Sunday, 30 September 2018

Juliet of the Spirits (Cult Films)

Fellini's 1st full-length feature film originally came to my attention via a big screen presentation at Derby Film Festival, many moons ago.
"Juliet of the Spirits" certainly left its mark on me.
The titular character here is played by Giulietta Masina (Fellini's wife) who takes the role of a repressed housewife.
Juliet suspects her husband Giorgio (Mario Pisu) is being unfaithful, and takes steps to discover whether her fears are correct.
Following a wonderfully over-the-top consultation with a renowned psychic, Juliet enters a parallel world of the spirits, unleashing an array
of colourful creations that light up the screen during their time with us.
This dreamlike world reflects the director's fascination with our experiences beyond the walls of sleep, coupled with his active interest in the occult and the afterlife.
It all makes for an enticing cocktail that's made even more potent by the presence of Suzi (Sandra Milo). Juliet's sexually liberated neighbour is the polar opposite of
this timid woman who ultimately seeks to break free from her shackles and finally live.

"Juliet of the Spirits" succeeds in its brief to really get into the heart and soul of a woman, thanks to Fellini's inspired direction and a wonderful performance from Masina.
Juliet won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film in 1966, and its reputation has endured for more than 5 decades in the annals of World Cinema.
Now, this landmark film is available on Blu-ray for home viewing from Cult Films, via a 1080i presentation.

There are two commissioned extras on this disc. The first is an understanding Fellini commentary track from the excellent Kat Ellinger, who adds another triumph
to an already impressive catalogue of commentaries, video essays and writing.
Kat's track greatly increases our appreciation and understanding of this film, and also of Fellini's other work.
She examines the director's conflict between the sacred and the profane; discusses the Jungian aspects of the film, and succeeds in her intention to help us better understand this great director.
The other specially commissioned extra is a new video essay from author, critic and Oxford professor Guido Bonsaver.
'Dazzling Spirit' runs for 14m 36s and examines the three important elements to the film, and also takes in the director's interest in the occult.It's a fine essay and increases our appreciation of what was accomplished here.

"Juliet of the Spirits" is out now in a dual format Blu-ray and DVD release and is also available on digital platforms.

Friday, 7 September 2018

Blu-ray Review: D.O.A. A Right of Passage (Second Sight)

"The world is yours for a season"
Oscar Wilde

I started going to music gigs in the Autumn of 1976, taking in the likes of Budgie, Man, Curved Air and Steve Hillage.
Truth is, I was bored and didn't know it. Then, the Punk Rock explosion took place, which saw one of the most exciting musical revolutions ever.

D.O.A. A Right of Passage offers fascinating insight on both sides of the channel, following the Sex Pistols' infamous tour of America, while also
keeping tabs on what was happening in the UK.
The end result is a must for those who were there at the time, and for anyone who wonders what all the fuss was about.
Both sides of the fence are well catered for here, with fan interviews before and after gigs - some positive, some negative - while the odious
chain-smoking Bernard Brooke Partridge and Mary Whitehouse do what they did best, attacking anything they didn't understand.
There is coverage given to other worthy bands - with footage of Generation X, Sham 69, X Ray Spex and The Rich Kids - but this is the Pistols' show,
and their glorious wall of sound hits home with live footage of the likes of "Anarchy In The UK", "EMI" and "Holidays In The Sun".
The band played seven dates in the USA, culminating in that final gig at Winterland, San Francisco when the band trudged off, leaving us with one of the finest debut albums ever recorded.

Lech Kowalski's documentary really does get under the skin of Punk, with this movement's DIY attitude of making something out of nothing, uncovering
the state of things for an army of participants who felt let down by a system designed to bring them down. Witness Terry Sylvester - a working class lad
who tells it like it was before taking the microphone to front his own band, Terry and The Idiots.
There are some wonderful stories and anecdotes from the contributors here, who provides articulate insight into what went down and why, within a true example of guerrilla film-making.
Of course, the concert hall footage is alone worth the price of the disc, with Lydon showing he's one of the very best live performers, being utterly mesmeric.
I'd seen Joe Strummer, Iggy, Lux Interior, Patti Smith, Ari from The Slits, Siouxsie and Ian Curtis and Lydon can be added to anyone's list of fromtmen.

Another 30 years from now and the number of people who were present and incorrect during Punk's Golden Years will be vastly diminished. That's one of the reasons
documentaries such as this are so terribly important, turning the spotlight onto an age When We Were Kings.

The special features on this Blu-ray disc (which also includes a DVD) being with "Dead On Arrival: The Punk Documentary That Almost Never Was" (1 hr 55 mins 20s)
Here, we are privy to the recollections and opinions of key players in this story.
John Holmstrom (founder of Punk magazine); photographer Roberta Bayley; co-director and journalist Chris Salewicz; Pistols historian Mick O'shea; Midge Ure and many others, including Malcolm Maclaren. We hear about the origins of Punk with New York Dolls and Iggy namechecked (Roberta talks about being on the door at CBGB's); how the film ran into financial difficulties; why the crew were banned from filming at gigs, and there's valuable input from photographer Rufus Standefer. The Sid and Nancy infamous bed interview
is also included.
Nice to see Lamar St. John pop up, too, being the girl on the ground in the main feature, and still vital after all these years.
This generous making-off doc with a wealth of nostalgic footage gives considerable added value to an already worthy disc.

DOA A Punk Post Mortem (27m 8s) .
Chris Salewicz talks about the documentary and certain individuals, recalling the Sid and Nancy interview; the part played by Tom Forcade of High Times magazine and
looks at what Punk meant and continues to mean.
I struggle to think of anyone better than Chris to tell this story, which continues to resonate over 40 years on.
D.O.A. A Right of Passage will be released on the Second Sight label on 10th September. Image quality on this high definition presentation is strong,
and there's also a limited edition booklet in the package, written by Punk aficianado Tim Murray with additional article by Phelim O'Neill. The booklet is limited to the first 2000 copies, so hurry!