Category Archives: Film

“THE 7TH DAY”— A Violent History

The 7th Day (El 7º día)

A Violent History

Amos Lassen

In an isolated village in Extremadura, Spain, the Jiménez and Fuentes families have a violent history of land disputes, jealousy, envy, and violence. The explosive and the lyrical come together Carlos Saura’s “The 7th Day”, a dynamic social drama. The film uses a 1990 real-life massacre in a Spanish pueblo as the basis for a take on the persistence of evil and the tragedies it spawns.

Teenager Isabel Jimenez (Yohana Cobo) narrates the background to the events we see. Since the break-up between Luciana Fuentes (Victoria Abril) and Isabel’s uncle, Amadeo Jimenez (Juan Sanz), a feud between the families has been brewing, complicated by issues of land rights. The mentally unstable Jeronimo Fuentes (Ramon Fontsere) kills Amadeo and is sent to jail; on his release, he tries to stab Isabel’s father, butcher Jose (Jose Garcia) and is locked up again.

Jeronimo’s death in jail, together with the death of his mother when the family house is burned down (presumably by a Jimenez), provoke the remaining members of the Fuentes family into revenge. We have Jeronimo’s brothers, Antonio (Juan Diego) and Emilio (Jose Luis Gomez), and sisters, Luciana, now an older woman, and Angela (Ana Wagener). The four move to a nearby village, where they start to fester as the Jimenez family is doing its best to live a normal life: Jose is married to Carmen (Eulalia Ramon) and, apart from Isabel, they have two other daughters, Antonia (Irene Escolar) and Encarnacion (Alejandra Lozano). Like Isabel, they’re innocent of the family rivalry that threatens their happiness. Isabel, with the help of her boyfriend Chino (Oriol Vila), sets about figuring out the truth. He is helped by village idiot El Tonto (Carlos Hipolito), who claims to have seen her father setting the Fuentes house on fire.

With what later turns out to be tragic irony, Jose contemplates leaving the pueblo but eventually realize it won’t be financially possible. Meanwhile, in a nearby farmhouse, revenge is brewing as the Fuentes brothers are in social and psychological isolation.

There is an airy freshness to the Jimenez girls — all laughter and pale, fluttering dresses — and the grimness of the Fuentes quartet, surrounded by darkness, unkempt, tough-skinned, wearing coarse cloth and driven by bitterness about the past rather than hope for the future. The tragic showdown between these two worlds, in the village square, is a visual tour de force, both moving and shocking. We move nimbly between families and time frames in order to show the broader background via brief glimpses of village life. The performances are excellent all around.

Director Carlos Saura brings his full visual powers to this astonishing true story of a family feud that lasted some 30 years and nearly destroyed a village in 1990. The sun-drenched cinematography strikingly captures the colors and textures of the agricultural community while hinting at the revenge festering beneath the surface. As usual, Saura’s characters break into song frequently; it’s not a musical, but it beautifully shows how important music is in everyday Spanish culture, vividly demonstrating their energy and passions.

  The screenplay builds the tension to almost unbearable levels of all-consuming bitterness, while normal life continues as well. Even though the Fuentes family is the villain here (from Isabel’s point of view), even their rough existence gets some sympathy, they’re the outcasts, so it is no wonder they become so mad.

  The title refers to the day of creation when God rested, which Isabel notes is when the most horrible things happen. The film’s climax is shockingly powerful, emotional and terrifying as years of resentment and frustration boil over. While the story is involving and moving, it’s told in a surprisingly matter-of-fact way that refuses to find a lesson. It becomes our job to do so.

“MARCEL PROUST’S ‘TIME REGAINED'”— From Sickbed to Boyhood and Back

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p style=”text-align: center;”>“Marcel Proust’s
”Time Regained’”

“From Sickbed to Boyhood and Back”

Amos Lassen

Those who have read Marcel Proust’s great work say their lives were changed. Those who haven’t are daunted by the prospect of a 14-volume read. Raoul Ruiz’s elegant and imaginative film is also extremely long and like Proust’s prose, it requires repeated visits to unravel the question of who fits in where and how so-and-so relates to another character.

