Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Produced and Abandoned #5

Ten more titles deserving of a Region 1 DVD release:

1. Domestic Violence (2006)- I missed the opportunity to see filmmaker Frederick Wiseman live in person last year when he unspooled his little-seen documentary named "The Store" at the '09 AFI Film Festival. Filmed here in Dallas in 1982, the documentary observes a few days within the bustling Neiman Marcus department store during the 1982 Christmas season. By the time I read the press release, the event was sold out. His latest film, "La Danse" came and went after 1 week in late January. Basically, the life span of a Wiseman doc seems to be minimal, which makes things all the more frustrating when one can't even catch up with his ouerve on DVD. I could've picked any title really. "Domestic Violence" just sounds the most fascinating- and I read it's yet another patient observation of an institution that rolls across the screen with life and understanding.
2. Blush (1995)- This Chinese film about the plight of two sisters during a changing Chinese climate left an indelible mark in the mid-90's. Just beginning to grasp foreign cinema, discovering the works of Zhang Yimou and other Fifth Generation filmmakers on obscure VHS copies, I remember thinking that no other film looks as good as those by Chinese filmmakers. I'd love to see how my young impressions of this film hold up today.
3. The Last Run (1971)- I've read comments that this film can be bought cheaply on bootleg DVD's. Directed by Richard Fleischer after John Huston dropped out, the film stars George C. Scott as a wheelman brought out of retirement for 'one last job'. George C. Scott, cinematography by Sven Nykvist, 70's funk... sign me up.
4. Love Streams (1984)- It's a damn shame that John Cassavetes' final film is not available on Region 1 DVD. A bit messy at times, yes, but it's a harrowing swan song for an uncompromising filmmaker who burrows deep beneath the surface with a brother and sister who nervously laugh, drink, fight and sing to avoid the oncoming emotional apocalypse.
5. Black Cat, White Cat (1998)- Emir Kusturica is a true 90's fad. After triumphing at Cannes with "Underground" in 1995, a masterpiece in so many ways, he simply faded into obscurity, reconized now more for his acting roles than stints behind the camera. A comedy in subtle ways, "Black Cat, White Cat" is just as maddening and go-for-broke as "Underground". I feel that Kusturica is long overdue for a retrospective.
6. Ken Park (2002)- I'm not the biggest fan of provocateur Larry Clark, but his 2002 film in a loose trilogy about teen anamolie made the rounds on the festival circuit then promptly disappeared. Was it because of a mentioned blow-job scene? Or teen sex three way? Regardless, my disgust for "Kids" has diminished over the years, and that film's frankness was, without question, a defining moment in 90's indie cinema so I'm curious to see "Ken Park".
7. 8 Million Ways To Die (1985)- Hal Ashby directing. Jeff Bridges as a washed up cop. Rosanna Arquette as his skanky girlfriend. What's not to savor about this film? I can remember the VHS cover.
8. Drive, He Said (1971)- There was talk of this film being released last year, then it was suddenly pulled. Regardless, I'm betting that Jack Nicholson's film is full of late 60's haziness and existentialism.... and I mean that in the best possible way.
9. The Choirboys (1977)- Slowly but surely, some of the adaptations of Joseph Wambaugh's police novels are being released into more commercial venues. Last year, his widely regarded (but eventually middling, at least in my opinion) 1972film "The New Centurions" got its moment in the sun on DVD. From everything I've read and heard, "The Choirboys" is Wambaugh's real achievement, brought to life by Robert Aldrich's stint behind the camera.
10. Still of the Night (1982)- Robert Benton's slow-burn thriller about a psychiatrist (Roy Scheider) who falls for his patient and becomes wrapped up in a murder mystery, feels at times like low rent Brian De Palma, but its still a strong effort from a very under appreciated filmmaker.


J said...

the choirboys is dreadful. more police academy 3 than the new centurions (which i liked a lot). Couldn't get past the first 20 minutes of Drive, He Said. I'd suggest Tracks w/ Dennis Hopper for an early Jaglom film.

Joe Baker said...

Thanks for the thoughts, J. Funny you mention "Tracks". I just added that to my netflix queue last night while scrolling through the titles of Hopper. I didn't know this was available on DVD.