Tuesday, August 28, 2007

DVD releases for August 28

When Alberto Gonzales resigns on your first day back from vacation, things can't be so bad. Second day back, reality sets in and I am trying to muster some sort of enthusiasm for the week's DVD offerings. Here we go:

Horrors of Malformed Men (1969) directed by Teruo Ishii
I read Tom Mes' review of this film some time ago, and the praise that he heaped on what seems to be just your average B movie stuck with me. Keeping in mind that I find "messy and illogical" a complement to a film, it goes without saying that this film is not for everyone. The folks at DVD Talk called Horrors of Malformed Men "an absurdist pageant of sadistic delights." The film sounds like a total trip. For fans, this DVD is not to be missed, boasting a new transfer and loads of special features. I love it that a small label like Synapse will take a chance and pull a title out of its hat like this.

Snake Woman's Curse (1968) directed by Nobuo Nakagawa
Another great titled from Synapse with similar special features. Nakagawa in this case is the more recognizable name, a master of stylish horror films from the 50s and 60s culminating with his film Jigoku (Hell). Contemporary Japanese horror filmmakers are all indebted for the road that Nakagawa pioneered. Snake Woman's Curse (also known as Ghost Story of the Snake Woman) is not known to be one of his best films but one of the very few available on DVD with English subtitles.

Red Road (2006) directed by Andrea Arnold
If you missed Arnold's Red Road at the Women With Vision fest at the Walker and its subsequent run at the Lagoon, you are a loser like me. Reported to be one of the best, if not the best offering, of Women With Vision this past Spring, its arrival on DVD gives us all another chance. I love the set up: the main character works as a monitor of the closed circuit TV that dot Glasgow, and sees a person from her past on one of those monitors. Red Road is the first in a planned trilogy from Lars von Trier. (The original idea being three directors using the same three characters in a separate film, all shot in a 6 week period; already off track, we'll see if the other two films ever come to fruition.)

Offside (2007) directed by Jafar Panahi
Six Iranian girls are forced to dress up as boys to gain admittance into a soccer match. Women being banned from a sporting event is of course an innocuous symbol of large problems than no doubt exist. I suspect this film will follow a very predictable narrative trajectory, but I'm willing to give it a chance.

Dave McKean's Keanoshow (2007)
McKean is the visual brawn behind the narrative brains of Neil Gaiman. I love McKean's work and will buy any comic he has illustrated. This DVD contains seventeen short works from McKean. Fun.

Citizen Dog (2004) directed by Wisit Sasanatieng
Read my thoughts on this film here. Citizen Dog did not live up to my expectations, but it is nonetheless cute and entertaining. This is released by Tai Seng, which means they take the Hong Kong version and slap their sticker on it for North American release.

Year of the Dog (2007) directed by Mike White
I'm a dog owner and I transfer any maternal compulsions I have to doting on him. Is that an excuse for wanting to see this film? I don't think so. I love Molly Shannon (I know, I know, it's not Superstar Molly Shannon) and the supporting cast seems great (Laura Dern, John C Reilly). Mike White directed the critically acclaimed Chuck and Buck and the much loved School of Rock. Oh yeah, he did Nacho Libre too. Anyway, Year of the Dog has to be better than Blades of Glory.

Notable DVDs from last week without the blah blah blah:
The Lives of Others
(2006) directed by Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
House of Games Critrion (1987) directed by David Mamet
Broken English (2007) directed by Zoe Cassavetes
The Michael Haneke Collection

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