Cassette Girl (Hiroyasu Kobayashi, 2015)

(Believe it or not, MMC!‘s next Criterion proposals are forthcoming. In the meantime and in anticipation of our next two proposals which deal with practices in appropriation, I thought we might consider another animated treatment of media ownership and access, this time from Japan!)

In a recent piece for Locus Magazine, Cory Doctorow laments the failed promise of digital media and selective rights management. In the article, Doctorow recalls how the digital revolution promised infinite distribution, customized rights to content, and cheaper prices. In fact, the opposite has occurred. Access is limited and often temporary, pricing remains static, and choice is dictated by owners who rights seems to be held in virtual perpetuity. Doctorow’s most pithy and salient point comes near the end of his editorial – “There’s a name for societies where a small elite own property and everyone else rents that prop­erty from them: it’s called feudalism.”

With feudalism comes poachers, bringing to mind Hiroyasu Kobayashi’s wonderful animated short Cassette Girl (2015). The film, one of the best from the Japan Animator Expo series, offers a beautiful pastiche of anime tropes, including a spunky young adventuress, her giant mecha companion, and an elaborate transformation sequence with obligatory undressing. The girl and her ‘bot search for vintage content on old video cassettes, causing them to run afoul of the tyrannical media police and initiating an elaborate battle that dominates the short. What makes Cassette Girl so impressive is its spectacular embrace of hard media and actual ownership. Physical possession is not merely a means to defeat Cassette Girl‘s media police, but a transformative process that remakes the world itself in favour of its media-poaching heroes (complete with full frame parameters and minor tracking issues). If only the battlefield over DRM were truly this awe-inspiring!

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Three Films by Ryan Prows

I had planned to wind up MMC!‘s coverage of the Chattanooga Film Festival with an imagined Arrow Video edition of Ryan Prows’s Lowlife (2017) but no sooner had I done my research and began writing did Shout! Factory announce a Blu-ray edition of the film slated for release on August 7. I’m usually pretty stoked to cross any film off my list of potential MMC! subjects as their circulation is far more gratifying than writing about them here, but I’m a little disappointed not to discuss Lowlife at greater length. I have stumped for Lowlife a fair amount already so let’s instead spend some time with three of Prows’s earlier shorts films, all of which seem to be working through some of the themes and concerns at play in Lowlife and all of which should be included as special features on the upcoming Blu-ray edition.

In case you’ve forgotten, here is a quick refresher on Lowlife taken from the film’s press kit.

When a simple organ harvesting caper goes awry, a twist of fate unites three of society’s forgotten and ignored: EL MONSTRUO, a disgraced Mexican wrestler working as hired muscle for a local crime boss. CRYSTAL, a recovering addict desperate enough to arrange a black market kidney transplant to save her husband’s life. And RANDY, a loveable two-strike convict fresh out of prison, cursed with a full-face swastika tattoo and a best friend guilting him into some hair-brained kidnapping scheme.

As the sordid lives of these small-time criminals collide, they must fight tooth and nail to save a pregnant woman from a certain, and surely gruesome, death.

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SFFF Day 4 Report – An Extended Trip Overseas

saskatoon_fantastic_film_festivalThe Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival closed with a massive final day that included five feature films, five shorts, and screenings of the films participating in the Festival’s 48 Hour Movie Making Challenge. SFFF closed the four day run with a trio of Asian films – the Mo Brothers’ Headshot (2015), Yeon Sang-ho’s Train to Busan (2016), and Kôji Shiraishi’s Sadako vs. Kayako (2016) – that were collected to thrill audience members and get their communal adrenaline pumping. These efforts seemed to prove successful, but the best of Day 4 was found elsewhere and the final day offered some welcome surprises along the way.

