News

A Cambodian Spring

The award-winning BFI supported film A CAMBODIAN SPRING is an intimate and unique portrait of three people caught up in the chaotic and often violent development that is shaping modern-day Cambodia which is vastly under reported. Shot over 6 years, the film charts the growing wave of land-rights protests that led to the ‘Cambodian Spring’ and the tragic events that followed. This film is about the complexities – both political and personal, of fighting for what you believe in. It has won the Special Jury Prize at the 2017 Hot Docs International Documentary Festival and won Best Documentary at the Brooklyn Film Festival and has gone on to win a slew of other festival awards. It is a very personal film by award-winning filmmaker Chris Kelly whose work focusses on the human condition.

Forthcoming: Criminal Intent

After its highly successful Blu-ray box of neglected Hammer titles last year, in Hammer Volume 2: Criminal Intent, Powerhouse/Indicator has another equally intriguing collection of such material lined up for February. The gem of this particular collection is Cash on Demand, an intelligent and ingenious crime thriller starring the matchless duo of Peter Cushing and Andre Morrell (celebrated for their Hammer outing as Holmes and Watson). What makes this one particularly intriguing is the fact that cineastes can imagine the film recast with the two actors – as an uptight bank manager and a smooth conman of military mien — playing each other’s parts. The collection also has the little-seen Never Take Sweets from a Stranger; the film’s subject, a sober treatment of paedophilia, may be one of the reasons why the film has been neglected for so long. Aficionados of Hammer need not hesitate, but the box should have wider appeal than that fiefdom.

Stephen Burke’s critically acclaimed MAZE from LIONSGATE

Lionsgate Home Entertainment UK presents the Irish box-office hit, Stephen Burke’s critically acclaimed MAZE, which achieved the biggest opening weekend of any Irish film in Ireland and Northern Ireland since “ROOM” in January 2016. The film opened without previews to over €141k (£124k) after its release, Friday September 22nd, on 65 screens (between ROI and NI) and hitting number 3 in the Irish box office chart. The film ran for ten weeks, spending five of these in the Irish top ten, and achieved a box office of over one million dollars (£764,874) in that time. Following Maze’s robust theatrical release, the critically acclaimed film will now be available on Digital Download on 15th January and on DVD on 22nd January. Based on the true story of the 1983 mass breakout of 38 IRA prisoners from HMP Maze high-security prison in Northern Ireland.  As Larry Marley (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the chief architect of the escape, schemes his way towards pulling off this feat, he comes into contact with prison warder, Gordon Close (Barry Ward). Initially Larry and Gordon are confirmed enemies, born on opposite sides of Northern Ireland’s political divide, but when Larry realises that Gordon may be unwittingly useful for his escape plan, a slow seduction begins. Larry intends to use and manipulate Gordon in order to get closer to his goal but what follows is a tense, and intriguing drama in which an unlikely relationship is forged between two enemies that will have far reaching consequences for both of them.

ST VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE and other new Blu-rays

ST VALENTINE’S DAY MASSACRE, Roger Corman, director/Powerhouse/Indicator Blu-ray  A declaration of interest: I supplied one of the Blu-ray extras for this definitive gangster movie from Roger: Corman. But even if I hadn’t, I’d be extolling the virtues of this violent and kinetic piece as one of the director’s best and most ambitious movies. The film — as well as being one of the liveliest crime movies you are likely to see — carries out its various levels of ambition with great panache. While the story of Al Capone’s most famous crime (the wiping out of his rival’s gang) is dispassionately told in documentary fashion, the visceral impact of the film (not least the copious bloodshed — something Roger Corman was never one to shy away from), it has the impact and intelligence of a far less sophisticated piece of work. The slim Jason Robards Jr may not resemble the portly Al Capone, but he provides a persuasively operatic turn as the most famous of Mafiosi, and it’s fascinating to spot such actors as George Segal, Bruce Dern and Jack Nicholson in small roles before they achieved stardom

