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Saturday, April 29, 2017
Walerian Borowczyk was a Polish avant-garde artist who chose film as one medium through which to express his wildly imaginative musings. In 1967, he tackled the art of animation with the feature-length cartoon THEATER OF MR. & MRS. KABAL, aka "Théâtre de Monsieur & Madame Kabal" (Olive Films).
Or perhaps "tackled" isn't the correct term as much as "drugged, wrestled into submission, and dressed up funny."
With what appears to be a mix of cel art, cutouts, and other elements (at times it looks as though Borowczyk is drawing directly onto white paper in increments), he tells the story of a day in the lives of Mr. and Mrs. Kabal--he a short, mousey husband and she a tall, grotesque wife who appears to be a soulless mechanical monster of some kind.
The first scene catches her in the midst of assembling herself out of spare parts and choosing a head (after many tries, she picks the most alarming-looking one) before going along her un-merry way into what passes for a narrative, which actually isn't one at all.
Mr. Kabal, meanwhile, whiles away his spare time gazing around at the barren scenery through his telescoping binoculars until he catches brief glimpses of live-action women lounging in bikinis who are then menaced by an old man with a beard. These clips are the only color in this stark pen-and-ink world save for a few splashes here and there, including the ever-present butterflies flying endlessly about.
One sequence features the couple lying on the ground (he reading a newspaper, she lying face down) while the butterflies flit by for several minutes. Some flutter, some flap, and others sound like trash can lids rolling by.
Borowczyk has a field day with the sound design throughout the film, as Mrs. Kabal foreshadows "Star Wars" robot C3PO with her staccato speech consisting of a barrage of electronic beeping noises.
Borowczyk himself appears early on and urges her to simply act naturally (relatively speaking) so that we can observe the Kabals going through a typical day. She beeps furiously in response (her dialogue is subtitled in three languages) before conjuring a weight out of thin air to drop on Borowczyk's head.
The early scenes are the best, because they're slower paced and we can better assimilate what's going on, as nonsensical as it is, such as Mrs. Kabal shedding her outer metal husk in order to bath in the ocean, or Mr. Kabal attending a cinema show entitled "The Depths of the Human Body" which features live-action closeups of pulsating organs and a quivering esophagus.
In another scene, a giant crosscut saw separates Mrs. Kabal's head from her reclining body, which then expands to such great size that Mr. Kabal immediately scampers inside to explore the depths of its Escher-like interior.
As the film progresses, so does the pace, until we're assailed by a dizzying procession of utterly bizarre and senseless images that grow more relentlessly incomprehensible by the minute. Finally the story is nothing more than pure stream-of-consciousness incongruity, and the effort to take it all in becomes rather taxing.
For this reason it may be advisable to watch THEATER OF MR. & MRS. KABAL in several short bursts rather than trying to handle it all in one mind-numbing sitting. The more adventurous cineastes among us may consider the latter something of a challenge, while others will be both unable and unwilling to endure more than a few minutes of it.
One thing's for sure--I would be very surprised if Terry Gilliam, who supplied the celebrated animations for "Monty Python" throughout his tenure with the group, weren't at some time influenced by Borowczyk's work, just as the Polish artist's later live-action film GOTO, ISLE OF LOVE seems to foreshadow the early stylings of David Lynch.
The story of the Kabals is similar to GOTO in its arbitrary and thoroughly unapologetic strangeness for its own sake (or, rather, for art's sake). But unlike that film with its more coherent plot and less rampant surrealism, the almost hallucinatory THEATER OF MR. & MRS. KABAL remains in the uppermost stratosphere of strangeness from beginning to end, like the long, fervid dream of a rarebit fiend, and dares us to still be there when it's finally done.
