The Saskatoon Fantastic Film Festival has reached its landmark tenth iteration this year and Festival Director John Allison and his team have ensured that this is the Fest’s biggest and brightest year yet by expanding it to six days, hosting a Drunken Cinema screening of A Nightmare on Elm Street, hosting another Saturday Morning All You Can Eat Cereal Cartoon Party, and bringing in as special guests director Joe Dante and actress Belinda Balaski for a three film retrospective. The SFFF kicked off with something of a soft-open with another new addition – a five film virtual reality experience held preceding the theatrical film program each weekday. Attendance was sparse on Day 1 so let this be a warning to those content to let the VR program pass them by – miss the SFFF’s Virtual Reality Experience section and you will certainly be missing out on some of the Fest’s most intriguing aspects.
HONG KONG’S ORIGINAL MONSTER MASH!
When the sinister Princess Elzebub and her demonic minions ascend from the centre of the Earth to conquer Hong Kong and then the rest of the world, only Professor Liu Ying-de and the Science Headquarters stand in their way. Danny Lee stars as a young man transformed into Inframan, the sensational superhero made beyond bionics! With solar rays and thunderbolt fists, he sets out to vanquish humankind’s enemies forever in this fantastical story of rubber-suited villainy and plastic armor heroism.
Featuring not just one but two Bruceploitation stars (Danny Lee and Bruce Le), the mind-boggling fight choreography of Lan-Shan Ho (The Way of the Dragon), and costumes and creature designs by Ekisu Productions (Kamen Rider), The Super Inframan is a singular tokusatsu action experience from the legendary Shaw Brothers Studio.
SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS
- Brand New High Definition digital transfer
- High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
- Original Mandarin mono audio, plus 2.0 and 5.1 Dolby Surround Options, and English mono audio dub track (uncompressed LPCM)
- New English subtitles
- New interviews with actors Danny Lee, Bruce Le, and Terry Lau
- Introduction by Mystery Science Theater 3000 producer Joel Hodgson
- Director Jörg Buttgereit on The Super Inframan
- Original theatrical trailer
- Image gallery
- FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Booklet featuring writing on the film by Damon Foster and August Ragone and interview with director Shan Hua
MMC! keeps our creepy October rolling with Dave Fleischer’s spook-errific animation classic, Snow-White (1933). This Betty Boop masterpiece was animated almost single-handed by Roland Crandall over six months, his reward for loyal service to Fleischer Studios. The short features an array of creepy gags and set-pieces, the highlight of which is the Mystery Cave portion where a rotoscoped Cab Calloway performs “St. James Infirmary Blues” as a ghostly Koko the Clown. I first saw Snow-White in a class on the Disney Company where the very knowledgeable professor cited the rotoscoped appearance of Cab Calloway as an introduction of realism into the film, something I never understood given the very fantastic animation applied to the phantom Koko transforms into and the almost unnatural, counter-intuitive physics of Calloway’s glides and moonwalks. Snow-White has been preserved by the National Film Registry and can be found on Blu-ray in Volume 4 of Olive Films’ Betty Boop: The Essential Collections.
Back in January, the Criterion Collection paired the Oscar-winning short film Logorama (Ludovic Houplain, Hervé de Crécy, and François Alaux, 2009) with Jean-Luc Godard’s Masculin féminin (1966). Created by the French collective H5, the short constructs Los Angeles entirely from (3,000 or so) trademarked logos and then presents these sanitized images of friendly consumerism in the sun-drenched violence typical to films like To Live and Die in L.A. (William Friedkin, 1985) and Heat (Michael Mann, 1995). The result is a clever statement on the ubiquity of capitalist commodification in our daily life and a somewhat nasty dismantling of the corporate messaging shorthanded into these capitalist symbols. Those interested in the legality of Logorama (or at least the American legality of a French film) should read Rose Lawrence’s “LOGORAMA: The Great Trademark Heist.” Lawrence’s unpacking of the legal tests for parody, satire, infringement, and dilution are particularly useful in considering the artistic aims, popular interactions, and social commentaries at work in the short film. As a bonus, Lawrence also touches upon important legal texts like George of the Jungle 2 (David Grossman, 2003) and Aqua’s “Barbie Girl.”
We must admit, the last couple days have been tough here at MMC! and morale is lagging with things looking to get worse before they get better. I’m not sure if Wes Anderson’s new short Come Together (2016), a promotional work for H&M stores, helps the situation by offering some Christmas cheer or gives some further reason to mope by another of Anderson’s characteristic sad sack dollhouses, but we’re glad for it either way. Enjoy it now here, before it appears on the Criterion Collection’s eventual release of The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), and we’ll see you in December!
Aside from being an astonishingly effective and expertly depicted journey through space, Roman Kroitor and Colin Low’s Universe (1960) is probably most celebrated for its connection to Stanley Kubrick and 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). This Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning short was a revelation to Kubrick, who purportedly watched nearly every space movie made to that point in preparation for 2001. Universe proved that it was possible to depict outer space with complete realism, and Kubrick hired the short’s special effects technician Wally Gentleman as an uncredited special effects supervisor and cast Universe‘s narrator Douglas Rain as the voice of the HAL 9000. Colin Low was also invited by Kubrick to work on 2001, but the director turned down the offer to work with Roman Kroitor and Hugh O’Connor on the multi-screen documentary collage film, In the Labyrinth (1967), for Expo 67 in Montreal. In the Labyrinth served as a precursor to the IMAX format developed in part by Kroitor, and the film’s content anticipates the immersive travelogues and spectacular anthropologies of films like Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy (1983, 1988, and 2002) and Ron Fricke’s Baraka (1992) and Samsara (2011), although Labyrinth proves even more daring in its formal construction. A link to In the Labyrinth is included below.
As per the NFB:
A triumph of film art, creating on the screen a vast, awe-inspiring picture of the universe as it would appear to a voyager in space, this film was among the sources used in his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Realistic animation takes you into far regions of space, beyond the reach of the strongest telescope, past Moon, Sun, and Milky Way into galaxies yet unfathomed.
A film without commentary in which multiple images, sometimes complimentary, sometimes contrasting, draw the viewer through the different stages of a labyrinth. The tone of the film moves from great joy to wrenching sorrow; from stark simplicity to ceremonial pomp. It is life as it is lived by the people of the world, each one, as the film suggests, in a personal labyrinth.
In the Labyrinth was first released as a multi-screen presentation for Chamber III of the Labyrinth at Expo 67. These separate images were integrated into a single strand of film, using a “five-on-one” cinematic technique.