The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki (Juho Kuosmanen, 2016)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Mäki.

In the summer of 1962, small town Finnish baker Olli Mäki (Jarkko Lahti) has a shot at the world featherweight boxing title held by dominating American champion Davey Moore. Olli is thrust from his countryside home into a fraught training camp with the pressures of national stardom and a draining publicity circuit, but he has bigger problem – he has just fallen in love with a sweet country girl (Oona Airola) and can think about little else. Based on a true story, Juho Kuosmanen’s exquisitely lyrical, verité-styled inversion of the sports biography won the Un Certain Regard Prize, charming Cannes audiences with its gentle humor and bittersweet romance.

Disc Features:

  • High-definition digital master, supervised by cinematographer Jani-Petteri Passi, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • New interview with director Juho Kuosmanen, production designer Kari Kankaanpää cinematographer Passi
  • New interviews with actors Jarkko Lahti, Oona Airola, and Eero Milonoff
  • Roadmarkers (2007), Citizens (2008), and The Painting Sellers (2010), three award-winning short films by Kuosmanen
  • Trailer
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A new essay by critic Manohla Dargis

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Taking Care of Business (Arthur Hiller, 1990)

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 favorites to unheralded gems, SHOUT SELECT celebrates the best in filmmaking, giving these movies the love and attention they deserve.

FIRST-RATE. PHENOMENAL. SUPERLATIVE.

All happy-go-lucky convict Jimmy Dworski (James Belushi) wants out of life is to see the Chicago Cubs win the World Series and so he promptly breaks out of prison after winning tickets to Game Six on a radio show. When he finds the day planner of ultra-organized executive Spencer Barnes (Charles Grodin), Jimmy assumes Spencer’s identity and proceeds to get the most out of both their lives, all expenses paid! Lost without his credit cards and contacts, Spencer’s frantic efforts to save his beloved book and stave off career suicide puts him on the wrong side of street gangs, cops, and county clubs. Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman), Gates McFadden (Star Trek: The Next Generation), Anne De Salvo (Arthur), and Mako (Conan the Barbarian) also star in this hilarious take on mistaken identity and go-go careerism!

Special Features:

  • NEW Being Spencer Barnes – Interviews With Charles Grodin And James Belushi
  • NEW Straightforward And True – An Interview With Loryn Locklin
  • NEW Don’t Be Afraid To Call Me – An Interview With Anne DeSalvo
  • NEW It’s A Tough Prison – An Interview With Hector Elizondo
  • NEW Put On Your Togs – New Interviews With John de Lancie and Thom Sharp
  • Theatrical Trailer

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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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The Spider Labyrinth (Gianfranco Giagni, 1988)

DEATH STALKS ALAN WHITMORE ON EIGHT LEGS

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddAmerican Alan Whitmore (Roland Wybenga), a professor of languages translating ancient texts for the Intextus Project, is sent to Budapest to find his colleague Professor Roth, a researcher who has gone strangely silent and who has failed to deliver his final report on an ancient religion. In the Hungarian capital, Alan is met by Roth’s beautiful assistant Genevieve Weiss (Paola Rinaldi) and commences his search for Roth and the ancient spider-cult that his colleague had uncovered. Can Alan discover the secret of these unnatural cultists and stop their murderous ways or will he become lost in the pagan sect’s web of paranoia, terror, and brutality?

Gianfranco Giagni’s The Spider Labyrinth blends Lovecraftian horrors with giallo stylishness and a gothic atmosphere to create a doom-laden masterpiece of 1980s Italian horror. Sergio Stivaletti’s terrifying effects are exceptional, bringing The Spider Labyrinth to its mad, shattering climax and confirming it as a little-known horror tour de force.

