Hitcher – How do these Movies get made?, a 39-minute making-of documentary
  • Gunmen’s Blues, Red’s 1981 short film with optional commentary
  • Telephone, Red’s 1983 short film starring Bud Cort with optional commentary
  • China Lake, Harmon’s 1983 short film starring Charles Napier with director’s introduction
  • The Room, Hauer’s 2001 short film with optional commentary by Hauer
  • Teaser and theatrical trailer
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Michael Gingold of Fangoria magazine

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The Criterion Blogathon

Criterion Banner FINALWe are quite naturally very excited to announce our participation in The Criterion Blogathon!  Big thanks to Aaron West at Criterion Blues for the invitation and to him, Kristina at Speakeasy, and Ruth of Silver Screenings for organizing the event!

We obviously love the Criterion Collection, but the nature of this blog usually has us only touch upon the label and its library tangentially, focusing instead on potential additions to the Collection.  This is a choice that has been consciously made, something we’ve always been comfortable with given the existence of great bloggers like Aaron already discussing the Collection and its titles.  We’ve also chosen to usually frame MMC!‘s discussions of our proposed Criterion films in fairly objective terms, avoiding discussing our “personal journeys through cinema” (read: eye-roll).  In this rare instance of speaking about the Criterion Collection directly, we’ll break from our usual tone and format.

It looks like I’ve been granted my first choice in a proposal – crafting a “Criterion Top 10 List” of my own.  Being completely overwhelmed by the array of choice offered in the Collection and aware that Criterion is unlikely to ever approach me to add to its already numerous set of Top 10s, I’ve short circuited the “one title per person” rule so I can speak about 10 titles meaningful to me.  Thanks very much to the organizers for letting me do so.

With that said, I should maybe take a moment and talk about why the Criterion Collection is so important to me.

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The Lauren Bacall Blogathon!

lauren-blogathonAfter her success with The Barrymore Trilogy Blogathon, Crystal at In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood is quickly following up with The Lauren Bacall Blogathon to commemorate what would have been the film star’s 91st birthday this September 16.  September 14 through 16 will be devoted to all things Bacall, with MMC! turning its attention to HealtH (1980), Robert Altman’s rarely seen and very eccentric look at American politics and the health food craze.  Considered by some to be lesser Altman (considered by Ronald Reagan to be “the world’s worst movie”) and proving to be the final nail in the coffin for the director’s relationship with 20th Century Fox, HealtH is an excessive, outlandish, and altogether wacky film that fascinates like few others.

Thanks once again to Crystal for the invite!

Svengali (Archie Mayo, 1931)

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

criterion logoBased on George du Maurier’s novel Trilby, the great John Barrymore stars as the manipulative but charming music tutor Svengali, who uses his hypnotic powers to entrance a young artist’s model named Trilby (Marian Marsh) and transform her into a European singing sensation.  Archie Mayo’s film reverses the book’s focus, emphasizing the sinister Svengali over his attractive victim, resulting in one of Barrymore’s most critically acclaimed performances.  Anton Grot’s art direction and Barney McGill’s cinematography were each nominated for Academy Awards and are as baroque and creepy as Barrymore’s portrayal of the mesmeric maestro.  Svengali is an under-appreciated classic of Hollywood’s early sound horror films and a tragically tantalizing Pre-Code masterpiece.

Disc Features:

  • High definition digital transfer with uncompressed monaural soundtrack
  • Audio commentary featuring film historian Gregory Mank
  • From Trilby to Today, an interview with scholar Gayle Wald on the Svengali figure
  • The Look of Svengali, an interview with designer and journalist Cathy Whitlock
  • PLUS: A new essay by filmmaker Guy Maddin

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10 on the 10th – August 2015

A fairly satisfying array of screenings here.  Interestingly, virtually all of these films proved to be even bleaker and grimmer than expected, with Seisaku’s Wife and Slasher (watched back to back) leaving me feeling particularly drained.  For those interested, we count at least 3 future posts on this list.

  1. Kingsman PosterSeisaku’s Wife (Yasuzo Masumura, 1965)
  2. Slasher (John Landis, 2004)
  3. Passage to Marseille (Michael Curtiz, 1944)
  4. Black Lizard (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968)
  5. Point of Order (Emile de Antonio, 1964)
  6. Love Is Colder Than Death (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1969)
  7. Skip Tracer (Zale Dalen, 1977)
  8. Svengali (Archie Mayo, 1931)
  9. Kingsman: The Secret Service (Matthew Vaughn, 2014)
  10. Ilsa, the Tigress of Siberia (Jean Lafleur, 1977)

Can we talk about Kingsman: The Secret Service for a moment?  The point of MMC! is to spend our time writing about films we love and not ripping down those movies that we dislike.  We must admit, we did not care for Matthew Vaughn’s latest (and for a variety of reasons).  Putting that aside for the moment, Kingsman concludes with a final, leaden joke about a sex act to be performed by Swedish royalty, and for which the film’s main character seems far too eager.  The gag is a sour note, but one that becomes ridiculous when the end credits that immediately follow are accompanied by Take That’s “Get Ready for It.”  Am I the only one appreciating lyrics like “You said there’s only one place left to find/Together we can save the world tonight/Get ready for it” in this context?  Damn you Kuleshov and your nasty effect!

Gettin’ Tail (Against all Odds, 2011)

One last nod to East Coast animation of the 1930s!

Animation of that era claims a certain element of the risqué, what with Betty Boop’s sexualized image, (the garter, the cleavage, the heels, the often spied underwear), at least until the Production Code tamed her to some degree.  Gettin’ Tail takes this salacious streak and goes all in (literally). With direction by Against all Odds (Niklas Rissler and Kevin Grady designing, directing, and animating the short with design assistance from Johan Idesjo), Smutley the Cat humps his way through a conveyor belt of lust while in time with the unrepentant beat of Joan Jett’s “Bad Reputation.”  Gettin’ Tail is loaded with tiny details and easily missed gags that makes the short eminently re-watchable.  It’s good, (not-so) clean fun all in the admirable name of AIDS prevention, ‘cuz there’s nothing silly about wrapping your Willie!