Monthly Archives: September 2020

“LUZ”— A Love Story

“LUZ”

A Love Story

Amos Lassen

Jon Garcia (“The Falls” trilogy) introduces us to Ruben (Ernesto Reyes) who is the driver for his cousin Julio (Rega Lupo), his Mafioso cousin, Ruben transports the “girls” to and from work. Ruben is smitten by one of the girls and gets so drunk with her one night that he crashes the car and she is killed. He ends up in a Correction Center and has to share a cell with Carlos (Jesse Tayeh), a character with a threatening personality. At first, the other inmates give him a rough time but slowly Carlos lightens up and becomes his prison mentor. They go from friends to lovers but the next day Carlos is set and he knew that he would be but he kept it hidden from Ruben who is very angry.

Three years pass and Ruben is to be released from jail. His mother has died and Julio  has taken Ruben’s daughter to live with him leaving behind no address. Ruben finds Carlos living with his  girlfriend and mother and running an auto-repair shop. Everyone sees that the two men are very much in love and Carlos girlfriend leaves while his mother  gives her blessing. 

All that is left to do now is for Ruben to find his daughter and get her back. The summary stops here because to write anymore is to spoil the film. It is one of those films that must be experienced and the tension keeps you glued to the story. Yes, it is sentimental but it filled with beautiful emotion and an excellent look into the nature of gay men’s’ relationships.

“OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE” A Documentary

“OLIVER SACKS: HIS OWN LIFE”

A Documentary

Amos Lassen

 Author and neurologist Oliver Sacks is the subject of this documentary directed by Ric Burns. “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life”  follows the autobiography that Sacks published shortly before his death in 2015. Burns was able to have several interviews with Sacks in the months before his death, and he has also included interviews with writers, physicians, friends and family members.

Sacks is probably known to many from the movie “Awakenings” which wasa best picture Oscar nominee in 1990 and was based on Sacks’ book about his work with comatose patients back in 1969, when an experimental drug treatment led to these patients coming back to life after long periods asleep. Williams in effect was playing Sacks in the film, a doctor with tremendous empathy for his patients. There was much more to Sacks than that film.

Sacks grew up in an Orthodox Jewish family in England. Both of his parents were physicians, but one of his brothers was schizophrenic, and some people interviewed here speculate that this family experience might have created Oliver’s interest in understanding emotionally troubled people. His family life was painful in other ways as well. When he told his mother that he was gay, she called him an abomination Sacks left England for America, where he rebelled as a motorcycle rider and a bodybuilder. Eventually he moved to New York to focus on his medical career, and although his work with psychotic patients was, at first, controversial to the medical establishment, he eventually won praise from his peers.

Many prominent people pay tribute to Sacks in the film, including a number of fellow writers like Jonathan Miller (his classmate at Oxford) and Paul Theroux, New York Review of Books editor Robert Silvers, members of the medical establishment and Temple Grandin, who was part of a study on autism that completely changed popular understanding of this condition.

Perhaps because of his mother’s disapproval, Sacks wrote both in his autobiography and that he was celibate for 35 years. In his 70s, he established a loving relationship with photographer Billy Hayes (who is interviewed here).

The interviews that Burns conducted with Sacks himself, (some in private and some with his friends and colleagues in attendance) are the real heart of the film. When Sacks accepts his death is close, he says his goodbyes to these long-term associates and these scenes are beautifully moving.

Sacks earned many honorary degrees and awards from the medical establishment late in life but he spent a long period as an outsider and unhappy, even suicidal. It was probably his own torments that helped bring about his sympathy for society’s outsiders which led to his discoveries.

The documentary, like Sacks himself, refuses to pin its subject down to anything as earthly as a diagnosis, because that would reduce him. His torment about his sexuality that, after trying and failing to find a partner (he was afraid that he was drawn to straight men), brought about his period of celibacy. He replaced amphetamines and sex with writing that caused Sacks’ gift for looking at what most of us would see as a disability.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by David Sandison/The Independent/REX/Shutterstock (2423441a)
oliver sacks. in London
oliver sacks. in London

Burns includes archival footage, so we can see how Sacks evolved, over time, from bodybuilder to the “medical holy man” he became. Burns didn’t start filming until after Sacks got his cancer diagnosis and was given a likely six months to live. Much of the film was shot in the living room of Sacks’ Greenwich Village apartment, where Sacks is seen sitting among his friends, publishers, and associates. What’s most moving about “Oliver Sacks: His Own Life” is that  we see that Sacks and his love of life is in every sentence he wrote and that he could embrace death because it would be the most out-there adventure of his life.