THE TOUCH, Ingmar Bergman, director/BFI dual format  The initial response to Bergman’s first (partly) English-language film was lukewarm, and it was felt that the most impressive aspects of the film did not involve its American star Elliott Gould, but Bergman stalwarts Bibi Andersson and Max von Sydow. And while it’s true that the latter are at their most impressive (but when were they ever less than superlative?), it must be conceded that Gould — as a damaged, self-loathing Jewish American — acquits himself very creditably. That initial reaction to the film may have been due to the audience responding in disbelief that Gould’s petulant, unattractive figure would lead the Bibi Andersson to destroy her dull but happy home life for an amour fou. The BFI have made available The Touch for the first time on Blu-ray and DVD worldwide, starring, along with its strong main cast, Sheila Reid in a telling cameo. Bergman’s first film made with an established Hollywood star was originally an entirely English-language release. This presentation of the film, restored by the Swedish Film Institute from the original negative, is of Bergman’s preferred Swedish-English version. It is available in a Dual Format Edition, alongside the BFI’s release of Bergman’s The Magic Flute (see below). Extras include new interviews with actors Liv Ullmann and Sheila Reid. Happily married mother Karin (Andersson) surprises herself by responding in kind to a sudden profession of love from David (Gould), an archaeologist visiting Sweden, whom her doctor husband (von Sydow) has befriended. But however exhilarating, love is seldom simple and deceit – and David’s volatile temperament – take their toll.

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL, Takashi Miike, director/Arrow Blu-ray  The director Takashi Miike has long been known for both his blazing imagination and unfettered bloodletting – and both qualities are fully in evidence in this remarkable film based on the manga series of the same name. The central character Manji is a massively skilled samurai who finds himself cursed with immortality after a legendary battle. After the savage killing of his sister, he realises that a life of conflict is the only fashion which you can regain his soul. The staging of the martial arts scenes here is non-pareil, and Blade of the Immortal adds lustre to the director’s already successful career.

MARTY, Delbert Mann, director/Eureka Blu-Ray  The golden age of American television (when such dramas as Paddy Chayefsky’s Marty achieved massive audiences as well as critical plaudits) is long gone, but fortunately many of the plays were transferred very successfully to film — as in this case. What’s more, this very welcome Eureka release gives us a chance to compare the original television broadcast with Rod Steiger set against Ernest Borgnine’s superb performance in the film. A beloved classic of American cinema, Delbert Mann’s Marty was the first ever recipient of the Palme d’Or at the 1955 Cannes Film Festival, as well as the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture, one of only two films to ever win both organisations’ grand prizes (the second being Billy Wilder’s The Lost Weekend). “I’ve been looking for a girl every Saturday night of my life,” says Marty Piletti (Borgnine). Yet, despite all his efforts, this 34-year old Bronx butcher remains as shy and uncomfortable around women today as on the day he was born. So when he meets Clara (Betsy Blair), a lonely schoolteacher who’s just as smitten with him as he is with her, Marty’s on top of the world. But not everyone around him shares his joy. And when his friends and family continually find fault with Clara, even Marty begins to question his newfound love… until he discovers, in an extraordinary way, the strength and courage to follow his heart. Adapted from an earlier teleplay written by renowned screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky (Network), the Special Features include the aforementioned teleplay broadcast on NBC in 1953, also directed by Delbert Mann and starring Rod Steiger in the title role.

SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER Joseph L. Mankiewicz, director/Powerhouse/Indicator Blu-ray  There was a period when Tennessee Williams’ full-blooded, once-scandalous dramas fell from favour, with the notion that their view of repressed sexuality had come to seem overheated and melodramatic. But with the passage of time, such Williams plays as Suddenly Last Summer are achieving renewed critical acclaim once again, and this Powerhouse Blu-ray of Williams’ powerful treatment of homosexuality and suppressed secrets is given the best possible showcase here.

THE MAGIC FLUTE, Ingmar Bergman, director/BFI dual Format  There are many critics – including this writer – who consider that the best filmed operas ever made were Michael Powell’s Tales of Hoffmann and this charming Bergman take on Mozart’s imperishable masterpiece. While the music is given the best possible advocacy (even if some of the young singers are vocally unpolished – Bergman’s specific wish), it is very much a Bergman film, both in terms of its conception and execution. What’s more, it comes up as fresh as paint in this splendid BFI Blu-ray edition.

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE, Stephan Chiodo, director/Arrow Blu-ray  In the VHS days of yore, this was a film that acquired an accumulating cult following – principally for the bizarre, surreal imagination that had gone into this tale of a murderous invasion from outer space. The subject, of course, is one that has been done to death, but the Chiodo brothers managed to come up with some truly off-the-wall imaginings for their alien monsters that take the form of earthly clowns. In the new transfer, it looks better than it ever did when we first encountered this curio.

