Doublespeak

In honor of the new year, Donald Trump’s rise to the presidency, his cabinet of misinformation, and the lies being propagated as truths (or alternate facts), we hereby reprint George Orwell’s “Politics and the English Language” from 1946. By the way, Orwell’s “1984,” as well as Huxley’s “Brave New World,” both staples of the counter-culture in the 1960s, have seen spikes in sales this year.

George Orwell: Politics and the English Language

Most people who bother with the matter at all would admit that the English language is in a bad way, but it is generally assumed that we cannot by conscious action do anything about it. Our civilization is decadent and our language — so the argument runs — must inevitably share in the general collapse. It follows that any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light or hansom cabs to aeroplanes. Underneath this lies the half-conscious belief that language is a natural growth and not an instrument which we shape for our own purposes.

Now, it is clear that the decline of a language must ultimately have political and economic causes: it is not due simply to the bad influence of this or that individual writer. But an effect can become a cause, reinforcing the original cause and producing the same effect in an intensified form, and so on indefinitely. A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks. It is rather the same thing that is happening to the English language. It becomes ugly and inaccurate because our thoughts are foolish, but the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts. The point is that the process is reversible. Modern English, especially written English, is full of bad habits which spread by imitation and which can be avoided if one is willing to take the necessary trouble. If one gets rid of these habits one can think more clearly, and to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration: so that the fight against bad English is not frivolous and is not the exclusive concern of professional writers. I will come back to this presently, and I hope that by that time the meaning of what I have said here will have become clearer. Meanwhile, here are five specimens of the English language as it is now habitually written.

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Posted on January 4, 2017
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Art Sex Music

coseyCosey Fanni Tutti. co-temptress along with Genesis P-Orridge of COUM Transmissions, the quintessential 1960s/70s performance and mail art group, and co-founder of ground-breaking prototypical Industrial Music group Throbbing Gristle, has just announced her long-awaited memoir, Art Sex Music, which will be published in the UK in early 2017.

COUM Transmissions was a confrontational and subversive art group founded in England in 1969 and active until 1976. Their forte was challenging conventional ideas of art, manners, sex and behavior, earning them the disdain of much of the Britih press and chastised in Parliament by Tory MP Nicholas Fairbairn, who referred to COUM as the “wreckers of Western civilization.” Their Prostitution show, which consisted of explicit photographs of lesbians, assemblages of rusty knives, syringes, bloodied hair, used sanitary towels, press clippings and photo documentation of COUM performances in Milan and Paris, was so outrageous that Australia banned the group from traveling there.

coum-1This didn’t prevent them from visiting Los Angeles in 1976 where, under the auspices of InterMedia Magazine, they gave two performances, one at the Los Angeles Institute of Contemporry Art (LAICA), where, before the bewildered eyes of LA’s art royalty, they proceeded to do all sorts of nasty things with (fake) blood and urine, vomit, nails, glass, and milk. Members of LA’s elite walked out one-by-one. Performance-art eminence Chris Burden’s reported parting shot: “This is not art, this is the most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen; these people are sick.” Conceptual-art bigwig John Baldessari was unimpressed.

coum-fixPainful but Fabulous, an illustrated catalog/photo album of Genesis’ life in art, was published in 2003 and has long been out of print (and is selling for several hundred dollars at eBay). Cosey’s Art Sex Music is scheduled for a May 1 release in the States. Here’s the publisher’s blurb:

 

 

Art Sex Music is the autobiography of a musician who, as a founding member of the avant-garde group Throbbing Gristle and electronic pioneers Chris & Cosey, has consistently challenged the boundaries of music over the past four decades.

It is the account of an artist who, as part of COUM Transmissions, represented Britain at the IXth Biennale de Paris, whose Prostitution show at the ICA in 1976 caused the Conservative MP Nicholas Fairbairn to declare her, COUM and Throbbing Gristle ‘Wreckers of Civilisation’… shortly before he was arrested for indecent exposure, and whose work continues to be held at the vanguard of contemporary art, some of which resides as part of the Tate permanent collection.

And it is the story of her work as a pornographic model and striptease artiste which challenged assumptions about morality, pornography and art.