 

“Gender Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives 3rd Edition”— The Proliferation of Gendered Violence

O’Toole, Laura L., Jessica R. Schiffman and  Rosemary Sullivan, editors. “Gender Violence: Interdisciplinary Perspectives 3rd Edition”, NYU Press, 2020.

The Proliferation of Gendered Violence

Amos Lassen

“Gender Violence” is updated edition of the groundbreaking anthology that explores the proliferation of gendered violence. Today stories of gender violence dominate headlines. The editors have brought together a new andinterdisciplinary group of scholars, with new and up-to-date material on issues such as workplace harassment, transgender violence, intersectionality, and the #MeToo movement. They give us “a fresh, informed perspective on gender violence, in all of its various forms.” Twenty-nine new contributors, and twelve original essays in this third edition includes contemporary issues such as LGBTQ violence, sex work, and toxic masculinity. 

We are taken beyond the binary and read of all people making this book a handbook for understanding and making this world a better place.We have here conceptual tools, examples, and recommended readings as well as a large volume filled with important information.

“Mr. Pink” by Patrick Hjerten— Love or Revenge?

Hjerten, Patrick. “Mr. Pink”, Books Fluent, 2020.

Love or Revenge?

Amos Lassen

Mr. Pink is a sociopathic magazine publisher planning revenge for something that happened long ago. He seems to have everything going for him. He lives by his own rules and does what he wants when he wants. He uses sex to manipulate others and always manages to have his desires fulfilled. But then he meets Swedish journalist, Andreas, and they begin a relationship that forces Mr. Pink to look at himself and decide if he likes who he is.  

I had no idea what to expect when this book arrived and I found myself having mixed emotions as I read. The character of Mr. Pink was inconsistent as the plot moved forward. At times I saw him as extremely manipulative as he plotted revenge yet he displayed emotion when he was romantically involved. This made it hard to follow his character as well as the storyline. I never felt pulled into the story and the character and it was as if I was reading from a distance. It did not help that we did not have any idea of what went on between Andreas and Pink before this story begins.

When the two men are together, the scenes are well-written and we see their dynamics in this very unconventional love story. However, the way Mr. Pink used sex was off-putting and by the time I reached the end of the book, I really hated him.

I really hate giving an unfavorable review but this did not do it for me. I must admit that the way this story looks at a gay man is something I could have done without. As gay men, we have had unfavorable depictions before but it is a different time now and we do not need to be reminded of this. While the book is beautifully designed and the cover is eye-catching, these do not make up for what is written inside.

“THE WANDERINGS OF IVAN” (“La balade d’Ivan”)— A Journey to Himself

“THE WANDERINGS OF IVAN” (“La balade d’Ivan”)

A Journey to Himself

Amos Lassen

Ivan (Aram Arakelyan) is a Russian immigrant who wanders the streets of Paris. He is homeless and finds shelter in the wooded outskirts of the city. He learns that relationships with others come at a price. As he wanders, we see how masculinity can be both powerful and fragile, hopeful and bittersweet.

Ivan lives in poverty and is subjected to general indifference and rejected by his own orthodox community. He quickly leaves the city in hopes of finding shelter in the woods and settles in a small space, but soon finds the clandestine life where male prostitution has become the rule. Ivan is very religious and becomes troubled by this. Eventually an encounter with Pierre, a young father, seals his future.

The film is a beautiful lyric look at the journey of an immigrant who faces  contempt, indifference and social violence. He is a stranger who is ostracized. Ivan is a pure and lives on instinct. He  is a lonesome wanderer who is intrinsically good but forced to deal with evil. He meets several atypical characters on his wanderings and facesmetaphysical concerns.

 

 

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND”— Smiling Through Heartbreak

“THE BOYS IN THE BAND”

Smiling Through Heartbreak

Amos Lassen

The Netflix adaption of the landmark Mart Crowley play about pre-Stonewall gay New Yorkers is finally here and reactions are mixed. First off, there is a difference between the final moments of Netflix’s film adaptation of “The Boys in the Band” and the Tony-winning 2018Broadway show that it is based on. On stage, the closing scene ended with the lights dimming on a couple who reached a truce with a sensual reaffirmation of their love. This left us with a gorgeous image of strength and survival in the face of shame and fear and being set apart from the rest of society. This is just one of several scenes of gay men in pre-Stonewall New York. We see one “boy” find sexual friendship for one night with a male prostitute, two “boys” hold on to a friendship that was tenuous, another “boy” is spread out on the sofa and yet another is in a bar having one more drink before morning before re-entering the closet. Finally another “boy” runs down the street.

Michael (Jim Parsons) might be running toward something but we see him running away from the camera into night and this seems to mean that there is some kind of hope after an evening of misery.

But we really do not know and the way director Joe Mantello handles the film (with a wonderful cast of gay actors), makes everything open to thought. What we really is what it was to live in an atmosphere of hate and intolerance.

The screenplay by Crowley and Ned Martel uses both the original play and William Friedkin’s 1970 screen version. Attitudes have changed since the release of the film and the original production and “The Boys in the Band” is still quite funny et it is really inference that gay men led lives that were filled with sorrow, loneliness and bitterness.

The script revolves around a .birthday party for Michael’s best “frenemy” Harold (Zachary Quinto), who is, as he says, an “ugly, pockmarked Jew fairy” and  who is filled with disdain. He has something to say about everyone and is quite bitchy when he does so. He is especially hard on himself and shares his feelings of guilt of having to live beyond his means to compensate for the emptions he is unable to deal with.

The actors played their roles for three and a half months on stage before making the film and they have become their characters. Parsons works hard to create the internal damage when he speaks. When Michael pushes everyone to the limit, Harold lets him have it. Quinto gives us a Harold who is aloof and who has learned to coexist with his bitterness.

The exchanges between Emory and Bernard, as they mock one another and then beg forgiveness after they have gone too far as quite good. Larry is an ultra-confident person who refuses to apologize for his sexual proclivities. .

Crowley was ahead of his time in putting gay men’s lives on stage with no allegory and while what he says is often dated and formulaic. But it’s also very much alive and we see the “ destructive force of societal rejection, even in a bastion of liberal acceptance like New York City.”

When “The Boys in the Band” opened on Broadway the first time, it was a revolutionary work of commercial theater that took you into the lives of half a dozen gay New Yorkers. Back then even the most celebrated American playwrights, a number of whom were gay (Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee), were constrained in how they presented gay characters. Crowley changed that by bringing us a truth-game psychodrama about a group of gay men who share everything about themselves by the end.  Today “The Boys in the Band”  is a nostalgic look at the days when sitting around a New York apartment with friends good.

Emory (Robin de Jesús), the most flaming and childlike among them. Larry (Andrew Rannells) and Hank (Tuc Atkins), his older live-in partner play out a domestic dilemma that feels archetypal but genuine enough. As Bernard, Michael Benjamin Washington is a gentle soul who is trapped by his sexuality and his race.

The movie is held together by Harold’s mystique and wonderful delivery of every line and the tormented passion that Jim Parsons brings to Michael. Michael never lets us forget what drives him. He can get be cruel, but it’s only because of how much he is hurting. That’s true of everyone in the movie.

“CARMILLA”— A Gothic  Romance

“CARMILLA”

A Gothic  Romance

Amos Lassen

 Isolated from the outside world, fifteen-year-old Lara (Hannah Rae) lives in seclusion on a country estate with her father (Greg Wise) and strict governess Miss Fontaine (Jessica Raine). One evening, a mysterious carriage crash brings a young girl, Carmilla (Devrim Lignau), into their home to recuperate. Lara becomes enchanted by this strange visitor who arouses her curiosity and awakens her desires.

Inspired by the 1872 Gothic novella by Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, it was written some 25 years before Bram Stoker wrote the story of Count Dracula. This is not the first time that the story has appeared on the screen but this version has almost eliminated the vampire aspects of the original. Director Emily Harris instead concentrates on the novella’s sapphic and brings us a story of obsession and fear of ‘the other’.

Lara is alone except for the governess  who is God-fearing and strict and her and her father. In the carriage crash near their home, the coachmen is killed but Carmilla survives. She is brought into the house to heal. She is quite striking yet strange. It did not take long before Lara is infatuated with the very idea of her, while Miss Fontaine’s ideas are the exact opposite. The writer/director highlights the film’s Gothic themes by drawing on nature imagery combined with amped up sound. There is also body horror here with the inclusion of nightmarish anatomy scenes drawn from Lara’s subconscious. The scenes between Lara and Carmilla are erotic but balanced by the character of Miss Fontaine. A haunting final image further suggests that a stronger embrace of the film’s supernatural elements would have given it a lot more weight.

Director Harris precisely follows Lara’s day-to-day experiences, filled with busy-work, but devoid of personal meaning. Without an age-appropriate friend or companion, Lara spends her Fontaine-free time in reverie and fantasy, eager for the promised visit of a family friend, Charlotte. When Charlotte, however, falls ill, Lara slips into a despondent state, blaming herself and her overwhelming desire for companionship for Charlotte’s illness. Because she has been raised with a kind of Christianity that emphasizes sin and punishment, especially where sexual desire is involved, Lara sees herself as a lure for demons or devils. There’s more than an element of wish-fulfillment in Lara’s desire for a companion and possible lover when Carmilla appears.

Almost immediately, Lara becomes besotted with Carmilla who claims not to remember who she is, where she comes from, or even her own name. Lara names her Carmilla and she just might be everything Lara imagines in a companion and lover. Lara’s desires give Carmilla what she needs and wants— the life-force she likely needs to survive. Harris leaves the question of Carmilla’s real identity unanswered even though Miss Fontaine finds enough clues about Carmilla’s non-human nature to justify treating Carmilla as an existential threat to Lara.

When Lara becomes mysteriously ill, it’s all Miss Fontaine needs to enlist the local doctor to remove Carmilla from their lives. Fontaine functions as a warning to Lara about repression and oppression and as a threat to Lara and Carmilla’s illicit relationship. As a lone, single woman without means or connection, Carmilla represents a threat to the patriarchal social order and to Miss Fontaine as the conscious, self-aware tool of that order.

The film might seem to be a gothic horror movie, but it’s more romance than horror. Even whenit turns towards the violence necessary to restore the patriarchy, Harris turns the camera away aside from a brief, revelatory shot to tell viewers everything they need or want to know about the outcome.

BONUS FEATURES 

  • Behind-the-Scenes Featurette
  • Bonus Short Film — Three Towers(Directed by Jonathan Bentovim and Emily Harris | United Kingdom | Italian with English subtitles | 12 minutes) — A couple’s daily routine on their farm is shattered after a chance meeting with a Scottish tourist who tells them about two buildings that have just collapsed in New York.    

 About Film Movement

Founded in 2002, Film Movement is 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 including the Oscar-nominated films Theeb (2016) and Corpus Christi (2020). 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, King Hu, Sergio Corbucci, Ettore Scola and Luchino Visconti. For more information, please visit www.filmmovement.com. Visit www.filmmovementplus.com for more information about Film Movement Plus, the new subscription streaming service from Film Movement.

“MALLRATS”— An Inconsistent Comedy

“MALLRATS”

An Inconsistent Comedy

Amos Lassen

Director Kevin Smith take us into his universe with “Mallrats”, now back in a two-disc special edition. Dumped by their girlfriends at the same time, comic book obsessive Brodie (Jason Lee) and best friend TS (Jeremy London) decide to ease the pain of their losses by taking a trip to the local mall. Amongst shoppers, they discover the mall is being used as the venue for a dating show and TS’s former girlfriend, Brandi, is the star. Hatching a plan to win back their significant others, Brodie and TS get the help of professional delinquents Jay and Silent Bob to hijack the gameshow and win Brandi back. Meanwhile, Brodie is on his own mission to make good his relationship with Rene (Shannen Doherty), who is attracted the attentions of his enemy, Shannon (Ben Affleck). “Mallrats” celebrates its 25th Anniversary in this limited edition set boasting a brand new restoration and hours of bonus content.

Cheap jokes everywhere yet the film shows that even failed can make good DVDs. The DVD raises the question of how much time is worth spending on a movie with so few rewards, it also beautifully illustrates how a well-assembled disc can collect enough information about its subject to prove a mini-education in itself.

“Mallrats”  is  a disappointing comedy in which the strings are all too apparent. The film’s premise is slender, yet it is one from which the filmmakers squeeze an awful lot of plot. The movie suffers from this causing the audience to have no interest in the story. The tone is inconsistent and this affects the entire film.

BONUS MATERIALS

  • LIMITED EDITION CONTENTS
  • Brand new restoration by Arrow Films of both the Theatrical and Extended cuts of the film, approved by director Kevin Smith and cinematographer David Klein
  • Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity
  • High Definition (1080p) Blu-ray presentations
  • Collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Philip Kemp
  • Fold out poster
  • DISC ONE – THEATRICAL AND EXTENDED CUTS
  • Original DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with director Kevin Smith, producer Scott Mosier, archivist Vincent Pereira, and actors Jason Lee, Ben Affleck, and Jason Mewes
  • Brand new introduction to the film by Kevin Smith
  • My Mallrat Memories – and all-new interview with Kevin Smith
  • A newly filmed tribute to producer Jim Jacks by Kevin Smith
  • Brand new interview with actor Jason Mewes
  • Brand new interview with Cinematographer David Klein
  • Hollywood of the North: A newly produced animated making-of documentary featuring Minnesota crew members who worked on the film
  • Deleted Scenes – Kevin Smith and Vincent Pereira discuss deleted scenes and sequences originally cut from the film
  • Outtakes and behind the scenes footage
  • Cast interviews from the original set
  • Erection of an Epic: The making of Mallrats – archival retrospective with cat and crew looking at the making and release of the film
  • Q&A with Kevin Smith – archival Q&A filmed for the 10th anniversary
  • Build Me Up Buttercup music video
  • Stills galleries
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • DISC TWO – TV CUT
  • Newly assembled TV cut of the film featuring hilarious overdubbing to cover up profanity
  • Original stereo audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Brand new introduction to the TV cut by director Kevin Smith
  • Stills gallery of the comic books featured in the film’s opening sequence
  • Easter eggs

“THE DEEPER YOU DIG”— Family, Loss and Survival

“THE DEEPER YOU DIG”

Family, Loss and Survival

Amos Lassen

Themes of family, loss and survival come together with the thin line that separates the living from the dead in “The Deeper You Dig”, directed by and starring filmmaking family the Adams Family.

Bogus tarot card reader Ivy (Toby Poser) and her teenage daughter Echo (Zelda Adams) are an unconventional but loving mother/daughter team. When reclusive Kurt (John Adams) moves in down the road, a tragic accident results in Echo’s murder and three lives collide in mysterious and wicked ways. Kurt believes he can hide his secret beneath the earth but Echo, refusing to accept death, enters his mid until he can feel her in his bones. She haunts his every move, trying to reach her mother from beyond and Ivy must dig deep to see the signs and prove that love still exists.

The film is a dark, unsettling meditation on grief, survival and what separates the living from the dead. This two volume disc set includes John Adams’ earlier feature “The Hatred”.

Echo (Zelda Adams) is 14 when she’s hit by a car. Echo liked black lipstick and old jazz tunes and sledding. She was studying for exams and seems to have the world ahead of her and even when she’s hit, she fights for life.

The driver, Kurt, (director John Adams, who co-wrote the film with his wife Toby Poser) is a loner, partially snowbound in a crumbling house he has long been planning to renovate. He raises some suspicions in the police officers who investigate Echo’s disappearance. Ivy doesn’t trust them to get to the bottom of the mystery. She’s convinced that her daughter is dead but wants to find out what happened to her and help her spirit find peace. Using tarot, she undertakes a journey through the occult in search of resolution, already knowing that there could be a terrible price to pay.

Echo still wants to be alive. She wants to go back to her mother. She wants Kurt to confess – and until he does, she won’t leave him alone.

The cinematography gives the film an intense sense of place. This is a brooding, atmospheric piece of work that points up unforeseen and perhaps unforeseeable consequences to having that one last drink.

Kurt is fixing up a local abandoned property for resale, takes a drive whiledrunk. He strikes Echo and seriously injures her. In a panic, he disposes her body on his property while she still is alive, and doesn’t report the accident. When Echo fails to return home that night, her panicky mom calls the police.

It film works well enough as a ghost story, even if the plot is not much and the performances just merely adequate. What comes through is the passion the family had for their film and how ambitious it was despite such a scant budget. This low budget feature has the three contributing equally to the completion of an interesting feature debut.

The film explores grief in a novel way, using the ghostly specter of a post-mortem Echo to personify both Kurt’s guilt and Ivy’s isolation.

BONUS MATERIALS

  • Exclusive two-disc set containing The Deeper You Dig (2019) and The Hatred (2018)

  • Reversible sleeve featuring two exclusive choices of artwork

  • Double-sided fold-out poster

  • Limited edition illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new writing by Neil Mitchell

  • DISC ONE – THE DEEPER YOU DIG

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  • Original lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack

  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  • Audio commentary by writers/directors/stars Toby Poser and John Adams

  • At Home with the Adams Family, an exclusive, in-depth interview with the trio of filmmakers responsible for The Deeper You Dig

  • It’s in the Blood: The Family in the Horror Genre, an exclusive visual essay by critic Anton Bitel exploring the theme of family in The Deeper You Dig and the Adams Family’s broader filmography

  • Special effects breakdown with commentary by Trey Lindsay

  • FrightFest TV interview with the Adams Family

  • Hellbender music videos

  • Theatrical trailer

  • Image gallery

  • DISC TWO – THE HATRED

  • High Definition (1080p) presentation

  • Original lossless PCM 2.0 stereo soundtrack

  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing

  • Kid Kalifornia music videos

“WARNING FROM SPACE”— UFOs in Japan

“WARNING FROM SPACE”

UFOs in Japan

Amos Lassen

As Japan is rocked by mysterious sightings of UFOs over Tokyo as well as large one-eyed aliens attempting contact. Scientists come together to investigate this unexpected rise in extraterrestrial activity. What they do not know is that one of the aliens has already assumed human form and is about to deliver a very important message.

Written by Hideo Oguni and designed by avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto, the original Japanese version has been completely restored and gets its English language debut with this DVD and Blu ray release from MVD.

In Japan’s first color sci-fi film, a race of starfish aliens from another planet land on Earth to warn mankind of the dangers of nuclear testing, and how it will ultimately affect their planet. The film was originally released in 1956.Based on the novel by Nakajima Gentaro, “Warning from Space” is  the story of an alien race traveling to Earth to warn the inhabitants of an impending disaster. The creatures from the planet Paira look like upright starfish with single giant eyes in their centers. They sent one of their number down to Earth disguised as a human in order to make contact with a Japanese scientist. She tells of a large rogue planet headed quickly to Japan and the scientists work to develop a weapon that can save them before the Earth bursts into flames.

Keeping in mind when this film was made, the script is pretty much as by-the-numbers one could be at the time. We have checking every relevant sci-fi cliché with much of the first act spent with a scientist who’s unwilling to formulate a working hypothesis about the UFOs seen over Tokyo and the sightings of the aliens. We have sequences of starfish aliens scaring people and flying saucers scooting through airspace. The visual effects are fine for the time but dated for modern tastes yet they work well enough. It is no masterpiece, but it does have its interests.

The aliens found a rogue planet on a collision course with Earth, but since they stopped the use of nuclear weaponry centuries ago, they need the Earthmen to blow up the danger to both their planets (the loss of Earth would destroy their own orbit). The real nuclear powers ignore the warning, presumably because it comes from Japan, until they actually see the planet in the sky, but then find that regular nuclear weapons are not enough. One of the Japanese scientists, however, has found the formula for a super-powerful energy source and at the last minute a missile is equipped with a warhead made from it and saves the Earth.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the movie is its understated patriotism. It is Japanese scientists who lead the world in their discoveries and Japanese scientists who issue the warning that is initially ignored by the great powers. This is simply a statement that Japan, too, has its science and it can lead the world at times.

It is also interesting that the alien chooses to become a female nightclub entertainer. The alien says that this is because her form is attractive and will frighten no one, but much more remarkable is that the scientists listen to her in that shape. We have not seen in other mid-fifties movies of Japanese men paying the slightest attention to the opinions of women on public issues. The idea of listening to a night-club singer to learn how to save the world is almost as inconceivable as having to save the world from collision with a planet from another solar system. The earth woman model was probably chosen so the studio could include some color in her night club numbers that would be missing from all the other drab scientific scenes, and while I doubt that anyone intended this to be a pro-feminist statement. It does, however, stand out.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation

  Original uncompressed Japanese mono audio

  Optional newly translated English subtitles

  Brand new commentary by Stuart Galbraith IV, author of Monsters Are Attacking Tokyo!

  First-ever HD transfer of the American release version of the film, including a newly restored English dub track

  Theatrical trailers

  Image galleries

  Reversible sleeve featuring newly commissioned artwork by Matt Griffin

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector s booklet featuring an essay on artist Taro Okamoto by Japanese art historian Nick West, and an essay on the production of the American edit of the film by David Cairns