Ruiz’s “Time Regained” is an almost perversely ambitious adaptation, a two-and-a-half-hour reverie on the sixth and final volume of Marcel Proust’s magnum opus, “Remembrance Of Things Past.” Still more perverse is that Ruiz has designed it as a companion to the novel rather than a fully (or even partially) comprehensible work in its own right. I am afraid, however, that this is a lavish, expensive international production that will leave all those who have not studied Proust unable to figure out what is going on. On the other hand, the film, however quixotic, is an accomplished and impressive achievement, especially in the way Ruiz translates Proust’s narrative digressions into formal flights of fancy. Rather than straighten out the timeline, Ruiz and co-writer Gilles Taurand configure the scenes like narrative ballets, with fragments of time constantly turning in on themselves. All it takes is a single spark of memory for Proust’s alter ego, Marcello Mazzarella, to transport himself to another point in his personal history. His memories have little emotional resonance because there’s no way of knowing how the other characters might have affected him; they just float, ghost-like, floating in and out of the narrative. A couple of characters, however, give strong impressions; Emmanuelle Béart as the withering object of Mazzarella’s childhood infatuation and a badly dubbed John Malkovich as Charlus, an aristocratic baron whose cultured manner hides darker secrets. Ruiz’s has succeeded in finding a cinematic equivalent to Proust’s writing style. I love Proust and read him at least once a year but in the film, for those who are new to him, this might be too difficult to explain. Nonetheless, it is a visual fest and pure beauty to watch. I would love to be at a discussion of the movie with other Proust lovers just to hear their opinions which I am quite sure would be as colorful as the costumes.

Chilean filmmaker Raúl Ruiz has approached Proust’s “Remembrance of Things Past,” from the most challenging vantage point possible. “Time Regained,” is the epic’s sixth and final volume, and it recapitulates and resolves all that has come before. Ruiz’s aspiration is to synthesize the themes and characters of Proust’s monumental work in a single film. When we consider the volumes of Proust, we understand that this is a daunting prospect with a running time of 158 minutes that turns out to be no time at all. Ruiz’s use of surrealistic touches serves him better well as he intermingles past and present, to fuse many different impressions of a single character, or to delve with Proustian fortitude beneath the material’s genteel veneer. The match of filmmaker and material is felicitous as is the stellar cast. When the least glamorous Frenchwoman in a film turns out to be Catherine Deneuve (as the matronly Odette, seen mostly in her dowager days), we know that there is eye candy,

“Time Regained” struggles under the burden of adapting such rarefied material. Removing most of the impressions, sensations, sighs and longings from “Remembrance of Things Past”, what remains are furtive liaisons and lavish social gatherings. Ruiz presents this atmosphere with a knowing wink, and with a prim Marcel (Marcello Mazzarella) who glides through time and space taking mental notes. “Time Regained” begins at the sickbed of the elderly Marcel and goes to his boyhood and back again, with the characters in his life as the only significant figures in this landscape. They too are seen through time, so that Gilberte (Emmanuelle Béart) can be both the little girl who once made a coarse hand gesture that Marcel would never forget, and the fading wife of Robert Saint Loup (Pascal Greggory), who finds her less compelling than his male lovers.

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The film unfolds dreamily with gliding props that suggest one long sleepwalk that fuses all of these impressions together while at the same time rendering them opaque. This is a brave literary adaptation but without much resonance outside its literary context. Ruiz’s visual wit and playful style are put to good use when the masochistic Charlus visits a male bordello for a beating and the oval-framed hole in the wall through which Marcel enterprisingly peeks into the bedroom is a dandy correlative for the writer’s point of view. We see that Marcel is dying in his room, surrounded by faded photographs and plaster figurines. He remembers incidents in his life, while desperately writing “A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu” before the breath literally leaves him. Fact and fiction meld in his mind. Time is shuffled, characters touch as they pass, society remains locked in the warp of a tradition with lack of movement. Marcel is described as “a social butterfly.” He knows everyone, flitting from room to room, watching, listening dressed immaculately in white tie and tails. He absorbs passion, without expressing it; he is a voyeur rather than a voyager.

Excluding the war, which takes place off screen, and the author’s imminent demise, which lingers behind closed doors, nothing much happens. As a comedy of manners, the is exquisite. The seamless etiquette of social behavior has been beautifully recreated. We have magic realism and memory, encompassing the precise detail of upper class life before “the vulgar hordes invade.” Marcel observes the boredom, arrogance and emotional inadequacies of people who dress human weakness in uniform and expect duty to take care of them. As a writer, he does not judge. As a man, he hides behind a facade. When accused of looking lost in a ballroom, he replies, with the arch of an eyebrow, “Lost is of minor importance. The problem is finding oneself.”

Every novel requires a fair amount of pruning for the screen, so the challenge is to streamline the story while preserving it’s meaning. If nothing else, This is Raúl Ruiz’s most ambitious literary adaptation and considered his greatest cinematic achievement.  It is a “gorgeous, meticulously crafted spectacle” (Jack Matthews, New York Daily News).