THE EFFECT OF GAMMA RAYS ON MAN-IN-THE MOON MARIGOLDS, Paul Newman, director/Powerhouse/Indicator Blu-ray  If you’ve heard of this film, then you are clearly a cineaste. Only real film buffs know just how good this drama is, as history has drawn a veil over its achievements (the unwieldy title, no doubt, didn’t help). In the 21st-century, it’s a reminder that Paul Newman could (like Clint Eastwood) have enjoyed a highly successful career as director had he so chosen. The performances here – as one would expect from an actor-turned-director – are top notch, not least Newman’s wife Joanne Woodward, superb as sluttish mother with aspirations for her daughters.

THEY CAME TO A CITY, Basil Dearden, director/ BFI dual Format  Ironically, the very aspects of this period piece that have unquestionably dated now give it a certain charm – even if its optimism seems misplaced in a contemporary Britain in which (for instance) class divisions remain as apropos as ever. Nevertheless, as it’s a film that few modern viewers will have seen, and it remains provocative – particularly in this spruced-up edition. Written by (and even featuring, uncomfortably) JB Priestley, this is a rarely seen classic of British cinema, Ealing Studios’ They Came to a City was directed by Basil Dearden (The Captive Heart, Victim) and stars John Clements, Googie Withers and Raymond Huntley. This is a new 2K transfer from the best surviving 35mm element. Special features include complementary films preserved in the BFI National Archive and an audio NFT Lecture by producer Michael Balcon.

CURE, Kiyoshi Kurosawa, director/Eureka Blu-ray  Enjoying considerable acclaim from its first appearance onwards, this was the breakthrough film for director Kiyoshi Kurosawa, a psychological thriller that exerts a considerable grip. After a series of killings are committed by ordinary people with no apparent control over their actions, detective Koji Yakusho begins to track down a sinister stranger who had contact with each killer. While the film’s reputation grew, it has had zero availability – a situation thankfully remedied by Eureka.

INTIMATE LIGHTING, Ivan Passer, director/Second Run Blu-ray  In the annals of arthouse cinema, Ivan Passer’s name is highly thought of, and Intimate Lighting is generally regarded as one of his most approachable pieces. Here is the perfect opportunity to view it afresh, and see just why this reputation was acquired. Presented from a new 4K transfer, Second Run Passer’s subtle comedy of provincial life, one of the key works of the Czech New Wave. This edition also features Ivan Passer’s short film A Boring Afternoon (Fádní odpoledne, 1964) presented from a new HD transfer from original materials.

NIGHT WALKER, William Castle director/Media Sales  Powerhouse Indicator is readying an impressive roster of the films of the much-loved 1950s/1960s huckster William Castle, but in the meantime, here’s a highly diverting example of the director’s approach to the horror genre, one little seen compared to such films as House on Haunted Hill and The Tingler, with the advantage here of two heavyweight (if fading) stars in Barbara Stanwyck and Robert Taylor. It’s essential viewing for fans of William Castle.

FrightFest and Arrow Video Sponsor Deal

London, 23 April 2018. Arrow Video and FrightFest have agreed a one-year partnership deal, which sees the leading UK independent film distributor become headline sponsor for the UK’s biggest and most popular genre film festival.

Mike Hewitt, Brand Marketing Manager for Arrow Video, said today: “As a long-time fan of FrightFest, Arrow Video are incredibly excited to be partnered with FrightFest for a year-long sponsorship.

The festival is without a doubt the UK’s premiere genre event and is a perfect match for our premiere genre label, especially since we have been recently expanding our output to include fresh, new genre and horror films to bolster our incredible catalogue of classics. We are hugely looking forward to working with the FrightFest team to bring some exciting elements to 2018’s main event.”

FrightFest co-director Ian Rattray added: “FrightFest is thrilled to welcome Arrow Video into the fold as our new headline sponsor. They have been a passionate supporter for many years, not just in terms of providing films and community support, but also as a key sponsor in recent years.

We are delighted to welcome Mike and the rest of the Arrow team onboard to celebrate the horror fantasy genre on an even wider canvas than before, something followers of both of our brands will appreciate”.

Arrow Video becomes the third headline sponsor in the festival’s history, following in the footsteps of Film4 and Horror Channel.

Arrow Video FrightFest 2018 will house its annual 5-day August Bank Holiday event at the Cineworld Leicester Square and The Prince Charles Cinema from Aug 23 – Aug 27. Programme details to follow.

