A brief survey of recent viewing ranging from classics to contemporary, from class to cheese: thrillers, sci-fi and horror featuring black magic, killer robots, demons, evil stepdads and retro-’50s rock-n-roll biker gangs.
Two movies from the early 1970s illuminate class and race divides in New York City – Sidney Lumet’s Sean Connery starring caper film The Anderson Tapes (1971) and Gordon Parks Jr’s hugely influential Super Fly (1972), starring Ron O’Neal with a landmark score by Curtis Mayfield.
Criterion’s release of Elaine May’s one-of-a-kind Mikey and Nicky (1976) on Blu-ray calls attention to one of the most unjustly neglected movies of its era, a devastatingly raw dissection of masculinity, friendship and betrayal by a filmmaker who was too distinctively original to fit comfortably into the business of Hollywood.
Inspired by the international success of Dirty Harry and The French Connection in 1971, the Italian poliziotteschi quickly became a versatile genre reflecting the political paranoia and nihilism of the ’70s; three recently viewed movies show a range of approaches to the genre.
MVD Entertainment Group’s Blu-ray release of Ryan Schifrin’s ’80s horror homage Abominable (2005/2018) offers an exemplary treatment of a niche title, with excellent technical treatment and stacked with extras which honour the filmmaker’s respect for the genre.
Olive Films’ Signature edition of Don Siegel’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956) does full justice to this classic of 1950s sci-fi/horror with an excellent transfer and a rich collection of extras, which include two commentaries and a stack of featurettes about the film, director Siegel and producer Walter Wanger.
Despite continuing rumblings about the demise of movies-on-disk, numerous companies continue to produce excellent editions on disk of a vast range of movies covering the entire history of cinema. Once again in 2018 there were far more releases than even an obsessive viewer could keep up with.
I recently completed a music video for Winnipeg artist Töt Bête Lögn. The track is The Duel from his self-released album Noire.
Criterion have continued their efforts to restore the reputation of eclectic French filmmaker Julien Duvivier by following their Eclipse set of features from the 1930s with a stunning Blu-ray edition of his first post-war feature, Panique (1946), adapted from a very dark novel by Georges Simenon.
Recently viewed Blu-rays from Severin films include a range of Italian horrors featuring zombies, necrophilia and Lovecraftian gods, a revisionist vampire tale from the golden age of Ozploitation, and an unsettling experimental adaptation of a Lovecraft story from Sweden.