Regional Code: region 1
Subtitles: English (optional)
Video: 1.33:1 aspect ratio; b&w + color
Runtime: 78 minutes
Bonus features: none
Buy the Blu-ray or DVD at Olive Films
JOIN THE TRIBECA FILM FESTIVAL’S CLOSING NIGHT CAST REUNION OF THE GODFATHER AND THE GODFATHER PART II LIVE FROM THE COMFORT OF YOUR HOME
Tribeca to Exclusively Livestream Once-in-a Lifetime Conversation From Radio City Music Hall on Facebook Live on Saturday April 29
New York, NY [April 28, 2017] – The Tribeca Film Festival will bring the excitement of its sold-out closing night celebration directly to you with an exclusive, real time Facebook Live event on Saturday, April 29 at 8:10 PM EDT.
A once-in-a-lifetime panel discussion about The Godfather saga with Academy Award®-winning director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and Robert De Niro, will be livestreamed from Radio City Music Hall to mark the 45th anniversary of the iconic film. The 2017 Tribeca Film Festival and the discussion’s livestream are presented by AT&T.
The livestream is available exclusively via Facebook Live on the Tribeca Film Festival Facebook page at Facebook.com/Tribeca.
Saturday, April 29
8:10 PM: Closing Night The Godfather and The Godfather Part II Discussion
Join Tribeca live from famed Radio City Music Hall for a sold out discussion for the 45th anniversary of The Godfather with Academy Award®-winning director Francis Ford Coppola and actors Al Pacino, James Caan, Robert Duvall, Diane Keaton, Talia Shire, and Robert De Niro, moderated by director Taylor Hackford. The talk follows an epic back-to-back 45th anniversary screenings of The Godfather and The Godfather: Part II.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Polish artist Walerian Borowczyk began his film career with bizarre animated shorts and features, then applied his unique artistic sensibilities to live-action film with the amazing GOTO, ISLE OF LOVE, aka "Goto, l'île d'amour" (Olive Films, 1969).
I'm going to go out on a limb here and guess that this film was one of David Lynch's influences when he conceived his cult classic ERASERHEAD. While GOTO isn't as overtly surreal as Lynch's work, it's so unremittingly odd, pictorially beautiful (in a perverse way, despite being a stark study in ugliness and decay), and meticulously rendered in gorgeous, finely-etched black-and-white that it exudes an almost intoxicating dreamlike quality during each moment it's on the screen.
Goto is an island where, due to some natural catastrophe, 90% of the population has been wiped out and the survivors exist in an almost primitive state in which they must make do with the crumbling remnants of their former civilization. The people are governed by a military dictator named Goto (Pierre Brasseur) and live in the walled ruins of a fortress which, in better days, would have been condemned and demolished.
The story is fairly simple. Petty criminal Grozo (Guy Saint-Jean) is pardoned by Goto and given three important responsibilities--taking care of Goto's beloved dogs, shining his and his beautiful wife Glossia's boots (a task Grozo savors since he's desperately in love with Glossia), and killing flies via several elaborate fly traps that he distributes daily around the heavily-infested fortress.
Complications arise when Grozo discovers that Glossia (Ligia Branice) is having an affair with her horseback riding instructor, Gono (Jean-Pierre Andréani), with whom she plans to escape the island in a rowboat. Grozo then puts his cunning little criminal mind to work to hatch a plan that will somehow rid him of both Goto and Gono so that he can weasel his way into the good graces of the henceforth unattainable Queen.
While the story is an engaging one, what fascinates us about GOTO is the way Borowczyk executes it all as an artist creating a work of cinematic beauty out of the ordinary and at times repellant, the way a sculptor might use a scrap metal heap as raw material in welding together a makeshift masterpiece.
Paint-peeling ruin and crumbling brick walls are the eternal backdrop of these people's lives, brightened only by rare artifacts which survived the catastrophe. Scraps of fine clothing and other items are bartered for goods and services, even in the island's brothel where no money changes hands.
The prostitutes are seen bathing communally in a nude scene quite titillating for 1969, as Grozo indulges himself while dreaming that he is with Glossia. They, along with some lovely shots of horses and a visit to the seaside (the boundary of Glossia's prison from which she yearns to escape), are the only respite from the film's grim tableaux of stagnant despair.
