Blu-Ray Review: Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno

Inferno_AA023Sometimes, life can be a mystery… and sometimes, you kind of know what you’re getting into but still step into that trap door straight to hell.

In 1964, stoked after the huge box office success of Dr.Strangelove, Columbia Pictures was poking around the film world looking for something guaranteed to be the next big movie and had the wild idea to extend unlimited funding to a new project directed by the great Henri-Georges Clouzot (The Wages of Fear, Diabolique). Based on some striking test footage, Henri-Georges Clouzot’s Inferno was, for all intents and purposes, going to be an innovative and mature film that had the potential to make millions for the company while making an even bigger star out of Sissi trilogy star Romy Schneider. Three weeks into production and 185 cans (about 14 hours) of film later, one of the main cast members quit, three production separate teams of 150 people were out of work, and Clouzot had a heart attack that ended up shutting production down for good.

Those cans of film were sitting somewhere in France for decades thanks to the insurance company that ended up with them, but thanks to the obsessive persistence of Serge Bromberg and a meeting with Clouzot’s second wife in an elevator, we have this somewhat spectacular documentary (co-directed by Ruxandra Medrea) that sheds a bit of light on the destined to fail project. While the documentary is quite amazing, you’re in no way getting anything close to a completed version of Inferno despite all that footage that was shot. Most of it was camera tests of actors, loads of exterior tests, and visual effects shots galore in assorted states of completion. All of it was silent, although parts of a separate soundtrack were found and added into the documentary along with parts of the script read/reenacted by Bérénice Bejo and Jacques Gamblin. That said, there’s a lot to absorb here, but the overall takeaway seems to be “Here’s what happens when you throw money at a problem and it doesn’t solve itself, folks.”

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Random Films of the Week: Some Clock Cleaning Before Things Go Cuckoo

Hey, it’s not Friday, but it may be by the time I complete this post. Anyway, here’s a few more films I finally sat down and watched. It stinks not having a flick watching partner to bounce things off of, but so it goes. I suppose a resolution can be made to rectify that, but you all know that sort of pressure makes for an often crappy time when you go rubbing lamps hoping for the correct results (he noted, cackling madly). Anyway, some of these were screeners, a few were bought for the library and almost all come recommended for assorted reasons.

Suture_AV056

Suture – It’s a gimmick film with one huge gimmick, but it’s a good one and writer-directors David Siegel and Scott McGehee do a decent Hitchcock riff on a few fronts with this thriller/mystery mash-up. Shot in glorious black and white with a solid as a rock cast, this is one of those indie films that packs a wallop and isn’t afraid to use your brain as its target. The interesting thing is the film also works without the gimmick as a pure thriller, so you can indeed re-watch this and see it from a different perspective.

I saw this a few times in theaters back in 1993 and later on cable and it still works as a great little film worth tracking down. Arrow Video’s restoration job is great and you get way too many bonus features that make this an automatic buy right out of the gate.

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Blu-Ray Review: The Creeping Garden

TCG_AA004An absolutely fascinating look at plasmodial slime mold and a few of the people who love it, The Creeping Garden just might be my favorite documentary of 2017. Granted, it’s probably only the third of fourth one I’ve seen this year thanks to too much going medical drama going on and less time to watch stuff. But every second of this film is fascinating and well worth a watch.

Of course, if you hate stuff like strange plant life that can move around (slowly), nature flicks, amateur mycologists poking around dead trees (ewwww, bugs!) and artists making projects based on the care and feeding of slime mold, you might find the film a bit on the weird side. But it’s a compelling sort of weirdness when you discover a world you know nothing about and see through the eyes of others how this particular slice of life affects them. This is one of those Blu-Ray/DVD sets where you might find yourself passing off the DVD version to a friend just to share what’s here. Great films have a tendency to spread (kind of like slime mold, I guess?).

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Blu-Ray Review: RAIDERS!

Adobe Photoshop PDFAs “making of” documentaries go, RAIDERS! The Story of the Greatest Fan Film Ever Made is pretty darn great. However, as a friend I watched this Blu-Ray with noted, “It’s kind of missing something important…” to which I had to ask (as I was thinking the same thing) exactly what he thought that was. The answer was of course, the actual fan film itself.

Yes, you get snips, clips and blips of the film with deleted scenes here and there, plus more as bonus features (which are all excellent). But as fine as all that is, not seeing the end result of 7+ years of work ends up making for a tremendous tease more than anything else. Granted, I knew there were some good (legal) reasons why it’s not on the disc. Then some smart poking around led me to this official website where yes, you can actually buy a DVD or digital download of the film as well as some other cool merchandise that includes actual props from the seven years in the making fan flick.

Damn. There went my joke about the real reason being Steven Spielberg becoming sick and tired of hipsters saying “Oh, that’s the film Raiders! was based on!” (which, yes…*sigh*… I actually overheard coming from someone’s mouth not too long ago. Damn hipsters!).

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All Things Must Past: A Towering Tribute on DVD

all things must pass
 

Remember when Tower Records was THE place to hit regularly for everything from the latest music, to movies, books, and even clothes? I sure do. If you’re nodding and wistfully smiling, well… good. This documentary set for a 9/13 release should be on your must-watch list, then. Take a peek at that clip below and sure, hit up the MVD Shop if you want to pre-purchase it.


