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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Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire (Alan Clarke, 1985)

THE GREATEST VAMPIRE WESTERN-MUSICAL EVER MADE ABOUT SNOOKER!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddSet within a twilight labyrinth of concrete corridors and bunker-like rooms, director Alan Clarke plays out a musical grudge match between conflicting generations of master snooker players. On one side is Billy the Kid (Phil Daniels), a cocky young cockney decked out as an Old West outlaw. On the other is seven-time world champion Maxwell Randall (Alun Armstrong as the Green Baize Vampire), a bloodsucking traditionalist resentful of his young challenger. Manipulated by his manager T.O. (Bruce Payne as “The One”) and a scheming loan shark called the Wednesday Man (Don Henderson), Billy agrees to a seventeen-frame snooker match against Randall where the loser will put down his cue forever. Can Billy vanquish his foe or does the Wednesday Man have some more tricks up his sleeve?

Featuring music by celebrated composer George Fenton and inspired by the rivalry between true-life snooker players Ray Reardon and Jimmy White, Alan Clarke’s Billy the Kid and the Green Baize Vampire is an uncharacteristic foray into fantasy by a British master of gritty realism. The result is an astonishingly strange and captivating work that resembles a musical adaptation of The Hustler if remade by Ken Russell.

Special Features:

  • New high definition transfers of the film in its 93-minute and 121-minute versions
  • High-Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard DVD Presentation
  • Original 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options
  • Optional English SDH subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Making BTK – Extensive interviews on the film’s making with cinematographer Clive Tickner, composer George Fenton, production designer Jamie Leonard, costume designer Tudor George, and editor Steve Singleton
  • Shooting from the Hip, a brand new interview with Phil Daniels made especially for this release
  • Biting Back, a new interview with Alun Armstrong made especially for this release
  • Being #1, a brand new interview with Bruce Payne
  • Sullivan Reporting, a new interview with Louise Gold
  • Bride of the Green Baize Vampire, a brand new interview with Eve Ferret
  • Sports Life Stories: Jimmy White, an ITV documentary on Jimmy White, the inspiration for Billy the Kid
  • Archival interview with Ray “Dracula” Reardon, the inspiration for Maxwell Randall, on the eve of the 1981 World Snooker Championship
  • Illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Michael Brooke

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Hedwig and the Angry Inch (John Cameron Mitchell, 2001)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

criterion logoAdapted from the critically acclaimed off-Broadway hit, John Cameron Mitchell’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch tells the story of an “internationally ignored” rock singer and her search for stardom and love.  Born an East German boy named Hansel, Hedwig marries an American G.I. to get over the Berlin Wall to freedom and suffers a botched sex-change operation in the process that leaves her with just a one-inch mound of flesh.  Finding herself high, dry, and divorced in a Kansas trailer park, Hedwig pushes on to form a rock band and encounters a lover/protegé in Tommy Gnosis, a young Christian army brat who eventually leaves her, stealing her songs to become a huge rock star.  Left to stalk Tommy’s stadium tour with her group, the Angry Inch, Hedwig crisscrosses America intent on exposing Gnosis and claiming her rightful position in the pantheon of rock icons.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 2K digital transfer, supervised by director John Cameron Mitchell and cinematographer Frank G. DeMarco, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Audio commentary featuring Mitchell and DeMarco
  • Deleted scenes with optional commentary
  • Whether You Like It or Not: The Story of Hedwig, a feature-length documentary on the musical and the film
  • I am Hedwig, new interviews on with Mitchell, Neil Patrick Harris, Andrew Rannells, Michael C. Hall, Darren Criss, and Taye Diggs, the stars of Hedwig‘s Broadway productions
  • Follow My Voice: With the Music of Hedwig, Katherine Linton’s documentary on the lives of four students attending the Harvey Milk School for LGBTQ youth and the recording of Wig in a Box, a tribute album raising funds for the institute operating the school
  • Anatomy of a Scene, a making of featurette on the adaptation of the musical at the Sundance Institute
  • New video appreciation by critic Kim Morgan
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: An essay by critic Stephanie Zacharek

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Neil Young Trunk Show (Jonathan Demme, 2009)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Neil Young Trunk Show.

criterion logoFilmed over two nights at the Tower Theater in 2007, Neil Young Trunk Show is director Jonathan Demme’s treatise on guitar rock – loud, electric, uncompromised.  His subject, singer-songwriter Neil Young, performs largely rare and recent material with a force and presence undiminished by his nearly 50 year career, still rocking the free world at age 64.  Bringing the viewer out of the audience and within the stage show, Trunk Show documents the trust and respect of Demme and Young’s more than 15 year relationship as collaborators and reveals the alchemical details of rock magic summoned through metal guitar strings, long takes, and the idiosyncrasies of Young’s voice.  Turn up the volume for this one.