Art Sex Music is the wise, shocking and elegant autobiography of Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Pre-order here.

coum-gary-gilmore


Posted on August 5, 2016
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An Angel, a Lady and a Ballplayer

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

Here’s a delightful, often overlooked gem from director Howard Hawks, starring a notoriously suave and daredevil Cary Grant and the always lovely, bewitching Jean Arthur, and featuring Hawks’ penchant for verbal wit and visual craftsmanship. “Only Angels Have Wings” (1939) stars Arthur as a traveling entertainer who gets more than she bargained for during a photo for Only Angels Have Wingsstopover in a South American port town. There she meets a handsome yet aloof pilot, played by Grant, who runs an airmail company, staring down death while servicing towns in treacherous mountain terrain. Both attracted to and repelled by his romantic sense of danger, she decides to stay on, despite his protestations. This masterful and mysterious adventure, featuring Oscar-nominated special effects, high-wire aerial photography, and Rita Hayworth in a small but breakout role, explores Hawks’s recurring themes of masculine codes and the strong-willed women who question them. On DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. From The Criterion Collection.

“The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun” (2015 — France) is a very stylish psychological thriller about a beautiful secretary who uses her absent boss’ blue Thunderbird to go joyriding in the South of France but ends up involved in murder and intrigue — and begins to doubt her own sanity. After she shuttles her boss and his family photo for The Lady in the Car With Glasses and a Gun to the airport where they depart on a short vacation, Dany (Freya Mavor) decides to take a fantasy joyride along the Mediterranean coast — but her trip quickly turns into a nightmare. At every stop along the way, people recognize her — even though she’s never been there before. And to make matters worse, a dead body is discovered inside the trunk of the car. Has she lost her mind? Director and comic book writer Joann Sfar (“The Rabbi’s Cat,” “Gainsbourg: A Heroic Life”) puts his graphic novel background to good use here with interesting dissolves, split screens, diagrams, flashbacks, flashforwards and flashsideways super-saturated colors and oblique camerawork. It’s a fun and mysterious ride, highlighted by the gorgeous lead whom the camera just loves. Co-stars Benjamin Biolay, Elio Germano and Stacy Martin. The film is based on a novel by Sebastien Japrisot (“One Deadly Summer,” “A Very Long Engagement”); it was originally turned into a film of the same name in 1970 by Anatole Litvak with Samantha Eggar (as Dany), Oliver Reed, John McEnery and Stephane Audran. On DVD, Blu-ray Disc from Magnolia Home Entertainment.

“Ken Burns’ Jackie Robinson” (2016) is the new, must-see four hour documentary, directed by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns, and David McMahon, airing on PBS April 11 and 12. The documentary tells the story of Jack Roosevelt Robinson, who rose from humble origins to break baseball’s color barrier. Robinson waged a fierce lifelong battle for first-class citizenship for all African Americans that transcends even his remarkable athletic achievements. In addition to Rachel, Sharon and David Robinson, “Jackie Robinson” features interviews with President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama; former Dodgers teammates Don Newcombe, Carl Erskine and Ralph Branca; writers Howard Bryant and Gerald Early; Harry Belafonte; Tom Brokaw; and Carly Simon. Jamie Foxx is the voice of Jackie Robinson, reading excerpts from his newspaper columns, personal letters and autobiographies. In a two-disc DVD, Blu-ray Disc from PBS Distribution.


Posted on April 12, 2016
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‘Star Wars’ Reboot Gets Help From Oldsters

