Another month, another bundle of essential Umbrella Entertainment releases. December’s line up is a pretty stellar one with some truly essential discs being released. What a way to wrap up the year.
(We are not paid by Umbrella to push these releases at all, we simply love their work and feel that folks should be aware of the great releases that are on offer.)
From Umbrella: Ralph, a once-famous screenwriter and film director, is in his seventies and terminally ill. He has two final missions in life: to be reconciled to his long-abandoned son, Michael, and, secretly, to ensure he is not a burden to his younger devoted wife, Anna, as he goes “into that good night”. But Ralph wrecks all hope of reconciliation when he picks a fight with Michael’s girlfriend, Cassie. Later, alone, Ralph receives the sinister and mysterious “Visitor” whose services he has hired to provide the painless ending to his life. But The Visitor plays a devastating trick. Set in their luxury villa in the remote hilltops that surround the Algarve coastline of Portugal, this tragic love story bravely tackles issues of euthanasia, nature and the meaning of life and death. Based on the hugely successful stage play by NJ Crisp, its brilliant and witty arguments address issues that we traditionally avoid. Against a backdrop of a deeply Catholic Mediterranean village community the imagery throws us uncomfortably back into the life of Christ as portrayed in the gospels.
That Good Night is the late John Hurt’s final lead performance. Wendy Ide from Screen International had this to say: So effortlessly good is Hurt … that he rather outclasses the rest of this somewhat workmanlike picture. So, from the looks of it this is more of a curio for a career capper than a ‘must see’ effort.
From Umbrella: From the remote Australian desert to the opulence of Buckingham Palace – this is the iconic story of the Namatjira family, tracing their quest for justice. Albert Namatjira was the first Indigenous person to be made a citizen by the Australian Government. The founder of the Indigenous art movement in Australia, his artworks gave many Australians their first glimpses into the outback heart of the country. He was widely celebrated, exhibited globally, and introduced to Queen Elizabeth.
From Umbrella: Legends of the indie Oz Rock scene, The Go-Betweens provided a soundtrack to a generation of music enthusiasts throughout the 80s, developing a unique and compelling combination of song writing, both angst ridden and sensitive, that eluded the mainstream and all the trappings of popular success.
Four decades in the making, Right Here: Finding the Go-Betweens explores the quintessential Aussie band from formation in 1977 by Queensland University students Robert Forster and Grant McLennan, joined by Lindy Morrison on drums until the band broke up in late 1989, after six critically acclaimed albums. They reformed in 2000 for three more albums before McLennan died in 2006, aged 48.
Part memoir, part concert film, Right Here: Finding the Go-Betweens reveals how the dreams, art and love shared between the two founding members of The Go-Betweens still endures and continues to inspire, even after death.
Directed by Kriv Stenders (Award winning director of Red Dog and several Go-Betweens music videos) Right Here: Finding the Go-Betweens is a raw and fascinating trip down memory lane and a tribute to a remarkable musical partnership.
I caught this earlier in 2017 at the Revelation Film Festival. I thought it was an entertaining, informative film that ticked enough boxes that a Go-Betweens fan would want. I left informed, entertained and eager to dig into the Go-Betweens discography. It currently sits at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes.
From Umbrella: Since the early days, Jerry Lewis – in the line of Chaplin and Laurel – had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humour. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such adored classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor. By becoming a “total filmmaker,” Lewis surpassed expectations as a comic performer and emerged as a driving force in Hollywood. He broke boundaries with his technical innovations, unique voice and keen visual eye. However, American critics and the cultural elite tended to reject his abrasive art. While they viewed Lewis as nothing more than just a clown, others, like the French, recognised him as a true auteur. Celebrating his 90th year, Jerry Lewiscandidly reflects back on his remarkable life and decades-long career – from his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin, to his incredible rise to fame, to his great love affair with filmmaking. Jerry Lewis: The Man Behind The Clown blends archival footage, photos from Lewis’s life and extracts from his most notable films, as well as appearances from French filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Louis Malle and never-before-interviewed friends, filmmakers and critics such as Martin Scorsese, Sean Hayes, Shaun Micallef, Tony Lewis and Jonathan Rosenbaum, who give an insightful view to his brilliant, yet deeply-conflicted persona, as well as his influential mark on the world as a comic, a filmmaker, a humanitarian and a visionary.
Look, I’ll be honest. I’ve never been a Jerry Lewis fan. I can appreciate his work, but it’s never resonated with me. This feature packed disc will no doubt satiate fans who are patiently waiting for that time period to expire til The Day the Clown Cried becomes available.
From Umbrella: Robert Downey Jr captures the essence of comic genius Charlie Chaplin in a compelling, nuanced performance that earned him Oscar (r) and Golden Globe(R) nominations for Best Actor. Director Richard Attenborough’s well-crafted portrait traces Chaplin’s impoverished London upbringing, extraordinary success as an actor and director, his troubled marriages, scandalous affairs, shocking exile to Switzerland and his triumphant return to Hollywood. The huge star-studded cast includes Kevin Kline, Dan Akroyd, Milla Jovovich, Diane Lane and Geraldine Chaplin (as her own grandmother), and Downey’s astonishing mimicry of Chaplin’s gait, gestures and accents complete a dazzlingly authentic portrait of one of cinema’s first pop culture icons.
Remember when Robert Downey Jr. wasn’t Iron Man? Stretch your mind back to the era when he actually acted in films rather than cashed in $50m cheques, and you’ll no doubt be reminded of an era where the talent within Downey Jr. was undeniable. Arguably, his greatest performance is that of Charlie Chaplin in Richard Attenborough’s Chaplin. If you haven’t seen this – give it a watch. It’s superb. No special features sadly. It currently sits at 57% on Rotten Tomatoes.
