Author Archives: Peter Fuller

World on a Wire (1973) | Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s virtual reality sci-fi epic is a retro noir wet dream

world on a wire (1973)

Originally made for German TV in 1973, Rainer Werner Fassbinder‘s science-fiction thriller World on a Wire (Welt am Draht) is a frightening look into the world of virtual reality and a masterful adaptation of Daniel F Galouye’s 1964 novel Simulacron-3 (aka The Counterfeit World).

world on a wire (1973)

It centres around a highly-advanced project designed to elevate conventional computer technology to a new level by creating a virtual reality inhabited by computer-generated people or ‘identity units’.

When the head of the project dies mysteriously, Dr Stiller (Klaus Löwitsch) becomes his successor and sets out to probe deeper. Making contact with an identity unit called Einstein (Gottfried John), Stiller faces a terrible truth: that his world is actually a simulation of another world one level above…

world on a wire (1973)

Forget The Matrix and its ilk, Fassbinder’s two-part TV adaptation was way ahead of its time and has been praised as a science fiction masterpiece. Featuring some familiar faces from the director’s company of actors (Berlin Alexanderplatz‘ Brigette Mira, Tenderness of the Wolves‘ Kurt Raab, Effi Briest‘s Ulli Lommel and Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’s El Hedi ben Salem), the dystopian thriller also sports superlative production design (that probably influenced Blade Runner, and certainly has an Alphaville feel about it). So, for anyone into 1970s fashion, architecture and design, the sets, costumes, lighting and location shots are a retro noir wet dream (I know I could quite happily live in this simulated world). It might be dense in parts, made more so by the heavy German accents, but taken as instalments, World on a Wire is a revelation.

world on a wire (1973)

This new restoration, supervised by The Rainer Werner Fassbinder Foundation and cinematographer Michael Ballhaus (Goodfellas, The Departed), comes 46 years after its initial release and still pushes audiences to question the world around them.

It is now being released by Second Sight in a Limited Edition Blu-ray which includes a 50-page collectors booklet and a host of outstanding new special features.

SPECIAL FEATURES
• No Strings Attached: interview with assistant director Renate Leiffer
• Observing Fassbinder: tribute to photographer Peter Gauhe
• Looking Ahead to Today documentary
• On-set featurette
• Original Broadcast Recap
• The Simulation Argument: interview with Professor Nick Bostrom
• 50-page collectors booklet featuring new essays by Anton Bitel and Daniel Bird, archival 
writing by Daniel Oberhaus and Christian Braad Thomsen, stills and rare on-set photos by Peter Gauhe

Advertisements

The Boys in the Band (1970) | Mart Crowley’s ground-breaking queer drama still has the power to shock!

Boys in the Band (1970)

The Boys in the Band was one of earliest directorial efforts of William Friedkin (who had impressed with his 1968 adaptation of Harold Pinter’s The Birthday Party, and would next helm The French Connection and The Exorcist), and it proved hugely controversial on its original 1970 release, dividing the gay community across the world. Now, the game-changing queer cinema drama is making its UK Blu-ray debut from Second Sight.

Boys in the Band (1970)

Based on the seminal 1968 Off-Broadway hit of the same name, playwright Mart Crowley adapted his own play for the big screen. The original stage cast including Kenneth Nelson, Peter White and Leonard Frey all starred in the film, one that Friedkin rates as ‘one of the few films I’ve made that I can still watch’.

Famed for its caustic wit, savage put-downs and many expletives, the film follows a group of gay men celebrating the birthday of one of their friends, Harold (Frey), amid much drunken backbiting and, as the drink flows, the evening descends even further…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The Boys in the Band Special Edition Blu-ray is out on 11 February 2019 complete with a raft of extras, including an exclusive, brand new interview with Mark Gatiss and Ian Hallard (who resurrected the play for a sold-out run in London in 2018), commentary from Friedkin and writer Crowley, as well as features looking at the film, the play it was based on and its cultural impact and resonance in the years since it first caused controversy.

