The Merry World of Leopold Z (Gilles Carle, 1965)

Christmas is nearly upon us and with that in mind, MMC! is sending out its best wishes with one of our favourite discoveries of 2021 – Gilles Carle’s The Merry World of Léopold Z (1965)! This classic of Québécois cinema was originally commissioned by the National Film Board of Canada to be a documentary on snow-clearing but was transformed into an innovative fiction film by its director. Guy L’Écuyer stars as the affable Léopold Z. Tremblay, a Montreal snowplow driver juggling the demands of work and home on Christmas Eve. Between clearing roads, Léopold runs various errands for himself, his wife Catherine (Monique Joly), and her visiting relation Josette (Suzanne Valéry), not to mention dealing with the complaints, demands, and asides of his boss and friend Théophile (Paul Hébert). With plenty of great documentary footage of ’60s Montreal in the winter, Merry World reflects the Direct Cinema spirit of the times, and Carle uses the holiday season to incorporate some insights on consumerism, sexual desire, religion, and the power structure of language in la belle province (something more notable in the French language version of the film). Carle filmed Merry World over 18 months due to an almost snowless season in Montreal, though you would be hard-pressed to notice from watching the film. Lively and good-natured, this cleverly edited, slice-of-life short feature is the perfect film for MMC! to offer its season’s greetings!

MERRY CHRISTMAS and HAPPY HOLIDAYS!
(Stay safe you crazy kids!)

Dirkie: Lost in the Desert (Jamie Uys, 1970)

“One of the most…
TRAUMATIZING AND SADISITIC ‘FAMILY MOVIES’ EVER MADE.”
                                                 The San Francisco Bay Guardian

The Most Amazing Adventure A Boy Ever Lived Through
Now On Blu-Ray For The First Time Ever!

Filmmaker Jamie Uys (THE GODS MUST BE CRAZY) cast his own son as a sickly eight year-old boy stranded with his pet dog in the Kalahari Desert, “one of the most rugged and desolate regions on the face of the earth.” The result is a children’s feature so punishing and merciless that it has been nicknamed “The Passion of the Dirkie.” Severin Films proudly presents the “sadistic yet hilarious” (Ilovehotdogs.net) South African survival movie about a boy menaced by plain crashes, infernos, hungry hyenas, angry elephants, spitting cobras, stinging scorpions, dwindling cough medicine, dehydration, and a grueling landscape. Beautifully rendered in Techniscope and Technicolor despite nightmarish shooting conditions that took the film’s crew almost 7,000 miles through the wilderness of Namibia, DIRKIE: LOST IN THE DESERT set South African box office records on its release and traumatized select children all around the world.

“We’re all the better for receiving…
THIS ODDBALL ALL-AGES TRIP INTO AN ARID APOCALYPSE.”
Birth. Movies. Death

Special Features:

  • English and Afrikaans Theatrical Release Versions
  • New Commentary with Star Wynand Uys and Film Scholar Ernest Mathijs
  • … And Your Little Dog Too – An Interview with Producer Boet Troskie
  • Trailers
  • Poster Gallery
  • BONUS FILM: Papam Pasivadu, a Telegu-language re-make from India

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The Green Fog (Guy Maddin, Evan Johnson, and Galen Johnson, 2017)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Green Fog.

Commissioned by the San Francisco Film Society to close the 60th San Francisco International Film Festival, The Green Fog is the latest from Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin and is an unusually evocative homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo assembled from Bay Area footage taken from a diverse array of sources including studio classics, ’50s noir, experimental films, and ’70s prime-time TV. With the help of co-directors Evan and Galen Johnson, composer Jacob Garchik, and musicians Kronos Quartet, this San Francisco fantasia celebrates the city through a century’s worth of assembled film and television, while also capturing the obsessive pull of Hitchcock’s spellbinding classic. The result is inventive, invigorating, and hilariously quirky, offering a “parallel-universe version” of a canonical cinema masterpiece, an unlikely city symphony, and a refreshing document of film history.

SPECIAL FEATURES

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Airplane! (David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker, 1980)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Airplane!

In this zany masterpiece written and directed by the trio of David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, and Jerry Zucker of The Kentucky Fried Theater, a traumatized fighter pilot (Robert Hays) boards an airliner to win back his flight attendant girlfriend (Julie Hagerty) and becomes the plane’s last hope when the crew and half of the plane succumb to food poisoning. Loaded with surreal humor and rapid-fire gags, Airplane! parodied the popular disaster films of the 1970s and took audiences by storm in the process, a breath of fresh air that turned into a massive box office hit. With an iconic cast that includes Leslie Nielsen, Lloyd Bridges, Robert Stack, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Airplane! is one of cinema’s most quotable films and an all-time, off-the-wall, comedy classic.

Disc Features:

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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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Puzzle of a Downfall Child (Jerry Schatzberg, 1970)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Puzzle of a Downfall Child.

Based on his own interviews with troubled fashion model Anne St. Marie, Jerry Schatzberg’s Puzzle of a Downfall Child is an unnervingly intimate, narratively-fragmented portrait of a top fashion model in personal and professional decline. Faye Dunaway, fresh from her star-making role in Bonnie and Clyde, delivers a tour-de-force performance as Lou Andreas Sand, once a celebrated model now shored up in an isolated beach house struggling to maintain her partial grasp on reality. Directly influenced by the European art cinema of Alain Resnais, Ingmar Bergman, and Michelangelo Antonioni and boasting a screenplay by acclaimed screenwriter Carole Eastman and supporting performances by Barry Primus, Roy Scheider, and Viveca Lindfors, Puzzle of a Downfall Child is a visionary film emblematic of the disenfranchised subjects, art-film sensibilities, and young, creative filmmakers that made the New American Cinema.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by director Jerry Schatzberg, with uncompressed monoaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interviews with Schatzberg and actor Faye Dunaway
  • Alternate opening sequence prepared by the studio
  • New interview with playwright Elisabeth Bouchaud
  • Fashion of a Downfall Child, scholar Drake Stutesman on the film’s costumes and fashion trends
  • Sounds from Across the Ocean, scholar Jay Beck on the film’s sound design
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by filmmaker and photographer Bruce LaBruce

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