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Aachi & Ssipak (Jo Beom-jin, 2006)

“Violence, drugs, porn, and poo – It’s extreme!” – SEATTLE WEEKLY

Drafthouse Films LogoIn the future, the only energy source is human excrement.  Citizens are microchipped and rewarded for defecation with addictive Juicybars.  In Shit City, two small-time hoods team up with a would-be porn actress and become major traffickers in the Government-issued treat.  Hunted by the notorious Diaper Gang, a collection of blue, constipated, mutant Juicybar addicts led by the dangerous Diaper King, and with a superhuman Government agent out to stop them all, the trio may have bitten off more Juicybars than they can chew.  Welcome to the insane world of Aachi & Ssipak.

Warning: This movie is unsuitable for teenagers, pregnant women, and those with heart trouble.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary with Jo Beom-jin and jTeam Staff
  • Introduction by Todd Brown of Twitchfilm
  • Making of documentary
  • Cast interviews
  • Character featurette
  • Deleted scenes
  • Original Flashanimated Aachi & Ssipak webisodes
  • Music video
  • Teasers and trailers
  • 16-page booklet with stills and production art

Juicybar Edition – Package Includes:

  • Aachi & Ssipak on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 2 hours of bonus material
  • High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film Available on Street Date
  • Instant Download of the 13-track Aachi & Ssipak Soundtrack
  • 27″ x 40″ Theatrical Poster
  • Juicybar Popsicle Molds

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Never Too Young to Die (Gil Bettman, 1986)

“… explosions, one-against-a-hundred bazooka battles, and chases …” – LOS ANGELES TIMES

Drafthouse Films LogoAction: Bond style.  Beauty: Vanity style.  Hero: American style.  Never Too Young to Die stars teenage idol John Stamos and the sensually exotic Vanity as two of the most dynamic secret agents seen in years.  Gene Simmons plays the super-villain who plans to take over the country, and finds his plot blocked by Stamos and Vanity.  The two suddenly find themselves the targets of the vicious Simmons, and must take on the maniacal hermaphrodite.  The resulting battle of the “sexes” blows the lid of the evil plan, and Stamos joins the ranks of the American Hero.  Powerful heavy-metal music, state-of-the-art weaponry, and the explosive chemistry between two of the sexiest stars on the screen blend to make this exciting action flick an automatic winner!

Special Features:

Stargrove Edition – Package Includes:

  • Never Too Young to Die on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 2 hours of bonus material
  • High quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film Available on Street Date
  • Instant Download of the 7-track Never Too Young to Die Soundtrack including Tommie Lee Bradley’s theme “Stargrove”
  • 27″ x 40″ Reversible Poster
  • Limited Edition “DUNBAR” Tank Top

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The War of the Stars: A New Hope Grindhoused (George Lucas/The Man Behind the Mask, 1977/2010)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The War of the Stars: A New Hope Grindhoused.

criterion logoA poor orphan working on his uncle’s moisture farm on the remote desert planet Tatooine, Luke Skywalker dreams of becoming a starship pilot like his friend Biggs Darklighter, but when Luke discovers a hidden message for an old hermit, he becomes embroiled in a quest of galactic scale.  Trained in the arcane ways of a lost order of knights by the reclusive Obi-Wan Kenobi, Luke, with the help of a robotic duo and a pair of greedy space pirates, must save a princess from the clutches of the maniacal Darth Vader and destroy an evil Empire’s planet-sized weapon, the Death Star.  The War of the Stars: A New Hope Grindhoused roughs up George Lucas’ sci-fi classic, using an original 16mm print, unused footage, fearsome digital effects, and other surprising additions to recast it in the spirit of 1970s exploitation cinema.

Disc Features:

  • High-definition digital master, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Interactive lexicon cataloging incorporated material
  • Interview with George Lucas
  • Audio commentary by faneditor The Man Behind the Mask
  • Roundtable discussion with Robot Chicken co-founder Seth Green, Robot Chicken: Star Wars cowriter Breckin Meyer, actor and faneditor Topher Grace, Slash Film writer Peter Sciretta, and Fanboys director Kyle Newman
  • Fanmixed, a new interview with legal scholar Lawrence Lessig on fanediting, copyright, and piracy

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