Disc Features:

  • Digital transfer, supervised by cinematographer Declan Quinn and approved by director Jonathan Demme, with DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Introduction by singer-songwriter Eddie Vedder of Pearl Jam
  • Demme on Young, Young on Trunk, a new video piece on the making of Neil Young Trunk Show featuring interviews with musician Neil Young and director Jonathan Demme
  • Additional performances by Neil Young at the Tower Theater not included in the film
  • Gallery of behind-the-scenes and productions photos
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS:  A double-CD set with complete recordings of both performances at the Tower Theater, and a booklet featuring a new essay by music critic and historian Greil Marcus

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Detective Downs (Bard Breien, 2013)

“Finally, a GOOD film about a detective with Downs syndrome” – Evan Saathoff, BADASS DIGEST

Drafthouse Films LogoRobert Bogerud (Svein André Hofsø Myhre) runs his own detective office, but he never gets any cases.  He has the hat, the trench coat, the cigarette, and the attitude.  He also has Down syndrome.  When legendary speed skater (and notorious con artist) Olav Starr goes missing, his wife urgently needs an incompetent detective to pacify an affluent and senile grandmother and hires Robert without any desire to find her husband.  But Robert’s unique method of sleuthing, using his extraordinary empathy to immerse himself in the missing man’s secret life of cross-dressing, penis pumps, and fetish models, is the key to cracking the case.  Detective Downs is a twisty noir tale complete with femme fatales, shocking conspiracies, stunning betrayals, and a headstrong hero who will do anything to get to the bottom of the case.

Special Features:

  • Audio commentary by director Bård Breien and star Svein André Hofsø Myrhe
  • Making of featurette with extensive rehearsal footage
  • Extended and deleted scenes
  • Gag reel
  • Detective Downs at Fantastic Fest 2013
  • Trailer
  • 16-page booklet of photos, production stills, and promotional materials, plus an essay by Myrhe

Marihøna Edition – Package Includes:

  • Detective Downs on Blu-ray or Standard DVD featuring over 4 hours of bonus material
  • High Quality 720p HD Digital Download of the Film Available on Street Date
  • 27″ x 40″ poster autographed by Breien and Myrhe
  • Limited Edition Olav Starr knit cap

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The Court Jester (Melvin Frank and Norman Panama, 1955)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Court Jester.

criterion logoIn this swashbuckling comic farce, star Danny Kaye plays kind-hearted entertainer Hubert Hawkins who disguises himself as the legendary king of jesters Giancomo.  Hawkins infiltrates the court of the usurping King Roderick (Cecil Parker) and his conniving adviser Lord Ravenhurst (Basil Rathbone), but when a sorceress hypnotizes him, royal chaos ensues as Hawkins also believes he is an infamous assassin, alternating identities at the snap of a finger.  Between wordplay and swordplay, Danny Kaye displays his fancy footwork and his comic genius.  With a stellar supporting cast, including Glynis Johns, Angela Lansbury, and Mildred Natwick, Kaye sings and dances among dueling knights and damsels in distress, proving through it all that this jester is one of the original kings of comedy.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 4K digital film transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • “The Secret Life of Danny Kaye,” Edward R. Murrow’s 1956 See It Now episode following Kaye on his 10 country, 50,000 mile tour as a UNICEF ambassador
  • Assignment: Children, Paramount’s 19-minute film for UNICEF documenting Kaye’s examination of the conditions children face in the Third World
  • Three appearances by Kaye on What’s My Line?
  • The Secret Life of Danny Kaye, a 2012 BBC Radio 2 documentary narrated by Elliott Gould and including interviews with Kaye, his daughter Dena Kaye, and performers including Shirley MacLaine, Pat Boone, Michael Caine, Rob Reiner, Anne Rutherford, and Glynis Roberts
  • An Evening with Danny Kaye and the New York Philharmonic,” a 1981 episode of Live from Lincoln Center featuring Kaye as guest conductor
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by comedian Bill Hader

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