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Sunday, October 23, 2016

TALES OF POE -- DVD Review by Porfle

For Edgar Allan Poe fans, film adaptations of his works have always been a mixed bag.  Even the most faithful ones can fail to capture the author's unique essence, while others take his familiar name and story titles in completely different, often inferior directions. 

Any feature-length screenplay based on his short stories, such as in the celebrated Roger Corman films, must use Poe's ideas as a starting point to be built upon and/or padded out, for better or worse.  This is sometimes true even for the anthologies such as TALES OF TERROR and TWO EVIL EYES.

TALES OF POE (2014) is an anthology made up of three short films which, while not strictly adhering to the original stories as written, do a great job of retaining their mood and feeling--along with certain basic plot points--while offering up a wealth of fascinating surprises.  The adaptations conjure a richly atmospheric mood that combines the subtlety of Poe's prose with moments that go shockingly over the top.

Directors Alan Rowe Kelly (director and co-star of THE BLOOD SHED)and Bart Mastronardi, who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Varrati, have come up with three totally fresh, creative adaptations that breathe new life into these oft-told tales without straying too far from the qualities that made them memorable in the first place.  A  once-in-a-lifetime cast of genre favorites and lavish production values (despite a low budget) help make the experience all the richer. 

"The Tell-Tale Heart" gets a sex change, with scream queen Debbie Rochon (MODEL HUNGER, THE THEATER BIZARRE) outstanding as a nurse-for-hire tending to wealthy invalid and former silent screen star Miss Lamarr (Kelly) in her spacious, museum-like estate.  Poe fans will know that the eccentric but otherwise harmless Miss Lamarr sports one blind, milky-white eye which the mentally-unstable nurse finds utterly repulsive to the point of plotting the old woman's murder in the dead of night. 

Rochon's character tells the story in flashback to her fellow inmates in an insane asylum, retaining much of Poe's original prose and adding just enough to keep things enticingly unexpected for the viewer.  Some well-rendered sex and violence also adds just the right measure of visceral impact for modern audiences.  Desiree Gould (SLEEPAWAY CAMP's "Aunt Martha") makes a strong impression as a malicious nurse.

Once again centering around one or two particular events that stoked Poe's imagination enough to create a story around them, "The Cask" takes the horror of being imprisoned alive behind a brick wall--while watching it being constructed brick by brick--and fleshes it out into a whole new yet equally chilling story.

This time, wealthy wine connoisseur Fortunato Montresor (Randy Jones, better known as the cowboy from The Village People) and his blowsy new bride Gogo (Alan Rowe Kelly again) are leading a flamboyant assemblage of wedding guests through his vast wine cellar when suddenly one of the women (Zoe Daelman Chlanda), a psychic, starts hugging the cold stone wall and having convulsions.  Apparently, she's foreseeing the horror that's in store for one of the newlyweds when the other proves to be, shall we say, "unfaithful."

Where "The Tell-Tale Heart" is unrelievedly Gothic and dark, "The Cask" mixes a bit more humor (nice and dry, like a good wine) with its chills, bringing to mind the "Something To Tide You Over" episode of CREEPSHOW.  Jones acquits himself very well, as do Brewster McCall as family friend Marco Lechresi and genre stalwart Susan Adriensen (PRISON OF THE PSYCHOTIC DAMNED, THE BLOOD SHED), always a pleasure to watch, as their creepy housemaid Morella.  But it's Kelly who once again impresses the most by playing the role of an overbearing woman to the point of caricature without going over.

The third and final story, "Dreams", is based on various poems by Poe and "A Dream Within a Dream" in particular.  Here, we get the most surreal and non-linear interpretation of his works in the story of a young woman (Bette Cassatt, MODEL HUNGER) whose dreamlike delirium while on her deathbed provides an endless flow of free-form imagery steeped in symbolism that's both poetic and repellent.  

Like a moribund Alice whose wonderland is the twilight world of her own life and death, The Dreamer wanders through ever-changing landscapes of her mind under the guidance of a benevolent Angel of Dreams (Caroline Williams, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2) while being plagued by an evil woman in black (Lesleh Donaldson, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME, CURTAINS) who represents negativity and fear.

Even the woman's hospital room is a dark and foreboding place presided over by a scary nurse (Adrienne King of FRIDAY THE 13TH).  Other odds and ends from Poe's repertoire appear such as characters Dr. Tarr and Professor Fether.

Just as the plotless succession of images seems to be going nowhere, it's brought to a poignant conclusion thanks in part to a moving performance by Amy Steel (FRIDAY THE 13TH PART 2) as The Dreamer's careworn mother.

The DVD from WildEye Releasing is in widescreen with 2.0 sound. No subtitles.  Extras include a behind-the-scenes featurette, an interview with director Bart Mastronardi, some very intriguing deleted scenes, and trailers.  

The perversely delightful TALES OF POE is brilliantly rendered by all involved and serves as an excellent primer for any contemporary viewer unfamiliar with Poe who might be wondering what the big deal is.  Dark, mesmerizing, sometimes intoxicatingly nightmarish, it's absolutely top-drawer indy filmmaking which I believe many devotees of the original author will find irresistible.

Buy it at


FSLC announces "Total Verhoeven" November 9-23 -- Complete Paul Verhoeven Retrospective


Complete retrospective of the provocative director’s work, including rare early Dutch films and sneak preview of Elle

Verhoeven in person November 15 and 16!