“CITY SLICKERS”— Middle-Aged men at a Working Dude Ranch

“CITY SLICKERS”

Middle-Aged men at a Working Dude Ranch

Amos Lassen

Billy Crystal plays Mitch, a 40-year-old radio ad salesman who lives in Manhattan with his wife and two children. He feels trapped in a humdrum existence and is so unenthusiastic about his job that he embarrasses his nine-year-old son by giving a speech against it during career week at the boy’s school. He joins his best friends, Ed (Bruno Kirb), a sporting good storeowner, and Phil (Daniel Stern), a grocer, for a two-week vacation on a working dude ranch. After learning about riding and roping, they head out into the wilderness on a cattle drive led by Curly (Jack Palance).

Crystal gives a wonderful comic performance as a smart aleck who gets in touch with the nurturing side of himself he’s kept hidden. The three guys let down their hair with each other and for the first time experience male camaraderie that goes beyond surface pranks. Director Ron Underwood gives us one of the funniest films about middle age. This is the proverbial comedy with the heart of truth, the tear in the eye along with the belly laugh. It’s funny, and it adds up to something. The dude ranch possesses a certain mythic quality that is reinforced by the theme from “The Magnificent Seven” which plays under the Western action, sometimes ironically and sometimes heroically.

The city slickers are choosing, half ironically, to follow in the footsteps of the great movie cattle rides of the past. Trail boss, Curly (Jack Palance), seems like a survivor from an earlier time. The plot unfolds along fairly predictable lines. The three city dudes meet up with their fellow urban cowboys, including two black Baltimore dentists and a good-looking blond who has been abandoned by her boyfriend. They ride out one morning at dawn, saddle-sore but plucky, and along the way there are showdowns with macho professional cowboys, stubborn cattle, and nature.

They share moments of insight, of secrets sincerely shared, of the kind of philosophical speculation that’s encouraged by life on the range. There is also the kind of crazy heroism that can be indulged in only by guys who don’t understand the real dangers they’re in. And there are dreamy nights around the campfire when they stand back and look at their lives, their marriages, and the meaning of it all.

“City Slickers” deals with everyday issues of living in an unforced way that doesn’t get in the way of the humor, and yet sets the movie up for a genuine emotional payoff at the end. And the male bonding among Crystal, Stern and Kirby is unforced and convincing.

“MAKING A KILLING”— Based on a True Story

“Making a Killing”

Based on a True Story

Amos Lassen

“Making a Killing” is a true crime story that has the characters and plot that pull you into its stranger than fiction tale. It is the story that shocked the small-town community of Florence, South Carolina. At the center is a trio of morticians, and their claim to a rare collection of coins that can make one rich, if one of the three knows how to sell them. There is Arthur Herring (Mike Starr), the town mayor and church pastor. His brother Vincent (Jude Moran) serves as Arthur’s ever faithful right-hand man. The third is Lloyd Mickey (Christopher Lloyd), recently released from prison for child-sex offenses. He wants possession of his coins, so he can start his life over. Someone decided that Mickey’s destination should be death and put a bullet to his head. 

Police detective Orlando Hudson (Michael Jai White) comes on the case and is an incorruptible and tenacious presence amongst this small-town community, where dark truths are hidden. Director and co-writer Devin Hume (his feature debut) keep things at a steady pace, letting his characters determine the films beats and depth. The further down the dark hole of greed, lust and murder they go, the more we are engrossed in this story of murder and conspiracy in small town America. At the end of the film, not only are we be thoroughly intrigued and entertained, but we shaking in disbelief.

It is amazing how little Hume and co-screenwriter Jamie Pelz embellished their narrative. Arthur Herring is an awful lot like his true crime analog who in addition to his mayoral and embalming duties, is also the town pastor and he owns everyone’s favorite diner. His partner in all these ventures is his younger brother Vincent but it is always clear Arthur calls the shots.

The bothers also have some rather felonious inclinations, especially with regard to Lloyd Mickey, a supposedly friendly rival. According to their plan, the Herring Brothers would help out their friend-in-need, by holding onto his cash and rare coin collection while he served time on a molestation conviction, thereby protecting his finances from lawsuits. Now that Mickey is out, he wants his money back. One thing leads to another, with the upshot being one dead ex-con mortician. Since they do not have a lot of murders in these parts, hard-charging Orlando Hudson is dispatched from the state’s Criminal Investigation Department. Of course, he gets a chilly reception from Chief Riley, even before evidence starts to link the Herrings to the murder. The best part of the film is Michael Jai White’s swaggering through town with attitude, physicality, and a larger than life presence.