Released 50 years after its theatrical debut – a year before the Stonewall riots – The Boys in the Band still has the power to shock…

Out now on Blu-ray in the UK from Second Sight

Orphée (1950) | Jean Cocteau’s fantasy masterpiece looks divine on Blu-ray

Poet, playwright, artist and filmmaker, Jean Cocteau was one of the most significant artists of the 20th-century and 1950’s Orphée, based on the classic legend of Orpheus and Eurydice, is regarded as his masterpiece. Following the film’s theatrical release last October by the BFI in the UK, it is now available on both Blu-ray and on iTunes.

THE STORY
Orpheus (Jean Marais), a famous left-bank poet in post-war Paris who is married to Eurydice (Marie Déa), sees fellow-poet Jacques Cegeste (Edouard Dermithe) knocked down and killed by a motorcyclist. Orpheus then meets Cegeste’s mysterious patron, The Princess (Marîa Casares) and, through her, discovers The Zone, a realm of death that Orpheus will come to know all too well…

Cocteau’s hypnotic fantasy was awarded the top prize at the 1950 Venice Film Festival, and its ingenious special effects and images (like the dissolving mirror through which characters pass into the next world) will stay with you long after the film itself is over.

Georges Auric’s music, Nicolas Hayer’s cinematography and Cocteau’s own simple but dynamic invention also greatly contribute to the look and feel of a most remarkable film.

Originally, Cocteau had considered asking Greta Garbo in the role of The Princess, but in the event 28-year-old Spanish actress Marîa Casares proved perfection.

For many years now I have owned and loved the Criterion Collection boxset of Cocteau’s Orphic Trilogy from 2005, in which The Blood of the Poet (1930) and Testament of Orpheus (1959) book-end Cocteau’s unrivalled 1950 masterpiece. But this new BFI release is just too good to resist – the print here looks (and sounds) simply divine and have a gander at the fantastic extras (all new except La villa Santo Sospir). Add this to your World Cinema collection now!

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Presented in High Definition
• Feature-length commentary by Roland-François Lack
• Jean Cocteau by Pierre Bergé and Dominque Marny (2008, 35 mins): the former and current presidents of the Jean Cocteau Committee provide a portrait of the filmmaker
• Memories of Filming by Jean-Pierre Mocky and Eric Le Roy (2008, 16 mins)
• Jean Cocteau and His Tricks (2008, 14 mins): assistant director Claude Pinoteau reveals the film’s visual tricks
• The Queer Family Tree – Reflections on Jean Cocteau (2018, 15 mins): director John Maybury on Cocteau’s influence on his own work and on queer cinema in general
• La villa Santo Sospir (1952, 38 mins): A short 16mm colour film lensed by Cocteau
• Theatrical trailer
• 2018 Re-release trailer
• Stills gallery
• Illustrated booklet featuring essays by Ginette Vincendeau, Deborah Allison and William Fowler

Beyond the Clouds (1995) | Michelangelo Antonioni’s final film is a reflective walk through love’s labour’s lost

Michelangelo Antonioni returned to his birthplace in Ferrara, Emilia Romagna for his directorial swansong, 1995’s Beyond the Clouds (Al di là delle nuvole), a gorgeous-looking quartet of erotic tales, co-directed by Wim Wenders, dealing with love and desire that harks back to auteur-lead anthology films like Spirits of the Dead and Boccaccio ’70.

Beyond the Clouds

From out of the clouds, an American film director (John Malkovich) arrives in Europe in search of inspiration for his next picture. What follows are four stories, each about the hypnotic effect women can have on men, including the director himself – who literally stalks Sophie Marceau’s husband killer in a deserted, off-season Portofino.

This really is Men Are from Mars, Women Are From Venus territory with each story adapted from a vignette in Antonioni’s 1986 book That Bowling Alley on the Tiber. But beware, as the director makes no excuses in portraying women the way he sees them, which means breasts and lots of them – exposed by some of Europe’s leading actresses.

Beyond the Clouds

In the first tale, set in the fog-shrouded streets of Ferrara, Silvano (Kim Rossi Stuart) meets Carmen (Ines Sastre) and asks her out on a date. But despite his attraction, he can’t follow through on his feelings for her. Cue: sex and some lovely scenery.