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

photo for Star Wars: The Force Awakens This first of three sequels to “Star Wars” shattered box office opening-week records to become the highest grossing U.S. film of all time with over $930 million domestic, and the second-highest worldwide grossing film (behind “Avatar”) with $2.82 billion worldwide. Thirty years following the battle of Endor, the Resistance is still hard at work rebuilding the galaxy from the ashes of the Empire — but find themselves in trouble when Luke Skywalker, the last of the Jedi, disappears — and remnants of the Empire, calling themselves the First Order, threaten to unleash the Dark Side on the universe. A young Resistance pilot (Oscar Isaac) teams with a scavenger from the planet Jakku (Daisy Ridley), an ex-Stormtrooper named Finn (John Boyega) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford) and Chewbacca (Peter Mayhew) to track down Skywalker, keeping one step ahead of the nasty dark warrior Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) and the forces of the Dark Side. There’s plenty of new faces (including a new droid, BB-8, and a new Supreme Leader, Snoke, played by Andy Serkis) and old (in addition to Ford, Mayhew and Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher shows up as General Leia Organa) — there’s even a guest appearance by C-3PO. Almost a retelling of the original “Star Wars” saga, director J.J. Abrams’ “The Force Awakens” infuses this myth — and the franchise — with new blood and energy. There are some faults, mainly the underwhelming performances by Ridley and Boyega, some cheesy special effects sequences (in particular the attack of the rathtars on the freighter manned by Solo and Chewbacca), and a bit too much buddy-boy gee-whiz excitement on the part of Isaac and Boyega. For the most part, though, this “Star Wars” is a terrific sci-fi joy ride with clear cut heroes and villains, fairly tight direction, and, aside from my quibbles above, good acting. The home video release is a class act, from the cool, jet-black plastic Blu-ray case to the plethora of neat bonus features. And don’t forget the best part of the film — the forever young Harrison Ford as Han Solo, still a wisecracking, hard-fighting, intergalactic hipster. Vitals: Director: J.J. Abrams. Stars: Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Adam Driver, Oscar Isaac, Lupita Nyong’o, Domhnall Gleeson, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, Peter Mayhew. 2015, CC, MPAA rating: PG-13, 136 min., Science Fiction, Box office gross: $930 million, Disney. Extras: “Secrets of The Force Awakens: A Cinematic Journey” behind-the-scenes documentary; “The Story Awakens: The Table Read”; “Building BB-8”; “Crafting Creatures”; “Blueprint of a Battle: The Snow Fight”; “John Williams: The Seventh Symphony”; “ILM: The Visual Magic of The Force”; “Force For Change”: Heroes come in all shapes and sizes. See how the “Star Wars: Force for Change” initiative has united Star Wars fans all over the globe to help others; deleted scenes.


Posted on April 5, 2016
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‘From the East’ to the West

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

Highlight of the week is the impressive five-disc set, “Chantal Akerman: Four Films.”
Among the many films that Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman (1955–2015, best known for her 1975 masterpiece “Jeanne Dielman, 23 Commerce Quay, 1080 Brussels”) made over 40 years, four documentaries stand out. Beginning with “From the East,” filmed across Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall, through “South” and “From the Other Side,” photo for Chantal Akerman: Four Films two films in the United States as relevant today as when first released, to her epistolary “Down There” from Tel Aviv (released for the first time in North America), Akerman’s documentaries combine her formal discipline with engagement and empathy. Disc 1: “From The East” (1993): A journey from the end of summer to deepest winter, from East Germany across Poland and the Baltics, to Moscow. Disc 2: “South” (1999)” The heart of this journey is the brutal murder of James Byrd, Jr. in Jasper, Texas. But this is not an anatomy of his murder; rather, it is an evocation of how this event fits into a landscape and climate as mental as it is physical. Disc 3: “From The Other Side” (2002): With technology developed for the military, the INS has stemmed the flow of illegal immigration in San Diego. But for the desperate, there are still the dangerous deserts of Arizona. Disc 4: “Down There” (2006): Akerman spends a brief period on her own in an apartment by the sea in Tel Aviv, contemplating her family, her Jewish identity and her childhood. Disc 5: “Chantal Akerman, From Here” (62 minutes, 2010): An hour-long, single-shot conversation with Akerman about her films and her directorial philosophy. In English, French, and Spanish with English subtitles. From Icarus Films … Les Blank (“Burden of Dreams”) considered his free-form feature documentary about beloved singer-songwriter Leon Russell, “A Poem Is a Naked photo for A Poem Is a Naked Person Person” (1974), filmed between 1972 and 1974, to be one of his greatest accomplishments. Yet it has not been released until now. Hired by Russell to film him at his recording studio in northeast Oklahoma, Blank ended up constructing a unique, intimate portrait of a musician and his environment. Made up of mesmerizing scenes of Russell and his band performing, both in concert and in the studio, as well as off-the-cuff moments behind the scenes, this singular film — which also features performances by Willie Nelson and George Jones — has attained legendary status over the years. It’s a work of rough beauty that serves as testament to Blank’s cinematic daring and Russell’s immense musical talents. From The Criterion Collection … In director Delmer Daves’ psychological thriller “The Red House” (1947), Edward G. Robinson plays an aging farmer with a dark secret he’s trying to keep hidden. He and sister Ellen (Judith Anderson) have raised Meg (Allene Roberts) since she was a little girl, after her parents mysteriously disappeared. But now Meg is coming of age, and bringing a male friend from high school around to help with chores on the farm. The teens are warned against wandering into the nearby woods, where terrifying screams have been heard in the night emanating from an abandoned red house. But curiosity threatens to get the better of them … Features an original, eerie score by Oscar-winning composer Miklos Rozsa. Transferred from 35mm archival film elements. On Blu-ray Disc from The Film Detective.


