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May 2018

 - Tuesday, May 15, 2018
Franco Citti & Pierre Clementi are cannibalistic savages who rampage a world outside of any distinct time or place; Pierre Leaud & Anne Wiazemsky are a romantically engaged couple in a contemporary Germany painted as a morass of industrialisation, fascist impulse & bestial instincts. Rivalled only by Pasolinis’ Salo in its obsession with the politics of bourgeois degradation, Pigsty challenges & enlarges the notions of what makes for ‘a political film. One of Pasolini’s most controversial and wilfully provocative works­—a deranged parody of cinema as revolutionary act.

Film is Samuel Becketts’ lone work for projected cinema. It is a beguiling experimental short film in which a probing camera pursues a character named ‘O’—played by silent screen legend Buster Keaton. In his Kino-Esssay, Notfilm, Ross Lipman explores the history surrounding the production of Film. Citing the work of Buñuel, Vertov, Vigo & Eisenstein, and featuring interviews with cinematographer Haskell Wexler, Billie Whitelaw, producer Barney Rosset & others, Notfilm examines Film’s genesis, production, themes & philosophical implications. With a raft of extras including a rare British remake starring comedian Max Wall, The Street Scene; a lost scene reconstruction from the Film outtakes; audio recordings of Beckett, Kaufman & Schneider; Buster Keaton & Film: James Karen in Conversation; and much more.
($45, Region 2 DVD & Blu-ray)

On the mean streets of Rome, Accattone’s eponymous pimp (Franco Citti­—one of the remarkable cast of local non-professionals) leads a hand-to-mouth existence on the very margins of society: prostituting, scrounging, exploiting. When his prize prostitute Maddalena is arrested & jailed, the pimp’s fortunes dwindle, and he is forced to confront his own existence. Pasolini’s debut feature rocked the cineam world with its depictions, at once raw & elegant, of the underside of Roman street life­. Special features include Pasolini’s 1965 feature-length documentary Comizi d’amore, on the complementary theme of Italian attitudes towards sex; a feature length audio commentary by critic Tony Rayns ($36.95, Region 2 DVD & Blu-ray)

Emile Jannings portrays a schoolteacher whose fateful expedition to catch his students frequenting the cabaret know as ‘The Blue Angel’ leads to his own obsession with the establishment’s main attraction Lola (Marlene Dietrich)­­—triggering the downward spiral of his life and fortune. From here, the director, Von Sternberg & Dietrich would go on to make six more films together in the span of five years, and leave a legacy of some of the most indelible iconography in the cinema of glamour & obsession. A new 1080p HD presentation on blu-ray of both the German-language & English-language version. ($34.95, Region 2 DVD & Blu-ray)

April 2018

 - Tuesday, April 03, 2018
Directed by award-winning documentary maker, Greg Barker, this is a unique insiders’ account of President Barack Obama’s foreign policy team (assembled during his first presidential campaign—Secretary of State, John Kerry, UN Ambassador, Samantha Power, DNSA & presidential confidant Ben Rhodes & NSA Susan Rice) during their last year in office. Featuring unprecedented access inside the White House & State Department, this documentary offers an uncompromising view of the inner workings of the Obama Administration as they prepare to leave power. Special Features a Q&A with Ambassador Samantha Power. A fascinating reminder of a time when American politics had a semblance of gravitas, and sacking by tweet was reserved for reality TV.

In the latest season of the award-winning Silent Witness our committed team of forensic pathologists & scientists affected from the fallout after Mexico, while there’s a cuckoo in the nest. A series of tragic events are linked to a cyber hacking. A US Diplomat is shot dead in Central London. Care home abuse is uncovered after a road traffic accident and festive celebrations are interrupted by the aftermath of a shooting spree at a family house.

Based on the Vera Stanhope novels by Ann Cleeves and set against the atmospheric panoramas of the Northumberland countryside, season 8 of his award-winning series sees the caustic and courageous Vera and her team drawn into four new compelling cases—including the body of a police officer discovered in an abattoir incinerator, a mysterious car crash, a suburban back-garden murder and the suspicious death of a teenage boy.

