Another random sample of recent viewing, from Ken Russell’s debut feature French Dressing through Andrew Bujalski’s retro-video experiment Computer Chess to David Mackenzie’s Oscar-nominated Hell or High Water.
Criterion’s release of Felipe Cazals’ Canoa: A Shameful Memory (1976) makes available a key film in Mexican cinema history. A devastating depiction of political violence, the film uses radical techniques to deconstruct a brutal incident which actually occurred in the small town of San Miguel Canoa in 1968.
Hammer Films are, of course, best known for launching the modern era of horror with their late ’50s colour reworkings of the Universal classics from the ’30s, beginning with Curse of Frankenstein (1957) and Dracula (1958). These movies, colourful, somewhat perverse for the time, and more graphic than earlier films in the genre, inspired Roger […] Read More
Criterion have released a gorgeous restoration of Ermanno Olmi’s 1978 masterpiece The Tree of Wooden Clogs, supplementing this immersive epic of 19th Century peasant life with several epics which explore the origins of the project and Olmi’s methods of working with his remarkable non-professional cast.
The pleasures of black-and-white cinematography are on full display in Ken Hughes’ The Small World of Sammy Lee; shot on the streets of Soho and the East End by the great Wolfgang Suschitzky, this story of a small-time entertainer and compulsive gambler desperately trying to raise cash to pay off a gangster is a finely observed depiction of the seedier side of pre-Swinging London, shot through with bleak humour and the tentative possibility of redemption.