Degrees of Smut, Immorality, and Romance – Part 1

The first batch of themed reviews are up, starting with the controversial film Karla, which follows Karla Homolka’s relationship with Paul Bernardo before, during, and after the abduction, rape, and killing of two Ontario teens. Pulled from the 2005 Montreal World Film Festival and ultimately given a short burp of exhibition on Canadian theatrical screens, the film was released on DVD in the U.S. by Monterey Video, and is available as an import, since no one wants to touch the film with a ten-foot pole in Canada.

Is it outright exploitation, sleaze, or an earnest attempt to capture the essence of serial killers with a small production budget? Our review is from a Toronto perspective, since those outside of Canada are probably unfamiliar with the media frenzy that surrounded the court trials, and the nation-wide information ban that restricted specific details from being reported by the media.

Vintage smut made for and produced by the Playboy Channel has been popping up on DVD courtesy of Private Screening, and we’ve taken a peek at Tiffany Bolling’s Love Scenes (aka Ecstasy). There’s actually a story in this watchable eroto-drama, which has small roles for Britt Ekland, Julie Newmar, and Daniel Pilon, and was directed by Bud Spencer (creator of the X-rated musical version of Alice in Wonderland).

The merry world of Walerian Borowczyk is further revealed in Immoral Women / Les Héroïnes du mal (1979), now available uncut in a lovely transfer from Severin – another indie label that’s been putting out a steady stream of vintage erotica and sexploitation. Starring Marina Pierro, Gaelle Legrand, and Pascale Christophe, it’s another revisitation to the anthology format, though no one expected a white bunny named Pinky would play a pivotal role in the film’s middle drama of a fuzzy-haired youth who goes bonkers after a seemingly ordinary dinner.

In the past we’ve covered Borowczyk’s The Beast, Love Rites, and the brilliant Goto, Island of Love, and we’ll have some reviews of rarer titles currently unavailable in North America.

For more genteel shades of love there’s the Tyrone Power Classic Film Collection, which gathers some of the actor’s swashbuckler-styled films in a boxed set. We’ve reviewed two of three titles in the series that feature isolated music tracks of Alfred Newman’s bouncy scores – Prince of Foxes (1949) and the ridiculous Son of Fury (1942). Reviews of the other films in the box – Blood and Sand (1941), The Captain from Castile (1947), and The Black Rose (1950) - will pop up over the next week.

There’ll also be a related column this week at Music from the Movies, which will check out the wackload of DVDs from Fox featuring isolated music tracks – a feature virtually all of the other studio labels have dumped. (For a tally of what’s appeared over the years on DVD and laserdisc, check out our Isolated Score List.)

And uploaded last week in the music DVD dept. is the 2-part series Musica Cubana, from MVD Visual. Riding on the popularity of Wim Wenders' Oscar-nominated 1999 documentary, The Buena Vista Social Club, Wenders executive produced the Sons of Cuba tour, which had the late octogenarian Pio Leiva headlining a new batch of Cuban male (and uncredited female) musicians. You can read more about these videos in our reviews of the live Tokyo and Amsterdam concerts, and we’ll have some very cool jazz DVDs from the label soon, featuring some slightly vintage jazz performances.

Coming next: some amazing & gripping documentaries, soundtrack reviews, and an expanded interview with a top collector of Godzilla and Japanese monster soundtracks.


Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews

Playing catch-up

Website work tends to happen in clusters, so the current update was kind of put in stasis until several contributions to Rue Morgue [RM] magazine and Music from the Movies [MFTM] were fulfilled.

This month’s print issue of RM features interviews with iconic writer/director/composer/Tarot reader/eccentric Alejandro Jodorowsky, and his son Christobal (who, billed as Axel Jodorowsky, appeared in his father’s film Santa Sangre, also available on DVD from Anchor Bay, but only in England).

