The Movie Orgy (Joe Dante, 1968)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Movie Orgy.

A send-up and a celebration of mid-century American kitsch, Joe Dante’s epic pop culture mash-up, The Movie Orgy, entertained college campuses through the late 1960s and 1970s, drawing upon an ever-changing library of ’50s drive-in movies, vintage commercials, TV westerns, and political speeches. Re-discovered and re-cut by Dante for a revival screening in 2008 into its 280 minute “Ultimate Version,” this legendary cinematic event is now available outside of theatres for the first time. SEE a colossal collage of nostalgia! SEE an experience of mind-rotting celluloid hysteria! SEE thousands of performers in roles that earned them obscurity!  SEE bosomy starlets, juvenile delinquency, Christian puppetry, Elvis Presley, Groucho Marx, and Richard Nixon!

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • High-definition digital transfer, supervised and approved by director Joe Dante, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with Dante
  • Rated Z, archivist David Neary on the history and significance of The Movie Orgy
  • Posters and promotional materials
  • PLUS: An essay by director John Sayles

Continue reading

Trailer Tuesday

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! Local Hero! 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!)

Continue reading

Trailer Tuesday

The Criterion Collection’s announcements for January 2019 look great, but it’s the contrast between the trailers of two forthcoming films that I find particularly intriguing this month. On the one hand, we have the simple, elegant, unadorned trailer for Abbas Kiarostami’s 24 Frames (2017). Painterly and quietly compositional in its attention, the trailer ably expresses Kiarostami’s focus on “movement, perception, and time.” More non-narrative films go Criterion please!

Continue reading

White, White Storks (Ali Khamraev, 1966)

In an isolated and conservatively traditional Muslim village in Uzbekistan, a married woman, Malika, falls in love with a soft-spoken foreigner, Kayum, who has brought liberal Soviet attitudes and principles to the community, sometimes setting himself against the subordination of the town’s women by their male counterparts. Tensions rise as Kayum and Malika openly grow closer, raising the ire of Malika’s father and her husband as well as among those interested in maintaining the village’s old ways. A breakthrough film for Ali Khamraev, White, White Storks is a beautifully rendered docudrama that combines the textured honesty of Italian Neorealism, the family dynamics and tragedies of Yasujiro Ozu, and the poetry of Mikhail Kalatozov’s The Cranes Are Flying.

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

Trailer Tuesday

Sure, there have been a lot of announcements of late – Criterion, Arrow, Shout Factory, etc. – and they’re all great, but what I’m really excited about and what has revived “Trailer Tuesday” at MMC! is the launching yesterday of Nicolas Winding Refn’s free subscription website byNWR!

byNWR calls itself “an unadulterated cultural expressway of the arts” and describes its organization as follows:

Born from a passion for the rare, the forgotten and unknown, byNWR breathes new life into the culturally intriguing, influential and extreme.

Quarterly volumes of content divide into three monthly chapters, each featuring a fully-restored film. These cinematic revivals inspire a wealth of original content, drawn together by our special Guest Editors. As we evolve and expand, we will encourage exploration of a wide range of avenues by curators, writers and the engaged public, building a community of those who like to create, to watch, to read, look or listen. In a world of the instant, byNWR takes its time on a tangential line towards the undiscovered…where we share, enjoy, and look to the future–with hope, prosperity, and the idea that culture is for everyone.

Continue reading