Saturday, March 16, 2013

Produced and Abandoned #15

Ten more titles deserving a Region 1 DVD release:

1. We Still Kill the Old Way (1967)- I think the two most under appreciated Italian directors of all time are probably Francesco Rosi and Elio Petri. Both are extremely political in their cinematic explorations and not very easily interpreted. Basically, they craft some tough films with harsh messages. Petri's real claim to fame is his marvelous "An Investigation of a Citizen Under Suspicion" in which police captain Gian Maria Volonte kills his lover just to prove he can get away with it. From the description of Petri's "We Still Kill the Old Way", this film is yet another brutal examination of power and untamed corruption: "A leftist professor wants the truth about two men killed during a hunting party; but the mafia, the Church and corrupt politicians don't want him to learn it." from the imdb description.
2. Naked Massacre (1976)- French filmmaker Denis Heroux's splatterfest is one of the more sought after films on the bit torrent circuit. Spoken about at length here by someone who has seen it and highly recommends it.
3. Disorder (1986)- My quest to track down Olivier Assayas's three early films (this one as well as "Paris Awakens Us" and "A New Life") has been an exhaustive adventure. This film is available on a 2005 R2 french disc, but I've never found one to surface with English subs. The film itself, about a group of musicians who burglarize a business and then have to deal with their guilt, sounds promisingly Assayas. I know there have been several complete Assyas retrospectives out there, so the prints do exist. Please Criterion or Masters of Cinema, release the early Assayas now!
4.Time Masters (1982)- I'm not sure if I saw this film as a youngster, but screenshots of it do look so familiar. Apparently I'm not the only one, as this seems to be one of those films that people search for forever. French filmmaker Rene Laloux made some trippy cartoons back in the day and "Time Masters" seems to be regarded as his second masterpiece behind 1973's "Fantastic Planet". The world needs more trippy French cartoons readily available.
5. Sandra of a Thousand Delights (1965)- With TCM running an appreciation of Roberto Rossellini this month, maybe a Visconti retrospective isn't far behind. Far too little of his incredible output is available on DVD, "Sandra of a Thousand Delights" being one of them. Not only does the story of this film sound fascinating, but it stars the ever luminous Claudia Cardinale.
6. Boat People (1982)- Causing a huge rumble at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival for its depiction of Vietnamese people trying to recover after the Vietnam War, Ann Hui's "Boat People" has since disappeared off the map. Hui herself has gone on to direct over 25 more films, but "Boat People", perhaps the film that put her on the international map- has been largely forgotten. Read about the Cannes experience from writer Harlan Kennedy here.
7. The Secret Killer (1965)- French actor Robert Hossein has graced his presence in over 125 films, but I only found out recently he directed and wrote a few as well. This film from 1965, aka "The Vampire of Dusseldorf", takes on the same subject presented by Fritz Lang and Robert Siodmak earlier... that of a serial killer stalking people around Germany during the 1930's. Everything I've read about this film sounds like an atmospheric triumph.
8. My Twentieth Century (1989)- I remember reading about this Hungarian film in the early 90's when I first became attuned to the magazine Film Comment where it appeared on so many 'best of' lists. Like "Boat People" and so many others before it, critical acclaim doesn't always translate into commercial viability. Directed by Ildiko Enyedi, "My Twentieth Century" sounds like an esoteric and arty experience (filmed in black and white, dealing with twin sisters separated at birth at the turn of the century etc) yet so deceptively charming as well. I think this aired on IFC or Sundance back in the day, but still lost nowadays.
9. The Squeeze (1978)- No list of mine would be complete without a lost 70's film, so I present "The Squeeze". Starring Stacy Keach as the leader of a gang who kidnaps the daughter of a rich man and extorts money. This is the 70's and a crime movie, so of course nothing goes right. Update: look like Warner Archive has released it!
10. Village of Eight Gravestones (1977)- After recently raving about Japanese filmmaker Yoshitaro Nomura's "The Castle of Sand", my new quest is to find a majority of his films (all 36 of them!). Easily said than done. "Village of Eight Gravestones", like "The Demon", seems to be the easiest to find in certain places. Clocking in at 2 hours and 30 minutes, the film deals with curses and roaming samurai- all the right ingredients for a Saturday night.

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