Charles Crichton’s Classic Caper Comedy THE LAVENDER HILL MOB New 4K Restoration

THE-LAVENDER-HILL-MOBCharles Crichton’s THE LAVENDER HILL MOB (1951), a classic heist comedy starring Alec Guinness, will run in a new 4K restoration at Film Forum from Friday, May 10 through Thursday, May 16.

“It’s a good job we’re both honest men,” remarks seedy Cockney knickknack manufacturer and hustler Stanley Holloway (13 years later, My Fair Lady’s Alfred Doolittle) as he gets the gist of fastidious bank clerk Guinness’ scheme: to smuggle Bank of England gold bullion out of the country by melting them down into seemingly tacky Eiffel Tower souvenirs.

One of the highlights of the golden years of British comedies from Britain’s famed Ealing Studios, THE LAVENDER HILL MOB was an international smash hit that won screenwriter T.E.B. Clarke an Oscar for Best Writing and a Best Actor nomination for Guinness, as well as a BAFTA Award for Best British Film. Its dénouement atop the real (filmed on location) Eiffel Tower features the most dizzying comedy chase ever.
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Oscar Micheaux and the Birth of Black Independent Cinema 15-Film Festival Opens May 3 at Film Forum

Oscar-Micheaux-and-the-Birth-of-Black-Independent-CinemaOscar Micheaux and the Birth of Black Independent Cinema, an 18-film festival, including 7 new restorations, of work by the prolific independent director whose pioneering explorations of contemporary Black life paved the way for generations, will run at Film Forum from Friday, May 3 through Thursday, May 9.

Operating on shoestring budgets, Oscar Micheaux (1884-1951) directed and produced more than 40 films between 1919 and 1948, shifting from silent to talkies, and depicting such complex and taboo subjects as religious hypocrisy, interracial marriage, police violence, and lynching, often with all-Black casts and producers. His work explored the Black experience with nuance and depth, often challenging the negative stereotypes so commonly portrayed in films of the era. Micheaux’s films were the first made by a Black filmmaker to be shown in white cinemas, and they were often hugely successful, with Micheaux working directly with theater owners to finance, distribute, and market them.
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KEN LOACH: 21-Film Festivaln of Work by British Director Ken Loach Set To Open at Film Forum

Photo by Robin Holland

A two-week, 21-film festival of work by British director KEN LOACH, spanning his six-decade career, will run at Film Forum from Friday, April 19 through Thursday, May 2.

The series is preceded by a run of Loach’s latest film – and what he has announced to be his final – THE OLD OAK, opening on Friday, April 5.

Loach’s career began in the mid-1960s when fellow socialist Tony Garnett recruited him to direct episodes for the BBC’s ‘Wednesday Play’ series. Loach’s 10 contributions examined social issues faced by ordinary Britons at the bottom of the social ladder and tackled controversial subjects such as abortion, homelessness, and labor strikes.

Through use of nonprofessional actors, improvised dialogue, and location shooting, Loach developed his realist style, “a subtle cinematic language, merging elements of documentary and fiction.” (James Monaco).
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Med Hondo’s Musical Epic “West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves Of Liberty” New 4K Restoration To Run at Film Forum

West-Indies-The-Fugitive-Slaves-Of-LibertyThe great French-Mauritian director Med Hondo’s spectacular cinematic odyssey “West Indies: The Fugitive Slaves Of Liberty” (1979) will run at Film Forum in a new 4K restoration from Friday, March 22 through Thursday, March 28.

Adapted from Daniel Boukman’s Les Négriers (The Slavers), a play which Hondo directed in Paris in the early 70s, WEST INDIES: THE FUGITIVE SLAVES OF LIBERTY tells the story of French imperialism as a musical extravaganza.

Aboard an enormous hand built wooden slave ship acting as a multipurpose set, the film traverses the West Indies, Europe, and the Middle Passage, spanning over 400 years. Dynamic, intricately choreographed reenactments depict the effects of official French policy upon the colonized, the enslaved, and their descendants. Surveying the actions and motivations of the resigned, the revolutionary, and the powers that be (along with their lackeys), WEST INDIES is a call to arms for a spectacular yet critical cinematic reimagining of an entire people’s history of resistance and struggle.

