Going Deep: March Madness

With spring approaching, why stay inside unless you’re watching something hellaciously entertaining?  Check out the goodies in this edition of Going Deep!

R100: A mild-mannered Japanese businessman caring for a comatose wife while raising their young son finds a secret outlet for his desires: ‘a boutique dominatrix agency that specializes in guerilla acts of public degradation.’

Starring Nao Ohmori (aka ‘Ichi the Killer’ from another masterful masochism-themed movie) R100 begins unassumingly and then goes off the sprockets.

First, it becomes a meta-take on the Japanese ratings board system.  (R100 = No one under 100 admitted.)

Then a deadly mishap with one of the mistresses turns the finale into a madcap actioner, akin to a 60’s-era espionage film, that finds the businessman (and his son) fending off a leather-clad bevy of furious femme fatales.

From R100 to R the rock star.  The Fan (Blu-ray + DVD Combo) is a highly-prized German cult film from the 80’s that’s filled with New Wave music (Neue Deutsche Welle) from Rheingold, eye-popping colors and lots of nudity.  Like R100, this film is a slow-build shocker that proved anathema to stateside distributors.  Mondo Macabre is the first to bring a pristine, uncut Blu-Ray presentation to the US market.

Simone is a high school student obsessed with a rock singer named R.  Though overcome by nerves when she gets the opportunity to meet him in person, she soon gets the opportunity to show the extent of her devotion. Presented in German with subtitles, the combo pack includes a new 20-minute video interview with director Eckhart Schmidt, who reveals surprising layers of subtext and amazing behind-the-scenes drama.

For more S&M kink in luscious B&W, try Kino Lorber’s restoration of Vice and Virtue [Blu-ray].  Set in Nazi-occupied France, this adaptation of Marquis de Sade’s novel, Justine, was directed by Roger Vadim of Barbarella fame and introduced Catherine Deneuve, as a housewife abducted by the Nazis and sadistically trained to serve as a concubine.

And for yet more women in chains, don’t miss the Blu-Ray debut of Filipino trashsploitation pirate and prisoner flick, The Muthers, starring former Playboy Playmates Jeanne Bell (October 1969) and Rosanne Katon (September 1978).

From R100 to ‘Rated V for Violence’: Mark Of The Devil comes to Blu-Ray & DVD in a gorgeous transfer from Arrow Video.

Udo Kier plays Count Christian von Meruh, an 18th Century Austrian witch-hunter apprenticed to Lord Cumberland (Herbert Lom), a vain despot who uses religion as a means to steal wealth and abuse women.  Settings include historic buildings that actually held witchcraft trials.

Legendary for its gruesome imagery, Arrow’s uncut presentation reportedly preserves the colors and film grain and contains a terrific assortment of extras.  Sadly, it does not contain the ‘gag’ item originally given to theater-goers: a barf bag!

From the Mark of the Devil to the Mark of the Beast!  Meet Wolfcop [Blu-ray].  Half-man.  Half-wolf.  All cop.  “Here comes the fuzz.”

For a well-dressed wolf vs. a wolfman in shredded uniform, check out Wolfy, The Incredible Secret, winner of Best Animated Film at the 2014 Cesar Awards and nominated for Best Film at the 2014 Berlinale.  Orphaned Wolfy and his childhood friend (and rabbit), Tom, set out to find Wolfy’s mother at the Carne Festival — a gathering of the world’s most dangerous meat-eaters — and discover the secret of his mother’s disappearance and his true ancestry.

For a wolf with the suave vocal growlings of Benedict Cumberbatch, and an international spy farce that features black-and-white feathered penguins instead of black-leather suited dominatrixes, check out Penguins of Madagascar [Blu-ray].  Look for Short Fuse, a Belgian harp seal/demolitions expert voiced by Ken Jeong (The Hangover)!

For an Academy Award nominated film that contains ancestral secrets, disappearing mothers and selkies (half-man/half-seal: all selkie), check out the highly designed Irish animated feature, Song of the Sea (Blu-ray + DVD + DIGITAL HD), featuring the voice of Brendan Gleeson.

For more Irish sea tales and femme fatales, Orson Welles plays an Irish sailor and Rita Hayworth plays a sultry blonde in Welles’ film noir classic, The Lady From Shanghai – Blu-ray.  The final shoot-out inside a hall of mirrors is cinematic history and it looks great in this worthy Blu-Ray transfer. (1080p High-Definition Video from a 4k Digital Restoration.  Presented in the Original Aspect Ratio of 1.37:1.)

For an under-acknowledged genre classic, check out Prowler [Blu-ray], newly restored by the UCLA Film and Television Archives and the Film Noir Foundation.  It’s the sordid tale of a cop (played by the manly-monikered Van Helfin) stalking an attractive housewife; he plans to win her heart by offing her husband.  Directed by Jopseph Losey, who also made the Peter Lorre serial killer classic, M (The Criterion Collection) [Blu-ray].  Written by then-blacklisted and uncredited screenwriter, Dalton Trumbo with Hugo Butler.