Another award-winning series, this time a barrel of laughs from Larry David, the man behind the hugely popular Seinfeld, plays a version of himself—a man who has it all but finds that his day-to-day life can, and generally does, turn into a sequence of misfortunes. In season 9 Larry writes a musical comedy—Fatwa—based on Salman Rushdie’s run-in with the Ayatolla. Not surprisingly David becomes a recipient of a fatwa for his disrespect, and let the games begin (with a guest spot from Rushdie himself). I’ve avoided Curb your Enthusiasm for 9 seasons—a misplaced attempt at moderation, how many boxed sets can youmanage in a lifetime before you don’t have a life? But, when Scott handed me season 9, I was finally tempted—and am now watching the previous 8 seasons. David’s curmudgeonly misanthropy is very funny, the supporting cast are all fantastic, and its jaunty theme—utterly addictive. (ed)

Before he arrived in Hollywood to leave his indelible & inimitable mark on timeless comedies like Trouble in Paradise & The Shop Around the Corner, Ernst Lubitsch created an expansive body of work in Germany that proved to be as varied in its tone as it was sophisticated in its measure of man & woman. This box set collects six recently restored works from the silent phase of Lubitsch’s career, and casts new light on the director both as a fully-formed comic master, and as a virtuoso of cinematographic technique. These ‘fairy-tales, melodramas & sex comedies’—Ich möchte kein Mann sein; Die Puppe; Die Austernprinzessin; Sumurun; Anna Boleyn; Die Bergkatze—were made between 1918 to 1921. The 6 features are across five discs, and a 6th disc contains Robert Fischer’s 2006 feature-length documentary Ernst Lubitsch in Berlin: From Schönhauser Allee to Hollywood. The films are presented in their original aspect ratio, with the original German intertitles and newly translated, optional English subtitles.

March 2018

 - Thursday, March 08, 2018
David Simon & George Pelecanos return to the small screen with The Deuce—show that chronicles the rise of the porn industry in New York City in 1971–72, driven by the gradual legalization of porn and a politically motivated effort to ‘clean up’ Times Square. Seizing the chance to cash in on the nascent porn business (and sometimes being consumed by it) are a vivid assortment of characters, including: Vincent Martino (James Franco), a bartender with vision and connections, Candy (Maggie Gyllenhaal), a self-managed prostitute, looking to get off the danger of the streets with a new career in porn filmmaking; pimps, hos, cops, journos, politicians—a gritty investigation of all the grey areas you’d expect from the team that brought you The Wire & Treme.

A bargain collection from the kings of comedy chaos—missing necklaces, stolen paintings, a quartet of stowaways, football recruits, shady guests, musicians, spies, Rufus T. Firefly über alles—including poor Margaret Dumont. Plus a feature-length documentary about the Marx Brothers and their meteoric rise as Hollywood’s masters of comedic mayhem, featuring interviews with the Marx family, Leonard Maltin, Dick Cavett, filmmakers & historians.

This remake of the 1971 Clint Eastwood vehicle, starring Nicole Kidman, Colin Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered young women take in an injured Union soldier, who then cons his way into each of the lonely women’s hearts, causing them to turn on each other, and eventually, on him. Sofia Coppola was awarded Best Director at Cannes (the second woman to win best director in Cannes 71 year history— the last was Russian director Yuliya Solntseva in 1961, who won for her dramatic retelling of grassroots resistance to the Nazi movement in the Soviet Union).

Johnny Saxby (Josh O’Connor) works long hours on his family’s remote farm in the north of England. He numbs the daily frustration of his lonely existence with nightly binge-drinking at the local pub and casual sex. But when a handsome Romanian migrant worker (Alec Secareanu) arrives to take up temporary work on the family farm, Johnny suddenly finds himself having to deal with emotions he has never felt before. As they begin working closely together during lambing season, an intense relationship starts to form which could change Johnny’s life forever.




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