News DVDS & Blu-Rays from Sony, Eureka, BFI, Arrow

BLADE RUNNER 2049, Denis Villeneuve, director/Sony 4K Ultra HD™, Blu-ray™, DVD and Limited Edition 2-Disc Blu-ray  Given the reputation — much burnished over the years – of Ridley Scott’s original Philip K. Dick adaptation, the bar was set high for any sequel, however belated. And although there were a few dissenting voices, the response to Denis Villeneuve’s modern riff on concepts taken from the original film has been remarkably positive, with the many admirers of the film pointing out its intelligence – and the best science-fiction customarily display that very quality. The film stars Ryan Gosling as K and Harrison Ford reprising the role of Rick Deckard. Thirty years after the events of the first film, a new blade runner, LAPD Officer K (Gosling), unearths a long-buried secret that has the potential to plunge what’s left of society into chaos. K’s discovery leads him on a quest to find Rick Deckard (Ford), a former LAPD blade runner who has been missing for 30 years. The package is loaded with extras, but the disc’s principal appeal lines in the film’s astonishing futuristic visuals.

THE HOUSEMAID, Derek Nguyen, director/ Eureka Blu-ray  While the accoutrements of this Gothic chiller are occasionally familiar, the imagination of the director Derek Nguyen frequently takes his narrative into territory notably underexplored by this genre — and to considerable effect. First-time director Nguyen makes a striking debut with The Housemaid [Cô Haû Gaí], a haunting gothic romance which blends bold eroticism with a pervasive sense of dread. Linh is a docile and hardworking poor orphaned girl who comes to Sa Cat seeking a housemaid job. Sebastien Laurent is a French captain and owner of the Sa Cat rubber plantation. For years, the massive mansion is rumoured to have ghosts, particularly those of Camille – Sebastien’s late wife—and the mistreated plantation workers. Once Linh comes to Sa Cat, she begins to hear strange sounds, have frightening dreams, and witness bizarre occurrences.

SCORE, Matt Schrader, director/Dogwoof  Anyone who knows the score (pun intended) will be aware that one of the reasons that movies can have such a mesmeric effect on audiences is the power of a film’s musical soundtrack – orchestral or otherwise.Music  plays an immensely persasive role in the total experience offered by the cinema. This fascinating documentary features virtually every important composer who has worked in the cinema, from the early days of Max Steiner’s King Kong through the more modern era of the matchless Jerry Goldsmith (Planet of the Apes and Chinatown) and up to the present with Hans Zimmer, who scored such films as The Dark Knight and Gladiator. Needless to say, the musician who is probably the best known of all film composers, John Williams, is given his full due – and we are even able to compare his score for Superman with Hans Zimmer’s later Man of Steel.

DOCTOR FAUSTUS, Richard Burton, Nevil Coghill, directors/Fabulous Films  While Richard Burton was the first to admit that he had somewhat squandered his talent in films unworthy of him, there are several filmic records of just what a remarkable actor he was — such as this 1967 adaptation of the performance by Oxford University Dramatic Society, with Burton in a powerful assumption of the title role (and a cameo by a wordless Elizabeth Taylor). It’s demanding fare, and not the easiest of viewing experiences, but Burton is always remarkable.

ORCHESTRA REHEARSAL, Federico Fellini, director/Arrow Academy  Mention Fellini’s name to most cineastes and they will be more likely to conjure visions of his earlier classics such as La Dolce Vita and 81/2. But hardcore admirers at the late Italian director have long made a point of tracking down everything he worked on, and this curiosity is well worth their efforts; it’s a quirky and enjoyable satire from Fellini, in collaboration once more with Oscar-winning composer Nino Rota. An Italian television crew visits a dilapidated auditorium (a converted 13th-century church) to meet an orchestra assembling to rehearse under the instruction of a tyrannical conductor. The TV crew interviews the various musicians who each speak lovingly about their chosen instruments. However, as petty squabbles break out amid the different factions of the ensemble, and the conductor berates his musicians, the meeting descends into anarchy and vandalism. Made in 1978 for Italian television, Orchestra Rehearsal, an allegorical pseudo-documentary, is possibly Fellini’s most satirical and overtly political film, This special edition features a new 2K restoration of the film, rare poster and press materials, and an illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film.