The film then moves to Paris, where New Yorker Roberto (Peter Weller speaking perfect French) starts an affair with an Italian girl (Chiara Caselli). But despite his stale marriage to the drunken Patricia (Fanny Ardant), he still loves her.

Also in Paris, Carlo (Jean Reno) arrives in his swanky apartment by the Seine to find his wife and furniture gone. When Ardant’s Patricia arrives to view the apartment, she reveals that she too has left her husband and taken the furniture as well. Cue: a caress, and the possibility of something new.

In the final – and best story of the feature – set in that French tourist Mecca, Aix-en-Provence, a young woman (Irene Jacob) leads the desperately-in-love Niccolo (Vincent Perez) on as he persistently follows her to church, unaware that she is to become a nun. No wonder some men turn gay, poor Niccolo.

Beyond the Clouds

Wim Wenders with Michelangelo Antonioni

Completed by Wenders after Antonioni suffered a stroke, Beyond the Clouds is a gentle, reflective walk through love’s labour’s lost – although Malkovich’s ponderings do get a little tiresome. Beautifully shot, with a terrific score (thanks to Van Morrison and U2), it also boasts a great cameo from Marcello Mastroianni and Jeanne Moreau as two old-timers debating the worthiness of copying an artist’s work at the 1hr 16hr mark.

Beyond the Clouds is available on DVD from Second Sight (2009) and also screens at the BFI Southbank on Sunday 17 February and Thursday 21 February 2019 as part of their Antonioni season.

Pinter at the BBC | ‘If 628 minutes of this is too much you need to stay in more’ – Digging through the BFI’s 10 play DVD collection

Harold Pinter (1930-2008) was one of the most influential British playwrights of the last century. Pinter at the BBC is a 5-disc DVD box set containing 10 plays made for the BBC between 1965 and 1988, and featuring a dazzling array of British acting talent including Michael Gambon, Julie Walters, Leo McKern, Vivien Merchant, John Le Mesurier and Miranda Richardson. Highlights include Tea Party (1965), Old Times (1975) and The Birthday Party (1987), which sees a rare example of Pinter acting within his own work.

Released by the BFI on 28 January 2019, the plays are accompanied by a range of special features (see full list at the bottom of this post) and a 40-page collector’s booklet.

Guest reviewer Ali Pye has watched them all and here’s her take on the ‘Hackney oracle’…

It’s easy to see why Pinter endures. “The system’s wrong.” declares Roote some minutes into The Hothouse, an austere 5 hander set in what would appear to be an asylum, although there’s an absence of clarity on who exactly is running it. Christmas morning heralds timely resonance with the birth of a baby of uncertain paternity (there is a historical precedent) l and within some small hour or so the seemingly random murder of most of the staff. So far so relevant, only The Hothouse was written in 1958 and first produced in the early ‘80’s.

If ever a playwright predicted our junk-strewn, chaotic and narcissistic existence in broken Britain it was Pinter. We pace neurotically in dark towering silos, counting our steps and checking our likes, suffocated with fear and shot through with doubt, untrusting of friends and wary of families where brothers loom big.  As foretold by the Hackney oracle across a career encompassing 50 years and 29 plays.

Pinter at the BBC is released to loosely coincide with the 10th anniversary of the author’s death, which fell, with a Pinter-esque poignancy on Christmas Eve 2008. In the divisive decade since his concerns with politics, power and prestige, and the language in which these are negotiated has if anything increased quite dramatically (puns intended) in relevance.

This 5-disc set comprises of ten televised films from 1963 to 1988 with a striking confidence and dismal prophetic accuracy. In The Tea Party, Disson insists that the young would be-employee he interviews understands explicitly the role is that of “a very private secretary”, emphasis falling just hard enough to make ears attuned to #Metoo defensive linguistic wriggling prick up.

Constantly staged, the Harold Pinter Theatre on Panton St, SW1 is currently half way through a six month run of one hour double-bills, the medium of television injects an added intimacy and chill to the collection. The Basement, in which three people tussle for dominance, rooms and rivalry being a recurring theme, presents as such an overcrowded space that the camera appears jacked up. It is literally in the face of the performing Pinter himself (another monumental plus) and Derek Godfrey as they duel, literally and metaphorically, for the prizes, in no particular order, of the girl, the soft furnishings and the fish tank.

