Independent UK film and home entertainment label Network Distributing is affirming its commitment to classic British cinema by acquiring the rights to 450 British titles from STUDIOCANAL, one of Europe’s leading film distribution and production companies. These titles include some of the most significant works from studios including Associated Talking Pictures, Ealing, London Films, British Lion, Associated British Picture Corporation and EMI. The agreement covers home entertainment rights including DVD, Blu-ray, DTO and iTunes. Many of the films will benefit from new transfers. The UK label will start releasing titles from April 2013. Continue reading
Ben Wheatley’s production company Rook Films has announced BIFA Best Director Peter Strickland’s third feature The Duke of Burgundy. Peter Strickland, director of the acclaimed feature films Berberian Sound Studio & Katalin Varga and winner of this years Best Director BIFA award, will shoot his third feature for UK indie Rook Films. Berberian was the most successful film at this years BIFA awards picking up three further gongs including Best Actor for star Toby Jones. The Duke of Burgundy, a dark melodrama, is set to star Chiara D’Anna (Berberian Sound Studio) as an amateur lepidopterist whose wayward desires test the limits of her lover’s tolerance.
Whitney Houston and “American Idol” winner Jordin Sparks star in SPARKLE, debuting on DVD February 11, 2013 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The cast also includes singer CeeLo Green, Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter in the story of an aspiring singer/songwriter (Sparks) who defies her overprotective mother (Houston) to form a musical trio with her sisters, only to encounter the temptations of success. Bonus materials on the DVD will include two featurettes. and commentary with director Salim Akil.
ZOMBIE FLESH EATERS Lucio Fulci, director/Arrow Blu-ray No genre director divides opinions as much as the Italian shockmeister Lucio Fulci – but there is a great deal to admire in his gruesome films. Fulci’s considerable filmic virtues involve skilfully judged cutting at close-ups, unsettling placing of characters in frame, Argento-like use of music as a very important element. So do the concomitant Fulci faults matter? These include: jumbled plotting, paper-thin characters and unspeakable dialogue. For his admirers, the answer is (firmly) no – as Fulci, at his most unbuttoned, offers a film experience as powerful as any we are likely to encounter. As this splendidly restored disc of his magnum opus, Zombie Flesh Eaters, proves. Of course, most aficionados will know Fulci best from this film, a grisly Romero-inspired corpse epic in which state-of-the-art special effects of dismemberment and carnage offer a challenge to all but the most stout-hearted. It’s in Zombie Flesh Eaters that Fulci’s flat, comic-strip narrative grip flourishes – the plot (Ian McCulloch and Tisa Farrow stumbling through implacable, worm-infested zombie hordes) offers nothing of Romero’s claustrophobic image-making, but is powerful enough in its own way. This edition, a new high definition restoration of the original negative (with optional English and Italian opening/closing sequences), is cheekily labelled — as was the original banned video — ‘Strong Uncut Version’, and has a slew of special features, including the original Mono 2.0 Italian and English audio, plus the diverting ‘Aliens, Cannibals and Zombies: a Trilogy of Italian Terror’, in which the English actor Ian McCulloch muses on his three classics of Italian exploitation.
NOWHERE TO GO Seth Holt, director/StudioCanal It is an undeniable fact that Seth Holt died before all the immense promise of his career achieved its final fruition, but he nevertheless left behind a slender film oeuvre which is more than worthy of excavation. A good place to start is the 1958 crime movie Nowhere to Go, now available from StudioCanal with the swinging cuts it originally suffered from restored. Directed by Holt (who had worked as an editor and associate producer at Ealing) and written by the late Kenneth Tynan (whose celebrated theatre criticism was preceded by work as a script editor at the same studio), the film demonstrates considerable intelligence, and if it misses as many marks as it hits, it is nevertheless something of an undervalued achievement. The film is based on an efficiently written novel by Donald MacKenzie and concerns an escaped prisoner – a tough career criminal – on the run from jail. George Nader (an American actor giving US credentials to a British film, as was standard at the time) plays Paul Gregory, dumped by his ex-colleagues and cast adrift after an accidental murder. His escape from his past consists of a new life with a fashionable young woman (played by a young Maggie Smith) with whom he takes refuge in a sylvan hideout, but betrayal (or at least what Greg believes is betrayal) and a grim fate await him.
If Holt and Tynan display some uncertainty in their attitude towards their benighted protagonists (is Gregory a victim of society or is society a victim of his?), in almost every other respect, the film is consummately handled with impeccable editing, always a Holt speciality (a prison break is handled with cool authority) and a marvellous use of London and Welsh locales. The dialogue too, has a real edge, while the plotting delivers the requisite measure of bitter disillusionment. If the bleak ending in the strikingly shot Welsh countryside fails to achieve the tragic dimension that director and screenwriter appeared to be striving for, there is nevertheless enough here to suggest that the film is at least a harbinger of much interesting work to come from both men (which was, of course, to prove the case). Nowhere to Go is almost a textbook demonstration of Seth Holt’s astonishing eye as a director – the visuals here have a precision that complements their utilitarian nature, while simultaneously suggesting a cool European sensibility; Holt, for all his Englishness, was one of the most European of directors.