“DISTANT VOICES, STILL LIVES”— Special Edition

“Distant Voices, Still Lives”

Special Edition

Amos Lassen

Loosely based on the director Terence Davies’ own family and upbringing, “Distant Voices, Still Lives” is an evocative account of working-class life in Liverpool, England during the 1940s and 50s. Births, marriages and deaths and the wonderful use of music provide the underpinning for a film that is beautiful, heartbreaking and resonant yet is never sentimental.

The film is now regarded as a masterpiece of British cinema, and has a bravura performance from Pete Postlethwaite as the head of the family. “Distant Voices, Still Lives” now has a glorious 4K restoration by the British Film Institute.

Davies’ points out that we never truly emigrate from the past. “Distant Voices, Still Lives” is set in a working-class Liverpudlian home, and looks at the period after the Blitz and before The Beatles. I understand that it is heavily autobiographical in that Davies draws on his own childhood to present an evocative portrait, which is as much about the nature of memory as it is about the events which occur.

Tony (Dean Williams) lives with his sisters Maisie (Lorraine Ashbourne) and Eileen (Angela Walsh) in a terraced house with their mom (Freda Dowie) and volatile dad (Pete Postlethwaite). Their lives are typical of the period, with women bonding together but frequently oppressed by their men folk. This is a film rich in reality, latching on to the highs and lows.

Davies’ roving camera wanders the passages of the past in a film which is split into two parts – the first recalling Dad’s beatings, intercut with a marriage and a death, and the second centering on a christening and a wedding but covering a lot more ground.

Actually Davies wrote and filmed the second part of the film some two years after completing the edit on the Distant Voices segment.

The result is very rich and delves into how our reminiscences work. Multi-layered memories reveal long-forgotten ideas. Voices are as important as visuals to Davies and he tells his story as much through songs sung at the pub or hymns. With just about every character actor Liverpool had in the Eighties making an appearance, the cast are as strong as the concept but this is less about the people than the period. Told in a non-linear fashion, the first half of the film “Distant Voices” begins with the family preparing for Eileen’s wedding, but recollections of Tommy are quickly woven in as his absence at the ceremony is felt, and soon the past dominates all. While some of the memories are warmly nostalgic, most are quite brutal. We see the father insult and beat his wives and daughters, and the terrified family shelter from the Blitz. The second half. “Still Lives” focuses on Eileen and Maisie’s married lives and is more conventional and less compelling in terms of both substance and style.

“Distant Voices” contains beautiful and poetic filmmaking. Davies seems to have miraculously captured the essence of memory itself in its elliptical, dreamlike quality. Moments aren’t necessarily remembered in the order they happened, while what connects them is mysterious and somehow intelligible at the same time. It is the cinematic equivalent of literary stream-of-consciousness that we associate with associated in literature with the works of Proust and Virginia Woolf.

Though there is plenty of movement and dancing in the film, characters’ recollections are typically framed within perfectly set compositions that evoke photography and the precise moments in time it captures. There are mesmerizing fades and transitions that transport the viewer almost unnoticeably from past to the present, and back again. Colors are deliberately unsaturated to represent memory’s vagueness, and the actors deliver their lines with a self-consciousness that reminds one this is reality remembered, not reality itself.

Music, with its intrinsic power to evoke the past, also has an important role to play.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Brand new 4K restoration, carried out by the British Film Institute

High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentation

Original stereo audio (uncompressed LPCM)

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

Commentary by writer-director Terence Davies

Interview with Davies

Interview with art director Miki van Zwanenberg

Theatrical trailer

More to be announced!

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Jennifer Dionisio

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by critic Christina Newland plus archive essays

“DEADBEAT AT DAWN”— Collector’s Edition, Special Edition

“Deadbeat at Dawn”

Collector’s Edition, Special Edition

Amos Lassen

Jim VanBebber’s blood-drenched cult classic “Deadbeat at Dawn” is celebrating its 30th anniversary and has been newly restored and on Blu-ray. Written by, directed by and starring VanBebber, the film follows the story of Goose, a gang leader whose girlfriend is brutally slaughtered when he attempts to leave the thug life behind. He is soon pulled back into the gang, who’ve now formed an uneasy alliance with the thugs that butchered his girl and Goose sees an opportunity to get his brutal, deadly revenge.

