SFFF Day 6 – Into the Unknown

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.

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Wild Zero (Tetsuro Takeuchi, 1999)

JAPAN’S JET ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SCI-FI ZOMBIE HORROR MASTERPIECE!

Ace, a rockabilly fan who really wants to be cool, is on his way to see his favorite rock band, Guitar Wolf, when some strange things occur … flying saucers invade the Earth and flesh-eating zombies rise from the grave! With the help of the (real life) Japanese rock-punk band Guitar Wolf, Ace negotiates an array of misadventures involving crazy rock managers in very tight shorts, transsexual love-interests, naked women shooting guns in the shower, and blood-thirsty zombies ready to tear them all apart! Music video director Tetsuro Takeuchi packs his début feature with everything you need: leather jackets, screeching feedback, laser guitar picks, motorcycles, muscle cars, and LOTS of fire! Think Dawn of the Dead meets Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park with the humor of Evil Dead 2 and you start to approach riotous and ridiculous world of Wild Zero.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
  • Original Japanese soundtrack with optional, newly translated English subtitles
  • Director Edgar Wright on Wild Zero
  • Behind-the-scenes music video
  • Guitar Wolf: Red Idol, director Tetsuro Takeuchi’s 2003 collection of videos, tributes, and live performances
  • Original trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Rockin’ Jelly Bean
  • FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Japanese film expert Tom Mes

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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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Elvira: Mistress of the Dark (James Signorelli, 1988)

HERE COMES ELVIRA … THERE GOES THE NEIGHBOURHOOD!

AV_Inferno_DVD_.inddElvira busts out in her outrageously funny, big scream, feature film debut!  When her great-aunt dies, famed horror hostess Elvira heads for the uptight New England town of Fallwell to claim her inheritance of a spooky house, a witch’s cookbook, and a punk rock poodle.  But once Fallwell’s stuffy locals get an eyeful of the scream queen’s ample assets, all hell breaks loose.  Can the Madonna of the Macabre find love with a studly cinema owner, avoid the schemes of her creepy great-uncle, titillate the town’s repressed teens, and become a Las Vegas dance sensation, all without being burned alive at the stake?

Cassandra Peterson stars as horror icon Elvira in this sexy comedy hit, filled with wild wisecracks, campy chaos, and scare movie spooks, all poured into the lowest-cut black gown in horror movie history!

Special Features:

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A Taxing Woman (Juzo Itami, 1987) and A Taxing Woman’s Return (Juzo Itami, 1988)

The Criterion Collection, a continuing series of important classic and contemporary films presents A Taxing Woman and A Taxing Woman’s Return.

criterion logoRyoko is Japan’s hardest working female tax inspector, a ruthlessly diligent investigator whose only match is Gondo, a “love hotel” owner and master tax evader.  Against a backdrop of stake-outs, searches, and a spectacular raid, this taxing woman and her clever prey test their respective skills of detection and deception, stirring their mutual sexual attraction.  Nobuko Miyamoto and Tsutomu Yamazaki give performances in the best tradition of romantic farce, resulting in a hit film for director Jûzô Itami and a darker, edgier sequel, A Taxing Woman’s Returns, that pits the title character against a religious cult leader and a complex conspiracy involving gangsters, politicians, and a prestigious construction project.

Disc Features:

  • New 2K digital restorations, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray
  • Introduction with Nobuko Miyamoto, star of the films and wife of filmmaker Jûzô Itami
  • Masayuki Suo’s 108 and 110 minute documentaries on the making of A Taxing Woman and A Taxing Woman’s Return
  • New interview with Jake Adelstein on the films, the Japanese yakuza, and Japan’s National Tax Agency
  • Theatrical trailers and teasers
  • New English subtitle translation
  • PLUS: A booklet featuring a new essay by Jonathan Rosenbaum

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Milocrorze: A Love Story (Yoshimasa Ishibashi, 2011)

“Almost impossible to define – it has samurai fights, oddball fantasies and retro musical dance scenes.” – Mark Adams, SCREEN DAILY.

Drafthouse Films LogoFrom visionary artist Yoshimasa Ishibashi comes Milocrorze: A Love Story, an epic collection of tales on obsessive love and the lengths men will go to for it.  Three distinct tales of love gone wrong are offered, each featuring rising Japanese star Takayuki Yamada, moving between the candy-colored world of an innocent, lovelorn man-child to the uproarious realm of Japanese television and an overbearing relationship coach dispensing dubious advice to the cyberpunk-infused world of a vengeful samurai on a quest to reunite with his lost love.  Amid its elaborate musical numbers and jaw-dropping slow-motion sword battle, Milocrorze provides a sincere vision of romantic love through a slightly warped lens, making this 2011 Fantastic Fest multiple award winner “one of the most uniquely structured and entertaining anthology pictures to come out in quite some time” (Adam Charles, FILM SCHOOL REJECTS).

Special Features:

  • Interview with filmmaker Yoshimasa Ishibashi
  • Interview with star Takayuki Yamada
  • Making of featurette
  • Theatrical trailer
  • 24-page booklet of photos, production stills, and promotional materials, plus an interview with filmmaker Yoshimasa Ishibashi

Verandola Gorgonzola Edition – Package Includes:

  • Milocrorze: A Love Story on Blu-ray or Standard DVD
  • DRM-free Digital Download of the film in 1080p, 720p, and mobile/tablet formats
  • 27″ x 40″ one sheet poster designed by Mondo Artist Matt Taylor

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