Fortunately, GOTO isn't as depressing as it sounds since Borowczyk's bone-dry, deadpan sense of humor and keen mastery of the absurd keep us engaged in the most delightful and darkly enchanting ways throughout this otherwise hopelessly bleak tale.
At times it's as though we're seeing the kind of distressingly odd world that illustrator John Tenniel created for "Alice in Wonderland" come to life, as strange and inescapable as a nightmare yet perversely compelling as well.
The DVD from Olive Films has an aspect ratio of l.66:1 with mono French sound and English subtitles. Extras consist of the film's trailer, an introduction by artist and Turner Prize nominee Craigle Horsfield, and the lengthy featurette "The Concentration Universe: Goto, Isle of Love" featuring interviews with actor Jean-Pierre Andréani ("Gono") and several key crewmembers from the film.
GOTO, ISLE OF LOVE never fully engages us emotionally--it's just too odd, in both wonderful yet strangely off-putting ways--but we care when the story takes a classically tragic turn and ends on a haunting note. Most of all, however, I enjoyed it as a stunning work of pure, joyful cinematic art. Watching it is like creeping through a nightmare gallery in which the artist's fevered subconscious visions have achieved crude substance.
Order the Blu-ray or DVD from Olive Films
Written and Directed by Alice Lowe
View the FUNNY OR DIE stunt video HERE
"Rocking a dirty mind and a sick sensibility... A brilliantly conceived meditation on prepartum anxiety and extreme grief. You'll laugh, you'll squirm, you'll want to get sterilized immediately."
- Jeannette Catsoulis, THE NEW YORK TIMES
"A pitch-black, blood-soaked comedy and phenomenal first feature by Alice Lowe."
- Joe Morgenstern, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
"Lowe has sculpted [Prevenge] to smash taboos and social norms. As smartly crafted and grimly funny as it is terrifying. "
- Andy Crump, PASTE MAGAZINE
A pitch black, wryly British horror comedy from the mind of Alice Lowe (“Sightseers,” “Hot Fuzz,” “Paddington”) that’s as funny as it is vicious, PREVENGE follows Ruth, a pregnant woman on a killing spree. It's her misanthropic unborn baby dictating Ruth's actions, holding society responsible for the absence of a father.
The child speaks to Ruth from the womb, coaching her to lure and ultimately kill her unsuspecting victims. Struggling with her conscience, loneliness, and a strange strain of prepartum madness, Ruth must ultimately choose between redemption and destruction at the moment of motherhood.
PREVENGE marks the directorial debut from Lowe (star and co-writer of Ben Wheatley’s “Sightseers”), who is a true triple threat, writing, directing, and acting in the film during her own real-life pregnancy. It received a British Independent Film Award nomination for Best Directorial Debut.
Shudder is a premium streaming video service, super-serving fans of thrillers, suspense, and horror. Backed by AMC Networks, Shudder has a growing and dynamic selection of thrilling premieres, originals, and exclusives, which complement its impressive library of international and independent films, gripping TV series, and Hollywood blockbuster favorites.
TRT: 88 min
Director: Alice Lowe
Writer: Alice Lowe
Cast: Alice Lowe, Gemma Whelan, Kate Dickie, Jo Hartley
Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures has released the first trailer and one-sheet for 47 METERS DOWN
Opens nationwide on June 16, 2017
On the rebound after a devastating break-up, Lisa (Mandy Moore) is ready for adventure while on vacation in Mexico. Even still, she needs a little extra persuasion when her daring sister Kate (Claire Holt) suggests they go shark diving with some locals.
Once underwater in a protective cage, Lisa and Kate catch a once in a lifetime, face-to-face look at majestic Great Whites. But when their worst fears are realized and the cage breaks away from their boat, they find themselves plummeting to the bottom of the seabed, too deep to radio for help without making themselves vulnerable to the savage sharks, their oxygen supplies rapidly dwindling.