New York, NY (October 20, 2016) – The Film Society of Lincoln Center announces Total Verhoeven, a complete retrospective of the fearless director’s work, on the occasion of the U.S. release of his acclaimed new film Elle (NYFF54), November 9-23.

"It's about surviving in a world populated by assholes, that's Verhoeven’s philosophy.”
—Jacques Rivette

Few contemporary directors have inspired more debate than Paul Verhoeven, whose smartly entertaining films push the boundaries of sex, violence, and accepted good taste to daringly subversive ends. After a string of groundbreaking works in the Netherlands, Verhoeven eventually found his way to Hollywood, where he lent his complex, morally ambiguous worldview and facility for action spectacle to some of the most fascinating—and often controversial—studio films of the eighties and nineties.

An ironist who frequently works in so-called “disreputable” genres—science fiction, erotic thriller, melodrama—he combines a formal mastery with a satirist’s sensibility, delivering visceral thrills alongside provocative critiques of capitalism, militarism, and masculinity.

Total Verhoeven opens November 9 with a sneak preview of the director’s latest, NYFF54 selection Elle, starring Isabelle Huppert. Highlights of the retrospective include Verhoeven’s early Dutch films, rarely shown in the U.S. and all on 35mm, from his first feature, Business Is Business, to the last film he made before coming to Hollywood, The 4th Man; a 4K restoration of the uncut version of RoboCop; Basic Instinct and Showgirls on 35mm; as well as Verhoeven’s early short films, each centered around youths in school, which foreshadow the themes he would explore throughout his career: female dominance, technology, and war.

Verhoeven will appear in person for the retrospective, participating in Q&As after screenings of RoboCop on November 15 and his second Dutch feature, Turkish Delight, on November 16. Additionally, he will introduce Starship Troopers on November 15 and Showgirls on November 16.

Tickets will go on sale Thursday, October 27 and are $14; $11 for students and seniors (62+); and $9 for members. Tickets for the sneak preview of Elle are $18; $13 for members. See more and save with 3+ film discount package (Elle excluded) and $125 All Access Pass (Elle included).

Organized by Dennis Lim and Dan Sullivan

EYE Film Institute Netherlands; Sony Pictures Classics; Consulate General of the Kingdom of the Netherlands

All films screening at Walter Reade Theater (165 West 65th Street)

Sneak Preview:

Paul Verhoeven, France/Germany, 2016, 131m
French with English subtitles
Paul Verhoeven’s first feature in a decade—and his first in French—ranks among his most incendiary, improbable concoctions: a wry, almost-screwball comedy of manners about a woman who responds to a rape by refusing the mantle of victimhood. As the film opens, Parisian heroine Michèle (a brilliant Isabelle Huppert) is brutally violated in her kitchen by a hooded intruder. Rather than report the crime, Michèle, the CEO of a video game company and daughter of a notorious mass murderer, calmly sweeps up the mess and proceeds to engage her assailant in a dangerous game of domination and submission in which her motivations remain a constant source of mystery, humor, and tension. A Sony Pictures Classics release. An NYFF54 selection.
Wednesday, November 9, 6:30pm

Basic Instinct
Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1992, 35mm, 128m
Verhoeven’s sleek, sexually daring thriller is Vertigo for the 1990s. Michael Douglas is the troubled police detective seduced into a series of cat-and-mouse mind games by Sharon Stone’s Catherine Tramell, a cool, Hitchcock-blonde crime novelist with a penchant for sleeping with murderers and who may or may not be one herself. Throughout, Verhoeven revels in the story’s ambiguity, creating a world in which sex is both unbelievably hot and charged with menace, and nearly everyone is guilty of something. Even the ending is a tease.
Wednesday, November 9, 9:15pm
Tuesday, November 15, 3:45pm
Saturday, November 19, 6:45pm

Black Book / Zwartboek
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2006, 35mm, 145m
English, Dutch, German, and Hebrew with English subtitles
Working in the Netherlands again after two decades in Hollywood, Verhoeven seized the opportunity to make an unusually complex World War II thriller. After her family is gunned down by the SS, a Jewish singer (Carice van Houten) goes undercover as a spy for the Dutch resistance, risking everything when she becomes romantically involved with a Nazi officer (Sebastian Koch). Shifting loyalties, double crosses, and Mata Hari-esque sexual intrigue abound, but what’s most striking is Verhoeven’s characteristic ambivalence: as in so many of his films he creates a finely shaded world in which everyone must make tough moral compromises to survive.
Monday, November 14, 3:00pm
Friday, November 18, 6:15pm

Business Is Business / Wat zien ik
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1971, 35mm, 90m
English-dubbed version
Verhoeven’s first feature is unmistakably his: outrageous, satiric, erotic, and gleefully unrespectable. It’s a chaotic comic portrait of two enterprising prostitutes (Ronnie Bierman and Sylvia de Leur) looking for love in between rendezvous with clients. (Their specialty: role-playing everything from chickens to corpses for their kinky customers.) A goofy, groovy tour through the red light district of swinging ‘70s Amsterdam, Business Is Business may be the most high-spirited, relatively untroubled film of Verhoeven’s career thus far, but it’s also the first iteration of one of his key themes: we do what we must to survive.
Thursday, November 10, 7:00pm
Sunday, November 13, 6:30pm