Goose is the leader of a street gang, and always at war with a rival gang, and their leader Danny (Paul Harper). His girlfriend, Christie (Megan Murphy) wants him to break free so that they can start a fresh life together. Goose eventually agrees but that’s easier said than done. Their happiness is rudely interrupted by thugs determined to teach Goose a lesson, which leads to things going too far. When Goose finds out who is responsible for his heartache, he will be able be determined to exact his revenge.

The film suffers from some common flaws that low-budget exploitation movies have, such as scenes in which characters tend to ramble on about nothing of importance, but when things move up a gear this becomes a film equal to many that have more money and resources available. While the acting is often just mediocre, that does not bother us too much.

Murphy is one of the better performers, but Harper is never less than fun with his slightly unbalanced turn. VanBebber wrote, directed and starred in the film. He also did the editing, stuntwork and special makeup effects. The film that might require viewers to have a little patience. The opening is enjoyable, but clumsy, the middle section has some of the worst moments, but all of the rough patches are easy to view with fondness.

Whether you like or dislike it, “Deadbeat At Dawn” is worth your time. It is, in many ways, a great achievement, even if it doesn’t look like one. I love how natural the film feels. VanBebber captures the look and feel of the grainy and dirty street movies of the 70’s and early 80’s perfectly.

This is a simple story told in a simple way and the character of Goose is easy to connect to as he is a stand-up, likable character who is both cool and has a strong personal code of ethics. We spend nearly the entire movie with him we want things work out for him.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Brand new 2K restoration from original film elements by Arrow Films, supervised and approved by writer-director Jim VanBebber

High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

Original uncompressed PCM mono audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

Brand new free-wheeling audio commentary with Jim VanBebber (‘Goose’, The Ravens’ Gang Leader), actor Paul Harper (Danny Carmodi, The Spyders’ Gang Leader) and guest Cody Lee Hardin, moderated by filmmaker Victor Bonacore (Diary of a Deadbeat: The Story of Jim VanBebber)

Jim VanBebber, Deadbeat Forever! a brand new retrospective documentary on VanBebber and the Deadbeat legacy by Filmmaker Victor Bonacore, featuring first-time interviews, super-rare footage, VanBebber’s college films and much, much more!

Archival 1986 behind-the-scenes documentary Nate Pennington’s VHS documentary on a failed Deadbeat shoot

Outtakes, newly transferred in HD

Four newly-restored VanBebber short films Into the Black (1983, 34 mins), My Sweet Satan (1993, 19 mins), Roadkill: The Last Days of John Martin (1994, 14 mins) and Gator Green (2013, 16 mins)

Jim VanBebber Music Video Collection, featuring never-before-seen Director’s Cuts

Chunkblower promotional trailer for an unfinished Gary Blair Smith-produced gore-soaked feature film

Extensive Image Gallery Never-Before-Seen Stills!

Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Peter Strain

First pressing only: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Scott Gabbey and Graham Rae

“12 MONKEYS”— The Future is History

“12 Monkeys”

The Future is History

Amos Lassen

In 1996, a deadly virus was unleashed by a group calling themselves the Army of the Twelve Monkeys. The virus destroyed much of the world’s population and forced survivors underground. In 2035, prisoner James Cole (Bruce Willis) is chosen to go back in time and help scientists in their search for a cure.

The film features an Oscar-nominated performance by Brad Pitt as mental patient Jeffrey Goines and the film is now widely regarded as a sci-fi classic. Arrow Films has given it a stunning new restoration.

A killer virus spared only 1 percent of the planet’s population. In a lab located under the city of Philadelphia, scientists prepare to wrap the naked Cole in condomlike latex and zap him back to 1996 to find out how to reclaim the earth. Above ground the city is uninhabitable, except by the wild animals that roam deserted skyscrapers and department stores.

When Cole travels back in time, he is immediately institutionalized and put in the care of psychiatrist Kathryn Railly (Madeleine Stowe). Cole is befriended by patient, Jeffrey Goines (Brad Pitt), an animal activist and the loony son of a medical researcher (Christopher Plummer). Through Jeffrey, Cole first learns about the army of the 12 Monkeys. It would be unfair to give away more, except to say that the plot kicks in when Cole kidnaps Kathryn. Cole is haunted by a recurring dream of a young boy at an airport. The boy stands transfixed as a man with a suitcase rushes past him, followed by a blond woman who weeps by the man’s side after the police gun him down.

The tenderness and sweetness of the woman as she kisses the dying man’s bloody hand deeply affects Cole and the boy. This dream is the soul of the film and director Terry Gilliam returns to it three times, adding more details until the dream links all the pieces in the puzzle, which includes the remarkable David Morse as a researcher with more than a passing interest in Kathryn. Cole’s confusing of illusion and reality is also a major component of the film. Gilliam digs deep into fatalistic themes that usually scare people away from the box office.