Special Features:

  • New high definition transfer of the English and Italian versions
  • High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Original English and Italian Stereo 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
  • Newly translated English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Old Ones and Arachnids – Extensive interview with Sergio Stivaletti on The Spider Labyrinth‘s visual effects
  • Mistress of the House – An interview with Stéphane Audran
  • Weaving Webs – An interview with Paola Rinaldi
  • Lovecraft on Eight Legs – An interview with Lovecraft experts S. T. Joshi and Sandy Petersen
  • Songs for Spiders – An interview with composer Franco Piersanti
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Kim Newman

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Kaj Pindal!

NFBDanish-born Kaj Pindal may be best known for his children’s television series Peep and the Big Wide World, but he might also be your next favourite animator. Presented here are a trio of Pindal films that offers something of a survey of the filmmaker’s body of work. Les Drew and Kaj Pindal’s What on Earth! (1966), produced by “The National Film Board of Mars,” may be Pindal’s most celebrated work outside of the Peep series, garnering an Oscar-nomination. King Size (1968) represents Pindal as how he is likely best known to Canadians, the creator of many very funny educational shorts that were fixtures on Canadian television. Lastly, The City (Osaka) (1970) reveals Pindal as a daring artist, creating a film for the 1970 Exposition in Osaka that described Canadian life to the Japanese people and ran constantly during the entirety of the World’s Fair on an immense screen of 60 thousand individual light bulbs.

As per the NFB:

This animated short proposes what many earthlings have long feared – that the automobile has inherited the planet. When life on Earth is portrayed as one long, unending conga-line of cars, a crew of extra-terrestrial visitors understandably assume they are the dominant race. While humans, on the other hand are merely parasites. An Oscar® nominee, this film serves as an entertaining case study.

As per the NFB:

This short animation about the perils of tobacco smoking takes us to the kingdom of King Size, a land where “no smoking” is illegal. Here, intoxication dangers and health risks linked to cigarettes are blissfully ignored, and non-smokers are unwelcome. A humorous invitation for young people not to start smoking, or if they have, to relinquish the hazardous habit.

As per the NFB:

An animated fantasy that shows Canadians as urbanized people developing a vast wilderness with the aid of the latest technologies. Shown as part of the Urban Environment exhibit in the Canadian pavilion at the international exposition, Osaka ’70.

Wild Life (Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby, 2011) and Sunday (Patrick Doyon, 2011)

NFBAs we survey the National Film Board’s history through some of its best works, it’s important to note that the NFB continues to produce great films today. With that in mind, we feature today two more recent works of short animation, both of whom were Academy Award nominees in 2011. Amanda Forbis and Wendy Tilby provide an extremely amusing fish-out-of-water tale with Wild Life, a beautifully composed film about western living with the perfect amount of darkness creeping about the edges of its story. The filmmakers painted each frame of Wild Life in gouache to produce its amazing texture. Patrick Doyon’s Sunday (or Dimanche) offers a view of childhood boredom that is anything but. Quirky, funny, and highly economical in Doyon’s illustration, the grey world of Sunday becomes whimsically dreary and thoroughly endearing. For good measure, we’ve included the NFB’s brief making-of video for Sunday featuring interviews with Doyon and the film’s co-producer Marc Bertrand.

As per the NFB:

This Oscar®-nominated animated short tells the story of a dapper young remittance man who is sent from England to Alberta to attempt ranching in 1909. However, his affection for badminton, bird watching and liquor leaves him little time for wrangling cattle. It soon becomes clear that nothing in his refined upbringing has prepared him for the harsh condition of the New World. A film about the beauty of the prairie, the pangs of homesickness and the folly of living dangerously out of context.

As per the NFB:

This Oscar®-nominated animated short is a magical tale about life as seen through the eyes of a child. In keeping with their Sunday tradition, after mass a family flocks to grandma and grandpa’s house, where the chaotic discussion soon begins to resemble a raucous gathering of crows on power lines. The local factory has shut its doors and, naturally, the adults can’t stop fretting about their money woes. On this particular grey Sunday, a young boy drops a coin on some nearby train tracks out of sheer boredom. Picking up the coin after a train has run over it, he discovers to his astonishment that an amazing transformation has taken place.