Category Archives: Film

“DESIGN IS ONE: THE VIGNELLIS”— Innovation in Design

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“Design Is One: The Vignellis”

Innovation in Design

Amos Lassen

Massimo and Lella Vignelli are two of today’s world’s most influential designers. They have made many important contributions to the fields of industrial, graphic, and production design that have resulted in iconic achievements in the development of corporate identity programs, home furnishing and interior design, architectural graphics, and publishing. Throughout their career, their ambitious motto has been, “If you can’t find it, design it.”



In 1965 Massimo brought the Helvetica typeface to the United States. Igniting an interest in the Vignelli’s work, this design development led to a series of notable projects: New York’s subway signage and maps; the interior of Saint Peter’s Church at Citicorp Center; Venini lamps; Heller dinnerware; furniture for Poltrona Frau; and branding initiatives for Knoll International, Bloomingdales, Saks Fifth Avenue, Ford, and American Airlines.


Throughout their long career, their motto has been, ‘If you can’t find it, design it’. Their work covers a broad spectrum and they are known by everybody, even those who don’t know their names. From graphics to interiors to products and corporate identities, this film brings us into the work and everyday moments of the Vignellis’ world and we immediately see their humanity, warmth, and humor.

Directors Roberto Guerra show us their private and their public lives in this amazing documentary. seems.) We see interviews with “design tyros” such as Richard Heller and Milton Glaser who confirm that the Vignellis have restricted themselves to a rather narrow vocabulary of typography and color, getting variety out of materials instead.

The film is, in effect, an appreciation of their work.  Associates, employees and colleagues praise Massimo and Lella for their genius, their style and their zestful humor and the designers themselves, slim and tastefully attired septuagenarians, talk about the ideas behind their designs.

The Massimos are icons of good taste. Lella, a designer of considerable flair, is the practical half of the partnership, reining in Massimo’s dreamier impulses. He has an intuitive talent for graphic design, based on a fundamental “grid” concept that has been widely imitated but never matched. He also introduced the Helvetica typeface to the U.S. Lella, was trained as an architect in Milan and designs beautifully minimalist interiors, objets d’art and the most ingenious silver jewelry imaginable. The couple has been married for 51 years and working together just as long. “Collaboration is a trust in the other person,” Lella says. “We are absolutely complementary.”

 Massimo and Lella have now donated their vast design archives to the Rochester Institute of Technology outside in New York where it is housed in a building that they designed themselves, to insure that their designs, and principles will influence future generations.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qglaQekqrWU 

 

“RIDE REPORT”— Cycling through Central and South America

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“Ride Report”

Cycling through Central and South America

Amos Lassen

There comes a time in every man’s life when he has an overwhelming urge for a serious adventure; an odyssey to measure his strength, to better appreciate his part of the world by seeing the rest.

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 This Winter my best buddy Matt and I will travel through Latin America on DRZ 400’s, taking about two and a half months until finally arriving in Rio for Carnival 2010.

This is our first adventure ride. I’ve been riding for a year and a half, and Matt has just started to learn. We leave in three weeks.  

 We’re documenting the entire trip in HD, so stay tuned! (Tiernan Turner).

And here it is:

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Tiernan Turner and Matt Kendall traveled by motorcycle through 10,000 miles of Central and South America. We see how today’s modern traveler is connected to the global network. Turner and Kendall built their bikes in four days and set off from Las Vegas headed Rio de Janeiro.  Their goal was to get there for the Carnival festival which gave them 30 days travel time. Their friends took bets that they would not make it there as neither man had much experience.  They made it through obstacles and we see their frustration and how they managed. All along the way they had amazing adventures—bungee jumping, Iguazo Falls, impromptu festivals and so on. They made friends via the internet before and during their travels and they met these people along the way.

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The real essence of the trip is about trusting others. There were several instances when they needed help and their friends came through for them. It is almost as if there were those who conspired to provide favors for the riders.

What’s amazing about this documentary is how close it brings viewers to a true experience of a lifetime — maybe it’s because there are no after-the-fact interviews to pull you out of the real-time progression, but after seeing the movie we get the feeling that we were also on the trip. This is an exciting journey that is an inspiration and a lot of fun.

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The plans for the trip were simple: “head south on the Pan American Highway film whatever happened and get to Rio before the Brazilian carnival begins”.  We can see this trip as a metaphor for life.

