Author : Glenn Misztal
Distributor : Madman Entertainment
Directed by Nick Ryan
“For every two climbers that set out to conquer the K2, one will die trying.”
Movie : 2.5/5
I have a confession to make : I’m not an outdoor person. At all.
I’d rather curl up with a nice steaming cup of coffee and a good book (or movie) rather than get outside for any kind of physical activity. That said, the Summit was a very challenging movie for me to review.
The Summit (2012) is a documentary movie that chronicles a 2008 expedition to the K2 in Pakistan.
18 Climbers went over the K2. Only 7 returned.
So many questions run through your mind when watching a film like this: What went wrong? Are these people crazy to do this? Why did these people decide to do this?
The Summit puts together a good explanation in this case of why people do the things they do, why the people who love them support what they do and what went wrong on this expedition. It is said in the documentary that only experienced climbers that have climbed Mt Everist and other mountains went on this expedition. These guys aren’t just drunk thrill-seekers that wanted to tick one box off the bucket list. These folks have a real love of mountain climbing, love a challenge and it shows when they talk about it.
Upon first watching the movie, this switch between real footage and re-enactments is not so obvious, but as time goes on, it’s easier to tell which is which thanks to shaky camera work and multiple camera angles.
As interviews roll on, the climbers try to draw you into their world and environment on the K2. They explain the harsh environment they are facing, the elements they are up against and the conditions their minds are bodies are under. Some of it is shown through X-Rays of their lungs and brains and how they are effected in such air-thin environments. Others show their fingers and toes being affected by frostbite. Others still go without sleep because they know if their do, they will lose their lives. However, its very clear why things went wrong according to the people interviewed in the documentary. The climbers explain the situation clearly and said that heavy snow and other things were amongst the team. To be honest you can’t help but think there is a bit of finger-pointing going on in some of the interviews. There are times in the movie when you ask yourself those questions again : ‘What on Earth are these people thinking?’, but you have to remember - just as you and I live for the things we do everyday, so these adventurers live for what they do.
The film did wear me down emotionally and just when things can’t get worse, they do - team member after team member loses their life to the K2. I don’t feel the movie was nerve-wracking as it claimed on the cover. I just felt sad for every time someone lost their life. Just seeing these climbers die one after the other is disheartening and disturbing at the same time (even though some scenes are re-enactments). More disturbing than any scene horror movie can offer - these are real people.
Video : 2.5/5
Shot in a 16:9 Anamorphic Widescreen Aspect Ratio, I’m sure in a movie cinema this would be breathtaking to watch. The cinematography of the scenes shown is beautiful. Mostly made up of white snow-filled mountains of the K2 the DVD of ‘The Summit’ is also limited to DVD technology. The video isn’t so clear as some graininess and diagonal pixelation is clearly evident at times. I’m unsure if this because some of the videos are re-enactments and others are actual footage shot by the climbers using their cameras on the expedition, whilst retiring for the night inside their tents and on the climb. Being a DVD release I’m not so sure a blu-ray release could offer any improvement on this.
Audio : 2.5/5
The discs audio utilises Dolby Digital sound.
Again, integrating re-enactments and real footage, The Summit overlays these scenes with orchestral and electronic music. You can hear the avalanches rolling and the ice breaking loudly. The music by Nick Seymour is very haunting as well - he also makes a point to use music during a scene of devastation or whenever a climber loses their life.
Extras : 3/5
The Disc comes with Four ‘Behind the Scenes’ Special Features. :
- Test Shoot
- Reconstructions - I found this one the most interesting as they were attempting to re-enact some scenes.
- Filming K2
- Music by Nick Seymour
- Theatrical Trailer.
Overall : 2.5/5
A very emotional, non-therapeutic movie. If you're after a tension reliever, this isn't it. I found myself thinking back to when I saw ‘Vertical Limit’ (another K2 movie) in the cinema, but I had to remember : this is real life.
BUY FROM MADMAN ENTERTAINMENT
Distributor: Arrow Video(UK)
Author: James Ackland
The then brothers, Larry and Andy Wachowski (Matrix trilogy, Jupiter Ascending) take their comic book beginnings and smash out a visually stunning debut with the 1996 neo-noir film Bound.
Financed by film legend Dino de Laurentiis as something of a directorial audition to secure the Matrix gig, the Wachowskis delve deep into smokey, sexy noir territory and it works!
Corky (Gina gershon) an ex-con trying to make ends meet as a plumber meets Violet (Jennifer Tilly) and her mafia connected boyfriend Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) and the sparks begin to fly.
Any time sex and the mafia are on film, money is soon to follow. Once Violet starts a steamy affair with Corky she confides that 2 million dollars of mob blood money could soon come their way. The scheming lovers then plot Caesars demise.
Oscar nominee and bonafide Sexpot, Jennifer Tilly (Bullets over Broadway) is perfectly cast as Violet. Stuck in a loveless and dangerous relationship, Violet is looking for a way out.Tilly oozes an almost reptilian sex appeal and it's easy to see why Gershon's Corky is pulled in so easily.
Gershon (Showgirls) is also fantastic as Corky, a sexy, hands on dyke who is always only a tip away from falling back into her old ways.
The 2 female leads buck convention as this could easily have been played off in a boy meets girl story. This creates a fresh approach to a dangerous relationship. As Corky admits "If there's one thing I can't stand about sleeping with women, it's all the fucking mind-reading."
Pre Matrix Joe Pantoliano is criminally underrated for his performance as money launderer Caesar. His performances is threatening while also comedic. The wheels turning in his head are played out beautifully and at times the wheels stop altogether and panic sets in his expressions and reaction choices are priceless.
Why Pantoliano isn't consistently in bigger films is a shame. If you liked him as Ralphy in the Sopranos you'll love him here!
The Wachowskis take wholesale stock from the school of Hitchcock and Scorsese and yet it's not out of place and doesn't feel stolen as the noir setting and vivid colours demand the bold use of the camera. Few locations and small sets almost give the film a theatre play like experience.
Cinematographer Bill Pope collaborated perfectly with the Wachowskis and give many visual nods to Frank Miller's Sin City graphic novel. There are definite hints at what was to come, especially the use of telephones and bullets for their next project, The Matrix.
Lauded by the Gay and lesbian community and critics upon a its release the film didn't fair as well at the box office as the film was marketed to 18 year old boys who may have missed the nuances of the characters in favour of the flesh. Sex in 1990s film was huge, from Basic instinct (1992) to the Cruel intentions (1999). Bound certainly is a great addition to a decade of sizzling erotic thrillers.
Bound is a well crafted double entendre. It mixes sex, danger, relationships and choices together seamlessly. When Corky asks Violet "are you gonna fuck me?" Are we missing the word "over"? Find out!!!
Enjoy and I hope it finds a fresh audience with this blu-ray rerelease upgrade.
Presented here on Blu ray in 1080p the film looks beautiful.
Released in the original Aspect ratio of: 1.85:1 We see Bound filling the frame to great effect. The colours pallet looks amazing and adds to the noir element. Turn the lights off and allow bound to paint a lovely picture in your living room.
The film is presented in Dolby 5.1 and 2.0 and it's sounds fantastic. From the quieter intimate moments to the huge over the top Pantoliano rants and raves.
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
Optional 5.1 Surround and 2.0 Stereo audio
Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
Audio Commentary with Writer/Directors the Wachowskis, Stars Jennifer Tilly, Gina Gershon, and Joe Pantoliano, Editor Zach Staenberg, and Consultant Susie Bright
Femme Fatales – Interviews with Stars Gina Gershon & Jennifer Tilly
Hail Ceasar! – An Interview with Actor Joe Pantoliano.
Here’s Johnny! – An Interview with Actor Christopher Melloni
Modern Noir: The Sights & Sounds of Bound – Interviews with Director of Photography Bill Pope, Editor Zach Staenberg, and Composer Don Davis
Vintage EPK Featurettes (US & International Versions)
Still Gallery Images
Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sam Smith
Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by James Oliver
Unfortunately the only Wachowski addition to the extras is in the audio commentary with the main cast. Making of featurettes, interviews with composer Don Davis, editor Zachary Stanberg and director of photography Bill Pope help delve into the making of the film greatly.
Trailers, TV spots and stills gallery flesh out the extras
Arrow ship to Australia from their site and charge only charge £3.50 for shipping.
You can use your PayPal account, and they have no international charges.
BUY FROM ARROW FILMS
Take two: Fans of the great car chase film VANISHING POINT (1971) may notice director Richard Sarafian appear as crime boss Gino Marzzone.
Distributor: Arrow Video (UK)
Author: John Mathews
Movie: 4.5/ 5
Branded to kill is a 1967 Japanese film by Seijun Suzuki, being familiar with the directors other works; ‘Branded to Kill’ was truly a turning (or ending) point of his career. It is a film that was drastically ahead of its time, there is no way an audience in 1967 could have comprehended it, infact even modern day audiences may have trouble getting their head around it. Having seen this film many years ago in bits and pieces, seeing it again gave a fresh perspective. If you have no knowledge of this directors style, you are going to be in for a treat. Surreal imagery, a jazzy soundtrack, erotica and intense action; this film stands in a league of its own.
The film focuses on Goro Hanada, the number 3 hitman in Japan. He is met by Kasuga, who used to be a hitman but is now a taxi driver. Kasuga wants to get back into the business and asks Goro is he can be his assistant.. Hanada agrees and they meet his boss Michihiko, he instructs the men to escort a client in the back of a car. The two men travel across the countryside where Suzuki really does show of his beautiful cinematography, the focus of the car and the background come across looking stunning. The men suddenly get ambushed and a shootout occurs, the shooting scene really is something that was unseen back in 1967, slick camera work and suspense is something you see nearly in every modern action film. There is so much more, but its something you will need to see. Goro comes close to Sakura, the second ranked hitman and there is a final showdown. These are honestly some of the best shootout action scenes I have ever seen, they leave you on the edge of your seat, supporting Goro the anti hero. On the way back from his shootout his car breaks down and he is picked up by Misako, a woman who collects dead insects.
The relationship between Goro and his wife is a kinky one, they always have rough sex in various places of the house. Another aspect of this film is the nudity and sexual content, which was boundary breaking in the late 60’s. We began to see the emergence of such content with films like ‘Onibaba’, but Branded to Kill has no holding back. Goro is given more assassination tasks from his boss and these hits are incredibly stylised and impressive. He is given an important assassination task by the mysterious woman Misako, she has planned it that all Goro needs to do is snipe the man in heat. Goro fails to assassinate him, the assassins code is if you fail to kill a target you must die. The number 1 hitman is now coming after Goro, he wants his head; but who is this number 1 'phantom' assassin. With that summary alone it's just scraping the surface, it is so much more complex than that, with a numbers of unexpected twists and also Goros descent into madness.
Shot in black and white in monochrome, Arrow presents Branded to Kill in its original aspect ratio: 2.35:1, in a full HD resolution of 1080p. Black levels come off very strong with excellent contrast levels, this is a film that has appear in washed out prints for years. This restored version has natural accurate lightening, scenes are not too dark or too bright. A common issues with Japanese movies from the 1960's is the fuji film stock, film prints from this era generally come across green when transferred to home video; thankfully arrow keeps it a strong natural black and white. There is natural film grain in the print and clarity and detail found in scenes, overall this is a very strong transfer.
Audio: 4.5/ 5
Released in it's original mono soundtrack, Branded to Kill sounds great. The dialogue has been mastered to prevent any peaking during scenes of intense dialogue. Everything comes off clear sounding great. The music is a big attraction, the jazzy score sounds is a highlight, with the cool bass rocking the sound system.
Arrow bring us an array of extras for this film; some exclusive to this release.
High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentation
Yes we get both a blu-ray and DVD, it's. Dual format which is very handy if you have DVD player lying around.
Newly translated English subtitles for both films
These subtitles are up to date, giving an accurate translation.
Interview with director Seijun Suzuki
A rather interesting television interview with the director, be discusses the re writing of the script and the challenges he faced with the studio.
Interview with star Jo Shishido by critic and author Koshi Ueno
A look at the star and how he got involved with the project, plus many other aspects.
Trapped in Lust [Aiyoku no wana] (1973) – A delirious roman porno re-imagining of Branded to Kill from Atsushi Yamatoya, one of Branded to Kill’s screenwriters and Suzuki’s regular collaborators
Ok this is rather interesting, it's exactly what you think it is. A soft core porn remake of branded to kill; this is probably the best extra on the disc. Bravo to arrow tracking down this rare film and including it.
Original Trailers for Branded to Kill and Trap of Lust
Reversible sleeve with original and newly commissioned artwork by Ian MacEwan
This is stunning artwork that has to be seen to be believed, check our packaging shots below.
Booklet by Japanese film expert Jasper Sharp, illustrated with original stills and new artwork by Ian MacEwan
Very informative booklet covering the films history and cultural impact.
Overall Branded to Kill is a unique experience you cannot miss. To Australian Readers this has never been available on any format in the Australian of home video.
This is your chance to see it, Arrow ship to Australia from their site and charge only charge £3.50 for shipping.
You can use your PayPal account, and they have no international charges.
DIRECT FROM ARROW FILMS
Distributor : Accent.
Author : Glenn Misztal
Movie : 3.5/5
In this day and age of big budget zombie films, and Hollywood seeing how they can push the boundaries with special effects and CGI, ‘The Battery' is a very simple, yet refreshing independent zombie movie.
The big budget of makeup and CGI isn’t evident and I was absolutely OK with that as it sometimes can be overkill (pun not intended) . For instance, the zombie makeup wasn’t as detailed as other zombies movies you may see, but I chalked it up to the zombies not being as decomposed.
Premise of ‘The Battery’ involves two work colleagues (you can hardly call them friends) Ben (Jeremy Gardner) and Mickey (Adam Cronheim) that are in the survival quest zombie apocalypse together. Yes, we’ve seen this scenario many times before but definitely not shown in the type of storytelling or friendship shown here - its an unlikely pairing and there is a real contrast between the characters. Mickey is the quiet, sensible, clean shaven short haired slim person of the duo, whilst Ben is his large, loud, bearded scruffy haired offsider.
If survival the zombie apocalypse wasn’t enough, it doesn’t take long for things to go from bad to worse in the film and their quest for survival turns into a quest for sanity.
With zombie films being all the rage nowadays and it’s really hard not to compare this movie to other zombies movies and the rules set out for survival : ‘Don’t make any noise using guns - you’ll attract the zombies’. ‘Have someone on lookout constantly - someone has to keep watch’. There is none of that here - Ben and Mickey are living an absolutely carefree life drinking, listening to music, scratching instant win scratch-offs and smoking cigarettes. If there was ever an award for the zombie apocalypse life was done in style, these two are great contenders. The tone of the movie isn’t as serious as say ‘The Walking Dead’, although it’s not as light hearted as a zombie satire like, say ‘Zombieland’, the tone falls somewhere in between. These guys have the really of the zombie apocalypse hit them at times, and at other times, they have their own shenanigans at heart.
Video : 3/5
Shot in a ratio of 2.35:1 ratio (i.e., black bars at top and bottom) the video is quite solid. The video is clear yet somewhat mystified in some shots. The film takes advantage of the soft video that film makers use while filming stretching green country side shots. It was also great to have the director of Photography explain a fair bit of it in the commentary as well.
Audio : 3/5
The beauty of indie films in that a lot of independent music can be used and showcased in the soundtrack on the films own budget. Fair bit of indie music in The Battery' . Some of its catchy. Some of it is forgettable. Some of it is rememberable thanks to Ben dancing around with a bottle of scotch and a handgun in one scene.
All of this is used in Dolby digital 2.0 audio.
Extras : 3.5/5
The Disc itself is decently loaded with extras:
- Cast and Crew Commentaries - Including the two main actors, director and Director of Photography.
- On-the-Set Featurettes.
- Music - The music shown on the movie is shown sung live.
- Outtakes - I found these hilarious. Mostly were of the actors goofing around, but still funny. I felt I got to know the actors a little bit.
V : 3.5
A : 3.5
E : 3.5
So all in all a great zombie indie flick. If you’re a sucker for zombie films, then you’ll like this movie. Would I Watch it again? Yes, definitely. Would I enjoy it again? Absolutely.
Distributors: Monster Pictures
Author: John Mathews
Kiss of the damned feels like a horror movie right out of the 1970's, it has a gothic vibe and works incredibly well. You feel as if this was something right out of Jess Franco's filmography, however it is extremely well made. Directed by Xan Cassavetes, this immediately peaked my interest as I am a massive fan of her fathers work, that being John Casavettes. There has been an explosion of vampire films over the past few years, most being trash (but the rare gem like only lovers left alive), this film takes a step back to the old school days when vampire movies were gory and overall frightening.
Distributor: Accent' Films (Australia)