Socks on Fire: Uncle John and the Copper Headed Water Rattlers (Bo McGuire, 2017)

Probably the only thing that improves upon Bo McGuire’s astonishing short, Socks on Fire: Uncle John and the Copper Headed Water Rattlers (2017), is that the film is available on his website right now to see – click HERE to visit his site and watch! The 15-minute short is an experimental fantasy of some family drama that resists easy description. McGuire labels it on his site as a “lyrical meditation exploring personal family relationships, archetypes and myths through a variety of means & textures” and a rough cut to a feature-length “transgenerational docudrama,” while the Chattanooga Film Festival offered this synopsis – “A failed poet takes up cinematic arms when he returns home to Hokes Bluff, Ala. to find his aunt has locked his drag queen uncle out of the family home.” When asked about his inspiration for the short by Indie Grits, McGuire offered this:

Gail Bryant was a lady from my hometown of Hokes Bluff. She had a tick where she would snap her neck to throw her silver hair to the side. One day Gail was snapping that neck and the next day she was in the ground. That pissed me off. The same thing happened to my Nanny and Papa without the neck snaps and that really pissed me off. Then my Aunt Sharon went behind everyone’s back and tried to sell Nanny and Papa’s house, and Meryl Streep got up on the Oscars hollering, take your broken heart, make it into art.

McGuire, the self-described “queer son of a Waffle House cook and his third-shift waitress on the corner of George Wallace Drive in Gadsden, Alabama,” crafts a Southern Gothic dreamscape that is equal parts John Waters and Terrence Malick. Steeped in corner store pageantry, Socks on Fire veers from scenes of straight documentary to magical realist reveries, with McGuire appearing in oscillating roles of interested relation, impartial chronicler, co-conspirator, and mystical trickster. While often ostentatious and unabashed, McGuire never stoops to exploitation but rather preserves an air of respect and poetic gravity throughout the short. It is McGuire’s greatest success here, creating a kind of cinematic eye dialect from the iconography of slim cigarettes, pick-ups, fireworks, Crimson Tide merchandise, and nature’s damp, inevitable power. It’s a mini-masterpiece and I can’t wait to see Socks on Fire in its full, feature-length glory!

Shout out to the Chattanooga Film Festival and to Bo McGuire! I was lucky enough to spend a little time with Bo (even catch a screening of Rock Steady Row with him) and he’s as affable and charming a guy as you’re likely to find. Bo was definitely a personal and cinematic high point of my CFF experience. Thanks Bo!

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SFFF Day 4 – Go Big and Go Home

The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival’s final day was even more massive than expected. With a packed program and an extra short film (moved from the previous day due to a technical issue), there was little downtime between screenings and the Festival’s final midnight show started late and wrapped well past 2:30 a.m. Those that saw the marathon day of screenings to its bleary end enjoyed without question the SFFF’s best block of films (plus some welcome giveaways for lucky attendees).

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SFFF Day 1 Report – Four Killers and a Dog

Even before I arrived in Saskatoon, I felt like Fantastic Film Festival-action was meeting me like a herald of things to come. It had something to do with the man waiting at my flight’s gate conspicuously wearing a black eyepatch that threatened spy movie villainy. It also had something to do with the man behind me in security and his laptop that tested positive for “explosive residue.” Fortunately for me, action-thrillers weren’t slated until Day 2 of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival and my flight proceeded without complication, bringing me to Day 1 of SFFF and a block of films featuring some disturbed title characters.

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Mill of the Stone Women (Giorgio Ferroni, 1960)

SCARES THAT WILL LEAVE YOU PETRIFIED!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddHans, a young artist, arrives at the famous Dutch windmill of Professor Wahl to study the horrible stone statues contained within the local landmark, a mechanical carousel of history’s most notorious women meeting their gruesome and untimely ends. There, he becomes captivated with Wahl’s mysterious and seductive daughter notwithstanding Hans’s relationship with a local art student. Warned by Professor Wahl to stay away from his seriously ill daughter and suspicious of her private doctor, Hans begins to suspect that deadly family secrets are being kept within the mill…

Giorgio Ferroni’s Mill of the Stone Women was Italy’s first horror film shot in color and has become a classic of the Italian Gothic genre. Arrow Video proudly presents four versions of the film with this release, newly restored from the best materials available and including the notorious “topless” shots of sexy French star Dany Carrel originally cut from the US release.

Special Features:

  • New high definition transfers of the film in its 95-minute international version, 90-minute French version, 96-minute Italian version, and 93-minute German version
  • High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Uncompressed monaural soundtracks on the Blu-ray edition
  • Newly translated English subtitles for French, Italian, and German editions
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Introduction to the film by author and critic Alan Jones
  • Audio Commentary with film critic Tim Lucas
  • Archival interview with actor Wolfgang Preiss
  • Deleted and alternate scenes
  • Theatrical trailers
  • Stills and poster gallery
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Andrea Bini, an essay by Pete Tombs, and a comparison of the versions of the film by Tim Lucas, illustrated with original stills and posters

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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!