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This week on Off The Shelf, Ryan is joined by Brian Saur present their 2015 gift guide suggestions for the home media enthusiasts in your life, and chat about some follow-up and home video news.
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Episode Links & Notes In the Greatest Casting of All Time, Felicia Day May Be MST3K’s Next Mad Scientist Disc Deals For The Week: Black Friday 2015 Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Blu-ray Deals – Black Friday Week – Monday November 23rd! Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Rupert’s 2015 Film Geek Holiday Gift Guide! (Discs!) Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Film Geek Holiday Gift Guide Part Two: Books, Toys, Clothes! Original Christmas Classics Gift Set 2015 Watership Down The Black Stallion Dont Look Back The Fisher King The Apu Trilogy Special Effects Collection Horror Classics, Volume One Collection 3-D Rarities Masterworks of American Avant-garde Experimental Film 1920–1970 Classics from the Van Beuren Studio Army Of Darkness Mad Max: Fury Road The »
- Ryan Gallagher
By Alex Simon
Brazilian cinema has traditionally been a mix of fantasies about the bourgeois class (Dona Flor and her Two Husbands) or dark tales of life in its slums, the flavelas (Pixote). Fellipe Barbosa delivers a debut feature that takes a serio-comic look at the changing face of the upper class in his country, with Casa Grande, winner of the Rio De Janiero International Film Festival’s Best Film prize, which opens November 15 at Cinema Village in New York and debuts online simultaneously via Fandor.
Casa Grande tells the story of a posh Rio family whose carefully-manicured façade is slowly crumbling as father Hugo (Marcello Novaes) runs out of money after a series of bad investments go south. Meanwhile, his teenage son Jean (Thales Cavalanti) attends a fancy prep school and is thinking about college, until finding love with a girl from »
- The Hollywood Interview.com
Special mention: Häxan
Directed by Benjamin Christensen
Denmark / Sweden, 1922
Häxan (a.k.a The Witches or Witchcraft Through The Ages) is a 1922 silent documentary about the history of witchcraft, told in a variety of styles, from illustrated slideshows to dramatized reenactments of alleged real-life events. Written and directed by Benjamin Christensen, and based partly on Christensen’s study of the Malleus Maleficarum, Häxan is a fine examination of how superstition and the misunderstanding of mental illness could lead to the hysteria of the witch-hunts. At the time, it was the most expensive Scandinavian film ever made, costing nearly 2 million Swedish krona. Although it won acclaim in Denmark and Sweden, the film was banned in the United States and heavily censored in other countries for what were considered, at that time, graphic depictions of torture, nudity, and sexual perversion. Depending on which version you’re watching, the commentary is »
- Ricky Fernandes
1961 Spanish poster for Funny Face (Stanley Donen, USA, 1957). Artists: “McP” (Ramon Marti, Joseph Clave, Hernan Pico).Of all the posters I’ve selected for Movie Poster of the Day over the past three months, I would not have expected this Spanish Funny Face to be the most reblogged and “liked” of all, but I am pleasantly surprised that it is. A gorgeous poster, credited to a triumvirate of artists, that repaints photographic images from the Us half-sheet in unexpected shades of purple and orange, it somehow caught Tumblr’s attention. Or maybe it was just those eyes.It tends to be true that the posters that catch fire the most are unusual and striking designs for well known films, like the Japanese Beetlejuice, the Polish Ran, the British Breathless, and the French On the Waterfront. Which makes it all the more heartening that the fourth most popular poster was a »
- Adrian Curry
I came across a wonderful new poster the other day by Portuguese illustrator André Letria for Jacques Tati’s 1971 comedy Trafic, which reminded me of how Tati, above all filmmakers (with the possible exceptions of Stanley Kubrick and Wes Anderson) continually lends himself to different graphic renditions. Many of them can be seen regularly on the excellent and prolific blog The Hulot Universe, which seems to be tapped into an inexhaustible supply of Tatiana. I’ve written about Tati art twice before: in a post about Pierre Etaix, and last year I wrote about David Merveille’s impeccable designs for the Criterion Collection’s Jacques Tati Blu-ray set. But I’ve always wanted to feature the various international posters for Traffic and Letria’s new art, which you can see at the end of the post, gives me that excuse.The famous French poster, above, curiously unsigned for such a striking, »
- Adrian Curry
Ken Russell spent most of his days regarding his first theatrical feature, French Dressing, as a disaster. Certainly it did his career prospects no good at the time. Then he caught it on late night TV in the nineties, and said to himself, "This is a masterpiece!"He might have been right, though the film's effect is so indefinable that its success or failure on its own terms, whatever they might be, is hard to be certain of. But it's sufficiently unlike anything else to qualify for some kind of place of honor in the sub-sub-genre of British seaside psychotronic cinema.The starting point was kind of charming and straightforward: a run-down coastal resort tries to vie with Cannes by launching a film fest and inviting the latest Gallic sex kitten sensation. The producer probably imagined something a bit like a Carry On film, whereas Russell hoped to take things into Jacques Tati territory. »
- David Cairns
Sir Ian McKellen in Deauville: 'There is always enthusiasm but also uncertainty and self-doubts. I have learned to be funny, partly as a result of Jacques Tati' Photo: Marco Schmidt Mr. Holmes star Sir Ian McKellen breezed in to Deauville today (September 10) for the Festival of American Cinema believing it was the setting for one of his favourite films - Jacques Tati’s M Hulot’s Holiday.