Tight focus pulls and disconcerting edits repeat.  The small screen frames the claustrophobia, the fish-eye lens, the scratchy fuzziness of Disson’s failing eyes reflecting his fractured perceptions in jarring static that disembodies the dialogue. The TV audience loses sight as the character does so. The perspective is uniquely interior.

In Mountain Language, a profoundly political piece influenced by the horrific treatment meted out by the Turkish regime to the 11 million Kurds and directed for the BBC by the author himself, the high, long, unflinching perspectives mimic security camera angles. As if CCTV footage were playing out in real time, which Pinter’s embracing of Amnesty International and a recent trip to Turkey with Arthur Miller had informed him was precisely the case.

The additional bonuses in the compilation practically define the word. The ICA interview (1987) at almost an hour catches Pinter responding to current affairs with increasing fury. His work had always been combative and concerned with power but the plays of the mid 80’s, the brutal Mountain Language and One for the Road (not in the set) bypassed ambiguity, depicting security guards and brutalised inmates in undefined high-wire prisons. But speaking in English and with names, when given, as commonplace and familiar Sara and Nicky.

Flora’s concern that not enough notice is being taken of “what grows in your garden….”  (A Slight Ache) suggests more than tutted irritation at a distracted husband who fails to identify the honeysuckle. Interpreting this as a strictly horticultural reference would suggest you are possibly watching the wrong compilation. A sinister silent shadow is at the gate. The stench is unbearable. There is a deepening, creeping and more pestilent rot.

Small nuggets abound. Besides the magnificent casting, John Le Mesurier giving an oddly sinister 7 minute cameo as an optician, Joan Plowright and Julie Waters conspiring for Stanley’s night to remember although it isn’t his birthday, Pinter directed two TV films and featured in two others himself. The breadth and scope never lets up across two decades. From basement, to tea party, to birthday party to hothouse Pinter wrote and the small screen acts as a prism, pinpointing with laser precision a landscape that suggests escape is impossible. If you think A Night Out is any more than a temporary release you would be proved wrong.

If 628 minutes of this is too much you need to stay in more.

Pinter at the BBC

THE PLAYS
• Tea Party (Charles Jarrot, 1965)
• A Slight Ache (Christopher Morahan, 1967)
• A Night Out (Christopher Morahan, 1967)
• The Basement (Charles Jarrot, 1967)
• Monologue (Christopher Morahan, 1972)
• Old Times (Christopher Morahan, 1975)
• The Hothouse (Harold Pinter, 1982)
• Landscape (Kenneth Ives, 1983)
• The Birthday Party (Kenneth Ives, 1987)
• Mountain Language (Harold Pinter, 1988)

SPECIAL FEATURES
• Writers in Conversation: Harold Pinter (1984, 47 mins): an ICA interview with Harold Pinter by Benedict Nightingale
• Pinter People (1969, 16 mins): a series of four animated films written by Harold Pinter
• Face-to-Face: Harold Pinter (1997, 39 mins): Sir Jeremy Isaacs interviews Harold Pinter, who discusses the images and events which have inspired some of his most powerful dramas
• Harold Pinter Guardian Interview (1996, 73 mins, audio only): an extensive interview with the legendary playwright by critic Michael Billington, recorded at the National Film Theatre
• Illustrated booklet with new writing by Michael Billington, John Wyver, Billy Smart, Amanda Wrigley, David Rolinson and Lez Cooke, and full film credits

Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1965) | Robert Aldrich’s splendidly macabre murder mystery on Blu-ray

hush... hush, sweet charlotte-4

From Eureka! Entertainment comes director Robert Aldrich’s brooding murder mystery, Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, starring Bette Davis, on Blu-ray for the first time in the UK.

