5 Films that need a Blu-Ray Release : Films at Home Cereal at Midnight Youtube Lists!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION!

 

 

I stumbled across this interesting Youtube Blu-Ray/DVD discussion collaboration between Youtube channels FILMS AT HOME and CEREAL AT MIDNIGHT.

 

The topic was simple enough, basically… ‘what 5 films need a Blu-Ray Release?’.

They had interesting choices. You can see links to their videos below, but it made me consider what films would I like to see get a quality Criterion or Arrow or Shout factory or indicator level Blu-Ray release.

 

Without further ado here they are:

  1. MISTER FROST

Everyone knows Jeff Goldblum is a great actor, and most would point to his work in David Cronenberg’s justly acclaimed THE FLY remake as one of his stellar films, as well as one of the better Blu-ray releases of last year. However one of Goldblum’s best films has never had a Blu-ray release, the absolutely ahead of its time, done back in the 80s, and wholly unsettling and effective… MR. FROST. Go in blind, knowing nothing, and the film will reward you. Would love a commentary and special features rich release for this film.

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2.Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset

I have quite a few boxsets. Have recently picked up the Powerhouse Indicator HAMMER Boxsets. Definite gems. Managed to just snag the BFI’s PIONEERS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN CINEMA boxset before that went out of print.

Okay, so with that lead in, I am going to cheat with this second one and make it a boxset. One boxset I would love to see on Blu-ray (heck I would love to even see it on DVD) is the Sembene Ousmane Colonial Quadrology Boxset, consisting of a loose 4 part filmic parables on Colonialism and resistance. The first feature EMITAI, is 1 hour 43 minutes and was released in 1971, and takes place during World War II.

Emitaï (1971)

The 2nd feature film in this quadrology is 1977’s CEDDO (120mins) and takes place around the late 15th, early 16th century.

Ceddo (1977)

The 3rd film, the only one to receive a DVD release (now LONG out of print) is the longest of the four, at 2 hours and 37 minutes, and comes a whole ten years later in 1988’s CAMP DE THIAROYE, and this film returns to the theater of World War II to tell its tale. This film is absolutely riveting, with a haunting wailing score to accompany this tale of calamitous decisions and barriers of language, of nationality, of prejudice, of mores, and wars fought on too many fronts.

You just feel the tension ratcheting up from scene to scene, never knowing where it is going, and whether it is prelude to calm or chaos. But there are also moments of lightness here, and easy languid touch to the film-making. It is a long film, around the 80 minute mark, it is like the whole film takes a downtime with the soldiers, a languid time of reflection, but it works, and is needed that intermission of sorts, and 10 minutes later you begin to know why. Calm, before a storm.

A masterpiece by a filmmaker who pulled these films together in a time when every foot of film, cost a fortune. It’s not like today when every ‘want to be’ filmmaker can grab a digital camera and put something up on youtube. In the age of film, particularly in a continent beset by the still caustic and crippling effects of colonialism, apartheid, civil war and corporate and international malfeasance… CAMP DE THIAROYE is a film made in blood and sacrifice.

It is a compelling film about injustice and tragedy, and the search for identity, separate from the imposed identity of the colonizing forces. And it is a film about the thanks of an ungrateful nation. And staggering corrupt decsions on one side, breeding horrendous bad decisions on the other, snaking its way to an ending that seems both inevitable, and totally avoidable. This should be talked about in the same breath as the best and most incisive of world cinema, up there with films such as ROCCO AND HIS BROTHERS and RASHOMON and THE BATTLE OF ALGIERS. The fact that this great film, 32 years later still has not received a wonderful feature packed CRITERION or ARROW release, is a small injustice and tragedy of its own.

p.s. If you do get the sold out DVD, the Danny Glover interview on it is simply essential viewing.

 

Camp de Thiaroye (1988)

And finally in 1992, a present day commentary on the long shadow of colonialism and religious factionism, GUELWAAR (1 hour 55 minutes) is Sembene Ousmane’s last film in this loose daring quadrology and comment on colonialism. Whereas his more innocuous films, that could not be perceived as overtly anti-colonial, are available, arguably his most provocative and compelling works have remained, throughout his life, and now even after his death, steadfastly and ‘un-officially’ banned.