The 4th Man / De vierde man
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1983, 35mm, 102m
Dutch with English subtitles
While most of Verhoeven’s works can be read as subversive genre exercises, the last Dutch film he made before decamping for Hollywood plays like a feverish satire of a Serious European Art Film. Haunted by surreal visions of death and violence, a Catholic, alcoholic, bisexual writer (Jeroen Krabbé) is seduced by and shacks up with a suspiciously thrice-widowed beauty salon owner (Renée Soutendijk)—but he really has eyes for her sexy, would-be boyfriend (Thom Hoffman). One of the director’s most outlandish and inspired films is an alternately funny and freaky hothouse blend of oneiric symbolism, homoeroticism, religious iconography, and witchcraft.
Thursday, November 10, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 13, 4:15pm

Paul Verhoeven, USA/Spain/Netherlands, 1985, 35mm, 126m
Though it was Verhoeven’s first English-language film, Flesh+Blood is in many ways an extension of his Dutch work: it’s shot by regular cinematographer Jan de Bont, stars frequent leading man Rutger Hauer, and is marked by the director’s typically thorny sensibility. Italy, 1501: after they’re swindled by a nobleman, a band of mercenaries headed by the savage Martin (Hauer) get their revenge by kidnapping his son’s young bride-to-be (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Worlds removed from the chivalrous romance of Hollywood legends, this is a muddy, bloody, brutal vision of the Middle Ages, with a rapist-kidnapper antihero at its center. Little wonder it was met with indifference by American audiences unprepared for Verhoeven’s uncompromising worldview.
Saturday, November 12, 1:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 3:30pm

Hollow Man
Paul Verhoeven, USA/Germany, 2000, 35mm, 112m
Verhoeven’s last Hollywood film to date is this underrated, twisted take on The Invisible Man. Kevin Bacon is an egomaniac scientist who makes himself the human guinea pig in a top-secret, government-funded invisibility experiment—but this newly acquired “power” unleashes his inner homicidal maniac. Verhoeven makes inventive use of state-of-the-art special effects (ever wondered what an invisible man looks like underwater?) in this satisfyingly pulpy thriller, which is, “like his other films, the work of a macabre moralist who's fascinated by the shape of our worst impulses” (Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader).
Friday, November 18, 9:15pm
Sunday, November 20, 8:30pm

Katie Tippel / Keetje Tippel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1975, 35mm, 107m
Dutch with English subtitles
One of Verhoeven’s most visually beautiful films depicts both the squalor and opulence of 19th-century Europe. Born into extreme poverty, Katie (Turkish Delight’s Monique van de Ven)—something like the great-grandmother of Showgirls’ ruthless Nomi—must rely on her tenacity to get ahead, as she goes from prostitute to artist’s model to fine lady in turn-of-the-century Amsterdam. Verhoeven twists this earthy, up-from-the-gutter tale—based on the memoirs of Dutch realist writer Neel Doff—into an indictment of capitalist exploitation.
Sunday, November 13, 8:30pm
Wednesday, November 16, 4:00pm

Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1987, 101m
Verhoeven demonstrated his ability to deliver both genre thrills and serious social commentary in this prescient and disturbing look at the rise of the corporate police state. In a dystopian, futuristic Detroit, a nefarious mega-conglomerate unveils the latest in crime-fighting technology: part cyborg, part revivified corpse of a police officer (Peter Weller) slain in the line of duty, RoboCop at first seems a surefire success—until he rebels against his programming. This sci-fi pulp masterpiece is packed with both inventive filmmaking—a grimy, cyberpunk look; satiric news broadcasts; chilling point-of-view shots—and provocative ideas about corporate takeover, the militarization of the police force, and the relationship between man and machine. 4K restoration of the uncut version!
Friday, November 11, 7:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)
Thursday, November 17, 4:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 9:30pm

Paul Verhoeven, USA/France, 1995, 35mm, 131m
Unbound by musty notions of “good taste,” Showgirls goes further than any other film of the 1990s in its orgiastic depiction of consumerism, crass spectacle, and the dark side of the American Dream. Elizabeth Berkley (in a tour-de-force of hysterical excess) stars as Nomi, a tough-as-nails drifter with a go-it-alone attitude and a murky past, who arrives in Las Vegas and sets about trampling on everyone around her—including Gina Gershon’s evil-seductive nightclub diva—as she fights her way up from stripper in a sleazy club to star showgirl. With its deliciously overripe dialogue and nigh-unhinged performances, Showgirls is both a delirious star-is-born satire and a terrifying vision of capitalism’s corruption of the soul.
Friday, November 11, 4:15pm
Saturday, November 12, 9:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Friday, November 18, 3:30pm

Soldier of Orange / Soldaat van Oranje
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1977, 35mm, 150m
English, German, and Dutch with English subtitles
This bracing World War II epic was the film that brought Verhoeven to Hollywood’s attention. It follows a group of college friends through the Nazi occupation of Holland, as two (Rutger Hauer and Jeroen Krabbé) becomes heroes of the resistance movement, while another (Derek de Lint) turns traitor. As usual, Verhoeven’s moral ambiguity and skewed sensibility keep things complicated: far from a patriotic flag-waver, Soldier of Orange is as knotty, subversive, and gonzo as war movies get (witness the hero performing a homoerotic tango), while demonstrating Verhoeven’s ability to balance action with involving human drama.
Tuesday, November 22, 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 23, 3:00pm

Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1980, 35mm, 120m
Dutch with English subtitles
Something of a male-driven precursor to Showgirls: as he would do in that film fifteen years later, Verhoeven takes a lurid soap opera premise, subverts it with deadly dark humor, and dials up the emotional intensity to create a funhouse-mirror reflection of a sick society. Playing like a biker exploitation film as directed by Cassavetes, Spetters is a sexually charged psychodrama that charts the coming-of-age of three blue-collar, motocross-obsessed young men. Hopped up on testosterone, the boys live to race their dirt bikes and dream of one day becoming as famous as the world champion, Gerrit Witkamp (Rutger Hauer)—but fate has other things in store. Homosexuality, religion, suicide, misogyny, and empty-headed macho posturing are all addressed with an unflinching frankness and a razor-sharp satiric edge.
Thursday, November 10, 4:30pm
Saturday, November 12, 4:00pm