Posted on March 28, 2016
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A ‘Candidate’ and a ‘Rage’

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

Two wonderfully thrilling films are due this week, one each from The Criterion Collection and Arrow Video. Criterion’s release of “The Manchurian Candidate” (1962) does justice to this classic film (which, rumor had it, was removed from distribution by the film’s star, Frank Sinatra, after the John F. Kennedy assassination on November 22, 1963; that has been denied by those close to the film but, still, “The Manchurian Candidate” was out of photo for The Manchurian Candidate circulation for two decades until the late 1980s). John Frankenheimer directed this quintessential 60s political thriller that was notable for its critique of Machiavellian politics and — for its time — extreme violence. Set in the early fifties, this razor-sharp adaptation of the novel by Richard Condon concerns decorated U.S. Army sergeant Raymond Shaw (Laurence Harvey), who as a prisoner during the Korean War is brainwashed into being a sleeper assassin in a Communist conspiracy, and a fellow POW (Frank Sinatra) who slowly uncovers the sinister plot. In an unforgettable, Oscar-nominated performance, Angela Lansbury plays Raymond’s villainous mother, the controlling wife of a witch-hunting anti-Communist senator with his eyes on the White House. The film also features a sexy, stunning performance by Janet Leigh. The rare film to be suffused with Cold War paranoia while also taking aim at the frenzy of the McCarthy era, “The Manchurian Candidate” remains potent, shocking American moviemaking. One of our all-time favorites. On DVD and Blu-ray, with a new, restored 4K digital transfer, with photo for Rage of Honor uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Arrow has this week the ultimate in martial arts revenge: Sho Kosugi’s “Rage of Honor” (1987) on Blu-ray only. Following his star turns in ’80s actioners “Enter the Ninja” and “Revenge of the Ninja,” Sho Kosugi continued his domination of the U.S. martial arts movie world with 1987’s “Rage of Honor” — helmed once again by “Pray for Death” director Gordon Hessler (“The Golden Voyage of Sinbad”). Federal agent Shiro Tanaka (Kosugi) used to live for his job — now, he lives only for revenge. When his partner is killed during a bungled drug bust, Shiro throws away his badge and the rule book with it: Arming himself with an array of deadly weaponry — including nunchucks, blades and ninja stars — he sets out to Buenos Aires to settle the score with the bad guys. Packing explosions, flying kicks and somersaults aplenty (as well as some truly logic-bending stunt sequences), “Rage of Honor” sees Kosugi at the top of his game as he battles his way from the streets of the urban jungle to the very literal jungles of South America. In a high definition presentation from a transfer of original elements by MGM.


