The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Face in the Crowd.
Before he brought Mayberry, North Carolina, into American homes and became an icon of moral rectitude as Sheriff Andy Taylor, Andy Griffith burst onto cinema screens as Lonesome Rhodes, a charismatic drifter with a canny, down-home wit and an avaricious taste for status and influence. After charming Arkansas radio reporter Marcia Jeffries (Patricia Neal) and becoming a local media star, Rhodes leverages his growing popularity into national television fame and a trusted position among political and industrial power-brokers. Gradually Rhodes is corrupted by his own success and his laid-back attitude gives way to a monstrous off-camera personality. With stand-out supporting performances by Walter Matthau, Anthony Franciosa, and Lee Remick, director Elia Kazan and screenwriter Budd Schulberg create a roaring statement against grassroots fascism, advertising fakery, and the pernicious influence of television on the political process.
With just a few major films of 2017 still to see, I expect Kogonada’s Columbus (2017) to be my favourite film of the year. I naturally love the movie’s formal rigour, being full of compositional matches and self-reflexive treatments of architecture that draw in complimentary ideas about the nature of film (oh, those mirrors!), however I also found it emotionally clear and engaging. It helps that I live in a city with its own particular debt to modernist architecture. Is John Cho’s “brutal” comment when looking at Haley Lu Richardson’s concrete school an architecture joke? I hope so, because I laughed like it was.
- The Vampire and Sex (René Cardona, 1969)
- One Piece: Chopper’s Kingdom on the Island of Strange Animals (Atsuji Shimizu, 2002)
- Some Like It Hot (Billy Wilder, 1959)
- Columbus (Kogonada, 2017)
- A Face in the Crowd (Elia Kazan, 1957)
- Star Wars: The Last Jedi (Rian Johnson, 2017)
- Top Hat (Mark Sandrich, 1935)
- Kamikaze 1989 (Wolf Gremm, 1982)
- Snows of Grenoble (Jacques Ertaud and Jean-Jacques Languepin, 1968)
- 13 Days in France (Claude Lelouch and François Reichenbach, 1968)
A few final thoughts:
- I find it hilarious that the vampire in the Santo-starring The Vampire and Sex seems only able to drink the blood of women while they’re topless.
- I also find it hilarious how wrong that movie portrays mirrors.
- My wife put The Last Jedi at the top of her non-original trilogy list, but I felt almost nothing for it either way.
- You know that Marilyn Monroe is sexy when even a 4 year-old boy stops in his tracks multiple times to watch her giggle and bounce.
- I’m loving the Criterion Collection’s Olympic box and I’m very happy with my approach of starting in the middle and working my way outwards.
- One of these ten films will be my next MMC! proposal!
I don’t know about you, but it’s cold where I am. And it’s not going to get warm for a while. It’s all enough to make you lose it a little. Just ask Winston (Matt Kelly), the titular character of Aram Sarkisian’s award-winning short film, — Winston. I saw — Winston on the second day of the 2017 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and it completely drew me in. In my Festival Report, I commented:
Aram Sarkisian crafts a snowy hell of murder and paranoia in —Winston (2017). Fevered letters recounting one man’s hatred for his neighbour offer a window into the main character’s descent into Poe-inspired madness and Sarkisian’s knack for stark design and affective montage (along with some great voice-acting) make —Winston a tiny masterpiece in the macabre.
Seeing it again, I’m further struck by Sarkisian’s intensified atmosphere, particularly those shots simulating a camera view struggling to maintain stability amid winds (and probably blood loss and slipping sanity). — Winston won the Short Film Audience Choice Gold and was my #4 film of the Festival. It’s still excellent and a great way to kick off 2018 at MMC!
HONG KONG’S ORIGINAL MONSTER MASH!
When the sinister Princess Elzebub and her demonic minions ascend from the centre of the Earth to conquer Hong Kong and then the rest of the world, only Professor Liu Ying-de and the Science Headquarters stand in their way. Danny Lee stars as a young man transformed into Inframan, the sensational superhero made beyond bionics! With solar rays and thunderbolt fists, he sets out to vanquish humankind’s enemies forever in this fantastical story of rubber-suited villainy and plastic armor heroism.
Featuring not just one but two Bruceploitation stars (Danny Lee and Bruce Le), the mind-boggling fight choreography of Lan-Shan Ho (The Way of the Dragon), and costumes and creature designs by Ekisu Productions (Kamen Rider), The Super Inframan is a singular tokusatsu action experience from the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Mandarin mono audio, plus 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options, and English mono audio dub track (uncompressed LPCM)
- New English subtitles
- New interviews with actors Danny Lee, Bruce Le, and Terry Lau
- Introduction by Mystery Science Theater 3000 producer Joel Hodgson
- Director Jörg Buttgereit on The Super Inframan
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Damon Foster and August Ragone and interview with director Shan Hua
Merry Christmas from MMC!
This year, MMC! brings you good tidings of great joy by way of the Film Junk short, A Very Gerry X-Mas! (Jay Cheel, 2010). Starring Reed Harrington, made by Jay Cheel (director of another MMC! favourite – Beauty Day), and featuring a brilliant opening sequence by Rob Niosi, A Very Gerry X-Mas! provides a quirky, awkward take on traditional holiday television programming. Part cooking show, part instructional video, part video confessional, part dream sequence, part fireside reading, this is all tongue-in-cheek, holiday goodness.
Happy holidays to everyone out there! Stay safe!
(And our next post will go up before the end of the year … and this time I mean it!)
Our next proposal is taking forever. Maybe with a little effort I can get it posted before Christmas!
While we all wait, how about a quick shout-out to The Magic Lantern podcast! It’s the end of the year, so that means that the show’s hosts, Ericca Long and Cole Roulain, have recently put up their latest “Ants In Your Pants” episode where they share their respective top ten first time screenings for the year (plus some honourable mentions). Included on their list are various MMC! favourites like Ruggles of Red Gap (Leo McCarey, 1935), ‘I Know Where I’m Going!’ (Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger, 1945), The Lineup (Don Seigel, 1958), and The Hourglass Sanatorium (Wojciech Jerzy Has, 1973). If you haven’t already discovered their wonderful podcast, go take a listen and maybe even buy one of their swell, glow-in-the-dark pins!
And because imitation is the sincerest form of flattery (and because I’m incapable of restraint and of not making lists of my own), here are my top 20 first time screenings for 2017 along with my Letterboxd reviews.