Don’t Tell Anyone What Happened In The Summer House!
Tended by her loyal servant Velma (Agnes Moorehead), Charlotte Hollis (Bette Davis) has been closeted in her family’s plantation mansion ever since the brutal murder of her married lover, John Mayhew (Bruce Dern) 37 years earlier. When the local county plans to tear down the house to build a highway, the spinster seeks the help of her New York-based cousin Miriam (Olivia de Havilland), but Charlotte’s mind soon becomes unhinged when she sees visions of John’s decapitated hand and hearing the song he composed for her wafting through the mansion late at night. Has his ghost really come back to haunt her or is someone trying to drive Charlotte insane?

Regarded as Aldrich’s informal follow-up to What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, this splendidly macabre psychological thriller deservedly stands on its own merits, especially considering its seven Academy Award nominations, including a Best Supporting Actress gong for Agnes Moorehead. She is simply splendid as the dishevelled Velma, who is quick to alert the authorities and an insurance investigator (a twinkly Cecil Kellaway) about her suspicions. Moorehead’s old Mercury Theatre pal, Joseph Cotton, meanwhile, chews the scenery big time as the bourbon-soaked Dr Drew Bayliss, who jilted Miriam after the murder.

In her last film role is The Maltese Falcon‘s Mary Astor. ‘Turn her loose, Robert, you might learn something!’ was Davis’ famous on-set comment about the veteran actress whose scenes as John’s seriously-ill widow Jewel are the antithesis of Davis’ full-blown hysterics. Nevertheless, Davis brings much pathos to Charlotte (especially in the last half of the film), while Olivia de Havilland (who sensationally replaced Joan Crawford) gives sterling support as the butter-wouldn’t-melt Miriam, who is hiding a few dark secrets of her own.

With its atmospheric black and white cinematography (from Aldrich regular Joseph Biroc), meticulous art direction (from William Glasgow and Raphael Bretton), cracking script (from Baby Jane novelist Henry Farrell), ghoulish special effects and nightmarish set pieces, not to mention the memorably haunting theme tune (from Frank De Vol and Mack David), this is a classic murder mystery of the highest order and one that can be revisited over and over..

Watch out for George Kennedy as the demolition foreman, Ellen Corby as one of the town’s gossips, and a couple of faces from Baby Jane, including Victor Buono as Charlotte’s domineering father whom she believed killed John.

Favourite line: ‘Don’t turn on the light. It’s not real when it’s light. It’s only real when it’s dark… dark and still!’

Eureka! Entertainment presents Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte as part of their Masters of Cinema Series for the first time on Blu-ray in the UK with the following extras…

• 1080p presentation
• LPCM 2.0 Audio
• Optional English SDH subtitles
• Audio commentary by critic Kat Ellinger
• Audio commentary by film historian Glenn Erickson
• Hush…Hush, Sweet Joan: The Making of Charlotte [22 mins]
• Bruce Dern Remembers [13 mins]
• Wizard Work [5 mins] – archival behind-the-scenes look at the film, narrated by Joseph Cotton
• Stills Gallery
• Trailer & TV spots
• Collector’s booklet featuring a new essay by Lee Gambin, illustrated with archival imagery

Available to order from Zavvi at http://po.st/vIhZja

DID YOU KNOW?
Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte, which was shot on location at the historic Houmas plantation in Burnside, Louisiana, was originally going to be called What Ever Happened to Cousin Charlotte? However, Bette Davis disliked the title as it indicated a sequel to Baby Jane, so it was she who suggested using Frank De Vol/Mack David’s song title instead. Crooner Al Martino (who sings the tune over the closing credits) released it as a B-side of his January 1965 single release My Heart Would Know, which reached No.52 on the Billboard Hot 100. Bette Davis, Patti Page, Richard Chamberlain and even the UK’s very own Bruce Forsyth all released their own versions of the melody.

Chung Kuo, China (1972) | Michelangelo Antonioni’s absorbing behind the bamboo curtain documentary

Chung Kuo China

In 1972, Italian director Michelangelo Antonioni was given the rare opportunity to film in China. It was an era of change for the isolated country, which was in the grip of Mao Zedong‘s Cultural Revolution, and Antonioni aimed to capture that. But his documentary, Chung Kuo, China, ended up being condemned by the Chinese authorities, and was banned in China, along with all of Antonioni’s films, until 2004.