He was rather crestfallen to discover that it was actually somewhere else - Saint Marc-sur-Mer, a sleepy seaside resort on France's north-western coast.
“That’s too bad,” said the McKellen, who adores Tati. He’s in the Normandy resort for a special tribute tonight and to herald the French release of Mr. Holmes in which he plays the iconic sleuth at an advanced age - older than his own 76 years.
Asked what gets him up in the morning, he beamed and said: »
- Richard Mowe
"The enjoyment of a work of art, the acceptance of an irresistible illusion, constituting, to my sense, our highest experience of "luxury," the luxury is not greatest, by my consequent measure, when the work asks for as little attention as possible. It is greatest, it is delightfully, divinely great, when we feel the surface, like the thick ice of the skater's pond, bear without cracking the strongest pressure we throw on it. The sound of the crack one may recognise, but never surely to call it a luxury." —Henry James, from The Preface to The Wings of the Dove (1909) "[The critic’s] choice of best salami is a picture backed by studio build-up, agreement amongst his colleagues, a layout in Life mag (which makes it officially reasonable for an American award), and a list of ingredients that anyone’s unsophisticated aunt in Oakland can spot as comprising a distinguished film. This prize picture, »
- Greg Gerke
Celluloid is alive and kicking at the American Cinematheque this month, where a heavenly program of 35mm films will be presented across the various series happening at the Aero and Egyptian theaters. Friday launches the slate with the unlikely double bill of Pasolini's revelry of human suffering "Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom' and Russ Meyer's exploitation classic "Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!" Throughout the month you can brush up on your Jacques Tati with film prints of "M. Hulot's Holiday," "Mon Oncle," "Traffic" and "Playtime," which looks gorgeous on a big screen. There's also a David Fincher double feature, with "Seven" and "Panic Room," as well as Antonioni's often maligned but visually dazzling "Zabriskie Point," featuring that epic Pink Floyd soundtrack. Read More: Quentin Tarantino Spoils La Cinephiles with New Beverly's June Program Here's the full list of 35mm prints »
- Ryan Lattanzio
Familiar Tune: Andersson Completes Trilogy With Enjoyable, Familiar Chapter
Prolific Swedish filmmaker Roy Andersson tends to work infrequently, taking years, if not decades, between film projects. His loosely connected trilogy about human existence began with the 2001 film, Songs From the Second Floor and continued in 2007 with You, the Living. Now, he’s completed the triptych with A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, which is said to have been influenced by Dostoevsky. Pitch black humor abounds, as here the glib auteur’s usual modus operandi, though his latest doesn’t strike the same insistent bleakness as the trilogy’s initial chapter (if anything, watching these titles in reverse order seems more provocative). As dark comedy flows freely into nightmarish indictment of both humanity’s historical and modern lack of empathy for all creatures great and small, Andersson’s finger wagging veers strangely into preachy approximations at several points. »
- Nicholas Bell
“A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence” is a truly delightful film from Swedish director Roy Andersson. Not that it didn't fit right in with the dark and depressing 2014 Venice Film Festival, where Andersson won the Gold Lion. He starts right off with three “meetings with death.” These short tableaux set up what is to come: many other tableaux, mini-films that are like paintings coming to life. Andersson is an artist of the Wes Anderson ilk by way of Jacques Tati: He clearly has thought out each detail, the production design as much as the writing. Each set or location has been painted in pale earth tones – this is not the comedy of Goya or Van Gogh but of Giorgio Morandi. And the film is simply a series of these tableaux, some related – such as an ongoing gag about two sad-sack Beckettian characters “in the entertainment business »
- Tom Christie
Any animated feature screening in Cannes in the wake of Pixar’s universally adored “Inside Out” was bound to seem like an anticlimax. And when the movie in question happens to be an adaptation of one of the most beloved children’s novels of all time, the potential for disappointment looms especially large. But to the sure relief of armchair aviators everywhere, director Mark Osborne’s “The Little Prince” turns out to be a respectful, lovingly reimagined take on Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic 1943 tale, which adds all manner of narrative bells and whistles to the author’s slender, lyrical story of friendship between a pilot and a mysterious extraterrestrial voyager, but stays true to its timeless depiction of childhood wonderment at odds with grown-up disillusionment. Independently made (on a reported $80 million budget) by French producer Dimitri Rassam, “The Little Prince” may lack the fast pace and high-concept storytelling of »
- Scott Foundas
The KissMuch of my problem with so-called experimental cinema is a matter of language, and my marriage to it as both a viewer and a critic, despite language’s inevitable failure in the face of other forms of meaning. Some of my difficulty is based on background and affinities, some of it exposure and/or familiarity; most is plain obduracy. For whatever reason we may chose to fixate on, I have a hard time letting non-narrative films tell me how to read them beyond the sense I can put into words. After all, I am inarticulate without them.One friend says the trick is to bring the films “down” to the most fundamental ways in which they work, how the pieces may “add up”—but again this is a metaphor, which is of course the premise of language—an arbitrary equation of different things—and awfully teleological in a realm »
- Ryland Walker Knight
TwitchFilm's tiniest film reviewers continue their coverage of Tiff Kids Film Festival, currently happening at Toronto's Lightbox Cinema. Willem (age 12) and Miranda (age 10) delight in the slapstick sheep spectacle spinoff Shaun The Sheep, from the masters of claymation at Aardman Studios. TwitchFilm has been on the Internet long enough that many of its writing staff have children old enough to understand and consume media in a way that is both raw and fresh. It might even come with an inkling of consideration afterwards -- it's true that many of us fall in love with the movies when we are very young.In the past, Willem and his younger sister Miranda have discussed films ranging from Wes Anderson's Fantastic Mr. Fox to Jacques Tati's Playtime to George...