At $1.3 million, it was the biggest-budget African production ever, as well as the continent’s first musical. Hondo, who wished “to free the very concept of musical comedy from its American trade mark” remained resolute in his vision, refusing to alter the script and rejecting funding offers from Warner Brothers and MGM when they asked for changes. Mixed critical reception in France barred the film from wider release with it gradually slipping out of circulation.
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Claude Sautet’s French Noir Masterpiece “Classe tous risques”, New 4K Restoration Opens March 15 at Film Forum

Classe-tous-risquesA new 4K restoration of Claude Sautet’s CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (1960), a masterpiece of French Noir starring Lino Ventura (ARMY OF SHADOWS) and a very young Jean-Paul Belmondo, will run at Film Forum from Friday, March 15 through Thursday, March 21.

Neo-realism meets Noir, as gangster and family man Ventura, holed up in Italy for over a decade, needs some startup money to return to France, where he’s been sentenced to death in absentia. With Milan’s Duomo looming in the background (shot on location), he and a crony execute a split-second payroll heist — in broad daylight — then begin a lightning-fast getaway via underground passages, car, motorcycle, bus, speedboat, and ambulance. Only the beginning of the mounting mayhem.

Bridging argot-rich 50s masterworks like RIFIFI and TOUCHEZ-PAS AU GRISBI with Melville’s pared-down thrillers of the 60s, CLASSE TOUS RISQUES (the title refers to a type of insurance policy, à la DOUBLE INDEMNITY, but is also a pun on “tourist class”) is a penetrating study of a tough guy at the end of his rope, drawn from screenwriter José Giovanni’s first-hand knowledge of the post-war French underworld.
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Tarkovsky’s Haunting Late Masterpiece NOSTALGHIA New 4K Restoration Opens Feb. 21 at Film Forum

ANDREI-TARKOVSKY---NOSTALGHIAAndrei Tarkovsky’s haunting late masterpiece NOSTALGHIA (1983) will run at Film Forum in a new 4K restoration from Wednesday, February 21 through Tuesday, February 29.

In Tarkovsky’s first film made outside the USSR, Russian expatriate Andrei (Oleg Yankovsky, THE MIRROR), wanders wintry Italian landscapes while returning in memory to his homeland. He becomes obsessed with the Botticelli-like beauty of his translator Eugenia (Domiziana Giordano), as well as with the apocalyptic ramblings of a self-destructive wanderer named Domenico (Erland Josephson, THE SACRIFICE). In one of cinema’s most agonizingly suspenseful sequences, the fate of the world is found hanging on a candle’s flight across a dry pool, culminating in an overwhelming final shot.

Written with Tonino Guerra, frequent collaborator of Michelangelo Antonioni (on every film from L’AVVENTURA through BLOW-UP), Federico Fellini (AMARCORD), and Francesco Rosi (ILLUSTRIOUS CORPSES, CHRIST STOPPED AT EBOLI), NOSTALGHIA is a mystical and mysterious collision of East and West, shot with the tactile beauty that only Tarkovsky could provide.

NOSTALGHIA won the Grand Prix du cinéma de creation prize for Best Director (shared with Robert Bresson for L’ARGENT) and the international film critics prize at the 1983 Cannes Film Festival. Soviet authorities prevented the film from winning the Palme d’Or, which hardened Tarkovsky’s resolve to never work in the Soviet Union again.


Focus Features Celebrates 30 Years of ‘Dazed and Confused’

dazed and confused 30Focus Features is commemorating the 30th anniversary of Richard Linklater’s critically acclaimed cult classic, DAZED AND CONFUSED, with a series of exclusive events and celebrations in honor of the beloved film’s enduring impact on cinema and culture today. Written and directed by Richard Linklater and originally released in September 1993, DAZED AND CONFUSED explores the last day of school—and one wild night—in the lives of high school students in 1976. The film features a stacked ensemble cast including Matthew McConaughey, Parker Posey, Ben Affleck, Milla Jovovich, and Anthony Rapp among many others. Anniversary celebrations first commenced in April timed to 4/20 when Focus hosted more than 100 anniversary screenings at theaters in major cities across the U.S, including Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, Austin, Washington DC, and New York City.

The DAZED fun will continue with a weekend of activity at San Diego Comic Con from July 20-23, including an immersive pop-up at the Interactive Zone where fans can purchase exclusive anniversary merch (only available at the Con), photo-opps featuring iconic scenes from the film, and themed giveaways. Fans can also relive the film through three separate screenings on Friday, July 21, Saturday, July 22 and Sunday, July 23 at the Digital Gym Cinema in downtown San Diego. During the Con, convention attendees can also enter a special sweepstakes to win a trip to Austin, TX, the film’s iconic setting, for a special DAZED reunion-filled weekend. The Criterion Collection’s 4K UHD DAZED AND CONFUSED Blu-Ray will also be available for purchase on site.

Additionally, Focus is partnering with Vidiots, L.A.’s legendary video store and film hub, recently relaunched at the historic Eagle Theatre, for a special DAZED AND CONFUSED takeover featuring two screenings in Vidiots’ newly renovated 271-seat, state-of-the-art cinema on Saturday, July 29th Fans attending screenings will be treated to a special commemorative movie poster as well as several DAZED-themed giveaways. Beer, wine, and munchies will be available for fans all day in Vidiots’ spacious lobby bar. Tickets for the Vidiots’ “Dazed Day” are on sale now.

DAZED Celebrations will culminate in a jam-packed cast reunion weekend in partnership with Austin Film Society on Sept 16th and 17th in Austin, TX. Kicking off on Saturday, September 16, the Round Rock Express will host a Dazed and Confused anniversary themed baseball game with exclusive merchandise, a pre-game panel discussion with members of the film’s cast and a first pitch thrown by Linklater. Then on Sunday, September 17, the Waterloo Greenway will present a special outdoor screening of the film at the Moody Amphitheater followed by a Q&A with Linklater and select cast. Tickets and more information about these Austin Film Society events can be found here. Exclusive DAZED AND CONFUSED anniversary merch will also be available for purchase through the Focus Features online store beginning July 24th.


Review: 1974 Horror Classic “The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue” Makes A Topical Comeback

By Armando Inquig

1974-Classic-Horror-The-Living-Dead-At-Manchester-Morgue by Armando Inquig“The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue”, a film that emerged during the wave of zombie films in the early to mid 70s following the success of George A. Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead,” is truly a hidden horror gem.

Directed by Jorge Grau, the film is somewhat a departure from traditional zombie lore. It injects social commentary and ecological themes, and highlights the dangers of industrialization and the exploitation of the environment. The message is subtle, but the plot is layered with political and philosophical subtext, atypical for a zombie movie of that time.

The film follows George (played by Ray Lovelock), a London-based antique dealer, traveling to the countryside. Along the way, he meets Edna (Cristina Galbó), who is on her way to visit her sister. Their paths cross inadvertently when Edna backs her car into George’s motorcycle and damaging it. Given his situation, George requests Edna to give him a lift. ‘It’s the least you can do,’ George says sarcastically.

As they travel through the countryside, they begin to notice strange occurrences, such as dead animals and machines that appears to be causing ecological damage. They soon encounter a group of aggressive zombies, but manage to escape and seek help. However the local police, led by Sergeant McCormick (played by Arthur Kennedy), are skeptical of George and Edna’s claims of a zombie outbreak.

Meanwhile, a scientist (played by Ángel del Pozo) is conducting experiments involving ultrasonic radiation, which he believes can be used to stimulate plant growth. But his experiments have unintended consequences, as they seem to be reanimating the dead and causing them to become violent zombies.

This outbreak later intensifies, George and Edna team up to navigate the treacherous terrain and confront not only the zombies but also the police who stayed on their tail.

Throughout the movie, the tension between the young protagonists and the establishment’s old guard is palpable, underscoring the generational conflict of the 1970s. In one memorable and humorous scene, George utters “Heil Hitler”, mocking the overbearing and authoritarian police officer, and highlighting the film’s willingness to engage with political satire.

The cast delivers solid performances, particularly Ray Lovelock as the rebellious George and Cristina Galbó as the innocent Edna; their character dynamic initially full of annoyance and sarcasm, eventually turning into a deep bond through their shared adventure until the tragic end.

The cinematography is gritty and atmospheric. The makeup and special effects are impressive considering the film’s modest budget. The zombies are grotesque, with enough gore to satisfy genre fans. The film is patient in its pacing and allows characterizations to build up. The score by Giuliano Sorgini is haunting and atmospheric, with eerie synth melodies.

Overall, The Living Dead at Manchester Morgue is a standout, albeit under-appreciated, horror film that is thought-provoking and thrilling that make it a true classic of the genre.

“The Living Dead At Manchester Morgue”, also known as “Let Sleeping Corpses Lie” and “Don’t Open the Window,” is currently available to purchase on Blu-Ray.


Ignite Films To Release New 4K Restoration Of The Sci-Fi Classic “Invaders From Mars”

IGNITE FILMS TO RELEASE 4K RESTORATION INVADERS FROM MARSJan Willem Bosman Jansen of Ignite Films acquires and restores Classics for the Future, as their motto says. Ignite Films is set to release a sensational new 4K restoration of the sci-fi classic Invaders From Mars in all its terrifying color, just in time for its 70th anniversary. Fearful memories of this timeless 1953 bone-chiller still haunt the dreams of fans who have never forgotten the story of a young boy (Jimmy Hunt) who witnesses an alien invasion.

The newly restored version of Invaders From Mars will have its first public showcase screening at the TCM Classic Film Festival in Hollywood on April 23. Jimmy Hunt will be in attendance at the TCM Classic Film Festival screening.

Pre-orders for the 4K UHD Blu-ray launched in the United States on opening day of the TCM Festival, April 21, with a special limited (1,000) bundle which includes an autographed mini-poster signed by the film’s star Jimmy Hunt. The newly restored 4K UHD Blu-ray of Invaders from Mars will be released by Ignite Films worldwide in Fall 2022. Arrow Video will release in the UK. The Big Pieces Company is supporting the release in the US and overseeing international sales.

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Review: Hitchcock’s “Notorious”; Romance Amidst Espionage

By Armando Inquig

Notorious film 1946 Armando Inquig
Released in 1946, “Notorious” stands as one of the quintessential masterpieces in Alfred Hitchcock’s filmography.

A melding of suspense, romance, and espionage, the film is frequently cited for its narrative depth and cinematic techniques. Over the decades, “Notorious” has cemented its place as classic cinema and its influence in countless other films.

Set in the aftermath of World War II, the story centers around Alicia Huberman, the German-American daughter of a recently convicted Nazi spy. Approached by the American intelligence agent T.R. Devlin, Alicia agrees to use her connections to infiltrate a group of Nazis residing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. As Alicia and Devlin venture into their mission, a complicated romance blossoms between them, adding tension to their covert operation.

This dynamic is shown early in the film in a well-known intimate kissing scene between Alicia and Devlin, cleverly directed by Hitchcock that it circumvents the conservative norms of its time. This subtly reflects the film’s defiance of film-making conventions at the time, while also deepening the romantic subplot.

Alicia’s former acquaintance with a Nazi sympathizer, Alex Sebastian, becomes a crucial part in their assignment, and she is tasked to rekindle their past relationship, something that strains her developing romance with Devlin.

While navigating their mission, Alicia discovers a sinister plot: the Nazis are concealing uranium ore in wine bottles with intentions to construct atomic weapons. Sebastian later uncovers Alicia’s true allegiance and together with his mother, he orchestrates a plan to slowly poison Alicia.

Devlin, sensing something wrong, unravels the plot and rescues Alicia. The film reaches a climax with Devlin exposing Sebastian in front of his Nazi compatriots, leaving him to face the repercussions of inadvertently harboring an American spy.

The film is a cinematic reflection of its immediate post-World War II setting, delving into the aftermath of Nazi influences and the global tension of its time, and highlights the era’s political anxieties and the growing Cold War climate.

But at its core, “Notorious” isn’t just about espionage or World War II politics; it’s a love story interwoven with themes of trust, betrayal, and redemption. The relationship between Alicia and Devlin is complicated; he loves her but is torn by the compromising position he’s placed her in, while she constantly seeks his trust and validation.

Previously available only on DVD, The Criterion Collection has now released Notorious on blu-ray in 4K digital restoration. The released comes with audio commentaries featuring film historian Rudy Behlmer and Alfred Hitchcock scholar Marian Keane.

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