They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? (Sydney Pollack, 1969)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?

On the Santa Monica Pier, in the shabby La Monica Ballroom, a bizarre Depression-era fad unfolds – the dance marathon. A worn out collection of hopefuls (Jane Fonda, Michael Sarrazin, Susannah York, Bonnie Bedelia, Red Buttons, and Bruce Dern) compete in hopes that a Hollywood casting agent spots them or that they at least win the contest’s $1,500 cash prize. But the competition is a grueling public spectacle, lasting thousands of hours and taking weeks to proceed, leaving dignity and salvation farther and farther away. Based on Horace McCoy’s brutally poetic novel and featuring stand-out performances including Gig Young’s award-winning role as the marathon’s huckstering emcee, Sydney Pollack’s seminal film puts a cap on 1960s idealism and paints a bleak portrait of the American Dream that still resonates today.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital transfer, presented with uncompressed stereo on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by director and producer Sydney Pollack
  • Audio commentary with Jane Fonda, producer Irwin Winkler, former president of ABC Pictures and talent agent Martin Baum, Bonnie Bedelia, Michael Sarrazin, Red Buttons, and legendary hair stylist Sydney Guilaroff
  • New interviews with actors Jane Fonda, Bruce Dern, and Bonnie Bedelia
  • New interview with film critic Kim Morgan
  • New interview with filmmaker Sarah Gertrude Shapiro discussing They Shoot Horses and introducing her 2013 short film Sequin Raze
  • Original featurette on the making of the film
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring an essay by film scholar Scott MacDonald, composer John Green’s musical continuity notes, Pollack’s forward to the screenplay, and notes, pictures, and diagrams taken from Pollack’s shooting script; a new paperback edition of McCoy’s original novel

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We Together (Henry Kaplan, 2016)

The best dancing zombie video since John Landis’ Thriller (1983), Henry Kaplan’s We Together (2016) offers some interesting ideas as to why the undead might partake of some extended krumping. Featuring the music of Kerron Hurd, this short manages to do something surprising and intelligent with an over-played and often uninspired monster.  For more on the making of We Together, check out Henry Kaplan’s interview at Directors Notes.

From Studio D

NFBIn 1974, the International Women’s Year, the NFB established Studio D, a film studio dedicated to female filmmakers that became one of the Board’s most successful units.  Studio D became the victim of budget cuts in 1996, but the NFB’s commitment to feminist films continued, announcing in 2016 a gender-parity initiative dedicating half of the Board’s productions and half of its funding to female filmmakers (a balance the NFB was close to achieving without the formal pledge anyways).  Included here are two of Studio D’s most appreciated works – If You Love This Planet (1982), Terre Nash’s powerful depiction of Dr. Helen Caldicott cut against medical footage of Hiroshima survivors, nuclear test stock footage, and Cold War Hollywood movies (starring Ronald Reagan); and Flamenco at 5:15 (Cynthia Scott, 1983), an observational rumination on youth, tutelage, physicality, and flamenco’s theatrical impact.

As per the NFB:

This Oscar®-winning short film is comprised of a lecture given to students by outspoken nuclear critic Dr. Helen Caldicott, president of Physicians for Social Responsibility in the USA.  Her message is clear: disarmament cannot be postponed.  Archival footage of the bombing of Hiroshima and images of its survivors seven months after the attack heighten the urgency of her message.

As per the NFB:

This Oscar®-winning short film is an impressionistic record of a flamenco dance class given to senior students of the National Ballet School of Canada by two great teachers from Spain, Susana and Antonio Robledo.  The film shows the beautiful young North American dancers—inspired by the flamenco rhythms and mesmerized by Susana’s extraordinary energy—joyously merging with an ancient gypsy culture.