[Read the whole post on twitchfilm.com...]
At the end of Tsai Ming-liang's modestly confident 1992 debut, seen from arm's length and from above, a clutch of sad little phone-dating cubicles looks like something out of Jacques Tati. Except instead of a mod Parisian arena for coy clowning, this is the dead end of pre-millennial Taipei malaise. Tsai isn't without mischief — one key to this film's hypnotic power is humor so subtle it's practically subliminal — but his preferred takeaway is the pathos, the still-universal frustration, of an unanswered ringtone. Also like any given Tati film, Tsai's Rebels of the Neon God is distinctly of its time but not dated: The rituals of this era's disaffected youth, set to hooky synth-bass riffs, include drilling into public pay phones and then blowin »
For Norman McLaren form is everything. That makes sense given the medium he chose to express his art. Short films are, perhaps more than any other expression of film, succinct and to the point. The story is in the form, the vision is in the form, the art is in the form. To that end many directors have spent many years trying their best to manipulate the form. Film is malleable after all, that is the most breathtaking aspect of the medium. To see something so straightforward taken and twisted until it meets the vision of the artist is akin to the definition of art.
That is where Norman McLaren enters the picture. He was a master at taking the form of the short film and twisting and turning it until it fit his vision of art. Take a film like Dots for instance. A simple red animated landscape is »
- Bill Thompson
One of the most talked about, yet infrequently seen film trilogies of all time has to be Satyajit Ray's The Apu Trilogy -- Pather Panchali (Song Of The Little Road), Aparajito (The Unvanquished) and Apur Sansar (The World Of Apu). You can find poor quality versions on YouTube and purchase shoddy DVD copies on Amazon and eBay, but soon these classics will be available in newly minted restored versions as Janus Film announced today the upcoming $K restoration of all three films will be begin a national re-release in New York City at Film Forum on Friday, May 8 and in Los Angeles at Landmark's Nuart Theater on Friday, May 29, followed by releases in art houses nationwide throughout the summer. Frequently listed as one of the top accomplishments in the history of cinema, the trilogy helped bring India into the golden age of international art-house cinema - but this restoration »
- Brad Brevet
Disappointing audiences and a critical bashing have made Pompidou look like a failure. But this difficult, admirable experiment deserves better
Little Britain star Matt Lucas has returned – with a big gamble that for many critics has not paid off. But that’s to miss the point. In Pompidou, he plays Pompidou P Pompidou, a brassic aristo who lives in a filthy caravan with his butler, Hove (Alex MacQueen, against type), and a bookish, bespectacled Afghan hound. Every week they try to get food or money and fail, in a world where nobody speaks intelligible English; instead, humans gabble and rhubarb gibberish. It’s a comedy pointedly unlike any other currently on TV.
Because it doesn’t have lines, Pompidou is immediately comparable to Mr Bean, Laurel & Hardy and Jacques Tati, yet the show’s funniest moments highlight Pompidou’s uniqueness. Taking away verbal sense but retaining sound means Lucas’s »
- Jack Seale
Admittedly, French filmmaker Jacques Tati doesn’t get a lot of love on this site. We’re always so focused on the future, there’s not a lot of time to look into the past. But every once in a while there’s a big, bright, beautiful reason to celebrate the history of film and today is one of those […]
- Germain Lussier
If René Clément's short collaboration with Jacques Tati in 1936 has its later development in the surprising (and political) slapstick of Che gioia vivere (1962), his technical assistance to Jean Cocteau on Beauty and the Beast pays off more rapidly with Le château de verre (The Glass Castle, 1950), starring Cocteau's beautiful beast, Jean Marais, and ice queen monstré sacré Michelle Morgan. This one came highly recommended by Shadowplayer David Wingrove, who saw in its opening sequence a foreshadowing of Last Year at Marienbad's glacial surrealism—frozen figures, somnambulent dancers, palatial surroundings. In fact, the Clément film comes with le jazz hot, and the frozen figures aren't frozen, but there is certainly an air of decadent mystery, with Jean Servais as the chess-playing husband a passable progenitor of the Resnais movie's sepulchral M.But there's more! We begin with a disembodied voice (another Marienbad trope) and open in a fabulous grotto, »
- David Cairns
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