I met Dave at a get-together hosted by a mutual friend eight years ago. Attended by professional, semi-professional, and amateur pop culture nerds, we were invited to share lists of our favourite films and Dave’s list expressed his love of music as well as his love of cinema at its biggest and most minute.
In the years that followed, we would watch movies together when we ran into each other at a screening, we would text about programming ideas and other movie stuff, and we would share festival discoveries. I would give him rides home when he needed them, he would hook my son up with Godzilla stuff, and my wife would restrain her urge to make him a sandwich. When I discovered he was in the hospital, I sent him a message wishing him well and asking him to reach out once he recovered, hoping he would find the message once he was discharged. Sadly that won’t happen, but I’m very grateful for the time I got to spend with Dave and I wish him the best on whatever new project he’s now moved on to.
In celebration of Dave, MMC! offers this brief tribute to the man on screen and there’s no better place to start than Dave’s 2014 short film Will the Real Dave Barber Please Stand Up?, a hilarious account of Dave being awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee medal.
In the meantime, let’s check out a few trailers from FIFF’s various programs that have piqued MMC!’s interest!
“The titan Takashi Miike takes us back to the magical world of the Yokai as a war threatens to destroy Tokyo. An irreverent fairytale!”
Fantasia’s “Cheval Noir” section is its flagship, juried competition and MMC! can’t help but be drawn to Takashi Miike’s The Great Yokai War – Guardians. The film returns Miike to the wacky world of his 2005 movie The Great Yokai War and features a pair of boys who discover they are the last descendants of a legendary fighter and the only hope to save some gentle demons and the city of Tokyo. And in an elegant bit of programming, Fantasia has slotted Miike’s latest to close the 2021 Festival, book-ending it against the director’s earlier film that opened the 2006 Festival.
Listening to the latest Arrow Video Podcast on Sōgo Ishii’s Burst City (1982), I thought I had scored a rare Sam and Dan bingo by having seen the film and all of the hosts’ related recommendations! In addition to Burst City, I had already watched Ishii’s Electric Dragon 80.000 V (2001), Damon Packard’s Reflections of Evil (2002), and Shigeru Izumiya’s Death Powder (1986), but alas I had not yet screened my copy of Versus. I remedied that and found it to be nutso fun, playing like a splatterpunk sizzle reel for Sam Raimi’s Matrix-inspired, live-action adaptation of a supernatural manga. That, plus its weirdo Japanese Robert Mitchum playing a gay Joker really grew on me.
Believe it or not, I also saw Clueless for the first time and it felt like a teen rom-com directed by Paul Verhoeven. Verhoeven has been a master of films that fall so deeply into their satires that they lose sight of their parody and become uncanny versions of their subjects. I enjoyed Clueless and I really think it could develop a bit of a cult following with a little word of mouth.
And for those looking for hints on MMC!’s next imagined Criterion edition, that next title isn’t listed above but there is definitely some research going on in these last ten screenings. It’s not much to go on, but I thought I’d mention it anyway. Enjoy the weekend, kids!
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Simon & Garfunkel: Songs of America.