 

The Lost Arcade: Here Comes A New Challenger For Game Film of the Year

The Lost Arcade#thelostarcade

If you thought a documentary about a grimy New York City videogame arcade would be the last thing you’d ever be interested in seeing, take note: Kurt Vincent and Irene Chin’s The Lost Arcade is one of the best films I’ve seen on arcade history. Well, the history of ONE particular arcade known by its fans as a second home where skills were honed and lifelong friendships and friendly rivalries were built. Years in the making, this look at the legendary Chinatown Fair arcade is fascinating and moving because it focuses more on the people who played and worked there than on the games. That said, there’s plenty of game footage as well as gamers playing and talking about what they love here. In fact, it’s the passion on display when these people talk about why they play and how CF became so important in their lives that keeps this flowing from start to finish.

(Thanks, International Film Festival Rotterdam!)
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ELSTREE 1976: This Is The Documentary You’re Looking For

Elstree 1976 CA
 

I thought I was done with Star Wars references for the day, but my inbox has other ideas in the form of this new documentary I now NEED to see. Ellstree 1976 will start a US theatrical run on May 6th in select cities including Los Angeles and New York City (a full list of theaters and ticket information are here). My inner 14-year old self just popped out and recalled all those magazines and newspaper clippings I’d collected back then. Everything Star Wars! Anyway, here’s some info on the film as well as its trailer:

ELSTREE 1976 explores the lives of the actors and extras behind one of the most celebrated Science Fiction films in cinematic history, Star Wars.

From the man behind film’s most iconic villain, to the actor whose character was completely cut from the final film, the documentary delves into the eccentric community these individuals have formed and how the Star Wars franchise – which spans five decades from A New Hope to The Force Awakens – continues to impact their lives decades later.

Many of the minor characters were merely part of the set design, but eventually gained recognition as the Star Wars universe expanded into books, comics, etc. Fans learned the history of masked characters like Boba Fett and Greedo, but the sci-fi blockbuster also had a lasting impact on the people inside the costumes.

 

And if you can’t make it to that theater near or not so near you, guess what? MVD Entertainment Group will be getting the doc out on DVD June 28th via MVD Entertainment’s online shop as well as Amazon. SOLD!

All I need to do is step into this carbonite chamber I got cheap on eBay and freeze myself for just over a month and I’m set. What? Not a good idea? The guy who sold it said it was only used once and worked REALLY well.

Arrow Video June Releases: Blu-Rays of Sun For Your Collection

Arrow Video is set to heat up your June with four more video releases through MVD Entertainment Group, all worth a buy for collectors and film buffs with a taste for the intriguing. Let’s take a look at what’s coming soon:

Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Vol. 2 AV038 Nikkatsu Diamond Guys Volume 2 (June 14, $49.95) rolls up first and looks to be the perfect companion piece to the first three-film set. Akira Kobayashi (Tokyo Mighty Guy), and Jo Shishido (Danger Pays, Murder Unincorporated) are the featured actors in this trio of films that like the first Diamond Guys, is limited to 3000 sets. The first collection was a nice set of surprises, so expectations are high for this one to be equally fun and revealing.

Bonus Materials

  • Limited Edition Blu-ray collection (3000 copies)
  • High Definition digital transfers of all three films in this collection, from original film elements by Nikkatsu Corporation
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
  • Original uncompressed mono audio
  • Newly translated English subtitles
  • Specially recorded video discussions with Japanese cinema expert Jasper Sharp on Diamond Guys Jo Shishido and Akira Kobayashi
  • Original trailers for all three films
  • Extensive promotional image galleries for all films
  • Reversible sleeve featuring brand new artwork by Graham Humphreys
  • Booklet featuring new writing on all the films and director profiles by Stuart Galbraith IV, Tom Mes and Mark Schilling

Three more below the jump, so JUMP! Continue reading

DVD Review: Children of the Stars (2012)

CotS DVD CoverWhile the focus on solely letting its members speak without interruption or analysis from outside commentators debating the merits and downsides of the Unarius Academy of Science might seem unusual to those seeking a more opinionated documentary, Children of the Stars has an overall earnestness that works in its favor.

The 2012 documentary from director Bill Perrine (available on DVD through MVD Entertainment) isn’t perfect, but it’s perfect debate material for sure. Yes indeed, the spiritual group’s strange takes on science and history will seem bizarre to anyone not on their wavelength. But as home-brewed belief systems go it’s one of the more benign yet creative ones you’ll ever encounter. Continue reading

BUY IT! MVD Entertainment Has Reptiles and Ants For Sale

The Color of Noise ROB002 

Oh yep. I’ve since forgotten who introduced me to Amphetamine Reptile Records way back in the day, but it was a fine and more than a little insane musical journey that was great while it lasted. MVD Entertainment Group is getting me (and some of you) to relive those glory days of noise rock with what’s going to be one of the best documentaries on the subject, Eric Robel’s The Color of Noise in a Blu-Ray/DVD combo pack. This trailer gives you a little taste of what to expect when the doc appears on home video November 24 and even better, MVD and AmRep will also re-issue some of the best releases from the label’s catalog on vinyl and CD starting in December 2015 and continuing into 2016 and beyond. Continue reading