Guy Maddin – The Saddest Music in the World (2003)


Plot Outline :
A sort-of musical set in Winnipeg during the Great Depression, where a beer baroness organizes a contest to find the saddest music in the world. Musicians from around the world descend on the city to try and win first place – a $25,000 prize. Read More »

Guy Maddin – It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today (2008)

Guy Maddin directed this short biopic on the castrato known as the Manitoba Meadowlark, Dov Houle, who performed on tour with the film (Brand Upon the Brain!)

Music: It’s My Mother’s Birthday Today (Lisbonna, Conner) sung by Arthur Tracy, additional vocals by Stacey Nattrass Read More »

Guy Maddin – Nude Caboose (with original music) (2006)


In a crowded auditorium, a hilarious and mildly erotic party train is formed. Guy Maddin imprints his unique filmmaking stamp on the emerging cell phone medium in this irreverent romp.

This version is with the music Guy intended but couldn’t use due to copyright issues. Read More »

Masaki Kobayashi – Kwaidan aka Ghost Stories [Uncut] (1964)


Kwaidan is a study in the masterful control of film technique. Kobayashi builds slowly, shooting the first story, “The Black Hair,” in shadows and exterior locations, grounding the film in what seems to be conventional realism. But when he hits the frightening climax, the camera swerves at dizzying angles, the sound desynchs, and the makeup and sets become highly expressionistic. With the second and third stories, Kobayashi shoots on enormous soundstages. “The Woman in the Snow” eschews realism entirely: Minokichi wanders a bleak snowscape with howling, distorted sound and menacing eyes filling the sky overhead. “Hoichi” features a haunting, mist-filled, graveside royal court and the indelible image of Hoichi’s body covered in sharply focuses writing. Finally, the last story draws us back at least partway to reality, returning to a more realistic setting, but always with the lingering sense that, as they say on Disney’s Haunted Mansion, “a ghost will follow you home.” Read More »

Masaki Kobayashi – Inochi bô ni furô aka Inn of Evil (1971)


Plot Synopsis []
This is another masterpiece from filmmaker KOBAYASHI Masaki, noted director of HARA KIRI, KWAIDAN, and SAMURAI REBELLION. The Japanese title is actually translated as “We give our lives for nothing”, and is the true heart and soul of this story. Based on a novel by YAMAMOTO Shugoro, who also wrote the books upon which SANJURO, KILL, and AFTER THE RAIN, were based, it tells the tale of a group of thieves and murderers who find it within themselves to sacrifice their lives with no hope of personal gain. NAKADAI Tatsuya stars as Sada, an expert with knives, whose mysterious past comes to light as he leads a group of fugitives in their last-ditch battle to save their home, a dilapidated inn, which does not welcome strangers in its doors. KATSU Shintaro plays against type in a pivotal role as one of the only outsiders ever allowed to drink at the inn. Tension and suspense lead up to a conclusion like no other. A magnificent motion picture, and a true work of art. Read More »

Seijun Suzuki – Koroshi no rakuin aka Branded to Kill [+Extras] (1967)


Weirdest Japanese Movie of 1967


Born in Tokyo in 1923, Seijun Suzuki directed 42 films for Nikkatsu, averaging on about four a year, and he claims he could edit each in about a day. Despite being lauded by the critics for his unique visual style, as far as the general public and Nikkatsu president Kyusaku Hori were concerned by the mid-60s Suzuki’s approach was beginning to spin rapidly out of control.

In the latter part of the 60s, Nikkatsu’s undemanding youth-oriented potboilers were beginning to lose the company serious money. A scapegoat was needed, so after the colourful excesses of Tokyo Drifter (Tokyo Nagaremono, 1966) Suzuki was told to turn in something a little more conventional or else. Branded to Kill was the result and it was sufficiently whacked out for Nikkatsu to give him his marching orders (“They told me my films didn’t make money and they didn’t make sense, so they fired me”, Suzuki opines in the interview accompanying this DVD release.) Read More »

Marco Bechis – Garage Olimpo (1999)


Chili-born Italian director Marco Bechis’s second feature is a political drama based on his experiences with the military regime of Argentina (1976-1980) when he lived there. Maria (Antonella Costa) is a militant activist in an organization that is fighting the oppressive dictatorship. She teaches reading and writing in the suburbs of Buenos Aires in an area of shantytowns. She lives in a decrepit rooming house with her mother Diane (Dominique Sanda), who rents out some rooms. One of the lodgers, a shy young man named Felix (Carlos Echeverria), is in love with Maria. He seems to have come from nowhere and is supposed to be working in a garage. One morning, Maria is kidnapped by a military squad in civilian clothes in front of her mother and is taken to the garage ‘Olimpo,’ one of the many well-known torture places in the city, which operate to the general indifference of the inhabitants. Tigre, the head of the center (Enrique Pineyro) appoints their best man ? Felix ? to the job of making Maria talk. Felix is overcome by his feelings for Maria, but Maria is determined to exploit the situation for her survival. Tender love scenes between Maria and Felix enhance the story, but the intensity never reaches the heights of some of the classics of the world cinema with a similar theme, such as The Night Porter. Bechis exerts too much control over his characters and narrative to allow an emotional rupture. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999. Read More »