Using a Canon 7d (DSLR), Canon 5d mk 2 (DSLR), and a Canon Vixia HF200 (handicam) the filmmakers recorded their journey with some help from camera operator Mark Matusiak at select stops.  The film takes its title from the adventure rider community and the sharing of “ride reports” in online forums.

The DVD includes bonus features: Additional Interviews, Trailer, and Interactive Menus.

“A HORSE FOR SUMMER”— Finding Forgiveness and Love

a horse for summer

“A Horse for Summer”

Finding Forgiveness and Love

Amos Lassen

“When a family emergency forces a troubled teen to do the wrong thing for the right reason, a community discovers the meaning of forgiveness.” Kent (Dean Cain) and Teri (Terri Minton) Walsh and their daughter Sarah (Nicole Criss), 14, leave Los Angeles to try to live a more peaceful lifestyle in Arizona. The Walshes have dreamt of having a horse-boarding ranch and now they have their chance but unfortunately the state of the economy does not make it very easy. Kent unlike his wife and daughter does not find comfort in faith and tires to do what it takes while Teri and Sarah take refuge in the church and gain strength there.

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Everything changes, however, when Summer (Mandalynn Carlson), Kent’s niece comes to stay with the family since her mother, Ava, has been arrested has been sent to prison. Summer has not had an easy time of things. She ran away thinking that life on the street would be better than being sent somewhere. She then is rescued from a dangerous gang and ordered by the court to stay with relatives until her trial is over or be put in foster care.

She not only has to deal with rules and respect but now there is the issue of faith and this is all new to her. When the family expects her to help on the ranch, she bolts and runs away. Her behavior does not help the family situation that is already very tense. But Summer finds something in taking care of Bella, one of the horses on the ranch. The horse gives her a sense of responsibility—the horse needs her. But then Bella becomes ill and the family that is already having financial problems makes the decision to use the little of money that have to save Bella. Summer, however, does the wrong thing even though the reason was right and the entire community rallies behind her and she sees that people care about her.

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Summer did not plan on becoming attached to the horses but one horse, Bella, gave her what she longed for—a connection and a chance to shower attention on something else. The fact that Bella relied on her, made a difference in Summer’s life.

But all was not going well for the Walsh family—bills piled up and some of the clients who brought their horses to be boarded did not pay their bills and Kent even considers forgetting the family dream and moving back to the city and were it for an old friend wonderfully played by Sally Kirkland, he would have gone back to the corporate rat race. Both Sarah and Summer become aware of the financial problems and Summer, especially, is afraid that if the family moves she will sent to foster care. She wants to find money so the family can stay  and she takes Kent’s truck and she and Sarah take off in the middle of the night. Then Bella gets sick and Kent and Teri decide to use the little that is left to save the horse and Summer announces that she has found an envelope with money in it that came from Bella’s owner and she gives it to Kent.

Of course that is not what happened at all and Teri gets a call from the pastor that the church has been robbed and Kent thinks that is where Summer got the money. I have given way to much information about the plot so I am going to stop here but will tell you that the film has a happy ending but we could guess that from the title.

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This is one of those films that warms the heart and makes us feel good. Because we sense that everything will work out, we (or at least I) smiled throughout as I watched. There is something about a child being saving that makes us feel good. The cast is uniformly excellent—aside from those already named we have appearances from Christopher Atkins and Lee Meriwether among others. For a small independent film, this a large fine cast and reminds us that there are others ways to make wonderful films aside from the major studios.

I am never sure about films that use faith as a theme because they often come off as way too sweet. Here, that is not the case. Director Nancy Criss has done an amazing job with the film and everything works—from the music to the cinematography (of beautiful San Tan Valley of Arizona) to the plot. You might have to dry your eyes a couple of times but that is a good thing. When a film touches us, we know we have seen something worthwhile and “A Horse for Summer” is more than worthwhile. Make sure you look for it.

“GOODBYE GEMINI”— Love, Men, Murder

goodbye gemini

“Goodbye Gemini”

Love, Men, Murder

Amos Lassen

 In the Age of Aquarius, the Gemini twins share everything: love…men…and murder!! Jacki (Judy Geeson) and Julian (Martin Potter) are 20-year-old twins with an unusually close relationship. Their bizarre fantasy world is shattered by the arrival of Clive, a London small-time criminal with a massive gambling debt. As the twins become exposed to the seamy underbelly of the swinging ’60s London nightlife, their relationship becomes strained and twisted. When Clive attempts to blackmail Julian, the twins take decisive action in this eerie, unsettling tale where not even the bond between siblings can predict the outcome. This is a disturbing look at the relationship between twins…and just how far they will go to protect one another!

