The Calgary Underground Film Festival kicks off a week of cinematic goodness with tonight’s screening of Abe Forsythe’s zombie comedy Little Monsters and MMC! couldn’t be happier! CUFF 2019 looks stacked with great titles sure to satisfy cinephiles looking to scratch hard to reach places. Eccentric documentaries, up and coming indie mavericks, art house genre masterpieces, and all around weirdness are waiting to be discovered at Calgary’s Globe Cinema this week. MMC! has seen almost half of CUFF’s programmed features already and so we are happy to point the way for those looking to navigate this great roster of titles.
Knife + Heart (Yann Gonzalez)
I’m not sure how many times MMC! can keep waving the flag for Yann Gonzalez’s Knife + Heart. It was our favourite film at the 2018 Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and landed at #17 on MMC!‘s top 20 films of 2018. This sex-positive, queer riff on Italian giallo cinema is lushly sleazy in all the right ways, beautifully merging art cinema sophistication and exploitation sinema salaciousness. Set in the Parisian gay porn industry of 1979, Vanessa Paradis impresses as a third-tier production company’s matriarchal head struggling with the murders of her cast by a leather masked killer. Gonzalez makes no half-steps in Knife + Heart and viewers are rewarded with outlandish porn scenes, wild physical deformities, truly phallic murder weapons, and even a bizarre bear attack. This is a film that perfectly walks the line between creating a pastiche that respects its precedent and revising a familiar genre to reflect the diversity of people and stories that demand representation today. Knife + Heart should not be missed!
The 2019 Chattanooga Film Festival is now done and dusted and its winners have been announced. Giovana Olmos won the Student Filmmaker Award for Sweet Tooth, Dylan Meyer took the prize for Best Short with Rock Bottom, Andi Morrow’s Pusher the Movie won for Tennessee Filmmaker, Bethany Brooke Anderson won Best Feature for Burning Kentucky, and the Audience Prize went to Billy Senese’s The Dead Center. Senese’s film, shot in Nashville, was the only award-winner that I saw and it was an enjoyable horror experience, featuring an ancient evil unexpectedly held in a hospital’s psychiatric ward and a frustrated doctor forced to face this unexpected threat. The filmmaker’s own experiences with mental illness obviously inform The Dead Center and the film finds legitimate scares in the friction between its institutional setting and its supernatural menace. Still, the movie fails to make the most of its concept by remaining too vague in its characters and its monster, missing opportunities to ratchet up its stakes and bring its audience even closer to The Dead Center‘s dark core. I would encourage horror fans to check out The Dead Center but MMC! had favourites of its own and the best of the best were found in the “CFFeatures” section.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Shoplifters.
On the margins of Tokyo, a band of petty thieves take in an abandoned and abused child stranded in the cold. Incorporating the girl into their family, they find new happiness amongst each other, however their tenuous, below-the-radar existence is threatened when their son is arrested and their makeshift family is questioned. Shoplifters is Hirokazu Kore-eda’s latest masterpiece, winner of the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or and a quintessential expression of filmmaker’s love for marginalized lives, complex families, and domestic dramas.
4K digital master, approved by director Hirokazu Kore-eda and cinematographer Ryuto Kondo, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio Soundtrack on the Blu-ray
New video interviews with Kore-eda and cast members
Documentary on the making of the film, featuring on-set footage
MMC! is pleased to announce that it will be providing coverage of the 2019 Calgary Underground Film Festival! Now in its 16th year, CUFF is having its biggest year yet with 30 feature films and 33 shorts, plus a Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat-Cereal Party and two different presentations by the Found Footage Festival. Those looking for a wonderful array of out-there art cinema and wild genre picks should be heading toward Calgary’s Globe Cinema on April 22 through 28.
In a press release, CUFF’s festival director and lead programmer Brenda Lieberman remarked:
“I always love seeing how our lineup comes together with the different films we see at various festivals, submissions, and the wide range of stories and genres that are out there. The unique tastes of our programmers are always represented, and this year we have more films, more time slots and the highest number of guests in attendance. Whatever your style, CUFF has something for every film fan.”
You’ll find no argument here as CUFF has programmed many MMC! favourites, including Yann Gonzalez’sgiallo-pastiche, Knife + Heart; the “Gekimation,” boy’s adventure-nightmare, Violence Voyager, Astron-6’s frontier swan song, Chowboys, Lorène Yavo’s tale of slacker sorcery, Count Your Curses; and Ilja Rautsi’s topically surreal Helsinki Mansplaining Massacre! MMC! is likewise hyped for Alex Ross Perry’s punk opus, Her Smell; Peter Strickland’s killer dress film, In Fabric; Luke Lorentzen’s portrait of a family-run, private ambulance service, Midnight Family, Ryan White’s bio-doc, Ask Dr. Ruth; not one, but two films by Claire Denis – High Life and Beau Travail; Calvin Lee Reeder’s sequel to the The Procedure; and the nightmarishly animated surgical-horror short, Caterpillarplasty.
In all my shout-out excitement this weekend, I neglected my main purpose: thanking everyone who voted in our year-end poll! Two films stood atop all others – Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Shoplifters and Paul Schrader’s First Reformed. Naturally, you can expect to see one of those two films as the subject of MMC!‘s next imagined Criterion title. (No spoilers, but it’ll be Shoplifters!)
Now, on to some trailers!
The Criterion Channel is set to launch on April 8 and the Collection has cut together a rousing trailer promoting it. MMC! already has its charter membership, but there’s plenty here that pricks up our ears: The Safdies! Susan Pitt’s Asparagus! The Devils! LocalHero! The Holy Mountain! Hype! “Godzilla and Beyond!” The Channel’s initial line-up has been announced and there’s even more MMC! fan-bait there too: 11 films noir from Columbia, David Lynch’s The Elephant Man, John Woo’s Last Hurrah for Chivalry, Bi Gan’s Kaili Blues, a profile on Charles Burnett, seven films featuring Simone Signoret, AND Alan Parker’s Bugsy Malone! (If the Collection ever released a hard media edition of Bugsy Malone, I swear my face will melt right off!)
First, a shout-out for a shout-out! Thanks to Aaron West and the Criterion Now podcast for the dap given to MMC! on episode 82. Aaron was kind enough give MMC! a nod for its precognitive effort on Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Aaron is joined on the episode by Canadian filmmaker Brad McDermott and Matt Gasteier of The Complete podcast to discuss the Collection’s announcements for July, as well as Criterion visits, Claire Denis and Mike Leigh screenings, the potential for further announcements involving Buster Keaton, Wong Kar-wai, Abbas Kiarostami, and others, and Documentary Now! episodes and how the Company episode is not potentially going to be connected to an upcoming Criterion release.