The Chickening (Nick DenBoer and Davy Force, 2015)

It’s inevitable.  At some point everyday, each of us think back to 2005, to Burger King’s introduction of the TenderCrisp Chicken Bacon Ranch burger, and to David LaChapelle’s “Fantasy Ranch” ad campaign, a trippy, countrified, sweetly perverse TV ad featuring Darius Rucker, Vida Guerra, Brooke Burke, and the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders.  But as much as we all love this crassly commercial riff on “Big Rock Candy Mountain,” universal questions still get asked – Why isn’t it nightmarish or disgusting?  Why isn’t it Kubrickian in its point of reference?  And where are the references to Tommy Wiseau and The Room (2003)?  Thankfully, Nick DenBoer and Davy Force have answered these questions with The Chickening (2015), a proof of concept pseudo-trailer and your latest masterpiece in “Cinegraffiti” (unless you’re my wife, who hated this and considered it nightmare fuel).

Be sure to read Birth.Movies.Death.‘s exclusive interview with DenBoer and The Chickening‘s press kit.

Hellzapoppin’ (H. C. Potter, 1941)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Hellzapoppin’.

criterion logoMake way for the nuttiest, zaniest, wackiest film this side of the loony-bin!  Comedy team Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson blast through the fourth wall and demolish the musical-comedy genre, playing Ole Olsen and Chic Johnson, production assistants to a fledgling stage revue.  Hellzapoppin’s screwball romance story takes a backseat to the daffy hijinks and absurdist gags that tear at breakneck speed through this play within a film within a film.  Inspired by the comedians’ highly successful Broadway show and adapted to mock the filmmaking process, Hellzapoppin’ is a singular work of celluloid irreverence where ANY SIMILARITY TO A MOTION PICTURE IS PURELY COINCIDENTAL!

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction by filmmaker and comedian Mel Brooks
  • New interview on the Hellzapoppin’ Broadway musical with Jack Marshall, Artistic Director of The American Century Theater
  • Crazy House, Olsen and Johnson’s 1943 feature film follow-up where the duo attempts to film an independent movie after being fired by Universal Pictures
  • Kinescopes of Olsen and Johnson’s NBC variety show Fireball Fun for All
  • PLUS: An essay by media scholar Henry Jenkins

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Get Crazy (Allan Arkush, 1983)

IT WAS THE GREATEST ROCK EVENT EVER … UNTIL THE PLACE EXPLODED!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddIt is December 31, 1982.  Ring in 1983 at the Saturn Theater’s annual New Year’s Eve concert – featuring the far-out Captain Cloud and the Rainbow Telegraph, the king bluesman himself, King Blues, Nada and her pop bubble gum/New Wave/punk ensemble, rock icon Reggie Wanker, and folk-rock legend Auden!

The Saturn Theater’s New Year’s Eve concert is an institution to its owner, master showman Max Wolfe (Allen Garfield), but when Max has a heart attack hours before the concert and villainous promoter Colin Beverly (Ed Begley Jr.) enlists Max’s nephew Sammy (Miles Chapin) in a plot to ruin the event and have the venue signed over to Beverly, its up to stage manager Neil Allen (Daniel Stern) and visiting former stage manager Willy Loman (Gail Edwards) to ensure the show goes on.  Luckily Allen and Loman can rely on the dedication of their crew, the professionalism of their acts, and the case of pharmaceuticals provided by the spectral Electric Larry to see the concert through.  Boasting musical performances by Lou Reed, Malcolm McDowell, Lee Ving, Bill Henderson, and Lori Eastside, Allan Arkush (Rock ‘n’ Roll High School) presents a hilarious concert movie spoof celebrating sex, drugs, and rock ‘n’ roll as only the 1980s would have it.

Special Features:

  • New high definition digital transfer
  • High definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Original Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction by director, producer and writer Edgar Wright
  • Audio commentary by director Allan Arkush
  • There Will Be No Encores – a new documentary on the making of Get Crazy featuring new interviews with Allan Arkush, Daniel Stern, Malcolm McDowell, Gail Edwards, Allen Garfield, Ed Begley, Jr., Stacey Nelkin, Dan Frischman, Franklyn Ajaye, Robert Picardo, Dick Miller, and Mary Woronov
  • Hot Shots – a new documentary on the music of Get Crazy featuring new interviews with Allan Arkush, Malcolm McDowell, Howard Kaylan, Lee Ving, John Densmore, Lori Eastside, Fabian, and Bobby Sherman
  • Gone Crazy! – director, producer and actor Eli Roth on Get Crazy
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by cult film scholar Mike Watt

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