Posted on March 22, 2016
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Varda, Rivette Belong to Us

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

“Jane B. Par Agnes V. and Kung-Fu Master!”: Agnes Varda is the unsung heroine of cinema, a masterful auteur and feminist director who shook up the world of cinema with her “Cleo From 5 to 7” in 1962 and has continued to shake the branches of filmdom with documentaries, fictions, biodramas and autobiographies that focus on women’s issues, social criticism, and the art of filmmaking itself. Cinelicious Pics has brought out today two underseen works by Varda, paired in a two-disc Blu-ray set that counterpoint each other: photo for Jane B. Par Agnes V. and Kung-Fu Master! “Jane B. Par Agnes V,” a phantasmagorical bio-pic of Jane Birkin, actress (“Blow Up”), fashion icon (the Hermes Birkin bag), longtime muse to Serge Gainsbourg, and singer (“Je t’aime … Moi non plus,” with Gainsbourg); and “Kung-Fu Master!”, a seemingly straight-ahead drama also starring Birkin; both were released in 1988. In “Jane B. Par Agnes V,” Vardas uses her camera to paint a portrait of the actress — but not in a traditional way — “It’s like an imaginary bio-pic,” Varda says. Tapping her training as a photographer, Vardas gives us still “photos” that come alive with Bunuelian sequences of expressionistic action, juxtaposing reality with fantasy all while celebrating Birkin’s life as well as the life of films, filmmaking, acting, art, love and sex. Newly-restored from the original 35mm camera negative overseen by Varda, “Jane B. Par Agnes V” is dripping in gorgeous big screen color. “Kung-Fu Master!” is a gentle, bittersweet companion piece to “Jane B. Par Agnes V” that explores the world of a lonely woman facing middle age who may or may not be falling in love with a 14-year old boy (played by Varda’s real-life son with husband Jaques Demy, Mathieu Demy); the film’s title comes from the fact that the boy is a champion arcade video game player. Birkin’s daughters, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Lou Doillon (her child with well-known filmmaker Jacques Doillon) also appear in the film. Long unavailable in the U.S., the film has been newly-restored from the original 35mm camera negative. Extras include an interview with Varda by Miranda July and an essay by Sandy Fitterman-Lewis.

“Paris Belongs to Us” (1961): If critic-turned-filmmaker Jacques Rivette had buttoned-down post-production financing and distribution, his 1957 debut would have been the flagship kickoff to the French New Wave, well before “The 400 Blows” and “Breathless” took the world by storm. Ultimately released in 1961, the diabolically simple film — rich in subtext and the concerns that would steer Rivette’s 50 years of filmmaking (happenstance, the use of theatre pieces and theatrical motifs, conspiracy) — was not as widely hailed as those by photo for Paris Belongs to Us Jean-Luc Godard and Francois Truffaut; still it’s a swirling maelstrom of a film that follows a young literature student (Betty Schneider) who gets involved with a mixed bag of Parisian twentysomethings — radicals, intellectuals, artists — all united by the apparent suicide of an acquaintance and the possibility of an unknown conspiracy lurking behind things. Rivette would later hone his ideas of serendipity, conspiracy and theatricality in such masterpieces as “L’amour fou” (1969), “Out 1” (1972) and one of the greatest films of modern times, “Celine and Julie Go Boating” (1974). Rivette died January 29 of this year at age 87. “Paris Belongs to Us” has been released by The Criterion Collection on DVD and Blu-ray, in a new 2K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include a new interview with Richard Neupert, author of “A History of the French New Wave Cinema”; Rivette’s 1956 short film “Le coup du berger,” featuring cameos by fellow French New Wave directors Claude Chabrol, Jean-Luc Godard, and Francois Truffaut; and an essay by critic Luc Sante.


Posted on March 8, 2016
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We Knew Them Well