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The film was originally released in 1970 and now Scorpion Releasing brings it to us on DVD.

Twins with an ambiguous past arrive on the late 60`s swinging London underground scene and get caught up with a dubious clan of characters, one of whom has an unpaid gambling debt. He’s trying to maintain a low profile while trying to shag the female twin and play Alpha male but be isn’t at either.

 The male twin has a sexual penchant as well as a possible sexual past with his sister. Martin Potter steals every scene he’s in, and is the best reason to see this one. He also has too much involvement with the Alpha male and his seedy clansmen and women, and folks start getting murdered with the twins always being peripherally involved. Whether they are killers or insane, you will have to find out for yourself.

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Directed with a sense of ambiguous poignancy by Alan Gibson, “Goodbye Gemini” has excellent cinematography and wonderful art direction that holds true even though the film is dated. This is a worthwhile time-machine trip.

 The first half of the film promises more than we end up getting, with the shallow, emotionally stunted twins playing childish games with each other and later with Clive. There’s a strong and creepy sexual undercurrent, and feeling that Jacki and Julian are keeping some kind of intriguing secret. We’ve already seen them kill, and Jacki carries a Teddy bear named Agamemnon, whom they treat more as a totem than a stuffed toy. Clive has an element of danger about him, and we soon find that he is, in fact, in danger, and that he plans to use the twins to help get him out of his jam.

Things should start to come together here but they don’t and in fact, just the opposite occurs. Clive’s attempt to outsmart the twins involves a Polaroid camera and compromising photos with some not-very-convincing transvestites. Once they figure out what’s going on, the twins concoct their own scheme, which gets out of hand, and soon, everything is spiraling this way and that. Along for the ride: Sir Michael Redgrave as a respectable gentleman who takes an interest in Jacki.

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Director Alan Gibson’s film puts  emphasis on ambiguity—lots of mirror images and people who are not what they appear, and the staid Redgrave as a reasonable counterbalance to the hedonistic young. If only the story had kept pace, this would have been a great, kinky relic; as it stands, it’s fun and mildly sordid, but ends up rather ordinary.

“FATE OF A SALESMAN”—- The Disappearing Shop

fate of a salesman ”Fate of a Salesman”

The Disappearing Shop

Amos Lassen

I am sure that there are still many who remember the days before malls and Amazon. It was a time when small business thrived and going shopping meant going downtown. Few places have “downtowns” anymore. What happened is the subject of this is an inspiring, courageous, and heart-felt documentary film.

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“Fate of a Salesman” is an intimate portrait of a way of life on the verge of disappearing. In its 60th year of business, Men’s Fashion Center in Washington, DC has come to represent identity, legacy and redemption for salesmen Willie and Steve and owner Jerry. Like so many other places, business has crawled to a halt in the face of a tough economy and changing neighborhood, pushing the store to the verge of closure. “Set amidst racks of pin-striped suits and feathered hats– the clothing of a bygone era– the men struggle to redefine themselves as the place with which they have long identified begins to vanish”.

The documentary looks in depth at Men’s Fashion Center in downtown Washington, D.C. and its employees. The emphasis is on the store and its legacy, which is one of the long-time cultural fixtures within the D.C. community having witnessed and participated in the lives of D.C. residents for the past sixty years.

We hear of the ups and downs, the accomplishments and the struggles as well as the redemptions of those who worked at the store. The store has been pushed to close but it does not give up easily. The men who work there are dedicated and they struggle to find a way to redefine themselves but it is all vanishing anyway.

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The film profiles the highs, lows, accomplishments, struggles, and ultimate redemptions of salesmen Willie and Steve, and owner Jerry. The business struggles as the result of the tough economy and the changing neighborhood, pushing the store to the brink of closing. We follow these dedicated men and witness to their struggle to redefine themselves as the place of men’s fashion for D.C. they have long identified with, as it begins to vanish.

Willie is an energetic, sharp-dressed salesman. But  he knows he is fighting a battle that he will ultimately lose. The film is directed by Ben Crosbie and Tessa Moran and when you see it you will reminded of so much where you live. While the film is about Washington D.C., it could have been set anywhere.

