Tuesday, October 2, 2007

DVD releases for October 2

The Films of Kenneth Anger Vol. 2
"Cinematic magician, legendary provocateur, author of the infamous Hollywood Babylon books and creator of some of the most striking and beautiful works in the history of film, Kenneth Anger is a singular figure in post-war American culture. A major influence on everything from the films of Martin Scorsese, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and David Lynch to the pop art of Andy Warhol to MTV, Anger's work serves as a talisman of universal symbols and personal obsessions, combining myth, artifice and ritual to render cinema with the power of a spell or incantation. Covering the second half of Anger's career, from his legendary Scorpio Rising to his breathtaking phantasmagoria Lucifer Rising, Fantoma is very proud to complete the cycle with this long-awaited final volume of films by this revolutionary and groundbreaking maverick, painstakingly restored and presented on DVD for the first time anywhere in the world. Contains the films: Scorpio Rising (1964), Kustom Kar Kommandos (1965), Invocation of My Demon Brother (1969), Rabbit's Moon (1979 version), Lucifer Rising (1981)" When Kenneth Anger was at the Walker this past January, he made it quite clear he was not happy with Fantoma and these DVDs because he had seen no money from the project. I can only hope things have changed and Mr. Anger has received some of the proceeds, even as a good will measure. These films are amazing. I will be renting this DVD to see the films that were not screened at the Walker.

Ramones: It's Alive 1974-1996
"Punk forefathers Joey, Johnny, Dee Dee, Tommy, Marky, Richie, and C-Jay Ramone outlasted almost every one of their legions of followers. For over twenty years, they delivered their signature garage-flavored, ear-shattering chainsaw level and pop-skewed sound through a string of now-classic, loud-and-fast punk rock LPs, and 2,263 concerts together. This new two DVD set captures the essence of the legendary racket they made with over four hours of rare and previously unreleased live footage that's the closest you can get to experiencing this blitzkrieg of a band. From their earliest performances at lower Manhattan's CBGBs to international festivals in front of hundreds of thousands of fans, It's Alive 1974-1996 is your VIP ticket to the Ramones. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2002, the band may be gone, but their sound and influence are indestructible." A DVD for the fans. Loads of performances on two DVDs.

Red Without Blue (2007) directed by Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills, Todd Sills
"Mark Farley and his twin brother Alex Farley were born and raised in Montana, a place where people who are 'different' are not always welcomed - something they discovered after they went public with their homosexuality when they were in their early teens. Coming out damaged Mark and Alex's relationship with their divorced parents (especially their mother Jenny Farley, who may have issues with her own sexuality), and made them the target of bullies and pedophiles, which led them to consider killing themselves. Now grown men, Mark and Alex agreed to participate with filmmakers Brooke Sebold, Benita Sills and Todd Sills in making a documentary about their lives, and Red Without Blue captures them at a time when the brothers are both still coming to terms with their identities. Mark, an art student, is in the midst of his first lasting relationship with another man, while Alex has chosen to live as a woman, adopting the name Claire and considering a sex change operation. The twins are attempting to mend their relationships with their parents, while Mark wonders if Alex's transsexuality may be an effort to distance himself from his family and sibling. Red Without Blue won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the 2007 Slamdance Film Festival."

Day Night Day Night (2006) directed by Julia Loktev
"Writer-director Julia Loktev's (Moment of Impact) harrowing, claustrophobic thriller Day Night, Day Night plunges the audience into the world of a suicide bomber just prior to her final, fatal act. As the film opens, a young woman prays to an unknown, unspecified deity, then tucks away into a fleabag New Jersey motel room, when several hooded men arrive, arm her with explosives, and give her instructions to carry out. She then takes off alone, headed straight for Times Square, and making her way through clamoring throngs of real people - any of whom could instantly become her casualties. Loktev strips away much of the external exposition, never revealing the central character's name, ethnicity, religious affiliation or political background. The director thus forces the audience to focus, exclusively and unrelentingly, on the nature of the character's actions, and underscores the idea that terrorist motivations are, on some level, completely inconceivable to an outsider. Ironically, instead of turning the central character into a cipher and thus distancing her from the viewer, the film's stripped exposition terrifyingly draws the audience closer to the character." This film screened at the Women With Vision film series at the Walker this Spring. (Did it play again? I'm not sure.) It is an interesting, but imperfect film.

The Sarah Silverman Program
"Sarah Silverman stars as Sarah Silverman, an unemployed single woman who still behaves like a child. Sarah depends in everything on her sister (played by her real sister Laura). Sarah is petty, self centered, childish, sometimes dumb and always Jewish. Other characters are her two gay neighbors (or gaybors as she calls them) and Laura's boyfriend who is a police officer. Sarah Silverman says what's on her mind. And no one else's. This is the first season of the critically acclaimed The Sarah Silverman Program. With her unique perspective on life and her ability to turn just about everything into a song, find out why Sarah Silverman is an American treasure. An offensive, filthy-mouthed treasure." How could this not be funny?

Two for the collectors:

Caligula: 3 Disc Imperial Edition (1979) directed by Tinto Brass
"The rise and fall of the notorious Roman Emperor Caligula, showing the violent methods that he employs to gain the throne, and the subsequent insanity of his reign - he gives his horse political office and humiliates and executes anyone who even slightly displeases him. He also sleeps with his sister, organises elaborate orgies and embarks on a fruitless invasion of England before meeting an appropriate end. There are various versions of the film, ranging from the heavily- truncated 90-minute version to the legendary 160-minute hardcore version which leaves nothing to the imagination (though the hardcore scenes were inserted later and do not involve the main cast members)." I remember being disappointed when I finally saw Caligula, but that was a while ago. Maybe it is time to revisit with the Imperial Edition...

Funny Face 50th Anniversary Edition (1957) directed by Stanley Donen
"Fashion photographer Dick Avery (Fred Astaire), in search for an intellectual backdrop for an air-headed model, expropriates a Greenwich Village bookstore. When the photo session is over the store is left in a shambles, much to salesgirl Jo Stockton's (Audrey Hepburn) dismay. Avery stays behind to help her clean up. Later, he examines the photos taken there and sees Jo in the background of one shot. He is intrigued by her unique appearance, as is Maggie Prescott (Kay Thompson), the editor of a leading fashion magazine. They offer Jo a modeling contract, which she reluctantly accepts only because it includes a trip to Paris. Eventually, her snobbish attitude toward the job softens, and Jo begins to enjoy the work and the company of her handsome photographer." This edition comes with a new transfer from the original 'Vita Vision' negative.

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