This is a confounding dark sci-fi film about a virus in 1996 that kills five billion people, sparing only 1 percent of the planet’s population. When Cole travels back in time, he misses the targeted year of 1996 and instead lands in 1990. Cole suspects that a group in spreading the virus and needs Kathryn’s help to track down that former animal activist patient and the crazed son of a medical researcher (Christopher Plummer), whose virus experiments on lab creatures drive animal activist Jeffrey into a fit of anger. Jeffrey’s group is suspected of being behind the disaster, and Cole believes his best chance for success is to force Kathryn to help him find Jeffrey. But as Kathryn starts to believe what Cole says is true about the deadly virus and helps him prevent the future mishap, Cole realizes his lunacy might actually be what ended up causing the catastrophe in the first place. The recurring dream Cole has links all the mysteries taking place about the scientific research and his special interest in Kathryn. Cole finally returns to 1996 and acts to complete his mission. This is an intense film about psychological biological warfare film has fine performances and it is a film that makes the viewer think.

TWELVE MONKEYS, Madeleine Stowe, 1995. ©Universal

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

Brand-new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative by Arrow Films, approved by director Terry Gilliam

DTS 5.1 Master Audio

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard-of-hearing

Audio commentary by Terry Gilliam and producer Charles Roven

The Hamster Factor and Other Tales of Twelve Monkeys, feature-length making-of documentary by Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe (Lost in La Mancha)

Extensive image gallery

Theatrical trailer

More to be announced!

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gary Pullin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Nathan Rabin and archive materials

PIONEERING INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTOR FILM MOVEMENT LAUNCHES SVOD SERVICE, FILM MOVEMENT PLUS

THIS OCTOBER, PIONEERING INDEPENDENT DISTRIBUTOR
FILM MOVEMENT LAUNCHES SVOD SERVICE,
FILM MOVEMENT PLUS

The $7.99 Ad-Free Monthly Subscription Service Will Launch with
250 Acclaimed, Festival Favorite Features and 100 Short Films,
Including THEEB, AFTER THE STORM, Academy Award® Winners
ANTONIA’S LINE & PELLE THE CONQUEROR and Many More!

At Launch, Subscribers Will Receive a Free 30-day Trial and
50% off the First Month!

New York, NY (October 1, 2018) — For over 15 years, Film Movement has been bringing unique, acclaimed films to American audiences from around the world, including prizewinners from Cannes, Berlin, Toronto, Locarno, Sundance, SXSW and other major festivals. In 2002, the company launched a DVD-of-the-month club, the very first film subscription service of its kind. Now, Film Movement brings discerning U.S. cinephiles an ad-free streaming subscription service featuring some of the best independent and world cinema, cult and arthouse classics, documentaries and short films from around the world with FILM MOVEMENT PLUS (filmmovementplus.com).

Beginning October 1, FILM MOVEMENT PLUS opens up a dazzling, world of provocative, compelling and award-winning films from Film Movement’s singular library. Priced at $7.99 per month, FILM MOVEMENT PLUS will offer consumers at launch a free 30-day trial, as well as a 50% discount on the first month via the special promotional code, PLUS50. The service, which offers more than 500+ hours of curated content, will initially be available on mobile (iOS and Android), Apple TV, Roku and Chromecast, and on Amazon Fire TV and Android TV shortly thereafter.

Movie lovers seeking a deep catalog of movies from around the globe will immediately have access to 250 festival favorite feature films and 100 short films, including THEEB, the 2016 Academy Award® nominee for Best Foreign Film; AFTER THE STORM, a powerful family drama from 2018 Palme d’Or winner Hirokazu Kore-Eda; BREATHE the sophomore outing from actor/director Mélanie Laurent (Operation Finale, Inglorious Basterds); HUMAN CAPITAL, a political thriller from Paolo Virzi (The Leisure Seeker), Italy’s submission for Best Foreign Film for the 87th Academy Awards® and MY LOVE, DON’T CROSS THAT RIVER, an unforgettable documentary about true love that transcends generations and cultures and is South Korea’s most successful film of all time. Classics from the Film Movement catalog includes Academy Award® winners for Best Foreign Language Film, ANTONIA’S LINE (1996) and Bille August’s PELLE THE CONQUEROR (1989); sci-fi cult classic, THE QUIET EARTH; and a trio of Takeshi Kitano’s explosive thrillers: VIOLENT COP, BOILING POINT and HANA-BI.