Starship Troopers
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1997, 129m
Part comic book–style action adventure, part scathing satire of the military-industrial complex, Starship Troopers is one of the most subversive artistic acts ever perpetrated with a $100 million budget. Welcome to the 24th century, where fresh-faced, idealistic teens are encouraged to join up and become “citizens” by enlisting in the intergalactic army. They’ll grow up, see the universe, and, oh yeah, be slaughtered by the thousands as they battle giant, mutant insects threatening to wipe out mankind. Abetted by seamless special effects and impressively gory CGI carnage, Verhoeven delivers both a thrilling science fiction spectacle and a devastating takedown of jingoistic militarism.
Friday, November 11, 9:00pm
Tuesday, November 15, 9:15pm (Introduction by Paul Verhoeven)
Saturday, November 19, 9:30pm

Total Recall
Paul Verhoeven, USA, 1990, 113m
2084: Arnold Schwarzenegger is construction worker Douglas Quaid, whose virtual reality vacation to Mars turns into the ultimate head-trip when he discovers that his entire life (including wife Sharon Stone) is a sham based on implanted memories. Jetting off to the real Red Planet to find out the truth, he finds himself on the run through a grungy, capitalist dystopia populated by proletarian mutants. Verhoeven’s adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s short story “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” is like RoboCop played at hyper-speed, with its themes of corporate control, memory, and identity delivered in an even faster, funnier, and (thanks to Rob Bottin’s impressively icky makeup effects) gorier package.
Saturday, November 12, 6:30pm
Saturday, November 19, 2:00pm

Tricked / Steekspel
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 2012, 55m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
In a daring online experiment, over 400 people contributed to a crowd-sourced script that resulted in what Verhoeven describes as “my 14½, like Fellini's 8½.” It’s a darkly comic family farce in which a Dutch husband and father’s fiftieth birthday celebration is dampened when his ex-flame shows up pregnant with his baby. Meanwhile, he’s got a pervy son, alcoholic daughter, and two business partners planning to push him out of his company to contend with. The exquisite corpse–style writing process results in an hour jam-packed with plot twists, all held together by Verhoeven’s tongue-in-cheek, un-self-serious approach.
Sunday, November 20, 2:00pm
Tuesday, November 22, 5:00pm

Turkish Delight / Turks fruit
Paul Verhoeven, Netherlands, 1973, 35mm, 108m
English and Dutch with English subtitles
Named the Best Dutch Film of the Century by the Netherlands Film Festival, Verhoeven’s hugely successful, Academy Award–nominated sophomore feature opens with a giallo-style jolt, develops into a kinky, blackly comic sexploitation romp, and finally blossoms into an alternately sweet and perverse romance. In the first of his many collaborations with Verhoeven, Rutger Hauer stars as a temperamental sculptor who hitches a ride with a free-spirited young woman (Monique van de Ven). In short order they hook up on the side of the road, get married, and settle into a life of round-the-clock lovemaking in his art-strewn studio—but, alas, nothing lasts forever.

Sunday, November 13, 2:00pm
Wednesday, November 16, 6:30pm (Q&A with Paul Verhoeven)

Shorts Program (TRT: 112m)
Each made by Verhoeven before his first feature, these five short films center around youth and school life, and provide a glimpse into the director’s early fascinations with female dominance, technology, and war.
Saturday, November 19, 4:30pm
Sunday, November 20, 6:00pm

A Lizard Too Much / Eén Hagedis te veel
Paul Verhoeven, 1960, Netherlands, 32m
Dutch with English subtitles
In Verhoeven’s first film, an artist’s wife has an affair with one of her students, who has a mistress of his own.

Nothing Special / Niets Bijzonders
Paul Verhoeven, 1961, Netherlands, 9m
Dutch with English subtitles
This improvised short involves a man sitting in a bar, considering his relationship with his girlfriend as he watches a different woman nearby.

Let’s Have a Party / Feest!
Paul Verhoeven, 1963, Netherlands, 28m
Dutch with English subtitles
A shy student falls in love with a girl from another class. After he works up the courage to ask her to the school dance, something unexpected happens.

The Royal Dutch Marine Corps / Het Korps Mariniers
Paul Verhoeven, 1965, Netherlands, 23m
Dutch with English subtitles
Made while Verhoeven was in the military, this propaganda film follows various exercises carried out by the Royal Dutch Marine Corps.

The Wrestler / De Worstelaar
Paul Verhoeven, 1971, Netherlands, 20m
Dutch with English subtitles
A concerned father follows his son and the boy’s lover—the wife of a wrestler—in an attempt to end the relationship before the wrestler finds out.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center is devoted to supporting the art and elevating the craft of cinema. The only branch of the world-renowned arts complex Lincoln Center to shine a light on the everlasting yet evolving importance of the moving image, this nonprofit organization was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international film. Via year-round programming and discussions; its annual New York Film Festival; and its publications, including Film Comment, the U.S.’s premier magazine about films and film culture, the Film Society endeavors to make the discussion and appreciation of cinema accessible to a broader audience, as well as to ensure that it will remain an essential art form for years to come.

