HE’S A LUMBERJACK AND HE’S NOT OKAY
Pacific Northwest, 1983 A.D. Outsiders Red Miller and Mandy Bloom lead a loving and peaceful existence in near isolation. When their pine-scented splendour is savagely destroyed by the sadistic Jeremiah Sand and his cult “The Children of the New Dawn,” Red is catapulted into a phantasmagoric journey filled with bloody vengeance and laced with fire. Armed with a hand-forged battle axe and an insane thirst for revenge, Red won’t stop until he has destroyed Jeremiah and his disciples.
From the visionary mind of Canadian filmmaker Panos Cosmatos (Beyond the Black Rainbow), Mandy is an ultra-hard, stylishly told hell-trip with heavy metal symbolism, demonic motorcycle mutants, buzzing chainsaws, and a phenomenal performance by Nicolas Cage as an unstoppable, single-minded avenger. Arrow Video proudly presents this modern grindhouse classic for the first time on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray.
The final day of the Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival opened with Matthew Rankin’s The Twentieth Century (2019), a fictionalized portrait of Canada’s weirdest, longest-serving, and middlest-of-the-road Prime Minister, William Lyon Mackenzie King. The film side-steps Mackenzie King’s secret spiritualism and instead creates a broader, stranger fantasy of Canada at the dawn of a new era. Rankin’s prerecorded introduction for the film described it as “nightmarishly Canadian” and his words were apt. The Twentieth Century is an Eraserhead/Isle of Dogs-esque imagining of Canadian history and culture, one obsessed with maple walnut ice cream, the scent of fresh timber, passive-aggressive manners, Indian leg wrestling, and medicinal “puffin cream.” Inspiration was taken from the Prime Minister to-be’s personal diary and Rankin connected with Mackenzie King’s tendencies toward vanity, repression, self-righteousness, and self-pity. Played by Dan Beirne with petulant primness, Mackenzie King struggles to achieve his maternally prophesied political and romantic aims (and sublimate his dominating shoe fetish), and the film traces his misadventures through the brutalist interiors of Rideau Hall, the frozen utopia of Quebec, a sunny and freshly logged, new age Vancouver, and a baseless and fetid Winnipeg.
A former Winnipegger himself, Rankin carries on the prairie post-modernism of Guy Maddin and John Paizs, and like his predecessors, Rankin finds ways to make a hard earned dime look like an eccentrically spent dollar (or loonie). Hand-painted and animated in sections by Rankin himself and utilizing a palette that evokes the colours of Canadian banknotes, The Twentieth Century’s stunning production design recalls earlier film eras with its intertitle chapter cards while it also embraces the fresh Canadianness established in the aesthetics of Group of Seven painters like Lawren Harris and York Wilson and the modernist designs of Expo ’67. Rankin even loads his historical subject with a gleeful perversity and a shameless phallocentricism that would do Ken Russell proud – watch out for that ejaculating cactus and that narwhal horn! The Twentieth Century is an acid trip-take on peace, order, and good government and it is staunchly glorious.
Oscilloscope Laboratories has picked up the rights to Rankin’s brilliant film and we can only hope that its eventual hard media release will not only include The Twentieth Century but also many (if not all) of Rankin’s short films including Negativipeg (2010), the most Winnipeg-ish thing I’ve ever seen committed to film.
The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents Moonstruck.
In this award-winning, romantic comedy, Cher stars as Loretta, a widowed bookkeeper in Brooklyn who agrees to marry a mild-mannered man (Danny Aiello) even though she does not love him. Unlucky in love, she promptly falls for his estranged brother (Nicolas Cage), sparking a torrid affair with the moody, young man while her fiancé is absent at his mother’s deathbed. With wonderfully stylized dialogue by playwright John Patrick Shanley and a brilliant ensemble of supporting performances from Olympia Dukakis, Vincent Gardenia, John Mahoney, Julie Bovasso, Louis Guss, and Feodor Chaliapin Jr., Norman Jewison’s Moonstruck is a modern screwball classic and an operatic fable full of moonlit enchantment and the sweet charm of sugar cubes dissolved in champagne.
- New 4K digital restoration, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New interviews with director Norman Jewison, writer John Patrick Shanley, and actors Cher, Nicolas Cage, Olympia Dukakis, and Danny Aiello
- Audio Commentary featuring Cher, Norman Jewison, and writer John Patrick Shanley
- A Night at the Opera, musicologist Marcia Citron on opera, La bohème, and Moonstruck
- Remarriage Italian Style, scholar William Day on Moonstruck and the comedy of remarriage
- Moonstruck: At the Heart of an Italian Family, a featurette on the making of the film
- Music of Moonstruck, a featurette on the film’s score
- Trailer and TV spots
- PLUS: An essay by scholar Mary Ann McDonald Carolan
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.
YOU’RE LYLE FROM DALLAS, RIGHT?
Dead tired and flat broke after driving 1,200 miles, Michael Williams (Nicolas Cage) walks into a local tavern in the dusty town of Red Rock, Wyoming, and is immediately offered a job. There’s only one problem: the bar owner (J. T. Walsh) thinks Michael is a hitman and the “job” is murdering his wife (Lara Flynn Boyle). And just as Michael decides to take the money and skip town without killing anyone, the real hitman (Dennis Hopper) arrives ready to do the job right. Recalling Blood Simple and other classic thrillers of the ’80s and ’90s, Red Rock West is a stylish and cutthroat neonoir full of jealousy, murder, greed, and corruption and where your best friend is a loaded gun.
- NEW HD Film Transfer
- Audio Commentary With Director And Co-Writer John Dahl
- In Conversation: Nicolas Cage And John Dahl
- Lyle From Dallas: Remembering Dennis Hopper
- In Conversation: Dwight Yoakam On The Soundtrack
- Original Theatrical Trailer
- Image Gallery
HAPPY HALLOWEEN, YOU CRAZY KIDS!
We thought we would round out our month of highbrow horror with this great fake Criterion cover for Rob Zombie’s Werewolf Women of the SS. Sure, the Collection already has plenty of World War II films, a classy nazisploitation film, and maybe even its version of lycanthropy, but it’s still nice to dream, even if this pastiche isn’t very highbrow. Of course, the fact that Werewolf Women of the SS exists only as a trailer to an unmade feature is also another impediment, but that’s neither here nor there. Enjoy the trailer, the extended trailer, and the “making of” featurette after the jump!
(Can’t seem to find an artist to give credit for this piece. If anyone knows, please comment so we can spread the love!)