47 METERS DOWN is a terrifying tale of survival set in the domain of the ocean's fiercest creatures.
WATCH THE TRAILER:
Release: June 16, 2017
Distributor: Entertainment Studios Motion Pictures
Director: Johannes Roberts
Writers: Johannes Roberts and Ernest Riera
Cast: Mandy Moore, Claire Holt, Matthew Modine
Producers: Mark Lane and James Harris
Executive Producers: Bob Weinstein & Harvey Weinstein, Wayne Marc Godfrey, Robert Jones, Will Clarke, Andy Mayson Mike Runagall, Iain Abrahams, Simon Lewis, Christopher Lannic, Byron Allen, Carolyn Folks, Jennifer Lucas, Mark DeVitre, Chris Charalambous, Mark Borde
Thursday, April 27, 2017
UNDER THE MILKY WAY PRESENTS
"THE NEW ADVENTURES OF ALADDIN"
Opening on VOD Nationwide on Tuesday, May 16 on all major platforms including:
iTunes, Google Play, Amazon, Microsoft, Vudu, Comcast, Charter, Cox, Verizon, Vimeo, and various other cable operators.
Film will be released in both dubbed into English and French language versions (With English Subtitles).
WATCH THE TRAILER
On Christmas’ eve, Sam and his best friend Khalid both dress up as Santa Claus to steal everything they can at their local department store. Quickly, Sam is stopped by a group of children asking for a story... the story of Aladdin. Or his own version of it. In Aladdin’s shoes, Sam embarks on a journey that will take him to the heart of the city of Baghdad, a place of infinite wonders.
Unfortunately, behind the picture-perfect setting, people are suffering from the tyranny of the terrible Vizir, known for his ferocity and questionable breath. Helped by his Genie, will the young thief Aladdin be able to thwart the evil plans of Vizir, save Khalid and conquer the heart of the princess Shallia?
107mins / Comedy /France /Color / Distributor: Under The Milky Way
DIRECTED BY: Arthur Benzaquen
STARRING: Kev Adams,Jean-Paul Rouve,Vanessa Guide,
William Lebghil, Audrey Lamy, Eric Judor, Michel Blanc
Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Seminal Classic
New Director's Cut Arrives on Blu-ray™ and DVD May 2, 2017
With John Travolta's electrifying Oscar®-nominated performance, the Bee Gees' explosive soundtrack and, of course, the unforgettable dancing, SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER captured the angst and brio of the time and had an indelible impact on popular culture. 40 years later, the film about a Brooklyn kid with no prospects who lives for Saturday night continues to be revered and celebrated.
Director John Badham worked with Paramount in 2016 to restore the film in 4K using the original negative and update the surround sound mix to further enhance viewers' enjoyment of the incredible soundtrack. During this process he added scenes to the theatrical R-rated version that round out character and plot, making this new Director's Cut the definitive representation of his original vision.
The SATURDAY NIGHT EVER Blu-ray includes both the Director's Cut and theatrical version of the film, commentary by director John Badham, a five-part look at the film entitled "Catching the Fever," behind-the-scenes featurettes, and more.
The film is available now on Digital HD.
Samara Returns on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack May 2, 2017
When a radical college professor (Johnny Galecki, "The Big Bang Theory") finds the mysterious video rumored to kill viewers seven days after watching, he enlists his students in a dangerous experiment to uncover the secrets behind the Samara legend.
When the deadly video goes viral, they must figure out a way to break the curse and defeat Samara before her evil is unleashed upon the world. But, how do you stop her when she's everywhere?
RINGS also stars Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz (Summertime), Alex Roe (The 5th Wave), Aimee Teegarden ("Friday Night Lights") and Vincent D'Onofrio ("Law & Order: Criminal Intent").
The film is available now on Digital HD.
Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Definitely the bad-vibes movie of the year so far (for me, anyway) is Bruno Mattei's 1981 dreary nunsploitation shocker THE OTHER HELL, which, despite being laughably inept at times, is also drenched with oppressive atmosphere and some truly demented imagery.