Long regarded as something of a ‘holy grail’ of world cinema, Antonioni’s film is one of the few first-hand accounts of life behind the bamboo curtain in the 1970s. Apart from a screening at the BFI back in 2005, it’s rarely been seen in the UK, until Mr Bongo Films released it onto DVD in 2012. Now its being included in the BFI Southbank’s major retrospective of the celebrated film-maker’s work (Sunday 3 & 9 February 2019).

Using his trademark style (ie: lots of long takes), Antonioni and his small crew travelled the vast country, visiting Beijing, Nanjing, Suzhou, Shanghai and Henan along the way, to film everyday life as it happened. The result is a three and a half-hour long visual meditation on Chinese culture in which images of progress and development interact with those of peaceful Hutongs (many of which do not exist today) where children play and old men practice their T’ai Chi.

With sparing use of voice-over (Antonioni’s own) and no scored soundtrack, Antonioni allows his camera to do all the work. This is most apparent in the Beijing section. Now, anyone who has visited the city will be familiar with the over-crowded streets and excessive air pollution caused by industry and car fumes. Back in 1972, however, Beijing was a different place altogether. While the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square still loomed, the streets surrounding them were much quieter with just the sound of bike bells ringing in the distance.

With so much change that has gone on since Mao’s Cultural Revolution, Antonioni’s documentary must be one of the most important visual documents of a defining period in modern China. It might take a few sittings to get through, but it will certainly leave you thinking, ‘What those people have seen’.

For more information about the BFI’s Antonioni Season, check it out HERE

La signora senza camelie (1953) and Le amiche (1955) | Michelangelo Antonioni’s early dramas shine a light on Fifties Italian womenhood

le amiche

Michelangelo Antonioni, who is getting a major retrospective at the BFI Southbank in January and February 2019, belonged to that elite group of Italian film-makers who made a huge impact on world cinema following the Second World War.

Best known for maverick fare like L’avventura, Blow Up and Zabriskie Point in the liberated 1960s and 1970s, Antonioni actually honed his unique vision in a series of wry character studies of Italian mores in the conservative 1950s.

Back in 2011, Eureka! Entertainment released newly-restored versions of two significant features from the celebrated film-maker as part of their Masters of Cinema series in which the director moved away from neo-realism – the dominate style of 1940s Italian cinema – to try his hand at new techniques of story-telling.

1953’s La signora senza camelie (The Lady Without Camelias) – one of the most insightful films about cinema ever made – tells the story of a former shop assistant called Clara Manni (Lucia Bosé) who finds herself thrust into movie stardom.

Clara has incredible beauty, but little talent or assertiveness to survive in the male-dominated film-making world that Antonioni portrays as fickle, frivolous and lacking in soul. But despite the disappointments and humiliations Clara encounters in both her career as an actress and in her loveless marriage to the wealthy, jealous Gianni, she is a woman whose inner resilience shines through.

The Lady Without Camelias

La signora senza camelie – a play on Alexander Dumas’s famous romantic work, The Lady of the Camellias – is a carefully-crafted character study about a woman out of sorts with her environment (a theme that would recur in Antonioni’s subsequent works). It’s also an opportunity for the director to poke a stick at the film-making process – in particular, Rome’s Cinecittà – making this a great companion piece to Minnelli’s Hollywood melodrama The Bad and the Beautiful (made the previous year) and Godard’s introspective art piece Le Mépris (made a decade later).

1955’s Le amiche (The Girlfriends) looks like a rehearsal for Antonioni’s masterworks. Adapted from Cesare Pavese‘s novella, Le amiche charts the story of Clelia (Eleonora Rossi-Drago), a successful dressmaker who returns to her native city of Torino (Turin) where she becomes involved with a group of wealthy women. But she soon finds herself torn between the conservative world of her working-class origins and the glamorous environment in which she now resides. It is only when one of her new friends commits suicide that she realises she belongs in neither.

La amiche

In this character-driven snapshot of the lives of five women, Antonioni experimented with a radical new style which would become his trademark: instead of the normal narrative structure, he presented a series of seemingly disconnected events – often using long, carefully framed, takes. This gives him the chance to explore each character and their own personal journey. It’s a tad stagy and experimental (his ideas would finally pay off in 1960’s L’avventura), but remains absorbing.

