Before The Triplets of Belleville (2003) and The Illusionist (2010), Sylvain Chomet made the award-winning The Old Lady and the Pigeons (La Vieille Dame et les pigeons, 1997). The animated short features an impoverished and starving gendarme who dresses up like a giant pigeon in order to be fed by an old woman (and that barely scratches the surface of how hilariously bizarre the short gets). Chomet was inspired to make a film of his own after seeing Nick Park’s Creature Comforts (1989) and set upon his production after pitching the concept to Didier Brunner of the French animation studio Les Armateurs. Backgrounds were designed by Chomet’s comic book collaborator Nicolas de Crécy, although the two would later fall out over Crécy’s view that Chomet improperly copped his style for the designs of The Triplets of Belleville. The Old Lady and the Pigeons is silently comic and strangely surreal and establishes many of Chomet’s characteristic styles and themes, making it an easy access point to Chomet’s limited filmography. It is also a quick 24-minute scratch for those of us still itching to see his next film, The Thousand Miles, a Fellini-inspired story about the world’s most beautiful road race, Italy’s Mille Miglia.
Seeing as how it’s snowing and blowing hard today, what better way to celebrate this chilly Halloween than with some spookerrific shorts from the National Film Board of Canada. We’ve got surrealist worlds, honking monsters, devilish visitors, chicken leg houses, and anti-smoking PSAs.
Batmilk (Brandon Blommaert, 2009)
“In this animated short, an oafish ghoul and his soft exposed brain are met with ruin when the brain is unexpectedly killed. Though paralyzed, the ghoul attains a fresh brain and is fed with new life. ” (NFB)
A cult classic to knowing G-fans everywhere, Godzilla vs. Mito Kōmon was made by Shinya Takeshita around 1991 while a student at Osaka Art University. The short is loaded with DIY charm and cheeky ingenuity thanks to Takeshita playing a one-man show as a news reporter (with pop bottle microphone), various classic kaiju and tokusatsu characters (with cardboard fins and helmets), and even multiple utility poles. Takeshita also plays various roles from the iconic Japanese television series Mito Kōmon, including the title character and his various followers. The short is memorable in part for bringing two together two Japanese icons: Godzilla and his giant monster ilk and the characters of Japan’s longest-running period drama, Mito Kōmon (1,227 episodes from 1969 to 2011), which featured a feudal lord traveling in disguise with his samurai retainers and redressing some local injustice in each episode. In these socially distanced days where scores of people are taking their creativity to webcams and video-sharing in even greater abundance, Takeshita’s film is a reminder that wacky, enthusiastic, brilliant entertainment was always just one person and one camera away.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Limey.
Terence Stamp is Wilson, a English ex-con who arrives in Los Angeles to hunt down the man responsible for his daughter’s “accidental” death, a record producer named Terry Valentine (Peter Fonda). Propelled along an increasingly brutal search for the truth, Wilson’s singleminded desire for revenge splinters into a meditation on cultural dislocation, an elegy on fatherhood, and a radical, fragmentary investigation of memory. Conceiving of the film as “Alain Resnais making Get Carter” and featuring throwback casting with Stamp, Fonda, Barry Newman, and Joe Dallesandro, Steven Soderbergh’s The Limey is a modern tough guy classic and a seminal work of American independent cinema.
- Restored 4K digital transfer, approved by director Steven Soderbergh and cinematographer Edward Lachman, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- Audio commentary with Soderbergh and writer Lem Dobbs
- Audio commentary with Terence Stamp, Peter Fonda, Lesley Ann Warren, Barry Newman, Joe Dallesandro, Soderbergh, and Dobbs
- New introduction by Soderbergh
- New conversation with Soderbergh, editor Sarah Flack, cinematographer Edward Lachman, and actors Luis Guzmán and Lesley Ann Warren
- Deleted scene featuring Ann-Margret
- Isolated music score
- Trailers and TV Spots
- PLUS: A new essay by critic Ashley Clark
For every MMC! proposal that turns into an actual spine numbered release, there are numerous other films that get swanky editions before this blog ever gets to imagine one. These films are unfortunately struck from MMC!‘s list of potential titles with no fanfare, never achieving the glory of stepping into our fantasized spotlight. Today’s “Trailer Tuesday” post celebrates a few of these films recently denied the chance to shine MMC!, but first we’ll celebrate an overdue title proposed for a spine number 6½ years ago!
As a longstanding favourite of MMC!, we’re naturally overjoyed with news that Severin Films is debuting a new 4K restoration of Álex de la Iglesia’s Perdita Durango (1997) at the 2019 Fantasia Film Festival and that a Blu-ray release is expected to be announced later this year! Personally, I can’t wait to decommission my two bootleg copies of the film and finally get to discuss with others the genius that is Rosie Pérez and the further proof that the quality of a film is directly proportional to the craziness of Javier Bardem’s hair. Thank you Severin! Better late than never!
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!)