Violent Panic: The Big Crash (Kinji Fukasaku, 1976)

KINJI FUKASAKU’S ODE TO AUTOMOTIVE ANARCHY

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddAcclaimed Japanese director Kinji Fukasaku breaks free from his iconic yakuza films with Violent Panic: The Big Crash, a deliriously wild ride through Japanese and American exploitation cinema.  Takashi Yamanaki (Tsunehiko Watase) and his partner tear across Japan committing daring, daylight bank-robberies in hopes of eventually escaping to Brazil, but when his partner is killed escaping from a heist, Takashi finds himself on the run as a wanted man.  Standing between him and his getaway to South America is a beautiful woman in love with him (Miki Sugimoto), his partner’s vicious brother (Hideo Murota), an ill-tempered cop (Takuzo Kawatani), and every news truck, motorcycle gang, and delivery driver that crosses their path.  Violent Panic crashes cult film genres (sex comedy, crime, erotic horror, carsploitation) into Fukasaku’s trademark handheld cinematography to create an irreverently careening caper flick, culminating with an outrageous multi-vehicle demolition derby that must be seen to be believed!

Fans of Japan’s master of gangster cinema will recognize Fukasaku’s unique storytelling and visual style, but Violent Panic contains a madcap spontaneity that is wantonly cartoonish and uncharacteristic to the director’s better known works.  Fun, frothy, and fierce, Violent Panic: The Big Crash is a cult film spectacle that pulls out all the stops.

Special Features:

  • New High Definition digital transfer
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • New interview with star Tsunehiko Watase
  • Interview with Fukasaku biographer, Yamane Sadao
  • Original trailer
  • Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork
  • Booklet by critic and scholar Tom Mes of Midnight Eye, illustrated with original stills and new artwork

Continue reading

Blue Collar (Paul Schrader, 1978)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Blue Collar.

criterion logoWhen Detroit auto workers Jerry (Harvey Keitel), Smokey (Yaphet Kotto), and Zeke (Richard Pryor in a rare, but unforgettable dramatic performance) find bills piling up and pressures bearing down, they decide to rob their corrupt union office.  In a cruel twist, their meager haul contains far more than they expected and the three friends find themselves at odds while facing danger, betrayal, and murder.  Paul Schrader’s début directorial effort surmounted bitter tensions amongst his stars to showcase the dark side of the American working class, creating a brutal vision of the low wages and huge debts that trap workers between big industry and big labor.

Disc Features:

  • New 4K digital restoration, supervised by filmmaker Paul Schrader, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • Introduction by comedian Patton Oswalt
  • Audio commentary with co-writer and director Paul Schrader and journalist Maitland McDonagh
  • Interview with musician Ry Cooder on the recording of “Hard Working Man” by Captain Beefheart and the music of Blue Collar
  • Theatrical trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by filmmaker and curator Brecht Andersch

Continue reading

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three (Joseph Sargent, 1974)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents The Taking of Pelham One Two Three.

criterion logoFour ruthless men hijack a subway train en route from New York’s Pelham Station, threatening to kill one hostage per minute unless a million dollar ransom is paid in an hour.  When the mayor reluctantly decides the cash-strapped City will meet the demand, it’s up to Transit Police Lt. Zachary Garber (Walter Matthau) to somehow stall one of cinema’s craftiest, cruelest villains (Robert Shaw) from carrying out his threats while also trying to unlock how the hijackers plan to escape from a subway tunnel while surrounded by police from all sides.  With an exceptional cast including Martin Balsam, Héctor Elizondo, Dick O’Neill, and Jerry Stiller, a highly admired score composed and conducted by David Shire, and innovative cinematography by Owen Roizman, Joseph Sargent’s The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a fascinating document of 1970s New York and an underrated marvel in urban tension.

Disc Features:

  • New, restored 4K digital transfer, supervised by director of photography Owen Roizman and approved by director Joseph Sargent, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • New audio commentary featuring Sargent and Roizman
  • David Shire: One To Twelve, a new interview with composer David Shire on the film’s score, including unused music and an alternate version of the film’s main theme
  • Location tour with New York City subway historian Joe Cunningham
  • PLUS:  A booklet featuring essays by TIME arts editor Jessica Winter and comedian Greg Proops

Continue reading

5 Fingers (Joseph L. Mankiewicz, 1952)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents 5 Fingers.

criterion logoBased on the true story of a World War II spy in neutral Turkey, 5 Fingers follows an ambitious and extremely clever valet (James Mason) who tires of being a servant and forms a plan to promote himself to rich gentleman of leisure by selling top-secret information from the British embassy to the Germans, including details about D-Day’s Operation Overlord.  The Nazis, his British employers, Allied intelligence, and a Polish refugee Countess are all manipulated by the valet code-named Cicero, even as agents and counter-agents close in around him.  One of the best war thrillers made, 5 Fingers is woven with patriotism, weariness, passion, and greed, spearheaded by the critically acclaimed script and direction of Joseph L. Mankiewicz, a suspenseful score from Bernard Herrmann, and a magnificent performance by Mason as the tightly controlled spy maintaining his cool ambitions even as his plans deteriorate.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray edition
  • The music of 5 Fingers, an interactive essay by Christopher Husted of Bernard Herrmann’s estate
  • 1952 and 1955 Lux Radio Theatre performances of 5 Fingers with James Mason and his wife Pamela Mason
  • Operation Cicero, the 46-minute Hour of the Stars TV version starring Ricardo Montalbon and Peter Lorre
  • Inside Cicero, a new 30-minute feature on the real life Cicero, Elyesa Banza
  • Trailer
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by film critic Philip Kemp, 1952 reviews by Bosley Crowther of the New York Times and Hollis Alpert of the Saturday Review, and behind-the-scenes photos of the film’s production

Continue reading