From Umbrella: Prepare for a trip into the unknown with a screen epic packed with monsters and thrills! Bowen Tyler (Doug McClure) is among a small group of survivors taken in by a German submarine after it sunk their ship. The cast-aways end up marooned on a mysterious uncharted island, which is inhabited by giant carnivorous creatures. In order to stay alive, they’re pitted to the death against deadly dinosaurs, fearsome sea monsters, soaring pterodactyls and marauding tribes of primitive humans.
As Jay Cocks from Time Magazine says, Instant second childhood is guaranteed in less than 90 minutes. As a kid, I loved this film. I thought it was fantastic, full of grand ideas and exciting visuals. I’m unsure how well it holds up, but if dinosaurs and 70’s adventure is your thing, then you’ll already have this on your radar.
From Umbrella: Captain Nolan (Oscar® nominee Richard Harris, Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone) is a man of the sea. Brave and headstrong, he is a fisherman who takes up the fight of his life against one of nature’s most fearsome creatures – the killer whale. Orca seeks to avenge the death of his pregnant mate, left murdered in blood red waters. Rising from the ocean, leaving behind it a wake of destruction and mayhem, the deadly marine creature lures his human adversaries to a match of wits and survival in the chilly arctic waters.
From Umbrella: The horrors of war take on a whole new meaning for Vietnam vet Norman Hopper (John Saxon, Enter The Dragon), whose quiet domestic life in Atlanta is shattered by the return of Charlie Bukowski, a combat buddy who dredges up terrifying flashbacks of flesh eating and bloodshed in the war-torn jungles. Now on the run from the law after taking a bit out of an unwilling victim, Charlie begs Norman to help him get out of town with another fellow veteran, Tom. Soon the ragtag team of cannibals are fighting for their lives, spreading a deadly contagion through the city before heading into the sewers for a gut-wrenching climax you won’t soon forget.
I watched Cannibal Apocalypse as a kid alongside a whole bunch of other Cannibal titled films. It’s as insane and crazy as all the other ones out there. I could go on about my history with it, but that’s boring! So, instead, give the great Brian W. Collins review on his now retired Horror Movie a Day blog. In short, if you like horror films, then buy this one. You won’t be disappointed.
Six Shooter Classics: The Duel at Silver Creek
From Umbrella: Celebrated war hero Audie Murphy packs a two-fisted punch in this action-filled western adventure, which also features legendary Oscar® winner Lee Marvin in one of his first screen appearances. Stephen McNally is Lightning Tyrone, the quick-drawing marshal of Silver City who’s intent on capturing a ruthless gang of claim jumpers that have been terrorising and murdering local miners – including his best friend. After losing the use of his famed trigger finger in a shootout, Lightning deputises the sharp-shooting Silver Kid (Murphy), whose own father was killed by the gang, to help bring the outlaws to justice. But their plans are complicated when Lightning falls for the beautiful new lady in town (Faith Domergue) whose interest in the marshal is a thin disguise for her own dangerous agenda, in this unforgettable drama brimming with pulse-pounding thrills, danger-tinged romance, and gun-blazing glory!
Look, with most of these Six Shooter Classics films, I’m happy to say I’m ignorant with their history or quality. However, as mentioned last time, if you like Westerns, then the frequency and affordability of these Western films should have you excited. This one has the benefit of being directed by the great Don Siegel (Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Dirty Harry, The Killers). Dennis Schwartz from Ozus’ World Movie Reviews had this to say: Siegel gets the most out of this routine formulaic revenge Western as he can.
From Umbrella: An American girl inherits a fortune and falls into a misguided relationship with a gentleman confidence artist whose true nature, including a barbed and covetous disposition, turns her life into a nightmare.
It’s a small synopsis for a great film. This is Jane Campion film, an most importantly, it’s a Jane Campion film with Nicole Kidman. Every Jane Campion film is a must see film. There’s no denying that. I love that this is being re-released, but oh boy I wish it were on Bluray and with special features. Regardless. This has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 43%. Needless to say, the naysayers are fools.
From Umbrella: Abigail Kirk was an ordinary enough sixteen-year-old growing up in Sydney, 1986. An intriguing chain of events finds Abigail, through some eerie time shift, transported back 100 years after watching some children play a scary game called “Beatie Bow”. Confused and lost, all Abigail knew for sure, was that Beattie Bow’s family wouldn’t let her go home again. Why not? Why did they call her ‘The Stranger’? And what was ‘The Gift’ they were all talking about in whispers?
If you were a kid growing up in Australia, then you spent time with Playing Beattie Bow in some format. Whether it be the book or the film, this is truly a Classic Australian Story. I’m not sure how well this has aged, but it’s definitely worth adding to your Australian film collection.
From Umbrella: From the author of “The Thorn Birds” comes this story of feverish passion and insane jealousy set in an isolated hospital camp at the end of World War II.
Sister Honour Langtry (Wendy Hughes) is a warm, sensitive nurse caring for five emotionally wounded soldiers. But when a new patient arrives (Gary Sweet) who appears charming and untroubled, the delicate relationship between the inmates slowly begins to unravel. Jealousies smoulder, hatreds are fuelled, love grows and violence erupts!
Finally, we have An Indecent Obsession. I know little about this film, but if the talent of Colleen McCullough and Wendy Hughes peaks your interest, then head along and check this out.
So that’s it for December. It’s a pretty stellar month for Umbrella to end with. Don’t forget, if you didn’t pick up their Suspiria disc in November, it’s available now.