My contributions to the May issue include a piece on the bonus soundtrack CDs for El Topo (previously released on LP and 8-track by Apple Records) and The Holy Mountain (announced in that film’s end credits, but never released), and soundtrack reviews for Byung-woo Lee’s The Host (on Milan), Charles Bernstein’s Deadly Friend (on Perseverance), George Shaw’s Marcus (on MovieScore Media), and Tyler Bate’s raw and rocking 300 (Warner Bros.)

Coming soon at KQEK.com, I’ll review some related Jodo-music, and I’ll also take a peek at the director’s other films, still unavailable in North America on DVD.

Royal S. Brown’s film music columns for Fanfare magazine were recently published by Scarecrow Press, and you can read a detailed review of this 398 page anthology at MFTM’s website. (My review of Mikel J. Koven’s La Dolce Morte, a superb examination of giallo films, also published by Scarecrow Press, will appear in an upcoming RM issue.)

The next MFTM DVD column is also on the way, and I’ll take a close look at a recent spate of DVDs featuring a Special Feature that’s been more or less abandoned by the major labels.

As for KQEK.com, we’ve got some neat reviews for a series of eclectic titles (since that’s what we seem to specialize in, though it isn’t wholly deliberate).

First up is Death of a President, the controversial mockumentary by Gabriel Range that premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006. Audiences finally got a chance to see the fake docu-thriller that focuses on the events surrounding the assassination of George W. Bush, and the DVD from Maple (Canada) and Lions Gate (USA) comes with some decent features, where the unrepentant director/co-writer explains why the heck he chose to pick on a living U.S. President.

Kind of related is The Killing of America, a manipulative quasi-documentary/visual essay on America’s cultural disintegration into a land of assassins, rapists, and murderers wanting pop culture immortality. Produced and co-written by Leonard Schrader (Paul Schrader’s brother and occasional co-screenwriter), this 1982 film was released in the UK on a Region 2 DVD, and features the uncut version of this visually graphic and disturbing film that some regard as a fascinating and prescient snapshot, or outright trash.

Magnolia’s DVD of Joon-ho Bong’s amazing The Host/Gwoemul is coming out in July, but here’s a capsule review of the Korean DVD that’s out as a 2 and 4-disc monster set. We’ll also have some reviews of Bong’s other work in the coming weeks.

Lastly on the DVD front is Musica Cubana, a 2-volume set (sold separately) from Icon Entertainment/VSC/MVD Visual that divides the Tokyo and Amsterdam concerts, featuring Buena Vista Social Club member Pio Leiva with the Sons of Cuba performing old and contemporary songs.

In the soundtrack department is the latest release from Lalo Schifrin’s Aleph label – Jerry Fielding’s long unavailable score for the third Dirty Harry film, The Enforcer.

From MovieScore Media is Laura Rossi’s chilling chamber orchestra score for Shooting Shona, and Christopher Slaski’s The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes. Both are available as downloadable MP3 albums from MovieScore Media and iTunes, whereas Piano Tuner marks the label’s first CD release, available exclusively from Screen Archives Entertainment.

Also new as a downloadable MP3 album from New Line Records is Fracture, the latest collaboration from Mychael Danna and Jeff Danna. Some might prefer a CD to a digital album, but New Line’s decision to distribute a Hollywood films score via iTunes may well be a sign that scores too costly or risky for a CD release might finally get their chance in the digital medium.

The point is to get the music out there, and the immense popularity of iTunes means more film music will get a chance to reach broad listeners and collectors. CDs are still the preferred format, with hands-on artwork and liner notes, but for those just wanting to hear music, free from duties and shipping fees, a downloadable album is perfect. It works for a number of labels, and iTunes has become an important source for soundtrack releases by major labels, including Varese Sarabande, and Lions Gate (whose upcoming MP3 album of Don Macdonald’s Fido score is reviewed in an upcoming RM issue, too).

Lastly, we’ve an interview with John Frizzell on his latest film score, The Reaping, where we discuss aspects of the theological thriller, and other neat stuff.

Coming next: Smut.


Technorati Tags: DVD Reviews
Copyright © mondomark