Red Rock West (John Dahl, 1993)

Designed for the film lover in mind, SHOUT SELECT shines a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf. 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.

YOU’RE LYLE FROM DALLAS, RIGHT?

Dead tired and flat broke after driving 1,200 miles, Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) walks into a local tavern in the dusty town of Red Rock, Wyoming, and is immediately offered a job. There’s only one problem: the bar owner (J. T. Walsh) thinks Michael is a hitman and the “job” is murdering his wife (Lara Flynn Boyle). And just as Michael decides to take the money and skip town without killing anyone, the real hitman (Dennis Hopper) arrives ready to do the job right. Recalling Blood Simple and other classic thrillers of the ’80s and ’90s, Red Rock West is a stylish and cutthroat neonoir full of jealousy, murder, greed, and corruption and where your best friend is a loaded gun.

Special Features:

  • NEW HD Film Transfer
  • Audio Commentary With Director And Co-Writer John Dahl
  • In Conversation: Nicolas Cage And John Dahl
  • Lyle From Dallas: Remembering Dennis Hopper
  • In Conversation: Dwight Yoakam On The Soundtrack
  • Original Theatrical Trailer
  • Image Gallery

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10 on the 10th – July 2018

These last ten films I’ve watched are a fun collection of titles. I actively avoid most of Wonder Boys‘ cast but still love that film. O Brother remains a perfect case of fans getting a film ahead the critics and takes on added resonance in the current political landscape. Watching Zach Galifianakis recite Burt Reynolds lines in The Campaign is stupendous, seeing Snoop Dogg cover one of my favourite hip hop tracks in Old School is magical, and every moment of Sam Rockwell in Gentlemen Broncos is proof of divine power at work in our daily lives.

  1. Wonder Boys (Curtis Hanson, 2000)
  2. Aventurera (Aberto Gout, 1950)
  3. The Campaign (Jay Roach, 2012)
  4. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (Joel and Ethan Coen, 2000)
  5. Old School (Todd Phillips, 2003)
  6. Red Rock West (John Dahl, 1993)
  7. Gentlemen Broncos (Jared Hess, 2009)
  8. Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (Atsushi Yamatoya, 1967)
  9. Mad Monster Party? (Jules Bass, 1967)
  10. A Fish Called Wanda (Charles Crichton, 1988)

Yet for as unusual a film as was Inflatable Sex Doll of the Wastelands (think a Suzuki-esque, free-jazz hitman film with problematic, Wakamatsu-like erotica), the real winner for cinematic wildness was Aventurera, a Mexican melodrama/film noir/musical/revenge film starring Cuban rumba queen Ninón Sevilla. Anyone looking for impossible musical numbers, chiaroscuro, mute henchmen, infidelity, fallen women, ping-pong, back-stabbing, and fruit-inspired stage costumes should run to see this and free me of my periodic use of italics for emphasis!

Body Melt (Philip Brophy, 1993)

HORRIBLE MUTATION IN ONE EASY-TO-TAKE SUPPLEMENT!

In the Melbourne suburb of Homesville, the residents of the Pebbles Court cul-de-sac enjoy their middle-class comforts unaware that they participate in experimental testing of a “dietary supplement” called Vimuville. Suspicions are raised by a mysterious man who crashes his car into their small community but no one sees the unearthly tentacles that erupt from the man’s gaping neck wound and force their way down his throat. Soon after, the folks in Pebbles Court quickly find themselves deforming, mutating, and exploding in hilariously frightening ways that involve living mucous, rib removals, killer placentas, giant tongues, exploding erections, collapsing craniums, cannibalism, and BODY MELT!

Co-written and directed by Philip Brophy of the experimental rock group → ↑ → and featuring the gory special effects magic of Braindead‘s Bob McCarron, Body Melt is a splatstick classic in the spirit of early Peter Jackson, hailed by Quentin Tarantino as “the best movie of its kind since Re-Animator” and “the best Australian film of the ’90s.”

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

  • 2K Remastered High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Audio commentary with writer-director Philip Brophy, writer-producer Rod Bishop, and producer Daniel Scharf
  • Audio commentary with Brophy discussing his score for the film
  • Making Bodies Melt, the making of Body Melt
  • Salt, Saliva, Sperm and Sweat, Brophy’s 1988 experimental short film
  • Behind-the-scenes featurette
  • Complete storyboards
  • Stills gallery
  • Original trailer
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Australian film critic Adrian Martin and Philip Brophy’s 2004 article on the film’s making

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To Sleep with Anger (Charles Burnett, 1990)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents To Sleep with Anger.

