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"DVD Is The New Vinyl": Girls Gone Wild Edition

Features
by Aaron Hillis
July 24, 2013 9:59 AM
6 Comments
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Video Free Brooklyn. DVD Column, july

As if filmgoers stopped watching DVDs and Blu-rays altogether around the Fourth of July, distributors tend to be a little lighter in early-to-mid July with their number and caliber of releases—though quality documentaries certainly prevail. However, if there's one trend vamping through the first three weeks of notable discs this month, it's wild women! From Rick Springfield's rabid fanbase of shrieking cougars to neo-Nazi teen girls, nymphomaniac trannies, nefarious lesbian prank callers, and Harmony Korine's bad bevy of bikini babes, let these ladies have their way with you... 

"DVD is the New Vinyl" is presented by Video Free Brooklyn, three-time "Best Video Store in NYC." For more info, please visit the VFB website.

BEST OF JULY, PART ONE:

affair-of-the-heart
"An Affair of the Heart"
2012, dir. Sylvia Caminer
(Breaking Glass Films, available on BD, DVD)
There's practically a caveat built into one's enjoyment of this warmly entertaining, unexpectedly funny doc celebration of Rick Springfield and his (mostly aging) fans, which is that it's not necessary to give a rat's ass about the former "General Hospital" star and "Jessie's Girl" hitmaker, still a studly, often-shirtless showman in his early '60s. Testimonials from showbiz pals like Linda Blair and ex-MTV veejay Mark Goodman might seem back-pattingly promotional, but it's within the Australian-born power-popster's intimate connections with his multi-generational admirers (including a woman with congenital heart defects, another who found inspiration in the music after being sexually assaulted, and a teenage rocker-in-training who first "jammed" onstage with Rick at age three) that complicated dynamics emerge. Springfield opens up about his suicide attempt and chasing the highs of a well-worn career, but the transcendent universality of idol obsession lies in the loyal husbands of super-obsessives, at least two of whom here jealously know they're second bananas to a man always there for their spouses in three-minute bursts of song.
The Skinny: Beyond the film's primer or the subject's five Top 10 hits in the U.S. (including, yes, "Affair of the Heart"), the best piece of Springfield trivia worth knowing is that, from '73 to '75, he starred as a mystery-solving, mystical version of himself in an animated spin-off of "The Brady Kids" called "Mission: Magic!," his Aussie accent still intact.
Bonus Round: The DVD includes an hour of extra content, while the two-disc Blu-ray edition doubles that with footage from three of the film's premieres, eight extended interviews, plus eight more conversations that didn't make the cut. In one, Corey Feldman talks about collaborating musically with Springfield after meeting him as his co-star of 1998's "Legion," a made-for-TV movie about a futuristic special-forces team.
Makes a "Rock Docs Not Just for Fans" Triple Feature with: "The Devil and Daniel Johnston," "Anvil! The Story of Anvil"

Black Sabbath
"Black Sabbath"
1963, dir. Mario Bava
(Kino Classics, available on BD, DVD)
No, don't adjust your audio settings, that is legendary cine-monster Boris Karloff introducing himself and Bava's anthology of expressionistic soundstage creep-outs in dubbed-over Italian. Presented in its original cut—not the lesser if rare, recut and rescored English-language version—the Euro-horror maestro's vibrant-hued trio of suspense tales begins with the noirish "The Telephone," about a frightened brunette in a sheer nightgown (Michele Mercier) being stalked with each ring of her rotary. Returning home as palid as a vampire, 19th-century rural paterfamilias Karloff lets a Russian count (Mark Damon) in on a family secret in the psychedelically gothic "The Wurdulak," and you won't ever forget the terrifying, sapphire-ringed corpse in the Chekhov-meets-EC-Comics conscience haunter "A Drop of Water." Bava's mastery of lush, atmospheric storytelling has made him one of the genre's most influential forefathers, and compared to the inconsistency of today's omnibus shockers ("V/H/S 2," "The ABC's of Death"), his trippy triptych remains near timeless.
The Skinny: In 1969, after noticing a theater across the street from their rehearsal room was showing "Black Sabbath," an English rock band called Earth was inspired by the idea of making the musical analogue of horror films and changed their name. Just ask Ozzy!
Bonus Round: Simultaneously, Kino drops Bava's black-blooded "Kidnapped," a brutal 1974 psychological thriller about hostages trying to fend off against three violent, bank-robbing abductors on the road.
Makes a "Bava's Eye-Popping Colors" Triple Feature with: "Blood and Black Lace," "Danger: Diabolik"

Combat Girls
"Combat Girls"
2011, dir. David Wnendt
(Artsploitation Films, available on DVD)
Bad apples don't fall far from their rotting trees in this unflinching, tragically moving drama about racist youth in suburban Germany hoping the Third Reich will rise again. Covered in swastika tattoos and planning to get inked next with Hitler's mug, twenty-year-old Marisa (a riveting Alina Levshin) is her ex-Nazi grandpa's little "Kriegerin" (the film's original title, meaning "warrioress"), a volatile force even next to her skinhead boyfriend and their hooligan gang of fuming fascists. Also getting her hate on while coming of age is sheltered teen troublemaker Svenja (Jella Haase), less ideologically inclined than Marisa but acting out in defiant rebellion of her parents. An initially belligerent, then reluctant friendship bonds the two girls, but it's actually the surprising emotional connection the older xenophobe makes with a persecuted Afghan refugee boy (Sayed Ahmad Wasil Mrowat) that lights the short dramatic fuses within the all-too-real subculture of neo-Nazism.
The Skinny: Wnendt explains the film's impetus in his director's statement: "In the summer of 1998 I worked for a film project in [the German region of] Lausitz. While I had conversations with adolescents, I noticed that many of them have extreme, right-wing opinions. Remarkable was the fact that many girls there have this opinion. That was the reason and point of origin for my long research to go deeper into this topic."
Bonus Round: Artsploitation regularly designs their packages with cool, reversible inserts and booklets with critical essays in the Criterion vein, but there's also a mixed-bag of an interview with Levshin, combining footage from a disappointing Q&A in San Diego with a more direct, sit-down interview.
Makes a "Criminally Angry Youth" Triple Feature with: "Romper Stomper," "La Haine"

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6 Comments

  • David Dean | July 25, 2013 7:02 PMReply

    Many thanks for the "Best of July" plug for "Affair of the Heart," Aaron. (I'm the editor of the film.) And bonus thanks for actually watching the bonus features.

  • James Kang | July 24, 2013 9:17 PMReply

    These things are great. Keep 'em coming, Aaron.

    Why is July a slower month for DVD releases? Does anyone know? Is there a good reason for that? August looks like a great month, at least as far as Criterion releases go.

  • Aaron Hillis | July 25, 2013 3:50 PM

    Thanks, James. Admittedly, I've usually only noticed the first couple of July weeks have less top-shelf product, but even July 16 was a slim week. I think it's pure economics, since Independence Day isn't as big of a media shopping weekend; it's more of a get-out-of-the-house to barbecue, skip town or consume multiplex popcorn kind of holiday. And yes, August is looking up, as is even July 23/30!

  • El Hanso | July 24, 2013 4:58 PMReply

    Interesting choices. Some (quite a lot) I'm so far totally unfamiliar with.

    But I've seen Combat Girls and it's actually not that good. The actors are decent and Alina Levshin is fantastic, but the whole film is full of clichés, is so naive and suffers from an obvious narrative. It looks as if the filmmaker had to use every little detail, secret symbols or aphorisms, he found and crammed it into the movie, mostly as tattoos on the main character's body. And as an portrayal of Neo Nazi youths I found it to be quite problematic. I'm not saying the depiction was unrealistic, but it seemed one dimensional and too easy. Young Neo Nazis portrayed as unemployed losers, school drop-out, post-teen virgins, or wannabe rebels. Listening to silly video and "let me tell how it used to be" propaganda from a creepy grandpa who just hangs with the "kids." That's too superficial and easy for my taste.

  • Aaron Hillis | July 25, 2013 5:43 PM

    Hope you get a chance to dig in. As for COMBAT GIRLS, I'll agree that the breaking-free-of-family-ideologies coming of ager is a familiar, even crowded subgenre, but I would argue that it's too thorny, lived-in and plausible (it is a German film, and a hit among its natives) to write off its straightforwardness as one-dimensional. But, here's just hoping that Alina Levshin gets more work...

  • Gabe Toro | July 24, 2013 4:30 PMReply

    Great piece. Will look for Combat Girls. Been waiting FOREVER for Cohen and Tate.

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