Each month, subscribers to FILM MOVEMENT PLUS will also have access to Film Movement premieres not available on any other streaming service, including upcoming exclusives HARMONIUM, Koji Fukada’s masterful family drama, the acclaimed bio pic, EGON SCHIELE: DEATH AND THE MAIDEN, the French thriller MOKA, Sergio Corbucci’s influential Spaghetti Western masterpiece, THE GREAT SILENCE and many more.

“Film Movement Plus is a natural evolution of Film Movement’s mission of bringing the very best of independent and world cinema to film lovers everywhere,” says Michael Rosenberg, President of Film Movement. “With our DVD-of-the-Month club, we pioneered the film subscription service on DVD. Film Movement Plus builds on that original model, allowing us to curate an ongoing film festival for cinephiles, delivering access to hundreds of hours of content wherever they may be.”

Aside from FILM MOVEMENT PLUS, and distributing films theatrically in North America, as well as through all home entertainment platforms for both physical and digital releases, Film Movement still maintains their original, first-of-its kind DVD-of-the-Month Club, in which members receive an award-winning feature film and a bonus short film every month on DVD.

About Film Movement

Founded in 2002 as one of the first-ever subscription film services with its DVD-of-the-Month club, Film Movement is now a North American distributor of award-winning independent and foreign films based in New York City. It has released more than 250 feature films and shorts culled from prestigious film festivals worldwide. Film Movement’s theatrical releases include American independent films, documentaries, and foreign art house titles. Its catalog includes titles by directors such as Hirokazu Kore-eda, Maren Ade, Jessica Hausner, Andrei Konchalovsky, Andrzej Wajda, Diane Kurys, Ciro Guerra and Melanie Laurent. In 2015, Film Movement launched its reissue label Film Movement Classics, featuring new restorations released theatrically as well as on Blu-ray and DVD, including films by such noted directors as Eric Rohmer, Peter Greenaway, Bille August, Marleen Gorris, Takeshi Kitano, Arturo Ripstein, Sergio Corbucci and Ettore Scola. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com.

“ELENA FERRANTE ON FILM”— Two Films

 

“ELENA FERRANTE ON FILM”

Two Films

Amos Lassen

Elena Ferrante has been a big name lately and Film Movement is on the ball bringing us the unique opportunity to see two films based on her novels. This is a specially packaged collection of “The Days of Abandonment” (“I Giorni Del’abbandono”) and “Troubling Love” (L’amore Molesto”). These are new digital restorations of both films and the set will include many extras including a featurette, cast and crew interviews and a 32-page booklet containing Ferrante’s letters and script notes.

Time Magazine named Ferrante as one of the “100 Most Influential People of 2016”.

“EGON SCHIELE: DEATH AND THE MAIDEN”— A Fascinating Biographical Story

“EGON SCHIELE: DEATH AND THE MAIDEN”

A Fascinating Biographical Story

Amos Lassen

 Egon Schiele (Noah Saavedra) was young, brilliant, seductive and is one of the most provocative and scandalous artists in early twentieth century Vienna. His life and work are stimulated by eroticism in a Bohemian era that was quickly coming to a close. His inspiration came from two women — his sister, Gerti (Maresi Riegner), and Wally Neuzil (Valerie Pachner), the woman that he immortalizes in his most famous painting “Death and the Maiden.” The beginning of World War I threatens Schiele’s artistic pursuits and leads to his eventual betrayal of Wally, his muse and one true.

Egon Schiele led a very interesting life. Scriptwriter Hilde Berger and director Dieter Berner unfortunately skim over the two most interesting aspects of Schiele’s life, his trial for pedophilia and his experiences in the First World War, are completely glossed over in favor of a superficial overview of more or less his entire adult life. (There are of course reasons liberal fans of Schiele would want to avoid these issues anyway).

The premise of the film is to follow his life and death in relation to five important young women, the title also referencing his most famous work of art. Scenes therefore alternate between his death from the Spanish flu and his relationships with the women who were important to him at various points in his life. The director uses frames in the beginning of the film with the viewer often looks at scenes through the frame of a mirror or that of an attic roof, which serves as Schiele’s studio.

We see a Black on stage in a cabaret as Death with a White woman, referencing the Death and the Maiden motif of Renaissance art and thus foreshadowing Schiele’s painting “Tod und Mädchen” and also fetishizing miscegenation and that which is symbolized in the act of miscegenation: the death of the European woman. It also serves as a precursor to the relationship between Schiele and French métisse Moa Mandu, played by Larissa Breidbach — a post-European woman — who also appears later in the cabaret.

