The Essential Tai Kato – Volume 1

JAPAN’S ANSWER TO SAM FULLER AND BUDD BOETTICHER

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddNearly unknown outside of Japan, director Tai Kato was one of Toei’s genre masters during the 1960s, making hard-boiled films about gangsters and samurai that were bold, stylish, and uncompromised.

In Cruel Story at the End of the Tokugawa Shogunate, Kato offers a merciless view of the Shinsengumi, an elite police force in the service of Japan’s military government. Starring Okawa Hashizo (breaking from his typically lighthearted roles) and Junko Fuji (who would later star as the Red Peony Gambler), this bloody tale chronicles the brutal indoctrination of a young peasant into the Shinsengumi and the secret plot that hides within its ranks.

Next, Akira Shioji stars as Fighting Tatsu, the Rickshaw Man, an independent and confrontational young rickshaw driver who falls in love with a local geisha played by Rumiko Fuji and becomes embroiled in a local gang war. Here, Kato creates a highly entertaining film that is equal parts romantic comedy and gangster action movie.

By a Man’s Face Shall You Know Him is a sprawling, gutsy account of a Korean-Japanese gang’s ruthless rise to power in 1948 Osaka and a local doctor’s unexpected opposition to the hoodlums. Told though vibrant colour cinematography and a complex series of flashbacks, Kato traces the influences of sex, violence, and racism in post-war Japan.

Finally, I, the Executioner provides one of Japanese cinema’s most disturbing dissections of the serial killer, as five women are stalked by a sadistic sex killer intent on avenging the suicide of a 16-year-old boy. Contrasting an uninspired police-investigation with lurid, solarized flashbacks and on-location shooting in Tokyo, I, the Executioner is a shattering story often hailed as Kato’s finest movie.

Presented on DVD and Blu-ray for the first time in the West, these thrilling genre films feature some of Kato Tai’s smartest, toughest work.

Special Features:

  • Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies)
  • High definition digital transfers of all four films from the original film elements by Toei Company
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Tony Rayns
  • Original trailers for all four films
  • Extensive promotional image galleries for all films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring new artwork
  • Booklet featuring new writing on all the films and a director profile by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes, Mark Schilling, and Chris D.

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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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Seth (Zach Lasry, 2015)

saskatoon_fantastic_film_festivalA week or so following the closing of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival, voting went up on its website for the short film program. SFFF’s top short was Seth (Zach Lasry, 2015), one of our favourite short films of the Fest. As per the filmmakers’ synopsis:

Manic man-child Seth lives in his own demented world where time is of the essence, his only friends are his stuffed animals, and the words of Michael Jordan inspire him to take all the shots he can.

Enjoy! Hope you like corn!

Ghost Stories (Late Night Work Club, 2013)

Next up, we offer a short film of short films – the indie-animated anthology Ghost Stories (2013). Containing 11 minimalist shorts, Ghost Stories is the product of various members of the Late Nite Work Club crafting these pieces between projects and classes. MMC! is particularly fond of Charles Huettner’s The Jump, Caleb Wood’s Rat Trap, and Alex Grigg’s Phantom Limb, although Ghost Stories is an impressively satisfying effort throughout. In fact, the omnibus format of Ghost Stories produces a convivial effect, expanding the regard for these shorts by placing them alongside one another and creating a whole greater than its parts.

Sister Hell (Fredrik Hana, 2015)

Winner of the Best Horror Short at the 2015 Fantastic Fest, Fredrik Hana’s Sister Hell (2015) is a Norwegian Nunsploitation horror-comedy about a quiet nun who yearns for a life of voluptuous sin and infernal objectification. With the help of some back alley cosmetic surgery, she achieves her dream only to become the target of the sisterhood that she fled. Sister Hell plays like a post-millennial Ken Russell film, full of heresy and bad taste, then jacked up on body modification, gore, and pornified celebrity in all the best ways.

Bob Roberts (Tim Robbins, 1992)

Designed for the film lover in mind, SHOUT SELECT shines a light on films that deserve a spot on your shelf. From acknowledged classics to cult favourites to unheralded gems, SHOUT SELECT celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving these movies the love and attention they deserve.

Shout SelectIN BOB WE TRUST.

Written, directed, and starring Tim Robbins, this mockumentary about an upstart celebrity candidate for the United States Senate is a hilariously fearsome prediction of American politics in the 25 years that followed. Conservative folksinger Bob Roberts manipulates media coverage of him while singing about the proliferation of welfare abusers, drug users, and soft-hearted liberals and resisting rumors of corruption and hypocrisy. Bob Roberts captures the false populism and soundbite superficiality of contemporary politics with unnerving prescience.

Tim Robbins assembles an all-star cast with Alan Rickman as Roberts’ shady campaign financier, Giancarlo Esposito as a crusading journalist, Gore Vidal as Robert’s political opponent, and an array of supporting appearances by Jack Black, Susan Sarandon, Ray Wise, James Spader, John Cusack, Helen Hunt, David Strathairn, Fred Ward, Bob Balaban, Peter Gallagher, Lynne Thigpen, Pamela Reed, and Brian Murray.

Special Features:

  • Audio Commentary With Director And Star Tim Robbins
  • Audio Commentary With Tim Robbins And Gore Vidal
  • Audio Commentary With Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair of Counterpunch
  • Back On The Campaign Trail – New Interview With Tim Robbins
  • Buggin’ Out – New Interview With Giancarlo Esposito
  • Getting Started – New Interview with Jack Black
  • Original Bob Roberts Short Film Made For Saturday Night Live
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Trailers
  • Photo Gallery

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