Both La signora senza camelie and le amiche address the role of women in modern Italian society. Over half a century later, they still have something to say and are now a window on an Italian landscape (both human and otherwise) that has changed so dramatically over time. For cineastes familiar with Antonioni’s better-known works, this pairing is the epitome of the director’s 1950’s period.

The Lady Without Camelias screens Saturday 12 January at the BFI Southbank, while Le amiche has four separate screenings, with the first on Wednesday 9 January. To book and for more information, check out the full season HERE

Michelangelo Antonioni: Confronting the Modern World with Style at BFI Southbank

Michelangelo Antonioni directs Zabriskie Point

Throughout January and February 2019, the BFI Southbank in London will honour Italian filmmaker, Michelangelo Antonioni, who profoundly influenced cinematic style, mood and outlook, with screenings of some his most iconic works – from his striking 1960’s works like La notte (read my Blu-ray review here) and L’avventura to his extraordinary expressionistic international endeavours like Blow Up, Zabriskie Point and The Passenger, which gets a cinema re-release from today (Friday 8 January 2019).

Plus, there will be a series of illuminating talks surveying his artistic vision, a study day devoted to the use of landscape and architecture in his canon, and a six-session evening course on all things Antonioni.

To book and for more information, check out the full season HERE

Check out my review of The Passenger Blu-ray release HERE

Michelangelo Antonioni directs The Passenger

 

 

Laura (1944) | Eureka Entertainment presents the essential film noir on Blu-ray

Director Otto Preminger’s Laura is one of the greatest and most essential film noirs of all time, and now the deliciously well-crafted murder mystery is heading to Blu-ray as part of Eureka Entertainment’s The Masters of Cinema Series from 14 January 2019.

Police detective Mark McPherson (Dana Andrews) is drawn into Manhattan high society as he investigates the death of career girl Laura Hunt (Gene Tierney), apparently gunned down in her own apartment. The suspects are numerous, led by effete, snobbish columnist Waldo Lydecker (Clifton Webb), and Laura’s philandering fiancé Shelby (Vincent Price), who’s also been cavorting with Laura’s wealthy aunt (Judith Anderson). McPherson begins to fall in love with Laura through a portrait in her home and the memories relayed by those who knew her… just as it becomes apparent that even the basic facts of the case might not be what they seemed.

This 1944 murder mystery classic from director Otto Preminger (replacing Rouben Mamoulian) has grown in stature over the years, with its hypnotic mixture of doomed romantic obsession, dizzying intrigue, and fatalistic cynicism marking it as essential noir.

Peppered with eternally quotable dialogue (“I should be sincerely sorry to see my neighbours’ children devoured by wolves.”), sumptuous, Oscar-winning cinematography by Joseph LaShelle and David Raksin’s haunting theme music, Laura is an undeniable American masterpiece.

Available to order from: Amazon and Zavvi

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • 1080p presentation on Blu-ray of both the extended and original theatrical versions of the film
  • LPCM mono Audio
  • Optional English SDH subtitles
  • Audio commentary by composer David Raksin and film professor Jeanine Basinger
  • Audio commentary by film historian Rudy Behlmer
  • Laura: The Lux Radio Theater broadcasts Two radio adaptations of Laura from 1945 [59 mins] and 1954 [57 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Vincent Price in the 1945 version, and Gene Tierney and Victor Mature in the 1954 version
  • Laura: The Screen Guild Theater broadcast Adaptation of Laura from radio anthology series, The Screen Guild Theater, originally aired in 1945 [30 mins], starring Dana Andrews, Gene Tierney and Clifton Webb
  • Laura: The Ford Theater broadcast A further radio adaptation of Laura from 1948, starring Virginia Gilmore and John Larkin
  • A Tune for Laura: David Raksin Remembers an archival interview with the renowned composer
  • The Obsession an archival featurette on Laura
  • Deleted Scene
  • PLUS: A collector s booklet featuring a new essay by Phil Hoad, alongside a selection of rare archival imagery

%d bloggers like this: