Spring 2024 viewing, part three

Violent J (Joseph Bruce) is perplexed that the government would designate him and his fans as a criminal gang in Tom Putnam & Brenna Sanchez’s The United States of Insanity (2021)

Yet more recent viewing, ranging from several documentaries about the intertwining of personal identity and the cultural products we attach ourselves to and consume to unsettling explorations of sex, violence and misogyny and an ambitious, though not entirely successful, work of folk horror from Switzerland.

Recent releases from the BFI

Heroin addict Alex (Dexter Fletcher) retreats to a seedy hotel in Nichola Bruce & Michael Coulson's Wings of Death (1985)

Recent BFI releases offer a selection of amateur and professional short films from the 1950s to the ’80s in volume 3 of Flipside’s Short Sharp Shocks series, as well as a provocative documentary lecture from filmmaker Nina Menkes which asserts that the apparatus of cinema itself is gendered and weighted against women.

Buddy Giovinazzo’s American Nightmares

Johann (Heino Ferch) and Rafaella (Ornella Muti) have had enough of their old friend Mickey (James Russo) in Buddy Giovinazzo's The Unscarred (2000)

Severin’s recent release of Buddy Giovinazzo’s fourth feature, The Unscarred (2000), on disk reconfirms this outsider as an intriguing auteur; a chamber piece in which the psychological games of four old friends grown increasingly darker is a taut, polished piece of work which sent me back to watch his raw first feature, Combat Shock (1986), again. As technically different as the two movies are, both reveal a filmmaker with a bleak view of the world tempered by a deep empathy for broken people.

Fall 2023 viewing, part one

Detective Luigi Mackeroni (Udo Samel) and his cross-dressing partner Babette (Leonard Lansink) face an unusual foe in Martin Walz's Killer Condom (1996)

As always, writing falls behind viewing and I’ve missed mentioning some disks that deserved at least a comment – so here are some quick notes on recent releases from Arrow, Vinegar Syndrome and some smaller labels covering a wide range of genres from spaghetti westerns to East European animation, from low-budget sci-fi to documentary, from comedy to horror to exploitation.

Recent fantasy and horror on disk

The arrival of wandering friar Fray Angel (Jorge Rivero) triggers violence and madness in Gonzalo Suárez’s Beatriz (1976)

A couple of new releases and a pair of slightly older disks offer a range of fantasy and horror from Julian Duvivier’s made-in-Hollywood anthology Flesh and Fantasy (1943) to three movies from Spain in the early ’70s in Vinegar Syndrome’s Villages of the Damned box set, from the inventive low-budget sci-fi of Yedidya Gorsetman’s Empathy, Inc. (2018) to Ben Wheatley’s folk-horror-tinged pandemic movie In the Earth (2021),

Carl Franklin’s One False Move (1992): Criterion Blu-ray review

Fantasia (Cynda Williams) just wants to get home to see her child in Carl Franklin's One False Move (1992)

One False Move (1992), a slow-burn character study of small-time criminals and a small-town cop punctuated by disturbing burst of violence, gave Tom Paxton his best role and launched the careers of director Carl Franklin and writer-actor Billy Bob Thornton. This low-budget independent production gets an impressive restoration from the Criterion Collection in a dual-format 4K UHD/Blu-ray release.

Murder, robbery and paranormal activity: three new releases

Bank robber Milan (Johnny Hallyday) seems weary of his life choices in Patrice Leconte's Man on the Train (2002)

Three recent releases spanning nine decades offer radically different viewing experiences, from James Whale’s pre-Code courtroom drama The Kiss Before the Mirror (1933), rife with bourgeois misogyny, to Patrice Leconte’s Man on the Train (2002), steeped in existential weariness, to Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead’s Something in the Dirt (2022), in which the residents of a nondescript Los Angeles apartment discover a portal to cosmic horror.

Blasts from the past

Michael Radford’s adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984 (1984)

Indicator’s Hammer Vol. 4: Faces of Fear

Zombie addendum: The Dead (2010)

Ozu Yasujiro’s The Flavor of Green Tea Over Rice (1952):
Criterion Blu-ray review

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