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

 
Two films critical of the 1960s status quo — one an undiscovered gem, the other a verified classic — get the Criterion Collection treatment this week. First up is “I Knew Her Well” (1965), a disarmingly delightful portrait of the days and nights of a party girl in sixties Rome. On the surface, “I Knew Her Well,” directed by Antonio Pietrangeli, plays like an inversion of “La dolce vita” with a woman at its center, following the gorgeous, seemingly liberated Adriana (Stefania Sandrelli) as she dallies with a wide variety of men, attends parties, goes to modeling gigs, and circulates among the rich and famous. Despite its often photo for I Knew Her Welllight tone, though, the film is a stealth portrait of a suffocating culture that regularly dehumanizes people, especially women. In a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. One of the most beloved American films of all time, “The Graduate” (1967) earned Mike Nichols a best director Oscar, brought the music of Simon & Garfunkel to a wider audience, and introduced the world to Dustin Hoffman. Benjamin Braddock (Hoffman) has just finished college and is already lost in a sea of confusion and barely contained angst when he becomes sexually involved with the middle-aged mother (Anne Bancroft) of the young woman he’s dating (Katharine Ross). Visually imaginative and impeccably acted, with a clever, endlessly quotable script by Buck Henry (based on the novel by Charles Webb), “The Graduate” had the kind of cultural impact that comes along only once in a generation. In a new 4K digital restoration, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray. Extras include commentary from 2007 featuring Nichols in conversation with filmmaker Steven Soderbergh; audio commentary from 1987 featuring film scholar Howard Suber; a new interview with actor Dustin Hoffman; new conversation between producer Lawrence Turman and actor-screenwriter Buck Henry; “The Graduate at 25,” a 1992 featurette on the making of the film; interview with Nichols by Barbara Walters, from a 1966 episode of NBC’s “Today” show: excerpt from a 1970 appearance by singer-songwriter Paul Simon on “The Dick Cavett Show”; screen tests; trailer; booklet with an essay by journalist and critic Frank Rich, more.


Posted on February 23, 2016
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‘Diamonds’ Are Forever

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

Nikkatsu, the oldest film studio in Japan, inaugurated a star system in the late 1950s, finding talent and contracting to their Diamond Line for a series of wild genre pictures. “Nikkatsu Diamond Guys – Vol 1” (1958/59) celebrates these “Diamond Guys” with three classic films from directors Seijun Suzuki (“Branded to Kill”), Toshio Masuda (“Rusty Knife”) and Buichi Saito photo for Nikkatsu Diamond Guys - Vol 1 “(Lone Wolf and Cub: Baby Cart in Peril”). An old hand at tough guy action roles, Hideaki Nitani (“Tokyo Drifter,” “Massacre Gun”) stars in “Suzuki’s Voice Without a Shadow.” Asako, a former telephone operator, once heard the voice of a murder suspect that has continued to haunt her. Years later her husband invites his boss, Hamazaki, over for dinner and she realizes his voice is suspiciously like that of the killer. Before she can investigate further, Hamazaki is found dead and her husband becomes the prime suspect. Next, 50s subculture icon Yujiro Ishihara (“Crazed Fruit”) stars in Masuda’s “Red Pier” as “Jiro the Lefty”, a killer with a natural talent. Shortly after arriving in Kobe, he witnesses a man die in a crane accident, which turns out to be a cover-up for a murder. Jiro soon finds himself on the run, tailed by a determined cop. Finally, in Saito’s” The Rambling Guitarist,” mega star Akira Koabyashi (“Battles Without Honour and Humanity”) stars as wandering street musician Shinji, who falls in with mob boss Akitsu after saving one of his henchmen in a bar fight. Tasked by Akitsu with evicting an offshore fishery, Shinji finds himself in the middle of a very unusual domestic dispute. High Definition digital transfers of all three films from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation, with original uncompressed mono audio and newly translated English subtitles. In a Blu-ray/DVD Combo from Arrow Video/MVD Entertainment Group.

“Comin’ at Ya!” (1981 – Italy) is a fan-favorite spaghetti western, here in a 35th Anniversary re-release that includes its debut on Blu-ray 3D. Directed by Ferdinando Baldi (“Django”) and written, produced and starring spaghetti western legend Tony Anthony. Independently produced, “Comin’ at Ya!” was originally released theatrically in 1981 by Filmways Pictures and went on to gross over $12 million domestically in only 200 theaters in North America (over $30 million in 2016 dollars photo for Comin' at Ya! when adjusted for inflation), long before independent films were a regular staple in multiplexes. “Comin’ at Ya!” happily embraced the 3-D technology of its time, not only taking advantage of the depth that the technology provided, but also taking every opportunity possible to throw, shoot and point things at the viewer at every possible turn and created a cult classic movie as a result. The new home video version was supervised and produced by Tony Anthony himself and Tom Stern (“In God’s Hands”), through his company Sternco 3D. Sourced from a new 4K master, the film boasts a frame by frame digital conversion of the polarized over-and-under format of the original print, sourced from a brand new internegative into the MVC 3D format and new 5.1 surround sound. The story line: Tragedy strikes as two ruthless brothers burst into a chapel and kidnap a bride during her wedding, shooting the groom (Anthony) and leaving him for dead. Hurt and angry, he begins his quest to find his love, and take vengeance upon the wicked. Sound familiar, Mr. Tarantino? On Blu-ray 3D/2D and 2D DVD from MVD Entertainment.

