SFFF Day 2 Report – Seizures and Non Sequiturs

saskatoon_fantastic_film_festivalSaskatoon is slightly warming as the week proceeds. I’m reluctant to say this is directly attributable to the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival but after a surprisingly strong Day 2, I see no other credible explanation for it. Including the What the Hell! – Totally Messed Up Short Films block, Day 2 offered 16 different works for consideration, injecting a heavy dose of bizarro randomness into the Festival and creating a decidedly different tone from the previous day’s atmospheric horror extravaganza.

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Phoenix Tapes (Christoph Girardet and Matthias Muller, 1999)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Phoenix Tapes.

criterion logoCut together from 40 of Alfred Hitchcock’s films, Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller’s 6-part Phoenix Tapes is a surreal collage of the master director’s themes, motifs, gestures, and objects in a pure cinematic experience.  More than a mere catalogue of Hitchcockian fetish objects and complexes, Girardet and Müller reconnect us to original experience of Hitchcock’s films by removing the familiar context of those sounds and images.  In doing so, Phoenix Tapes examines the uncanny fear specific to the master of suspense and through those Oedipal traps, guilty consciences, maternal obsessions, and murderous desires, explores the dark recesses of cinema’s own collective unconscious.

Disc Features:

  • New high-definition digital restoration, approved by Christoph Girardet and Matthias Müller, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New interviews with Girardet and Müller on selected works
  • Short films by Girardet and Müller, including Manual (2002), Beacon (2002), Play (2003), Mirror (2003), Kristall (2006), Maybe Siam (2009), Contre-jour (2009), Meteor (2011) and Cut (2013)
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring essays by film scholars Thomas Elsaesser, Dominique Païni, Sally Shafto, and filmmaker Guy Maddin

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Great Freedom No. 7 (Helmut Kautner, 1944)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Great Freedom No. 7.

criterion logoSet in a dive bar in Hamburg, Helmut Käutner’s first color film focuses on the unhappy life of the “singing seaman” Hannes Kröeger (Hans Albers), an entertainer who performs for an audience of prostitutes and sailors on leave.  Hannes is obliged by his dying brother to care for his former mistress Gisa (Ilse Werner) and soon falls madly in love with the young woman.  Gisa is torn between the singer and a young dockworker who courts her, leaving Hannes to struggle between pursuing her and a new life together, remaining in his cabaret, or finally returning to sea as a true sailor once again.  Titled after the street where the cabaret is located in Hamburg’s red light district, Great Freedom No. 7 is emblematic of Käutner’s humane storytelling and his aesthetic resistance to the film culture of the Third Reich.

Disc Features:

  • New digital master, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary by German film scholar Eric Rentschler
  • Terra in Agfacolor, a new video essay with German film historian R. Dixon Smith on Terra film studios and the Agfacolor film process
  • Collection of downloadable songs performed by Hans Albers
  • New and improved English subtitle translation
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring new essays by German film scholar Rembert Hueser and Helmut Käutner historian Robert C. Reimer

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