The Film Society receives generous, year-round support from The New York Times, The Kobal Collection, Variety, Loews Regency Hotel, Row NYC Hotel, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. American Airlines is the Official Airline of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Paul Verhoeven interview

Photos: Turkish Delight, RoboCop, Showgirls, Starship Troopers


Saturday, October 22, 2016

"HITCHCOCK/TRUFFAUT" Coming To Blu-ray/DVD From Universal Home Entertainment


Release Date: 12/20/2016

Synopsis: In 1962 Hitchcock and Truffaut locked themselves away in Hollywood for a week to excavate the secrets behind the mise-en-scène in cinema. Based on the original recordings of this meeting—used to produce the mythical book, Hitchcock/Truffaut—this film illustrates the greatest cinema lesson of all time and plummets us into the world of the creator of Psycho, The Birds, and Vertigo.

Hitchcock's incredibly modern art is elucidated and explained by today’s leading filmmakers: Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, Arnaud Desplechin, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, Wes Anderson, James Gray, Olivier Assayas, Richard Linklater, Peter Bogdanovich and Paul Schrader.

Blu-ray Widescreen (61183192) : Disc 1 (Side A): Hitchcock Truffaut
 Format:      Blu-ray      UPC:      0-2519-23895-4-2
 Unit Type:      Standard      Number of Media:      1
 Street Date:      12/20/2016      PreOrder Date:     
 Run Time (HH:MM):      1 Hour 21 Minutes          
 Language:      English      Disc Type:      BD-50 (Single Sided)
 Packaging:      Snap Case      Layers:      Single
 Audio:     English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
 Subtitles:      English SDH
 Picture:      Widescreen
 Color/B&W     COLOR
 Rating:      PG-13    
 Bonus Features:     
 • Q&A with Kent Jones & Noah Baumbach
 • An Appreciation of Notorious
 • Peter Bogdanovich Remembers Hitchcock
 • Richard Linklater on Truffaut
 • Rope: Pro and Con

DVD Widescreen (61182910) : Disc 1 (Side A): Hitchcock Truffaut
 Format:      DVD      UPC:      0-2519-23872-9-6
 Unit Type:      Standard      Number of Media:      1
 Street Date:      12/20/2016      PreOrder Date:     
 Run Time (HH:MM):      1 Hour 21 Minutes          
 Language:      English      Disc Type:      DVD-9 (Single Sided)
 Packaging:      Snap Case      Layers:      Single
 Audio:     English Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
 Subtitles:      English SDH
 Picture:      Anamorphic Widescreen
 Color/B&W     COLOR
 Rating:      PG-13    
 Bonus Features:
 • Q&A with Kent Jones & Noah Baumbach
 • An Appreciation of Notorious
 • Peter Bogdanovich Remembers Hitchcock
 • Richard Linklater on Truffaut
 • Rope: Pro and Con

Buy it at


Friday, October 21, 2016

Margot Robbie In Negotiations To Star As Disgraced Figure Skater Tonya Harding in "I, Tonya"


Sierra/Affinity to Handle International Sales and Present to Buyers at 2016 American Film Market

LONDON – October 21, 2016: AI Film announced today that it will fully finance Craig Gillespie’s upcoming, “I, Tonya”, with Sierra/Affinity to commence international sales at this year’s AFM. Margot Robbie (Suicide Squad, The Wolf of Wall Street) is in negotiations to star as American figure skater Tonya Harding as well as produce the edgy comedy, with Bryan Unkeless (The Hunger Games, Bright) for Clubhouse Pictures, Tom Ackerley for LuckyChap Entertainment and Steven Rogers already attached to produce. Len Blavatnik and Aviv Giladi of AI Film are executive producing. UTA Independent Film Group and CAA are representing US domestic rights.

I,Tonya peels back the layers of Tonya Harding's sensationalized involvement in the 1994 attack on Nancy Kerrigan, exposing the absurd, tragic, and hilarious story-behind-the-story of the most infamous tabloid scandal in the history of figure skating and the Olympic Games. Gillespie (Lars and the Real Girl, United States of Tara) directs a script penned by Steven Rogers (P.S. I Love You, Stepmom).

Aviv Giladi, Chairman of AI Film, said of the announcement: "AI Film is thrilled to be collaborating with such a terrific creative team on this hugely entertaining project that is sure to captivate audiences worldwide."

Nick Meyer, CEO of Sierra/Affinity, added, "We are proud to partner with the talented teams at AI Film, Clubhouse Pictures, and LuckyChap Entertainment to present Craig and Steven's unique and darkly comedic take on the iconic events that catapulted figure skating into the hot seat of global controversy. Margot is an incredible acting talent that will combine her powerful on-screen presence with a comedic touch that will give this project wide appeal."

Margot Robbie and LuckyChap are represented by Management 360, CAA and attorney Jeff Bernstein. Robbie is additionally represented by Aran Michael Management. Steven Rogers is repped by Gersh. Gillespie is represented by UTA and Management 360.

I, Tonya is the latest investment for AI Film, whose forthcoming slate includes Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese historical drama, Silence. Past projects include Lee Daniels’ The Butler; Bill Condon’s Mr Holmes with Ian McKellen; and Warner Music collaboration, Kill Your Friends.

About AI Film

Established in 2013, AI Film is an independent film finance and executive production company owned by Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries, investing in features from the US and UK with international market potential. Headquartered in London and headed by CEO Aviv Giladi, the company works alongside the world’s most exciting elite filmmakers and production partners to deliver bold, quality commercial films.