 


Posted on January 26, 2016
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‘Llewyn Davis,’ ’60s Folkies Play for Criterion

DREAMSVILLE’S WEEK IN DVD

The Coen brothers’ 2013 hit “Inside Llewyn Davis” gets The Criterion Collection treatment this week and what a splendid release it is. Their film — about a singer barely eking out a living on the peripheries of the flourishing Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties — captured the angst and excitement of an era whose protagonists would forever change the world, both culturally and politically. Not so for Llewyn Davis (played by Oscar Isaac in his breakout performance) an irascible, rude, and self-defeating folkie whose career is going nowhere. With no place to live, he sleeps on the couches of friends and patrons, making a circular odyssey through an unforgiving wintry New York cityscape that is realized photo for Inside Llewyn Davis with poignant humor and the occasional surreal touch — including the appearance and disappearance of a cat Davis “babysits.” Davis — no matter how hard he tries — just doesn’t make the right decisions, and he’s left behind as the times pass him by. This director-approved special edition boasts a new 4K digital transfer, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray, and features new audio commentary with writers Robert Christgau, David Hajdu, and Sean Wilentz. Other extras include “The First Hundred Feet, the Last Hundred Feet,” a new conversation between filmmaker Guillermo del Toro and directors Joel and Ethan Coen about the evolution of their approach, from “Blood Simple” to “Inside Llewyn Davis”; “Inside Inside Llewyn Davis,” a 45-minute 2013 documentary; “Another Place, Another Time” (2014), a 101-minute film documenting an “Inside Llewyn Davis” tribute concert, featuring Joan Baez, Mumford & Sons, Punch Brothers, Gillian Welch, Jack White, and others; a new piece about Dave Van Ronk (on whom “Inside Llewyn Davis” was roughly modeled) and the Greenwich Village folk scene of the early sixties, featuring music writer and historian Elijah Wald; and “Sunday,” a short 1961 documentary by Dan Drasin about the riots that took place in Washington Square Park after folk musicians were prevented from gathering and playing there. Stupendous.

Due January 25 is a high definition, digitally restored edition of “Kansas City Confidential” (1952), a Film Noir classic from the tail end of the Noir era. An ex-con trying to go straight is framed for a million dollar armored car robbery and must go to Mexico in order to unmask the real culprits. Ex-con Joe Rolfe (John Payne) is on the road to rehabilitation. Framed for a $1 million robbery, he gets off for lack of evidence … but photo for Kansas City Confidential BLU-RAY DEBUT with his face plastered in the headlines and still hurting from a brutal beating in police custody, he’s already lost all that he’s doggedly worked to achieve. Embittered and with steely determination, he sets out to track down the real criminals and render his own justice. Clues trail over the border to a Mexican fishing resort, and straight into the path of an inconvenient beauty (Coleen Gray). The seductress’ ties soon pit Rolfe — who has nothing left to lose — against a crooked ex-cop (Preston S. Foster) and some of the ugliest, most-menacing thugs in the cinematic underworld, portrayed by Lee Van Cleef, Neville Brand and Jack Elam (all extremely well known to classic film fans as villains, henchmen, gangsters and tough guys). Director Phil Karlson worked with an array of Hollywood’s biggest talent — including Abbott & Costello, Marilyn Monroe, Dean Martin, Elvis Presley, Elke Sommer and Sharon Tate — and helmed the mega box-office hit “Walking Tall” (1973). But it was his raw, unflinching filmmaking about disagreeable truths — punctuated by exaggerated and shadowy cinematography — that left his most indelible mark. From The Film Detective.

 


Posted on January 19, 2016
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