10 on the 10th – November 2022

Mildred Pierce PosterNoirvember is upon us and it can be seen amongst these last ten films that I’ve screened. Sam Fuller’s Underworld U.S.A. is a very late example of the form, a vicious and nasty riff on The Count of Monte Cristo with some bravura camera movement and a sweaty, cruel, and unrepentant performance by Cliff Robertson. Still, the most exceptional noir of these last ten films is undoubtedly Michael Curtiz’s double-dealing weepie, Mildred Pierce. A first time watch at MMC! HQ, Mildred Pierce proved to be an exceptional noir experience punctuated by the discovery of two of cinema’s most despicable villains. Both films are sure to make this year’s list of favourite discoveries.

  1. The Blank Generation (Amos Poe and Ivan Kál, 1976)
  2. Glorious (Rebekah McKendry, 2022)
  3. Mildred Pierce (Michael Curtiz, 1945)
  4. The Outside (Ana Lily Amirpour, 2022)
  5. L’Argent (Robert Bresson, 1983)
  6. Blood of the Dragon (Kao Pao-shu, 1971)
  7. Arabella: Black Angel (Stelvio Massi, 1989)
  8. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story (Eric Appel, 2022)
  9. Underworld U.S.A. (Samuel Fuller, 1961)
  10. The Autopsy (David Prior, 2022)

A big shout-out to The Blank Generation which is an essential glimpse into the early CBGB-era punk and new wave scene, boasting rough but wonderful footage of Patti Smith, Television, Talking Heads, Blondie, and the Ramones. And as someone unfamiliar with Wayne County & the Electric Chairs, Angry Inch fans are going to need to see this proto-Hedwig act in the campy, confrontational flesh. Finally, these last ten films also bear the marks of MMC! working its way through Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Appearing on Netflix, this horror anthology series boasts a murderers’ row of filmmakers – Panos Cosmatos, Jennifer Kent, Ana Lily Amirpour, David Prior, Catherine Hardwicke, Vincenzo Natali, Guillermo Navarro, and Keith Thomas. I would be surprised if some of these entries didn’t make MMC!’s list of favourites for 2022.

10 on the 10th – October 2022

Flux GourmetThis October at MMC!, we are focused on horror cinema with a dash of baseball films. It’s no secret that MMC! loves the films of Peter Strickland and his latest, Flux Gourmet, is by far the favourite amongst these last ten films we’ve screened and it rests near the top of our favourite films of 2022. Flux Gourmet takes Strickland’s dread heavy, ASMR experiments into even more bizarre territory, telling the story of a “collective of musical caterers” who take their experimental electronic sounds to a “sonic culinary institute” with dysfunctional results. The film picks up some of Strickland’s more unusual tropes – food trauma and audio tapes, human toilets and control obsessives, ornate dresses and loquacious dialogue – and adds some new ones – resentful terrapin abuse and anxious gastric distress – to create something that both summarizes his work and pushes it into nuttier and messier extremes. While certainly not for everyone, it was definitely for MMC!

  1. Werewolf by Night (Michael Giacchino, 2022)
  2. Tower of London (Roger Corman, 1962)
  3. Red Peony Gambler: Here to Kill You (Tai Katô, 1971)
  4. The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks (Reginald Harkema, 2022)
  5. The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings (John Badham, 1976)
  6. Ringu (Hideo Nakata, 1998)
  7. WNUF Halloween Special (Chris LaMartina, 2013)
  8. The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald: Scared Silly (John Holmquist, 1998)
  9. Master of the World (William Witney, 1961)
  10. Flux Gourmet (Peter Strickland, 2022)

The Bingo Long Traveling All-Stars & Motor Kings was an unexpected favourite, telling the charismatic story of a barnstorming Negro League baseball team, while The Kids in the Hall: Comedy Punks documentary often played like a fawning clip reel. Thankfully, we love the Kids and so we loved that fawning and we loved those clips. Comedy Punks is a great primer for the troupe and contains some genuinely beautiful moments, most particularly when Bruce McCulloch starts listing how they’ll all die. The same praise cannot be given for the Halloween entry into The Wacky Adventures of Ronald McDonald, which should be reserved for Rugrats completionists and this current generation of McDonalds fans who grew up without Grimace, Birdie the Early Bird, or the Hamburglar and need to know.