Charles Burnett crafts a masterpiece of independent cinema with To Sleep with Anger, a magical realist exploration of a black middle-class family living in South Central Los Angeles. Family tensions are already simmering in the household of Gideon (Paul Butler) and Suzie (Mary Alice) when their old friend Harry Mention (Danny Glover in arguably his greatest performance) turns up on their doorstep unannounced looking for hospitality and a temporary roof over his head. Reminding them of their Southern roots, Gideon and Suzie cannot refuse his request but when Gideon mysteriously suffers from an unexpected stroke, Harry’s easy charm gives way to a malevolent spell that provokes turmoil throughout the family, setting son against son and reviving past hatreds. Burnett reveals himself as not just the master of poetic urban realism that created his classic first film, Killer of Sheep, but an expert interpreter of African-American folk culture and one of the great chroniclers of the American experience.

Disc Features:

  • 4K digital transfer, approved by director Charles Burnett, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • The Trouble with Harry, an introduction by director Ernest Dickerson
  • New interviews with Burnett and actors Glover, Alice, Sheryl Lee Ralph, and Carl Lumbly
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Andrew Chan

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10 on the 10th – June 2018

The last ten movies I’ve watched nod strongly toward Australia (Body Melt, Hollywood BurnTerror Nullius, Toni Collette in Hereditary) and found footage (the Soda_Jerk films again and The Green Fog). It’s a good batch of titles with The Green Fog (a clever and hilarious take on Hitchcock’s Vertigo), Hereditary (family trauma and arch performances in a disturbingly manipulated world), and Terror Nullius (a tale of political revenge told through Australian film with the stridency of a student newspaper – in a good way) all finding places on my best of 2018 list.

  1. The King of Jazz (John Murray Anderson, 1930)
  2. Hereditary (Ari Aster, 2018)
  3. The Bird with the Crystal Plumage (Dario Argento, 1970)
  4. The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Galen Johnson, and Evan Johnson, 2017)
  5. Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1978)
  6. Have a Nice Day (Liu Jian, 2017)
  7. Body Melt (Philip Brophy, 1993)
  8. Hollywood Burn (Soda_Jerk, 2006)
  9. Terror Nullius (Soda_Jerk, 2018)
  10. Paddington 2 (Paul King, 2017)

I was lucky enough to see The Green Fog with Guy Maddin and the Johnson brothers. Here are my favourite observations from the Q&A:

  • None of the filmmakers re-watched Vertigo to prepare for its re-making. “We’ve all seen it a bunch of times right?”;
  • The Johnsons became so enamoured with the TV series The Streets of San Francisco (1972-1977) and Hotel (1983-1988) that The Green Fog started to become an effort in not using footage from the shows;
  • As a Douglas Sirk fan, Maddin was happy to feature Rock Hudson in McMillan & Wife and wanted to avoid creating any kind of queer commentary by his appearance;
  • The film was commissioned by the San Francisco Silent Film Festival. Despite being asked to produce a 45-minute work (in an extremely short amount of time!) and actually submitting a 63-minute film, the initially completed version was over 80 minutes long. The filmmakers cut 20 minutes of people sitting at dinner tables not talking to each (a situation that makes up a sizeable portion of the 63-minute final cut) as they thought audiences would not be able to stand the extended joke. (Personally, I hope this longer cut somehow gets circulated should The Green Fog reach hard media);
  • Midway through The Green Fog is an extended sequence of Chuck Norris looking sad in various settings. The footage came from the film An Eye for an Eye (Steve Carver, 1981) and Maddin remarked that Norris achieves a “Bressonian expressionlessness” in the footage;
  • Animation and Canadian cinema scholar Gene Walz remarked that The Green Fog reveals how easy and repetitive much of filmmaking is. “Get a shot of a car driving by. Then one of it rounding a corner. Now going down a hill.”

Arrow Made Mine! The Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji Edition

MMC! asked for it 2 years and 9 months ago in a Criterion edition, but it’s Arrow Academy that has answered our request for Tomu Uchida’s Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji, a classic of Japanese cinema and a welcome entry point for a great director little known outside his homeland. Those looking for more on Uchida and a spoiler filled survey of the film can refer back to my post on Bloody Spear as well as my discussion of Uchida’s other masterpiece, A Fugitive of the Past. Here’s hoping that Arrow Academy’s foray in Uchida’s filmography is a sign that an AA edition of Fugitive (and other Uchida films) might also be on the horizon and that Japanese film fans might find a new director to celebrate and, in the case of Fugitive, a new favourite crime procedural to embrace. Take that High and Low!