AI Film’s current slate of titles includes Mel Gibson’s Hacksaw Ridge and Martin Scorsese’s historical drama, Silence. Past projects include Lee Daniels’ BAFTA nominated The Butler; Ian McKellen starrer Mr Holmes; Jason Zada’s The Forest starring Natalie Dormer; and Warner Music collaboration, Kill Your Friends starring Nicholas Hoult.

For further information, visit:  

Sierra/Affinity is a leading independent film finance, production and foreign sales company, consistently delivering high-quality, commercially viable feature films for a global audience. Sierra/Affinity capitalizes on the ever-evolving global film marketplace, representing sales of third-party films as well as its own productions designed to appeal to both the North American and global marketplaces. In addition to representing sales of third party films, the company acts as the exclusive sales agent for films developed and produced by Sidney Kimmel Entertainment, OddLot Entertainment, Bold Films and Sierra Pictures. Following Entertainment One’s (eOne) strategic equity investment in Sierra Pictures in January 2016, the international sales and distribution of films produced and acquired by eOne Features, as well as eOne-distributed films from The Mark Gordon Company, will be handled by Sierra/Affinity outside of Canada, the UK, Australia/New Zealand, Benelux and Spain, where eOne directly distributes films. The company is also compiling a slate of wide-release, director-driven commercial films with domestic and global appeal that will complement the slates built by its partners.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

BURIAL GROUND -- Blu-ray Review by Porfle

A lot of low-budget horror movies are just plain boring, either because the makers lacked the talent to create interesting movies or they just didn't care enough to try.  But then there are those, like the 1981 Italian zombie thriller BURIAL GROUND (aka "The Nights of Terror"), that take you on a non-stop rollercoaster ride through Horror Land that doesn't stop until it rockets right off the rails into a brick wall. 

This sucker wastes no time getting things underway: an archeologist discovers an ancient tomb beneath a monastery and accidentally releases a horde of long-decayed zombies dressed in ragged monk's robes who instantly start chowing down on him before shambling over to his nearby villa just in time to start terrorizing his weekend guests and staff.  And this is all before the opening credits! 

There are a few brief introductory scenes before the full-scale attack begins, in which we meet three horny couples, one with a creepy dwarf-like son named Michael who's a real mama's boy (played by 20-something actor Peter Bark).  We get to see a little bedtime hanky-panky including brief nudity, with Michael walking in on his parents and throwing a fit of jealousy to see someone else gettin' jiggy with Mommy. Yikes!

So anyway, the next day Michael's parents are puttering around the villa's sculpting studio firing off their pistol (!) while the other two libininous couples cavort around making whoopee all over the verdant villa grounds, when suddenly--it's zombie time!  Without warning, the beyond-rotting ambulatory corpses shuffle in from the nearby woods or start clawing their way out of the ground, causing a general panic among the warm-blooded.

These guys are ugly, too--although crudely made, the plethora of zombie masks they wear are utterly grotesque, resembling the old "shock" masks one used to see advertised in monster magazines, and festooned with squirming maggots.  It looks as though the makeup department had a field day creating them all and the sheer variety is marvelous. 

As the living barricade themselves in the house, the zombies prove themselves more industrious than their usual movie brethren by using such weapons as pitchforks, axes, and even scythes as they chop through boarded-up windows and climb their way to the upper-floor balconies.  Once they've gained entrance, pandemoneum reigns with various members of the cast getting disemboweled and feasted upon. 

And while the special effects may lack Tom Savini's artistry and finesse, they make up for it in graphic gore.  Certain moments are particularly imaginative (read: horrifying) especially those involving main characters who die and return from the dead themselves to confront the others in gruesome ways.  There's one touching reunion between Michael and his mom that really...well, I won't go into that.

Director Andrea Bianchi (MALABIMBA: THE MALICIOUS WHORE) also makes up for a lack of finesse (as per the usual cheap Italian horror flick, there's much shaky camerawork and overuse of the zoom lens) by maintaining a high energy level and lightning pace.  We're allowed scant breathing time between scares before the suspense tightens up yet again with our protagonists barely avoiding death at every turn.  Or not. 

Another thing that distinguishes BURIAL GROUND from the standard horror fare is its genuine chill factor.  That drafty old mansion gets really creepy after nightfall when the electricity goes out, and there's a real sense of menace when these shambling ghouls start to close in en masse with their hideous wormy faces and clutching claws.  This effectively spooky ambience continues right up until the film's freeze-frame fadeout.   

The Blu-ray disc from Severin Films is in 1.85:1 widescreen with Dolby 2.0 soundtracks in both Italian and English, with English subtitles available.  In addition to deleted/extended scenes and a lengthy trailer, extras consist of four featurettes: "Villa Parisi--Legacy of Terror" (the historic house location for this and many other films including NIGHTMARE CASTLE), "Peter Still Lives: Festival Q & A With Peter Bark", "Just For the Money: Interview With Actor Simone Mattioli", and "The Smell of Death" which features recent interviews with the producer and Mariangela Giordano, the actress who played Michael's mother.  The cover art is reversible.

From the intial look of it, BURIAL GROUND could've gone one of two ways--boringly bad, or wonderfully bad.  As it turns out, this fast-paced little powerhouse of cheapo horror filmmaking shoots right past bad and straight into being just plain awesome.

Buy it at

Release date: October 25, 2016

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AMERICAN ROMANCE -- Movie Review by Porfle

It isn't every day that I can describe a bloody, violent serial-killer movie as a "feelgood flick", but I just got through watching AMERICAN ROMANCE (2016) and darned if that isn't just what it is. 