“LIVING THINGS”— Life as a Vegan

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“Living Things”

Life as a Vegan

Amos Lassen

Rhona (Rhoda Jordan) and Steve are expecting a visit from Leo (Ben Siegler), her abrasive father-in-law and as Rhona makes preparations, Steve tells her that he will be late getting there meaning Rhona must now entertain Leo by herself, something that is as distrustful to her as meat. Rhona is a Vegan who doesn’t eat or wear anything that used to have a face. This is foreign to Leo who loves his cheeseburgers even though he had a heart attack a year prior.

Rhona serves him a beautiful vegan meal and Leo tries to eat it but he cannot be like Rhona who has been a Vegan since she was 12-years-old. Leo is ready to argue with Rhona but she is also ready and waiting for him to start. The arguing gets heated and things get bad.

When Leo attempts to apologize for a past insult, he instead opens up a debate that challenges her belief system. Their conversation quickly escalates into a heated argument that scrutinizes animal cruelty, climate change, health, morality, and spirituality. “Living Things” presents a compelling dialogue about humanity and the benefits of a healthier, environmentally conscious lifestyle.

Eric Shapiro (who writes and directs) gives most of the cogent arguments to the pro-vegan side. Shapiro does not seem quite ready to trust his audience to reach their own conclusions. Still, a good argument back and forth makes for compelling viewing.

When we first see carnivore Leo (played by Ben Siegler) he already has been offensive the last time he saw his son’s wife Rhona (Rhoda Jordan). Mild tension starts right away. What was intended to be a pleasant dinner with Rhona, her husband Stephen (never seen), and her father-in-law Leo becomes more and more a mean-spirited extended exchange as the story progresses.

Rhona and Leo are total opposites and when they argue nothing is sacred. They fight about the treatment of animals, health issues and even the environment.

We see Leo’s character flaws—he is fixed in his ways and candid to the point of being hurtful. Self-satisfied, he either holds a viewpoint or assumes that it is nonsense. He tells Rhona that he is very good at debating, but he in fact is not a listener. Director Eric Shapiro adds little touches to make him more of a stereotypical right-winger. He denies climate change. Rhona and Leo each do negative things in the discussion, but Leo seems to have five faults for every one of Rhona’s.

Interesting that religion is not mentioned until we learn from director Shapiro that Leo is Jewish yet his viewpoints show nothing of Judaism. Actually everything we hear and see in the film can be found on the Internet under “Vegan” but it the actor’s here that make this movie so compelling.

“2 AUTUMNS, 3 WINTERS”—- Life’s Significant and Simple Moments

2 autumns 3 Winters

“2 Autumns, 3 Winters”

Life’s Significant and Simple Moments

Amos Lassen

Arman (Vincent Macaigne) is 33 and he is ready to make some changes in his life. He starts with taking a run in the park. He runs into Amelie (Maud Wyler) who is lovely but cynical and he is determined to find a way to connect to her. Benjamin (Bastien Bouillon), Arman’s best friend has a stroke and must be hospitalized for several weeks and while there he falls for his doting young physical therapist. Over the course of two autumns and three winters, Arman, Amélie and Benjamin share the incidental moments, unexpected accidents, unconventional love stories and unforgettable memories that will define who they are.

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The film is a series of vignettes about Arman’s latest relationship. Director Sébastien Betbeder explores the nuances and depths of interpersonal relationships. He balances life’s meaningful moments alongside small incidents almost instantly forgotten and shows how they shape our destiny. masterfully suggesting that both ultimately shape our destiny. This is a lovely little film that mixes explanatory soliloquies with more straightforward dramatic scenes.

Events inevitably conspire to bring Arman and Amelie together. Benjamin’s stroke that came completely out of the blue, brings their mortality into sharp focus. What follows is a breezy canter through the lives and loves of Arman and Benjamin.

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The director uses a structure of wandering by a playful approach that both constrains and exposes his characters. Numbered chapters of varying lengths define the film, their titles ranging from obvious to amusing. Clips from other movies, “the lauded and the popular”, are included for dramatic emphasis. Narration self-consciously conveys inner thoughts, as overlaid over montages and stated direct to camera. This technique allows for greater emotional range than is otherwise evident in the familiar story of belated quarter-life malaise. Earnest expressions of worries and fears – about getting older, feeling restless, and stewing in uncertainty – are all the more affecting for the confessional-like way they are presented. Descriptions of harrowing events, such as Benjamin’s stroke (mirroring the real-life circumstances of lead actor Macaigne), are heightened in their power by telling rather than showing. Rather than diffusing focus, switching between the viewpoints of the three central characters helps bring the vignettes together.