Guelwaar (1992)

 

-UNDER CONSTRUCTION-

The Best Films You Haven’t Seen! or Medicine for Melancholy

MEDICINE FOR MELANCHOLY- Acclaimed debut by Barry Jenkins. Only screened at film festivals, and still waiting on anything beyond a token DVD release.

BLACK DYNAMITE- Easily one of the best movies of 2010, and screened Nationwide in less than 10 theaters. With a proper theatrical release this satire could have been one of the hugest most influential comedies in decades, instead of being added to the growing list of… invisible movies. There is something horribly wrong in a nation that can find screens for abysmal garbage like THE WEATHERMAN or tripe like THE OTHER GUYS but no room for a film such as BLACK DYNAMITE.

SAMPSON AND DELILAH- I’m hearing fantastic things about this Aboriginal directed and starred movie, by Warwick Thornton, and currently breaking my neck trying to get a copy. Sounds a bit like the films of the late great Djibril Diop Mambety (his HYENAS is a masterpiece, and his short films are essential viewing to all fans of film)

HARIMAYA BRIDGE- Another film I haven’t seen (due to it not coming to a theater anywhere near me, and not getting DVD distribution) is Aaron Woolfolk’s HARIMAYA BRIDGE with Danny Glover. But it is getting nothing but acclaim, yet still such an acclaimed film with a Black Director, and Black Protagonist, that actually has something to say beyond stereotypes, that might actually say something to Black audiences that is not about denigration and debasement, cannot find broad theatrical release, or even to this date a DVD release.

It is utterly sickening.

Even more sickening are the distribution channels that do buy up the rights to a filmmakers films, just to bury them. Here it is three years after Ousmane Sembene’s passing and his most legendary, challenging, and proactive films (EMITAI, CEDDO, CAMP THIAROYE, and GUELWAAR his colonialism quadrilogy), are still not available on DVD.

The company that holds the rights to Sembene’s films, (and we all know who you are) should be fucking ashamed of themselves. First to let a filmmaker die without his most powerful work seeing any type of release, to languish in decades rotting away in vaults, and second because of the filmmakers that could-have-been, had they allowed Sembene to flourish and influence.

I mean they, finally, gave his BLACK GIRL, and MANDABI, and MOOLADE, minimal DVD releases, but for the most part while fine films (haven’t seen MOOLADE) , these are films (with the exception of BLACK GIRL) that steer away directly from the controversy of colonialism. The distributor give his, if not quite nuetered, less critical films releases, while burying for decades his (by all assements) best films.

It’s a crime.

And one they are continuing to committ with a new generation of filmmakers, both domestic and international.

Well at least we can do what we can do. We can spread the word that the movies exists, and do our best to view them at film festivals, and give the film and the filmmakers the audience and the attention they deserve.

Start local movie clubs, start local film festivals, start local indie theaters, spread the word. Cinema is more than just entertainment, It can be infinitely more.

The studios know this.

They know cinema can alter world views, on the micro and macro level. They can be didactic, and in the best of all possible worlds they should be. By Didactic I don’t mean preaching, I mean informing and formative.

I don’t believe in Escapist cinema, I think all cinema no matter how comedic or fantastic, can and should say something relevant and I think expansive to our view of the world. Whether that’s the notion of hubris and friendship in THE THIRD MAN or the notion of loyalty and individualism inherent in PAT GARRET AND BILLY THE KID or the notion of courage and sacrifice in EMPIRE STRIKES BACK or the understanding of the needs of the people and the land as in I AM CUBA, all cinema if its any good, is to some measure didactic.

Cinema that isn’t informative, is deadening. Is a drug to lull you into apathy, and I don’t want that kind of cinema.

Cinema should strive to move more than our eyes, to reach, in the hopes of finding, our mind and our soul.

In the words of Boorman’s King Arthur… “It’s a dream I have.”