Directed by their friend Charles Grodin and airing almost two months before the release of Bridge Over Troubled Water, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel’s 1969 television special Simon & Garfunkel: Songs of America previewed their landmark album and shows the two on stage, in the studio, and on a concert tour across a turbulent country. The documentary follows the duo in cinéma verité style while interspersing footage of the social movements that defined a nation growing more aware, more sophisticated, and more complex. The special’s initial sponsor infamously balked at footage of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers, the Poor People’s March on Washington, and the recently slain Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and Senator Robert F. Kennedy. Though unpopular at the time, Songs of America has become an enduring portrait of an era and of Simon & Garfunkel as artists, with incisive commentary provided by iconic songs like “America,” “The Boxer,” “Scarborough Fair,” “Mrs. Robinson,” “The Sound of Silence,” “El Cóndor Pasa (If I Could),” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”
New high-definition digital restoration with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
Robert Ryan’s 1969 introduction to the television special
The Harmony Game, Jennifer Lebeau’s 2011 feature-length documentary on the making of Simon and Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water album
Remembering Chuck, new interviews with Simon and Garfunkel on their personal and professional friendship with Grodin
Saturday Night Live sketch from 1977 featuring Charles Grodin, Paul Simon, and Art Garfunkel
PLUS: A new essay by rock journalist Ben Fong-Torres
Aw yeah! The Fantasia International Film Festival has announced its second wave of titles and it’s full of intriguing movies. Fantasia’s emphasis on Japanese cinema really becomes clear with this latest batch of announcements and MMC! is particularly impressed with the array of animated titles in this year’s edition! Cryptozoo! Junk Head! Pompo: The Cinéphile! Poupelle of Chimney Town! Fortune Favors Lady Nikuko! The Spine of Night! And a documentary on the great Satoshi Kon — Satoshi Kon, The Illusionist!
Here is Fantasia‘s press release for its second slate of announcements!
Wednesday, June 23, 2021 // Montreal, QC — The Fantasia International Film Festival will launch its 25th edition this summer as an exciting virtual event composed of scheduled screenings, on-demand library, panels, and workshops, taking place from August 5th to August 25th. The festival will be accessible across Canada, geo-locked to the country, and will maintain unique film admittance quantities in line with the cinema experience.
Fantasia is thrilled to reveal a second wave of programming and will return in late July with a third and final line-up announcement, including features, virtual events, and juries.
In celebration of Fantasia’s 25th anniversary, the international film festival will be hosting a special event screening of the eagerly awaited Warner Bros. Pictures superhero action adventure THE SUICIDE SQUAD. The in-person screening will be held on August 4 at Montreal’s historic Imperial Theater (birthplace of the fest) and tickets will be available to the public. The film releases in theaters on August 6.
THE SUICIDE SQUAD is written and directed by long-time Fantasia friend James Gunn, who first attended the fest in 1997 and whose previous comic book blockbuster GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY made its Canadian Premiere at Fantasia in 2014. Gunn’s no-holds-barred take on the DC team-up finds Super-Villains Harley Quinn, Bloodsport, Peacemaker and a collection of cons incarcerated at Belle Reve prison joining the super-secret, super-shady Task Force X as they are dropped off at the remote, enemy-infused island of Corto Maltese.
Amid the success of The Street Fighter and Sister Street Fighter series, Toei Company had found a new star in Etsuko Shihomi and had created its first female martial arts hero, one that was tough, virtuous, and courageous. In 1975, Shihomi found herself in possibly her sleaziest film: 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats, a pinky violence genre mash-up that mixed girl gangs, women in prison, yakuza, and martial arts action into a single sensational movie. As Maki Hyuga, Shihomi is the leader of the Stray Cats girl gang, fighting for justice against evil gangsters and stuck up rich girls. Though her karate skills are unsurpassed, Maki is framed and thrown into a sadistic women’s prison. Will she escape and take her revenge?
Making its worldwide Blu-ray debut, 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats is paired here with Norifumi Suzuki’s The Great Chase, an oddball action flick released the same year and starring Etsuko Shihomi as a race car driver moonlighting as a secret agent. Filled with unceasing action, outlandish situations, and plenty of female resistance to male domination, 13 Steps to Maki and The Great Chase reveal new shades to Etsuko Shihomi’s stardom and stand as spectacular examples of Japanese exploitation in the 1970s.
Special Edition Contents:
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of 13 Steps of Maki: The Young Aristocrats and The Great Chase
Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio on both films
Optional newly translated English subtitles on both films
New video interviews with actor Shinichi “Sonny” Chiba and director Makoto Naito
Theatrical trailers for both films
Stills and poster galleries for both films
Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Kungfubob O’Brien