Criterion presents another lost noir classic with a new 2K digital restoration: Ride the Pink Horse [Blu-ray].  Directed by and starring Robert Montgomery, it’s a classic revenge the tale.  Here, a former GI comes to a little farmer town in New Mexico to settle with the gangster who killed his best friend.

Co-star Thomas Gomez became the first Hispanic actor to receive an Academy Award nomination for his role as Pancho(!)  Along with gorgeous cover art, the disc includes an essay by indie director, Michael Almereyda.

Here’s a trailer:

No, wait, pink horses don’t have horns.  Here’s the trailer:

Criterion also released François Truffaut’s follow-up to his seminal work, Jules and Jim:

The Soft Skin [Blu-ray] is the former film critic’s Hitchcock homage, dealing with marital infidelity.

 

For a giggle, I would consider hiding a different type of movie collection in the afore-mentioned Criterion packages.

Don’t Go In The Woods (Blu-ray + DVD Combo): If you’ve ever watched a horror film or read a fairy tale, the title of this low budget 1981 cult classic provides some sound advice.

For more madmen in the wilderness, here’s an opportunity to buy Aguirre, The Wrath of God [Blu-ray] unbundled from the monumental Herzog Collection.  This legendary film stars Klaus Kinski as Don Lope del Aguirre, a conquistador questing for El Dorado, the City of Gold.  Filmed in the Amazon jungle, Herzog and Kinski’s masterwork is a clear inspiration for Apocalypse Now.

Still wilding out: The Wild One is the original outlaw biker movie starring Marlon Brando as Johnny Strabler, an American icon of rebellion.

FOREIGN

Land Of Storms (aka Viharsarok):  A German co-production with more brooding men mounted on vintage motorbikes and lots of slapping on the Hungarian prairie.  (Seriously, so much slapping this week.)  Shot on 35 mm, the lush landscapes and strong performances garnered many festival and critical plaudits.  It looks stunning and should appeal beyond its niche market.

The Physician:  Set in the 11th Century, Tom Payne plays a young Christian who must disguise himself as a Jew in order to attend medical school in Persia.  This English-language epic about the search for knowledge contains sumptuous visuals and a stellar international cast (Ben Kingsley, Olivier Martinez and Stellan Starsgård).

This German co-production was directed by Phillip Stölzl (Young Goethe in Love) and written by Jan Berger, who penned “We Are the Night“, a hugely successful female vampire film from Germany that bested many Stateside genre offerings in production values and sheer entertainment.  Variety favorably compares “The Physician” to “Braveheart” and “Gladiator.”  Check out the trailer:

The Way He Looks  Daniel Ribiero’s coming-of-age film deals with Leo, a blind teenager with plans to study abroad; things change when he gets assigned a school project with Gabriel, the new kid in town.  His blossoming feelings for Gabriel create tension with his best friend, Giovana, and his overbearing mother.

Leo’s blindness makes for a surprisingly fresh take on first romance, underscored by the music of Belle & Sebastian.  This was Brazil’s official entry for Best Foreign Film at the 87th Academy Awards.

DOCUMENTARIES

This Ain’t No Mouse Music:  A musical trip through the byways of the American South and the history of Arhoolie Records.

TV

Maude: The Complete Series: Shout Factory presents the complete collection of Norman Lear’s Emmy Award winning sitcom, starring Bea Arthur.  Introduced in All in the Family as Edith Bunker’s opinionated liberal cousin, Maude was a two-hander sitcom that tackled hot-button issues such as abortion from a more liberal and feminist perspective.

Mondovino: The Complete Series: An international saga of wine making, featuring “…übercritic Robert Parker, legendary wine mogul Robert Mondavi, zany art collector Jan Schrem, and the noble proprietor of the mythical Romanée Conti vineyard.  From Florence to Burgundy, New York to Argentina, each hour-long episode stands alone as a passionate and hilarious piece of documentary filmmaking.”

AND MORE…

Low Down: An L.A.-set period piece about fatherhood, heroin and jazz starring an incredibly diverse cast (John Hawkes, Elle Fanning, Glenn Close, Flea, Peter Dinklage & Lena Headley)!

Son of a Gun An Australian remake of the terrific French film, A Prophet.  (Ewan McGregor, Brenton Thwaites)

Also check out two Tucson cargo-themed classics:

Arizona – 75th Anniversary Series: A drifter and the cavalry help the first woman in Tucson protect her freight line from Indians. (William Holden, Jean Arthur)

White Line Fever – 40th Anniversary Series A Tucson-based produce trucker protects his pregnant wife from a vicious band of cargo crooks.  (Jan Michael Vincent; Jonathan Kaplan)

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