Mandu fulfills every fantasy of the Black woman: both physically and mentally strong, passionate, and full of wanton sexuality. Right from the outset, she displays the stereotypical character traits that are overpowering for the female director of the variety revue. Schiele and his friends are of course completely taken with Moa’s joie de vivre and she accompanies them on their sojourn in the country, where her dominance over the male characters continues t. She wears male clothing and takes the male active role, pacifying both Schiele and his friends, one of whom she simultaneously takes to bed with Schiele for a threesome. This demonstrates the liberal bourgeois thought that stereotyping of the Other is a “thoughtcrime” when certain character traits are shown negatively light, yet a virtue when those exact same traits are lauded. In other words, stereotyping is only a negative if it does not fit the Leftist agenda. We are all the same and yet the Other is always better. Schiele and his friends within the film display these typical bourgeois sensibilities.

The other girl in Schiele’s life at this point is his sister Gerti, with whom he has an incestuous relationship. It is here, from almost the very beginning of the film, that the director introduces us to sexual deviancy and to the prospect of pedophilia. Gerti serves as Schiele’s nude model at the age of sixteen. We see a naked young girl playing in the bed with her brother. Mandu’s masculinity also develops the feminist aspect of the film and she is very much seen as a free woman, her Otherness frees her from bourgeois constraints and provides a contrast with the character of Gerti in this section. Gerti complains that Egon can do everything and she can do nothing. Yet actually, the women in the film are generally seen as rather free in terms of the ability to determine their own lives. They are victims of the circumstances of their own making, caused by their lust for this artist. Schiele des not invest them with emotion. As stated, there are two parts of Schiele’s life that are very much glossed over.

In the film, as in life, he is arrested for abducting a thirteen-year-old girl, who is very much dismissed as an innocent error of judgment by the director with the girl being seen as a willing accomplice and the relationship was innocent and non-sexual. We know from Schiele’s real life that he was attracted to very young girls and this particular episode ought to have been left more ambiguous, but the filmmakers wish to exonerate him while simultaneously showing us perhaps there is nothing wrong with pedophilia. We see this in the trial scene, where the judge burns one of Schiele’s artworks, a portrait of an underage girl naked from the waist down. This scene is closely foreshadowed by the scene in which Schiele is visited in custody by his girlfriend Wally

While the real Schiele was never convicted of the statutory rape of a minor due to the unreliability and lack of testimony of the alleged victim, he was convicted of being a pornographer. Another aspect of his life that is barely touched upon in the film is Schiele’s avoidance of being drafted during the First World War with his excuse again being his art. The only scene shown of military life is the conscription office, where he makes the excuse to the officer that he has a weak heart. I suspect that Schiele been more of a conservative or traditionalist archetype, no mercy would have been spared in making fun of his lack of courage.

Because the war is not covered, neither is Wally Neuzil’s fate. She is last seen going off to be an army hospital orderly after being left by Schiele in order for him to marry for wealth and stability. A last mention comes of her death in the war. There is irony in that the women in the film are emotionally dependent on Schiele, with the possible exception of his sister, who grows stronger throughout the film — although this could also be attributed to her marriage. The filmmakers were trapped into a somewhat anti-feminist narrative by their contradictions. Indeed, the film leaves us with an exposé of the Leftist mindset and Schiele’s attitude to women shows the liberal view that people are there to be used and abused and discarded when necessary. Schiele is as obsessed with money as he is with his art and covets the bourgeois lifestyle that the filmmakers simultaneously wish to deconstruct. Furthermore, for his trial, he manages to secure the services of an expensive solicitor through Wally. It is wealth that saves him and keeps him afloat. However, in the end the Spanish flu reduces him to poverty and kills him. His sister is forced to pawn her jewelry for medicine, but arrives back with it too late.

The film presents the Leftist obsession with the New, which is glorified for progressive ideals; yet this too deconstructs itself under close analysis. The whole film can be seen as Schiele’s search for the New, but as Schiele himself asserts of art at one point in the film that there can be nothing new. Nonetheless, while he was alive, he moves from one new conquest to the next, always searching for the New and that search ultimately destroys those with whom he comes into contact.

BONUS FEATURES: 

  • Bonus Short Film – Nothing Happens (Directed by Michelle Kranot & Uri Kranot | Denmark & France | 11 minutes) It is freezing cold. Yet people have gathered on the outskirts of the town, waiting for something to happen.
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Interview with Director and Writer
  • Casting and Rehearsal Featurettes