Macaigne, is endearing lead that has the capabilities of eliciting warmth, carrying the conversation-heavy drama, and conveying the requisite personality so crucial to the feature’s success. His charms adapt to the varying tones and segments, perfecting the humor and honesty of a bittersweet effort that shows plenty of style but remains slight.

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Divided into dozens of brief chapters gives us the impression that we are watching a string of short films instead of an actual feature is an interesting approach.  

“FOREIGN RELATIONS”— At Sea

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“Foreign Relations”

At Sea

Amos Lassen

When Tom’s boyfriend walked out on him, he decides to go on a cruise to the Mediterranean but in order to make the financial obligation top do so, he has to take a roommate who is randomly assigned to him. His roomie turns out to be Nikos (Anthem Moss), a Greek guy. At just about the same time, Armando, the tour guide who is leading the cruise seems to flirting with him. Tom’s  “dance card” suddenly fills up and as he gets to now both of the guys, he finds a charm and ambiguity in them and he has to decide whether to choose the American or the Greek.

He learns that Nikos has also just become single as well but Tom can’t figure out whether he is gay or not. He is attracted to Nikos who is very shy and they become fast friends as they tour Greece and Croatia. But Armando (Orel de la Mota) is also lusting after Tom (Kevin Grant Spencer).

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This is, quite simply, a fun short movie (25 minutes) that is filled with good-looking guys in Speedo bathing suits. The cinematography is quite beautiful but then so is the setting and we also see some male/male action. It is all about romance here. Reid Waterer (“You Can’t Curry Love” and “Performance Anxiety) directed.

“TIE ME UP! TIE ME DOWN!”— Almodovar’s Dark Comedy from Criterion

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“Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!”

Almodovar’s Dark Comedy from Criterion

Amos Lassen

 Pedro Almodovar pays tribute to Stockholm syndrome in “Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” a rambunctious dark comedy stars Antonio Banderas and Victoria Abril. Banderas plays Ricky, an unbalanced but alluring former mental patient and Abril is Marina, the B-movie and porn star he takes prisoner in the hopes of convincing her to marry him.

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When asylum authorities release Ricky, he proceeds to demonstrate the error of their decision. He goes to the set of film director Maximo Espejo (Francisco Rabal), a wheelchair-bound lecher whose current Euro-horror film is about a hideously mutilated, masked muscleman. Ricky’s an enamored fan of Marina (Victoria Abril), a porn star recovering from drug addiction by appearing in a ‘straight’ genre film. Ricky met and bedded her briefly on a previous escape from the hospital. He is sure that he holds the solution to all her problems and kidnaps her, locks her in her apartment and sets out to prove that his love transcends simple fan adoration. His formula for romantic success is bondage and tender loving care in equal doses. Marina does not know how to take this and her is unpredictable.

This is Almodóvar’s take on human relationships that is totally original and he uses his own technique to show it to us.  Marina is a confused, disordered, irresponsible spirit who does indeed need to be tied down long enough to realize that mutual romance is a possibility. Her terror as a captive does indeed turn into something else the more time she shares with Ricky, and after a few days watching him stare at her in total devotion. Americans seem to believe that we invented liberated thought and feminine equality and we see here how ridiculous that is. We also see that relationships can be just about anything, even if totally traditional in the man dominates and the woman submits. As obnoxious as this seems to progressive feminist activism, it’s been the way of the world for so long that man will have to do a lot more evolving before it goes away entirely. Marina and Ricky are characters and not real people. She’s not particularly bright and he’s practically a moron. We see them as comedic characters with their love for each other developing in an outrageous series of oddball comedy moments, some of which need to be thought about to decide whose if Almodóvar is playing with us. However, he does remind us that this is all fantasy.

