Trailer Tuesday

It’s easy to look at the Criterion Collection’s July announcements as being rather slim, but the announcement of Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979) is a long awaited dream finally come true for cineastes. And if the thinness of new edition’s supplements have muted your enthusiasm, one look at the trailer for the 2017 restoration may be the answer to all your anxieties. I would daresay that this trailer nearly shows an entirely new film to me. This could be a revelation.

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Trailer Tuesday

Official and unofficial Criterion announcements having been rolling in since our last “Trailer Tuesday” and fans of the Collection are naturally excited for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog (1927), Nicholas Ray’s They Live by Night (1948), and Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker (1979). They’re certainly great movies by celebrated directors, but MMC! will take a moment to praise the teased addition of Albert Brooks’ Lost in America (1985), a film that I saw for the first time a few years ago, introduced by Kid in the Hall Kevin McDonald, and that has been fixture on my own proposal list for some time. There are plenty of other great films by Brooks that could bear a wacky “C” and so hopefully we’ll find an opportunity to stump for one of those other titles soon.

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Little Murders (Alan Arkin, 1971)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Little Murders.

criterion logoAfter directing the successful off-Broadway revival of Jules Feiffer’s acclaimed play, Alan Arkin made his feature film directing debut translating the senseless, hysterical world of Little Murders to the screen. Apathetic photographer Alfred (Elliott Gould) and feisty optimist Patsy (Marcia Rodd) are a young mismatched couple in a frantic metropolis where sniper attacks, power outages, and obscene phone calls are commonplace. With riotous supporting performances by Vincent Gardenia, Elizabeth Wilson, Jon Korkes, Lou Jacobi, Donald Sutherland, and Arkin himself, Feiffer’s satirical screenplay takes absurdist aim at the meaningless violence and spreading disenchantment in American life and produces a blackly hilarious comedy classic.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Audio commentary from 2004 featuring actor Elliott Gould and writer Jules Feiffer
  • New interview program with director Alan Arkin, stars Elliott Gould and Marcia Rodd, and writer Jules Feiffer
  • Short films directed by Arkin – T.G.I.F. (1967), People Soup (1969), Samuel Beckett is Coming Soon (1993), and Blood (Thinner Than Water) (2004)
  • Gene Deitch’s Academy Award-winning short film Munro, written by Feiffer
  • Theatrical trailer and TV spots
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film scholar Jim Emerson and Roger Ebert’s original 1971 review

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Four Last Canada Vignettes

NFBMMC!‘s retrospective on the National Film Board of Canada wraps up where it first began, with the Canada Vignettes. Provided here are four MMC! favourites: Fort Prince of Wales (Brad Caslor, 1978), Spence’s Republic (Brad Caslor, 1978), Flin Flon (Tina Horne, 1978), and Lady Frances Simpson (Christopher Hinton, 1978). All take a cheeky view of Canadian history, reveling in its absurdities and undercutting ideas of “great men” leading the nation to some inevitable glory. And all, for some strange reason, have some connection to the Province of Manitoba. Go figure.

As per the NFB:

A Canada Vignette giving a humorous animated version of the history of Fort Prince of Wales from its construction to its capture by the French.

As per NationalFilmBoardFan:

An animated vignette about the role of Thomas Spence in the formation and demise of the Republic of Manitoba at Portage la Prairie in 1967-68.

As per the NFB:

This short documentary vignette reveals the curious origin of the name of Flin Flon, Manitoba.

As per NationalFilmBoardFan:

An animated vignette on the journey of Lady Frances Simpson, with her piano, from England to Lower Fort Garry.

And so, that’s it for our retrospective on the National Film Board of Canada! Did we make any NFB converts? Did anyone make any discoveries or find any favourites? We left a lot a deserving films and filmmakers out of this survey of the Film Board – would anyone like to see MMC! offer another retrospective for an Essential Works of the NFB Volume 2 next July?

Arthur Lipsett: In Between Artist

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Arthur Lipsett: In Between Artist.

criterion logoAdmired by cinema innovators like Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, and Stan Brakage, Canadian filmmaker Arthur Lipsett was an experimental phenomenon within the National Film Board of Canada, creating avant-garde collage films that mapped the alienation of technological advancement and media saturation. These films, assembled from footage shot by Lipsett and collected from trimmings of other NFB productions, convey Lipsett’s view of increasing dehumanization under the pressures of modernity, yet they remains energetic and enthusiastic in their ironic juxtapositions and rapid-fire pace. This collector’s set provides a complete survey of Lipsett’s experimental works and four related films examining the life and art of one of experimental cinema’s most enigmatic filmmakers.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restorations of all 8 films – Very Nice, Very Nice (1962), Experimental Film (1963), 21-87 (1963), Free Fall (1964), A Trip Down Memory Lane (1965), Fluxes (1968), N-Zone (1970), Strange Codes (1972) – with uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-rays
  • Interview with director George Lucas
  • Two Films by Lipsett, Donald Rennick’s 1967 documentary discussing Free Fall and A Trip Down Memory Lane with a group of teenagers
  • Remembering Arthur, Martin Lavut’s 2006 feature-length documentary on his close friend, Arthur Lipsett
  • The Arthur Lipsett Project: A Dot on the Histomap, a 52-minute documentary from 2007 by Eric Gaucher
  • Lipsett Diaries, Theodore Ushev’s 2010 animated short featuring narration by Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays and capsules by Lipsett scholars William Wees and Fred Camper and filmmakers Brett Kashmere, Amelia Does, and Dirk de Bruyn

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Ishu Patel!

NFBToday, MMC! offers a trio of diverse animated films by longtime NFB animator Ishu Patel. First up is Perspectrum (1975), an abstract work of colourful geometry that adapted techniques developed by Norman McLaren. Next is Bead Game (1977), which takes its inspiration from the elaborate bead-work of Inuit women and provides a cautionary tale on our aggressive tendencies and the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Lastly, Patel’s beautifully luminescent Paradise (1984) examines the value and nature of beauty, hauntingly accompanied by James Last’s The Lonely Shepherd. Patel’s career with the NFB took him around the world conducting animation workshops in the Far North, Ghana, Yugoslavia, the USA, Japan, and back in his native India, and he was honoured with awards from major film and animation festivals including Ottawa, Annecy, Melbourne, and Berlin. His Bead Game received a BAFTA Award and an Oscar nomination, while Paradise won a Silver Bear at Berlin and gave Patel his second Academy Award nomination.

As per the NFB:

In this animated short, simple geometric forms as thin and flat as playing cards constantly form and re-form to the sound of the kyoto, a 13-string Japanese instrument.

As per the NFB:

In this animated short, thousands of beads are arranged and manipulated, assuming shapes of creatures both mythical and real. They continually devour, merge, and absorb one another in explosions of colour.

As per the NFB:

In this short animation film, a magnificent bird performs for the Emperor inside a glittering palace. Its plumage is a blaze of color. A blackbird, watching enviously, strives to acquire what he so desperately covets, only to discover that a golden cage can’t compete with the open skies.