Ali Khamraev’s sleek, stylish film, a modernist political melodrama that earned prizes abroad but official disapproval at home, interconnects the stories of three women struggling with traditional social constraints in post-World War II Uzbekistan. One is an illiterate but very determined young woman committed to building a house even though local custom does not permit it without the approval of her absent husband. Another is a school teacher seeking to bring progressive ideas to a village long subjugated by strict old-fashioned practices. The last is an elderly woman who was kidnapped by a poor peasant in her youth and forced into marriage. A dreamy and impressionistic remembrance set in a hardscrabble world, Khamraev’s Triptych is an underseen achievement in international art house cinema.
This just in – the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has gotten bigger and bolder in 2018! This 9th edition of the festival will run November 14 to 18 and includes an extra day of programming, a Kier-La Janisse curated “Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cereal Cartoon Party” (a past MMC! favourite), and a body horror retrospective featuring Criterion and Arrow Video title Videodrome, Arrow video classic Society, and past MMC! subject Body Melt. Festival founder and director John Allison remarks:
Adding in the extra day has allowed us to up our game with the festival. Our focus continues to be bringing in the best new genre films to Saskatoon but with the extra time available we are screening more movies than ever, adding in the Saturday morning all you can eat cereal cartoon party, and the first of hopefully many retrospectives, with this year’s subject being Body Horror.
The first wave of announced titles include a pair of MMC! favourites from the Chattanooga FIlm Festival – Trevor Stevens’ Rock Steady Row and Issa López’s Tigers Are Not Afraid – and a number of exciting movies as yet unseen by MMC!, including Joko Anwar’s terrifying Satan’s Slaves, Gaspar Noé’s delirious Climax, Tilman Singer’s diabolical Luz, and Zeek Earl and Christopher Caldwell’s tenacious Prospect.
MMC! plans on being in attendance so check back for further announcements and reports or visit our Letterboxd list for some hot takes from the SFFF itself.
Here are the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s first wave of announcements:
The Criterion Collection’s December announcements are up and MMC!‘s three-and-a-half-year old proposal has finally come to fruition with the release of Sam Fuller’s Forty Guns (1957)! Sharp-eyed film fans will note that this edition includes Criterion’s long-awaited hard media release of A Fuller Life, Samantha Fuller’s documentary on her father’s life and career. So, once again, you’re welcome film nerds.
Check out the Collection’s “Coming Soon” page to see the rest of Criterion’s December titles: A Dry White Season (Euzhan Palcy, 1989), Panique (Julien Duvivier, 1946), and a blugrade of Sawdust and Tinsel (Ingmar Bergman, 1953).
This latest list of the last ten films I’ve watched kicks off with a movie recommended to me by the TIFF Cinematheque Recommendation Engine. Sandra was recommended for me along with Rashomon, Seven Samurai, In a Lonely Place, and To Live and Die in LA. I’d say that the TIFF Engine knew me pretty well but Visconti’s film is certainly the least of these five titles and probably would have not been remarkable but for Claudia Cardinale’s starring role. My hunt for a Visconti film to fall in love with continues!
- Sandra (Luchino Visconti, 1965)
- Design Canada (Greg Durrell, 2018)
- Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979)
- Ready Player One (Steven Spielberg, 2018)
- Deep Red (Dario Argento, 1975)
- Shanty Tramp (Joseph G. Prieto, 1967)
- Get Out (Jordan Peele, 2017)
- Save the Tiger (John G. Avildsen, 1973)
- The Cat o’ Nine Tails (Dario Argento, 1971)
- David Lynch: The Art Life (Jon Nguyen, Rick Barnes, and Olivi Neergaard-Holm, 2016)
Those looking for sneaky fun titles should check out Design Canada and Shanty Tramp. The former is a conventionally congratulatory but thoroughly charming take on the golden age of Canadian design, while the latter is a byNWR hicksploitation title that crazily mashes up white trash hussies, hep cat biker gangs, legit racism, moonshiners, gangsters, and plenty of cheap deaths. I can’t really decide what that titular tramp is worse at: dancing or stabbing!
When a Red Army detachment captures Sultan Nazar, the leader of a Basmachi contingent opposing Soviet forces, a decision is made to urgently escort the prisoner to the neighboring Bukhara province. The difficult mission is entrusted to Mirzo, an experienced mountain trapper and conscientious revolutionary whose expertise is essential to traversing the precarious paths and steep mountain ridges along the way. Mirzo, his brother Kova, the Sultan, his daughter Zaranghis, and his slave Saifulla set off on this journey, pursued doggedly along the way by Fattobek, the ruthless new head of the Basmachis, a cadre of loyal fighters, and his prophetic wife, Aibash. Recalling the Western psychodramas of Anthony Mann, The Bodyguard is yet another of Ali Khamraev’s harshly beautiful and action-packed Easterns.
The Seventh Bullet is set after the Russian Civil War as Soviet power established itself in Central Asia and as opposing Basmachi rebels cross the border bringing death and destruction to peaceful villages. Local militia leader Maksumov struggles in his campaign against Basmachi warlord Khairulla who has captured most of his men and won them to his side. With little other option, Maksumov gives himself up in hopes of being reunited with his men and winning them back to the Revolution. Ali Khamraev’s take on the Red Western was an international hit, featuring rollicking action, reassuring heroism, and an unstoppable performance by its star, Suymenkul Chokmorov.