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It is funny, well acted, and bizarre as only an Almodóvar film can be. Stockholm Syndrome is a funny thing and Almodovar tries to tease out its roots and strange perversity in this film. Stockholm syndrome, by the way, is what happens when a victim of a kidnapping begins to identify with their captors. Ricky manages to entrap Marina in her own apartment after her film’s shoot is over wrapped and he slowly and carefully explains how’s he’s come to help straighten her out and be a good, devoted husband. They’ll soon be very happy with their two or three kids. She just needs to understand this. Because Marina is indeed a flawed person, her personality becomes easier to repress the closer she returns to her addictive nature. Throughout the film, she pushes Banderas to get her the drugs she needs to overcome the pain, which, considering her former addictions, grow more and more illicit. By the time Banderas is brutally beaten for an attempt to get her actual heroin, he’s gone from being her kidnapper to her enabler. She realizes this, and begins to reciprocate his affections, perhaps even more aggressively than he’d prefer. However, every time he leaves her alone, he must tie her up to make sure she does not run away. As their relationship grows more complex, it’s obvious that the bonds aren’t necessary, and by the end, she’s tying herself up. We never go so far as for the bondage to physically occur during the lovemaking scenes, but by that point the bonds begin to take on a more metaphysical nature– he controls her, she accepts it and gives herself freely.

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“Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down!” has an NC-17 rating because there are some intense scenes of lovemaking and a bit of violence, but the undercurrents aren’t anything I can imagine anyone under a certain age understanding and dealing with. This is an adult film but it is also a smart and clever film.

The Criterion special features include:

Digitally remastered: New 2K digital restoration, supervised by director Pedro Almodóvar and executive producer Agustín Almodóvar, with 5.1 surround DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack on the Blu-ray

      Documentaries: New documentary on the making of the film including interviews with Pedro and Agustín Almodóvar; actors Antonio Banderas, Victoria Abril, Loles Léon, Rossy de Palma, and Penélope Cruz; production manager Esther García; editor José Salcedo; and cinematographer José Luis Alcaine.

      Interview(s): New interview with Almodóvar collaborator and Sony Pictures Classics co president Michael Barker.

Interview(s): Conversation from 2003 between Almodóvar and Banderas.

Bonus footage: Footage from the film’s 1990 premieres in Madrid and New York.

New English subtitle translation.

Booklet: A booklet featuring a 1990 piece about the film by Almodóvar, a conversation between filmmaker Wes Anderson and critic Kent Jones, and an interview with Almodóvar from 1989.

“HIDE AND SEEK”— Shocking Truth from Korea

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“Hide and Seek” (“Sum-bakk-og-jil”)

Shocking Truth From Korea

Amos Lassen

Seong-soo is a successful businessman who lives with his perfect family in a luxury apartment. He has secrets and mysophobia about his one and only brother. One day when he goes to see his brother after a phone call about him missing, he finds strange symbols all over the house and he meets someone named Joo-hee who knows his brother. “Please tell him to stop looking at my daughter. Joo-hee lives alone with her daughter but lives in fear of someone watching them. Seong-soo looks around carefully at the old apartment and realizes the symbols mean gender and numbers of people. WShen Seong-soo returns home from his brother’s and notices a familiar symbol written next to the bell of his house too.

Jung Huh’s “Hide and Seek” is a horror thriller that is also a mystery. It brings several plotlines together in an intriguing fashion. It starts with a subplot with a woman being tracked and attacked and then moves on to a second, more central plot about the missing brother. Events get a little twisted and bodies begin to turn up. Eventually, Seong-soo meets another person who is searching for his girlfriend and squatters might be to blame for all of the disappearances.

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 The killer’s identity is kept in mystery, but so are the whereabouts of several victims. Motivations are not revealed until late. During the climax, a lot comes out and the consistent mystery is what keeps us interested. While the film starts out with a creepy little misdirection of a subplot, it all makes sense later on, but is mainly about a dour and fastidious middle-aged family man who discovers that his long-estranged brother, the one who was once banished from the family for reasons of a horrific nature, has gone missing. This brings the disinterested but guilt-ridden Sung-soo to an apartment complex full of secrets, mysteries, weird ladies, unhappy children, and squatters who live inside empty rooms and burrow into occupied living quarters. It all gets very strange.

 The screenplay strikes an enjoyable balance between the main story (Seong-soo quickly discovers all sorts of disturbing things about his missing brother, which immediately puts his pretty wife and two adorable kids in serious danger) and the “flashback” material that explains why our ostensible hero is so unhappy, so obsessive, and so damn guilt-ridden about the fate of his long-lost brother. 

 The subplots and character development are not the main business here they have a purpose—too serve as a welcome garnish to the film’s main course of suspense, scares, and unexpected surprises. The tone of the film is set early on and the dark enigmatic figure makes for an incredibly unsettling villain, capable of putting you on edge by simply standing mute and motionless.  There is a lot of elementary detail and what we get is a sensational journey of utter insanity, punctuated with jolts of extreme terror.