Okay, it isn't THE SOUND OF MUSIC, but it isn't THE TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE or HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER either.  It isn't even NATURAL BORN KILLERS (despite the clear similarities) because it lacks both that film's sardonic pessimism and indulgence in cinematic artifice. 

After one of those cool SE7EN-style main titles sequences that gives the movie a lot to live up to, we meet troubled ex-sheriff Ricky Stern (Barlow Jacobs, GREAT WORLD OF SOUND, THE MASTER, THAT EVENING SUN), who's sort of a shut-in due to something bad that happened to him during a case which was known as "The Diorama Killings" since the victims were always arranged in such a way as to preach a message against sin (another similarity to SE7EN). 

When a writer (Elana Krausz) comes by to interview him about it, his tortured recollections set off a series of flashbacks that carry us back to the story of young newlyweds Jeff Madison (Nolan Gerard Funk, DEADGIRL, BEREAVEMENT) and his wife Krissy (Daveigh Chase, SPIRITED AWAY, THE RING, DONNIE DARKO), who have just had a flat tire in the middle of rural nowhere.

They walk to the nearest house, where a weird, jittery old man named Emery (John Savage, THE DEER HUNTER, DOOR INTO SILENCE) is in the process of putting a gun in his mouth.  He grudgingly calls a tow truck, but during their wait (in which Emery's behavior becomes increasingly odd), Krissy happens to look through the bathroom window and sees a naked dead body in the bathtub, splattered with blood. 

Have they stumbled into the very lair of "The Diorama Killer"?  Or is there more here than meets the eye?  What seems at first to be a fairly straightforward story will just get more and more deliriously strange as the viewer is kept off-balance the whole time.

Trouble is, this is one of those movies where the more I tell you about it, the less you'll be able to experience it the way I did.  Even the trailer reveals just a little too much even though it does try not to spill ALL the beans. 

Anyway, the less said about things like Emery's paraplegic wife Brenda (Diane Farr, ABOUT CHERRY) who is bound and gagged in her wheelchair, or horny tow-truck driver Hank (Mark Boone Junior, SE7EN, MEMENTO, BATMAN BEGINS), or anything else that happens when all the stabbing and shooting and screaming starts, the better.

I can say that the performances are top-notch, with John Savage being his usual weird, creepy self--he's always been an expert at seeming not quite right in the head.  Daveigh Chase (who was the voice of "Chihiro" in the Disney dub of Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY) is a sexy backwoods delight as she does her best Juliette Lewis, while Funk reminds me of a young Nick Chinlund.  Both invest their roles with just the right touch of humor. 

Mei Melançon (X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, LOADED) appears as an investigator helping Sheriff Stern, while familiar face James Duval (INDEPENDENCE DAY, VENICE UNDERGROUND, THE BLACK WATERS OF ECHO'S POND) shows up in a mostly non-speaking role as the body in the bathtub.

Director Zackary Adler (THE RISE OF THE KRAYS, CASUAL ENCOUNTERS) has crafted a bloody thriller that's a pleasure to look at, with a story good enough to avoid having to rely on mere shock value and violence for its own sake. 

And maybe I'm just weird, but, like I said, AMERICAN ROMANCE left me feeling lighthearted and uplifted when it was over.  It's the bloodiest feelgood flick of the year! 

Amazon Video


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"AMERICAN ROMANCE" - Opening This Friday


On iTunes:

Synopsis: Researching her book on the DIORAMA KILLER has brought writer FAYE WILLIAMS to the door of washed up Sheriff, RICKY STERN, who is struggling to come to terms with his role in taking down one of the FBI’s most wanted. It had been against this backdrop that honeymooners, JEFF and KRISSY MADISON, found themselves knocking on the front door of EMERY REED after their car blew a tire – they weren’t to know that Emery was holding a loaded gun to his own head. As Sheriff Ricky and FBI Agent DENICE TORRES follow the Diorama Killer’s trail, the violent struggle that plays out at the home of Emery Reed tests the values that lie at the very heart of relationships and romance. And asks whether, when faced with adversity, true love really can conquer all.

Run time: 86 Minutes
Directed by: Zackary Adler
Writers: Wes Laurie, Mei Melançon
Distributor: Gravitas Ventures
Cast: Nolan Gerard Funk, Daveigh Chase, Barlow Jacobs, Mei Melançon, Diane Farr, James Duval, Elana Krausz, with Mark Boone Junior and John Savage

Theatrical Markets

Los Angeles - Laemmle NoHo
San Francisco - Presidio Theatre
Atlanta - AMC Stonecrest
Chicago - AMC Woodridge
Detroit - AMC Southfield
Houston - AMC Studio 30
Orlando - AMC West Oaks
Phoenix - AMC Arizona Center
DC - AMC Lexington Park
Philadelphia - AMC Cherry Hill


Olive Films Releases Abel Gance's "J'ACCUSE" (1938)

Olive Films to Release Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1938) on DVD and Blu-Ray for the First Time Ever

Chicago, IL – Olive Films, a boutique theatrical and home entertainment distribution label dedicated to bringing independent, foreign, and classic films to DVD and Blu-ray, has announced that November 15th will be the Blu-ray debuts of seven films. Included among these is the DVD and Blu-ray debut of the Abel Gance-directed masterpiece J’accuse (1938).

“As with all of Abel Gance's work, the 1938 J’accuse remains a crucial piece of film history,” said Alex Kopecky of Olive Films. “We are honored to bring it to fans on home video for the first time.”