10 on the 10th – September 2022

Welcome to the Dollhouse PosterIt’s early September and so MMC! has made “Back to School” something of a theme for its recent screenings. Standing atop the pack is Todd Solondz’s indie-darling, Welcome to the Dollhouse. To be honest, this was a first time screening as Solondz’s awkward, ugly, feel-bad, morally-difficult vibe is a hard one to want to seek out and this story of a socially-humiliated junior high school student seemed potentially a bridge too far. Thankfully, I was completely wrong. Solondz and his lead actor, Heather Matarazzo, create something that is as hilarious as it is horrific. Channeling a bit of John Waters’ tacky-take on suburban living, Welcome to the Dollhouse manages to evoke genuine emotion and insight out of the dialed-up cruelty of teenager life. The film has made an appearance on the Criterion Channel. Perhaps it should get the MMC! treatment …

  1. Welcome to the Dollhouse (Todd Solondz, 1995)
  2. Leadbelly (Gordon Parks, 1976)
  3. Weird Science (John Hughes, 1985)
  4. Red Peony Gambler: Oryu’s Return (Tai Katô, 1970)
  5. Our Hospitality (Buster Keaton and John G. Blystone, 1923)
  6. Flatliners (Joel Shumacher, 1990)
  7. School in the Crosshairs (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1981)
  8. Sixteen Candles (John Hughes, 1984)
  9. The Ballad of Narayama (Keisuke Kinoshita, 1958)
  10. A Man Vanishes (Shôhei Imamura, 1967)

Shout-outs to the over-determined set-designs of Flatliners and The Ballad of Narayama, the problematic but still entertaining work John Hughes, the meme-generating climactic conflict of School in the Crosshairs, and hilarious train-rides of Our Hospitality!

10 on the 10th – August 2022

SampoAmong these last ten films I’ve watched, high marks go to our re-watch of the white-knuckling Uncut Gems, Yamashita’s entry into the increasingly reliable Red Peony Gambler series, the “gangster trying to go straight” drama Ryuji, and the giallo turned police procedural turned maniac with a gun thriller Man on the Roof. The most fascinating of the bunch was Deaf Crocodile‘s release of Sampo, a fairy tale extravaganza based on Finland’s national epic, the Kalevala. While not quite at the level of his tall-tale adventure Ilya Muromets, Aleksandr Ptushko’s Sampo is loaded with brilliantly realized effects and kaleidoscopic visuals, and full of malevolent witches, brave warriors, and a rainbow-coloured magical mill producing salt, grain, and gold. Combine Sampo and Ilya Muromets and you certainly have what The Northman should and could have been.

  1. Red Peony Gambler: Biographies of a Gambling Room (Kōsaku Yamashita, 1969)
  2. A Little Princess (Alfonso Cuarón, 1995)
  3. House on Haunted Hill (William Castle, 1959)
  4. Ryuji (Tôru Kawashima, 1983)
  5. Man on the Roof (Bo Widerberg, 1976)
  6. Sampo (Aleksandr Ptushko, 1959)
  7. The Filmmaker and the Labyrinth (Roberto Andò, 2004)
  8. The Invisible Man vs. The Human Fly (Mitsuo Murayama, 1957)
  9. Uncut Gems (Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie, 2019)
  10. Trances (Ahmed El Maânouni, 1981)

While we’re on the subject of Deaf Crocodile and the fine work this small label is doing, we should take a moment to mention its current Kickstarter campaign to restore and release Sal Watts’ Solomon King. The project is born from the discovery of the film’s soundtrack, a killer soul-funk album that will be remastered and provided to all backers in the event the project reaches $25,000. The movie is described by the good people at Deaf Crocodile as follows:

In the vein of SHAFT, the film stars Watts as an African American version of James Bond/Matt Helm, seeking revenge for the murder of a former girlfriend.  Produced on a shoestring budget and shot on location in many of the businesses Watts owned, the film is a priceless document of early Seventies Black culture, music and fashion in Oakland – and a powerful metaphor for Black empowerment, with Solomon turning the tables on every duplicitous establishment character he encounters.