WOODFALL: A REVOLUTION IN BRITISH CINEMA, Tony Richardson, Karel Reisz, Richard Lester, Desmond Davis/BFI (8-disc Blu-ray box set)  It’s difficult in the 21st-century to remember the impact that the 1960s British New Wave of filmmaking had in its day with one film company producing many of the most durable classics at a time when cinema was shaking off the over-comfortable (and rather stilted) trappings of middle-class drama which had held sway for so long. This new 8-disc set celebrates the 60th anniversary of Woodfall Films and includes eight iconic films (many newly restored and available on Blu-ray for the first time) that revolutionised British cinema and launched the careers of the likes of Albert Finney, Tom Courtenay and Rita Tushingham. These are: Look Back in Anger (Tony Richardson, 1959), The Entertainer (Tony Richardson, 1960), Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (Karel Reisz, 1960), A Taste of Honey (Tony Richardson, 1961), The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner (Tony Richardson, 1962), Tom Jones (Tony Richardson, 1963) (New 4K digital restorations of the original theatrical version of the film and the 1989 director’s cut), Girl with Green Eyes (Desmond Davis, 1964), The Knack… and how to get it (Richard Lester, 1965). With copious special features, this an unmissable set.

GOMORRAH – THE SERIES, various directors/Arrow TV DVD & Blu-ray  Slowly but surely, this Italian series – which boasts nary a sympathetic character — has built a reputation as one of the most powerful and unusual crime series, with its excoriating picture of the Latin criminal underworld. The series is based on the best-selling non-fiction investigative book by Roberto Saviano. Saviano infiltrated and investigated a Naples based Italian crime organisation called Camorra. Since the book has been published Saviano has to live in exile as he has been threatened by the Camorra. The series does full justice to Saviano’s dark vision.

THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA, Joseph L. Mankiewicz, director/ Eureka Entertainment Blu-ray  If you are an admirer of the director Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s wittily written and intelligent films (Mankiewicz was equally accomplished as writer and director), you owe it to yourself to track down this now little-seen drama which followed up his classic All About Eve, and features a scene- stealing performance by Humphrey Bogart. While looking every single one of his years, it’s hard to think of a contemporary actor who has anything like Bogart’s appeal, not to mention a luminous appearance by Ava Gardner in the title role. A high point in the already success-laden career of Mankiewicz (A Letter to Three Wives, All About Eve), and one of the most glamorous and extravagant films from Hollywood’s Golden Age, The Barefoot Contessa is a tragic drama about the tumultuous rise and fall of fictional Hollywood actress Maria Vargas (Ava Gardner). plays down on his luck writer and director Harry Dawes, reduced to working for an egotistical and abusive producer, Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens)

THE WITCHES, various directors/Arrow Academy  For many years, this beguiling portmanteau film was hard to see, but sounded intriguing with its variety of directors and stars, including Clint Eastwood (and with the legendary and seductive Silvana Mangano at the centre of each episode), so this opportunity to finally catch it is not to be missed – even though one episode (the bizarre, would-be comic tale directed by Pasolini) tests the patience.

PROFESSOR MARSTON & THE WONDER WOMEN, Angela Robinson, director/Sony  This highly unusual piece deals with the curious sexual ménage involving the creator of Wonder Woman and his two female lovers. It is based on the extraordinary true story of the man behind of one of the most iconic super heroes ever conceived, and the seductive secret life he kept from his fans. Harvard psychologist Dr. William Moulton Marston (Luke Evans, Beauty and the Beast) was roundly criticized for the creation of his feminist superhero, but it was his personal life, with his polyamorous relationship with his wife, Elizabeth (Rebecca Hall, The Gift) and their lover, Olive (Bella Heathcote), that was more provocative than any adventure he had ever written.
TANGO ONE, Sacha Bennett, director/Universal  Based on the novel by UK thriller author Stephen Leather (Murder in Mind, London’s Burning) and directed by Sacha Bennett (Get Lucky, We Still Kill the Old Way), Tango One is a fast-paced crime thriller about how far one man will go to rescue his daughter, and save his criminal empire from collapse. When three undercover recruits are assigned an impossible mission to take down one of the world’s most wanted men, notorious drug dealer, Den Donovan (Vincent Regan), they have no idea who they are dealing with. As the undercover recruits inch closer to their target, they are each drawn in by the charismatic criminal leader – too close, perhaps, to remember the rules.