Perhaps best known for his silent works, Abel Gance is remembered as one of the major figures of early cinema. The self-educated Gance rose up through the blossoming French film industry to become a key influence on composition, montage, and the widescreen process of Polyvision. Haunted by the suffering he witnessed during World War I, he created the silent J’accuse (1919) to serve as the ultimate indictment of war.

As Gance generally embraced the introduction of sound, it should be no surprise that he eventually remade J’accuse, possibly his most personal film, in 1938 utilizing the new technology. Like his original film, the 1938 J’accuse notably makes haunting use of actual World War I footage. Unlike the earlier version, however, it takes place almost entirely after the 1918 armistice. If his original film is a lament of World War I, his remake is a plea for peace from an artist terrified by the looming threat of World War II. For the film’s final act, Gance, always a technological innovator, used special effects that were ahead of their time to create a climax that walks the line between surrealism and horror.

Although Abel Gance’s J’accuse (1938) was an important influence on anti-war films as well as special effects in general, it was previously only released on VHS. Olive Films will debut the film on DVD and Blu-ray on November 15th.

Other Olive Films November Titles
Blu-ray debut of Coffee and Cigarettes (2003); directed by Jim Jarmusch; starring Bill Murray, Roberto Benigni, Cate Blanchett, Alfred Molina, Steve Coogan, Iggy Pop, Tom Waits, Joie Lee, Steve Buscemi, Steven Wright, Isaach De Bankole, Jack White, Meg White, Taylor Mead, GZA, and RZA.

Blu-ray debut of Pimpernel Smith (1941); directed by Leslie Howard; starring Leslie Howard, Francis L. Sullivan, Mary Morris, Allan Jeayes, Peter Gawthorne, and Arthur Hambling.

Blu-ray debut of One of Our Aircraft is Missing (1942); directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger; starring Godfrey Tearle, Eric Portman, Hugh Williams, Bernard Miles, Hugh Burden, Emrys Jones, Googie Withers, and Pamela Brown.

Blu-ray debut of Houdini (1953); directed by George Marshall; starring Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Torin Thatcher, Sig Ruman, and Angela Clarke.

Blu-ray debut of Carrington (1995); directed by Christopher Hampton; starring Emma Thompson, Jonathan Pryce, Steven Waddington, Samuel West, Rufus Sewell, and Penelope Wilton.

Blu-ray debut of Lulu Belle (1948); directed by Leslie Fenton; starring Dorothy Lamour, George Montgomery, Albert Dekker, Otto Kruger, Glenda Farrell, and Greg McClure.

About Olive Films
Olive Films is a Chicago-based boutique theatrical and home entertainment distribution label dedicated to bringing independent, foreign, documentary, and classic films to life. Its catalog boasts over 500 titles ranging from Hollywood classics to contemporary titles. More information about Olive Films may be found at


"BUNKER77" Surfing Documentary NYC Premiere



Starring: Laird Hamilton, Tony Alva, Johnny Knoxville, Ellie Silva, Rory Russell, Kenneth Anger, Spyder Wills, C.R.Stecyk III, Art Brewer.

Bunker77 is the wild true story of a young American rebel seeking freedom, love, and authenticity in a chaotic world. Bunker Spreckels, Clark Gable's stepson and heir to a sugar fortune, defied expectations and grew into a controversial surf star from the late 60s into the 70s. He pushed surfing’s boundaries by riding very short boards in Hawaii’s most critical waves as well as during a pioneering trip to South Africa’s J-Bay.

While Bunker mentored skateboard legend Tony Alva to his world championship and dove into collaborations with film auteur Kenneth Anger, his mysterious and surreal persona blazed to legendary proportions, with an influence that is still felt to this day.



Wednesday, November 16, 2016- 2:45 PM
(Location: IFC Center- 323 6th Avenue at West 3rd Street)

Thursday, November 17, 2016- 7:45 PM (PREMIERE)
With Q and A to follow with filmmaker Takuji Masuda and special guests.
(Location: Cinepolis Chelsea- 260 West 23 Street, Nr. 8th Avenue)

(USA, 86 Minutes, Feature Documentary, In English)


"THE TERRIBLE TWO" Unveils a Haunting New Trailer and Artwork

Billy Lewis' The Terrible Two Debuts New Trailer & Art
Restless Spirits Return for Revenge Against Their Grieving Parents

Los Angeles, CA - Orange St Films has debuted a trailer and teaser poster for their new supernatural thriller The Terrible Two.  The newest feature from writer-director Billy Lewis (The Jailhouse), The Terrible Two centers on a grieving couple, whose loss threatens to consume everything around them.

The Terrible Two mixes the real-life horror of a parent's worst nightmare with the supernatural, as two innocent young girls haunt the parents they believe failed them.  Reid Doyle and Cari Moskow star as the couple in the center of a storm, as the depth of their grief gives way to a sinister evil that plans to use their daughters' (Ariana Baron, Arielle Breslerman) angry souls to destroy them.

 The Terrible Two follows Albert and Rose Poe as they approach the first anniversary of the death of their daughters, Addi and Jade.  As the day comes and goes, Rose continues to struggle to come to grips with the loss of her only children.  She begins hearing the girls' voices throughout the house.  The whispers lead her to the attic where she discovers an old manuscript with shocking revelations. 

After reading the book and looking into the history of the house, secrets are revealed that something sinister is happening within the walls, something that led to the deaths of Addi and Jade.   Soon Albert and Rose find themselves prisoners of their precious little girls in "the safety" of their own home.

                            Watch the Trailer: