Friday, August 31, 2007

This Just In: New DVD Releases

Antibodies (Antikörper) 2005, directed by Christian Alvart, Germany
After confessed killer Gabriel Engel (André Hennicke) is captured, small-town cop Michael Martens (Wotan Wilke Möhring) interrogates him, hoping a journey into the madman's twisted mind will give clues to an unsolved murder committed in the same heinous manner as Gabriel's crimes. Gabriel claims to know the killer's identity but turns the investigation into a psychological game, leaving Michael questioning his own sanity in this German thriller.

Flower and Snake '74 (Hana to hebi), 1974, directed by Masaru Konuma, Japan
Frustrated by his lackluster sex life, businessman Senzô Tôyama (Nagatoshi Sakamoto) conspires to have one of his employees (Yasuhiko Ishizu) -- a sex shop owner's son -- kidnap Senzô's frigid spouse (Naomi Tani) and train her as a sexual submissive. But the domineering industrialist gets more than he bargained for in director Masaru Konuma's erotic, adults-only tale that explores the boundaries between sexual pleasure and perversion.

Great African Films: Vol. 1: Faraw! Mother of the Dunes, 1997, directed by Abdoulaye Ascofare
Director Abdoulaye Ascofare's drama follows Zamiatou (Aminata Ousmane), a mother who struggles to support her family in the wake of her husband's unjust incarceration. Life is already difficult in the desolate desert of Mali in Africa, but when her husband returns from prison a mentally and physically reduced man, Zamiatou will do anything to keep her two sons and daughter alive.

Great African Films: Vol. 2: Sia, the Dream of the Python (Sia, le rêve du python), 2004, directed by Dani Kouyaté
Dani Kouyaté's visually stunning film is an adaptation of a seventh-century African legend about a woman chosen as a sacrifice to a snake god to save a destitute village. The emperor picks the beautiful virgin Sia (Fatoumata Diawara) but no one tells her fiancé, Mamadi (Ibrahim Baba Cissé), about his lover's fate. Kerfa, a government leader with plans to oust the emperor, helps Sia and Mamadi, but can she live with being known as a traitor?

Great African Films: Vol. 2: Tasuma, The Fighter, 2004, directed by Daniel Kollo Sanou
In Daniel Kollo Sanou's comedy, Sogo (Mamadou Zerbo), a West African World War II vet, purchases a mill on credit believing he'd get paid his due pension. But when the money doesn't come through, Sogo finds himself in jail for not being able to pay off the mill. Having already waited over 50 years for his pension, Sogo joins in with the local women who come to his side in support.

Horrors of Malformed Men (Edogawa ranpo taizen: Kyofu kikei ningen), 1969, directed by Teruo Ishii, Japan
A medical student searching for his father discovers a deranged scientist on a remote island whose experiments combine humans and animals to produce terrifying creatures in this surreal and horrifying tale. The student soon unearths disturbing facts that link him to some appalling truths. Adapted from stories by horror author Rampo Edogawa and directed by Japanese exploitation auteur Teruo Ishii, the film remains banned in its native Japan.

Over at the Big Ranch (Allá En El Rancho Grande), 1936, directed by Fernando de Fuentes, Mexico
Poor ranch hand José Francisco (Tito Guízar) falls in love with homely girl turned beauty Cruz (Esther Fernández). Unfortunately, his boss, rancher Felipe (René Cardona), also adores her, and the resulting love triangle threatens José's job and their friendship. Director Fernando de Fuentes's romance launched the comedia ranchera genre, which combines Mexican folklore with musical comedy and melodrama.

Samba (Szamba ), 1996, directed by Róbert Koltai, Hungary
Larger-than-life Ottó Szamba (Róbert Koltai) is a theater actor in his small Hungarian village. Everyone in town loves him -- except his son Ottó Jr. (László Görög), who's so embarrassed by his hammy father that he shuns the stage. But when he enters college, the younger Ottó discovers he can't escape the acting bug. Koltai co-wrote and directed this satire on small-town attitudes and big-time egos, co-starring Éva Kerekes and Judit Pogány.

Snake Woman's Curse (Kaidan hebi-onna), 1968, directed by Nobuo Nakagawa, Japan
When a wealthy landlord causes the death of a poor farmer, enslaves the man's wife and daughter, and then kills a snake the wife was protecting, he unleashes the serpent's curse. Before long, the landlord finds himself being driven mad by deathly spirits as terrible misfortune rains down on his family -- including his son, whose young bride starts growing scales and green skin in this film from Japanese horror auteur Nobuo Nakagawa.

The Beautiful Washing Machine (Mei li de xi yi ji), 2004, directed by James Lee, Indonesia
Teoh's (Loh Bok Lai) secondhand washing machine has a personality as strong as that of his ex-girlfriend. After exploiting the temperamental appliance, Teoh sells her to the Wongs, whose son (Berg Lee) develops an attachment to her that causes a rift in his family. Teoh Kah Yong co-stars in writer-director James Lee's award-winning surrealist satire that's drawn comparisons with the work of visionaries such as Luis Buñuel and Jim Jarmusch.