Here again is one of those tales of a nunnery gone bad--in this case, about as bad as it gets. It's infested to the gills with all manner of dark forces and blasphemous activities, including a really weird dungeon laboratory where embalmings and disembowelings are performed by cackling maniac nuns.
Things get to the point where an old priest is sent to investigate, and, upon failing to turn up anything via his traditional methods, is replaced by the younger, more forward-thinking Father Valerio (Carlo De Mejo), who believes that true evil doesn't exist and is merely the result of psychological malajustment. (Boy, is he ever in for a shock!)
I won't go too far into the story but suffice it to say that Valerio encounters some mighty weird nuns, including a shifty-eyed Mother Vincenzia (Franca Stoppi), who runs the place and seems to be hiding some rather deep, dark secrets, and another young nun who's had such a terrifying experience in the bowels of the convent that her hair's gone gray and she's in a vegetative state.
Some of the other nuns tend to totally freak out from time to time, which arouses the young detective-priest's suspicions to the point where he decides to give the place a full shakedown from top to bottom. It's at that point where he crosses the line and becomes a target for all the malevolent forces at work (including a strange, ghostly-looking nun who creeps around with her face fully obscured by a veil).
Typical of Bruno Mattei's work (including ISLAND OF THE LIVING DEAD, THE JAIL: THE WOMEN'S HELL, and MONDO CANNIBAL), THE OTHER HELL is directed in a kinetic but unpolished style (co-writer Claudio Fragasso handled much of the directorial chores as well) that often bursts forth with startling and extreme images.
These unfortunately include Mattei's tendency to show real animal cruelty, as when a chicken is beheaded in closeup, and of course the obligatory maggot scene familiar to so much of Italian horror cinema.
Mattei's found locations are an invaluable asset to the film's production values, with most of the action taking place within both an actual former convent and a palace, both of which are quite impressive. Adding to the spook factor are scenes which take place in a genuine catacomb in Italy which serves as a mass tomb and is stacked with thousands of skulls and bones.
(Not adding much is a soundtrack featuring Goblin music not written for the film which sounds good but is totally inappropriate for most of the scenes it's used in.)
It's here and in the aforementioned dungeon laboratory that the story's climax takes place, which is deliriously over-the-top and comes on like a wave of brain-rotting horror that may leave you reeling right up until the very last jolt.
The Blu-ray from Severin Films is in 1080p full HD resolution with English, French, and Italian 2.0 sound and English subtitles. Severin once again comes through with the extras, this time with a commentary featuring Claudio Fragasso and "Freak-O-Rama"'s Federico Caddeo, an interview with actress Franca Stoppi, archive interviews with Mattei and actor Carlo De Mejo, and the film's trailer.
For me, this was one of the most feel-bad flicks I've seen in quite a while, and when it was over I almost felt like I needed to take a long, hot bath in a tub of holy water. But for fans of Bruno Mattei, nunsploitation, and totally whacked-out horror flicks in general, THE OTHER HELL will probably be right up their really, really dark alley.
Buy it at Amazon.com:
Monday, April 24, 2017
THE DROWNING Opens Theatrically in New York at IFC Center on May 10th
National rollout to follow
Directed by Bette Gordon
Screenplay by Stephen Molton and Frank Pugliese; based on the novel by Pat Barker
Starring Josh Charles, Julia Stiles Avan Jogia, Tracie Thoms and Leo Fitzpatrick
Watch the Trailer HERE
The fourth film from Bette Gordon (VARIETY, LUMINOUS MOTION), and based on the acclaimed book by Pat Barker, THE DROWNING tells the story of a forensic psychologist haunted by his expert witness testimony that sent a young boy to prison for a chilling murder. When the boy later reappears in his life, he is drawn into a destructive, soul-searching reinvestigation of the case.
A psychological, erotic thriller, THE DROWNING celebrates the genre with electrifying performances and a complex, riveting story of shifting identities that will keep audiences guessing until the very end.