SFFF Day 4 – Fractured Minds and Fantastic Capitalism

Day 4 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival was loaded with screenings and bracketed by a pair of animated programs – the Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cartoon Party and the web-series Crisis Jung (Baptiste Gaubert and Jérémie Hoarau, 2018). MMC! has already proclaimed the greatness of Crisis Jung and we’re loath to spoil Keir-La Janisse’s program of Saturday morning content given that it continues to tour festivals and cinematheques. Themes do tend to run through the Cartoon Party programs and “women’s lib” stood at the forefront with cartoon episodes on equal opportunity, commercials for the YWCA, and PSAs that addressed federal pay equity laws through iconic comic book figures. The Cartoon Party enjoyed a large audience that was quick to applaud for great content and progressive messages and to shout along with the enthusiastic narration of the cartoons. Expect to see another Cartoon and Cereal Party at SFFF 2019!

Continue reading

Advertisements

SFFF Day 1 Report – An Apocalypse, a Dystopia, and a Hyperreality Walk Into a Film Festival …

The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has upgraded the apparatus with its 2018 edition. That means fewer midnight screenings in favour of an extra day of programming, a 3-hour cartoon and cereal party, a snazzy new booklet, new voting ballots, some clever bumpers running before the screenings, sponsorships and promotions from Vinegar Syndrome and Shudder, and even an after party with cast and crew of Supergrid. And with turnout for Day 1 looking robust, Festival Director John Allison and his team must be feeling positive about the prospects for this year. There’s always a desire to find a theme to a given day’s program but finding a common thread between Anna and the Apocalypse (John McPhail, 2018), Rock Steady Row (Trevor Stevens, 2018), Videodrome (David Cronenberg, 1983), and their supporting short films is something of a challenge. At best, it might be said that most of these films attend to breakdowns in community and some very unlikely ways to reassemble them.

Continue reading

The Seventh Bullet (Ali Khamraev, 1972)

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.

Continue reading

The Rugged Odysseys of Ali Khamraev

Eclipse is a selection of lost, forgotten, or overshadowed classics in simple affordable editions. Each series is a brief cinematheque retrospective for the adventurous home viewer.

An artist of rock-solid humanism and amazing expressive power, Ali Khamraev is a giant who sits astride the history of Uzbek cinema. A graduate of Moscow’s Gerasimov Institute of Cinematography in 1961, he went on to make more than thirty documentaries and twenty feature films – criss-crossing between romantic comedies, Western adventures, political dramas, TV mini-series, and art cinema. Through them all, Khamraev engages in the unveiling of traditional Muslim Uzbekistan and expresses a faith in the modernizing influence of Soviet values and technology. A wizard with landscapes and an instinctual expert of social dynamics, Ali Khamraev is truly an underappreciated master of world cinema.

White, White Storks (Belye, belye aisty)

Influenced by Mikhail Kalatozov’s black-and-white classic The Cranes Are Flying, the Italian Neorealist movement, and the interpersonal dramas of Yasujiro Ozu, Ali Khamraev traces the impossible romance of a married woman and an unconventional outsider in a small, traditional Uzbek village called “White Storks.”

The Seventh Bullet (Sedmaya pulya)

Set during the Central Asian revolts of the 1920s, a Red Army commander allows himself to be captured by a Basmachi warlord to reunite with his imprisoned battalion and lead them to victory in this Western-inspired adventure in the Soviet frontier.

The Bodyguard (Telokhranitel)

A grizzled mountain trapper and a conscientious revolutionary are tasked by a Red Army unit with the difficult task of transporting a captured sultan, along with his daughter and his loyal servant, through a harsh mountain landscape to a neighbouring province while pursued by a ruthless Bashmachi warrior.

Triptych (Triptikh)

This modernist political melodrama set in a small northern town in 1946 follows three women struggling with the social constraints of post-World War II Uzbekistan: an illiterate girl who wants to build a house on her own, a school teacher aiming to bring progressive ideas to the villagers, and an old woman kidnapped in her youth by a poor peasant and forced into marriage.

I Remember You (Ya tebya pomnyu)

In this semi-autobiographical meditation on the past, an adult son’s journey from Samarkand across Russia to find the grave of his father becomes a poetic voyage into his subconscious memory and an exploration of intersecting Uzbek and Russian traditions.

With notes by Kent Jones

Continue reading

The Specialist (Sergio Corbucci, 1969)

HIS SPECIALTY IS VENGEANCE!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddFrench pop superstar Johnny Hallyday is Hud, a solitary gunfighter devoted to avenging the murder of his brother falsely accused of robbing a bank and hung by the townsfolk of Blackstone, Nevada.  Riding into town, Hud finds himself caught between the town’s plotting elite, their by-the-book sheriff, and the gang of bandits outside of town led by the one-armed El Diablo.

Sergio Corbucci and cinematographer Dario Di Palma create a stylishly cynical revenge Western unlike any other.  Featuring memorable scene-chewing performances by Gastone Moschin and Mario Adorf and roles by the beautiful Françoise Fabian, Sylvie Fennec, and Angela Luce, The Specialist is a strange, disillusioned parable presented here in an exclusive high definition restoration from the original Techniscope negative.

Special Features:

  • Brand new restoration from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • A Man Called Hud – brand new interview with star Johnny Hallyday
  • Hooray for Pollywood – brand new interview with star Francoise Fabian
  • Archived interview of director Sergio Corbucci
  • US, European, and international trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Austin Fisher

Continue reading

The Mercenary (Sergio Corbucci, 1968)

HE SELLS DEATH TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddAfter his iconic role as Sergio Corbucci’s Django, Franco Nero teamed up once again with the Spaghetti Western’s “other Sergio” to become The Mercenary.  Nero plays Kowalski, a Polish mercenary who sells his expertise to a band of Mexican outlaws led by Paco Roman (Tony Musante), and aids them as they seek to support the revolution and themselves.  When the Federal Army closes in, loyalties and political philosophies become strained between Kowalski, Paco, and their beautiful revolutionary ally Columba (Giovanna Ralli).  Jack Palance joins Corbucci’s fabulous cast as Curly, Kowalski’s dandified rival and cutthroat villain.  With a memorable score by Ennio Morricone and Bruno Nicolai, The Mercenary is a political statement with loads of commercial appeal, presented here in an exclusive high-definition restoration from the original Techniscope negative.

Special Features:

  • Brand new restoration from the original 35mm Techniscope camera negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • Original Italian and English soundtracks in uncompressed PCM mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack
  • Brand new interview with star Franco Nero
  • How to Make a Revolution – featurette on the film’s production including interviews with Franco Nero, Tony Musante, Sergio Corbucci, Nora Corbucci, Luciano Vincenzoni, and Eugenio Alabiso
  • US, European, and international trailers
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Austin Fisher and Howard Hughes

Continue reading