If you’re able, why not back some good folks supporting fine cinema and maybe get yourself an exclusive slipcover edition of Solomon King or even an out of print slipcover edition of Ilya Muromets?

10 on the 10th – July 2022

Warm Water Under a Red Bridge PosterThere are certainly titles to enjoy amongst these last ten films that I’ve watched. High marks go to the weird anime cuteness of Space Family Carlvinson, the lengthy “invisible man rides a motorcycle” sequence of The Invisible Man Appears, and the dynamic battles of Legendary Weapons of China. Both Youssef Chahine’s Destiny and Alexander Korda’s Rembrandt stand as strong examples of quality cinema, but no film may have been more memorable than Shohei Imamura’s Warm Water Under a Red Bridge and its manic gushing dream girl. Imamura’s usual perversion and transgression finds expression here as an unexpectedly twee romantic comedy and it’s oddly charming. Look for it at the end of the year on MMC!’s list of favourite discoveries!

  1. Nightmare Alley (Guillermo del Toro, 2021)
  2. The Invisible Man Appears (Shigehiro Fukushima, 1949)
  3. Rembrandt (Alexander Korda, 1936)
  4. Destiny (Youssef Chahine, 1997)
  5. Space Family Carlvinson (Kimio Yabuki, 1988)
  6. Obi-Wan Kenobi (Deborah Chow, 2022)
  7. Legendary Weapons of China (Liu Chia-Liang, 1982)
  8. Aquaman: King of Atlantis (Keith Pakiz, 2021)
  9. Warm Water Under a Red Bridge (Shohei Imamura, 2001)
  10. The Sadness (Robert Jabbaz, 2021)

Finally, a big shout out to the return of the MUBI podcast. With this second season called “Only in Theatres,” MUBI turns its attention to theatrical experiences that have changed cinema. Episode one focused on Henri Langlois and the Cinémathèque Française, while episode two explores El Topo, New York City’s Elgin Theatre, and the birth of “Midnite Madness.” Just like its “Lost in Translation” inaugural season, these episodes are smart, fun, and informative, and they should not be missed!

10 on the 10th – June 2022

Ilya Muromets Deaf CrocodileWithout a doubt, Aleksandr Ptushko’s Ilya Muromets is the most fun MMC! has had with a screening this year and so it stands at the top of these last 10 films I’ve watched and on MMC!’s list of favourite first time watches for 2022. MMC! was already a fan of the Deaf Crocodile boutique label given its restoration and release of past MMC! candidate The Unknown Man of Shandigor, but this Russian fantasy might even outdo that title. Ilya Muromets, Russia’s answer to Paul Bunyan and Pecos Bill, is a medieval villager roused by a magic elixir to fight for good and resist the pagan hordes of Tugars set to overrun Kiev. Triple-headed dragons, magic tablecloths, wind demons, human mounds, and various feats of improbable strength stand out as Ilya distinguishes himself as a hero above all others. Ptushko’s camera tricks and practical effects are stunningly convincing despite their obvious primitiveness, and Deaf Crocodile’s Blu-ray makes this a visual feast all the more. It was, in a sense, everything The Northman could have been and more.

  1. The Melbourne Rendezvous (René Lucot, 1957)
  2. The Official Story (Luis Puenzo, 1985)
  3. Ilya Muromets (Aleksandr Ptushko, 1956)
  4. Venus Wars (Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, 1989)
  5. Tora-san’s Tropical Fever Special Edition (Yoji Yamada, 1997)
  6. Olympic Games 1956 (Peter Whitchurch, 1956)
  7. Parallel Mothers (Pedro Almódovar, 2021)
  8. Licorice Pizza (Paul Thomas Anderson, 2021)
  9. The Northman (Robert Eggers, 2022)
  10. Tora-san to the Rescue (Yoji Yamada, 1995)

These last 10 films also mark the bittersweet end of my journey with Tora-san. Fifty films watched and none left to see, all that is left is to revisit this wonderful franchise, one that may be my favourite thing ever committed to celluloid. For those keeping count, MMC!’s next massive undertaking are the original runs of The Twilight Zone and Night Gallery, as well as their Japanese kaiju counterpart Ultra Q and its 2013 reboot Neo Ultra Q.