Friday, July 14, 2017

Another New Solondz Film? The Quarters

Yes, in addition to Love Child and St Petersburg: A Category of Feelings, Todd Solondz is reported to be directing on even another film.  Called, The Quarters, this one seems to have a lot more in common with St. Petersburg, in that it's another collaborative film, where Solondz will just be writing and directing one segment, alongside several other filmmakers.  Also like St. Petersburg, this is another one centered around a particular city, in this case Jerusalem's Old City, with the title The Quarters referring to the city's four "quarters:" Jewish, Christian, Muslim and Armenian.

This movie is being filmed in conjunction with the The Jerusalem Film Festival, and the other three directors will be Anna Muylaert, Mohsen Makhmalbaf, and Arsinee Khanjian (Atom Egoyan's wife, who usually acts in his films; this will be her first time directing).  The JFF's official website lists this as set to film in 2018 and be released in 2019.  Fingers crossed, considering St. Petersburg seems to have gone pretty much off the radar, as did the similar French project, À propos de Nice, la suite, which I've been waiting for since 1995.  But let's not be cynical, and instead look forward to seeing all four movies eventually. 

Monday, February 6, 2017

Up Next: Love Child

Every time Solondz mentions his difficulty finding funding, I worry that this is going to be his last film.  But Deadline has just posted a reassuring announcement about a new film, Love Child.  Solondz will be back writing and directing for Killer Films, who previously produced his Happiness, Storytelling and Wiener-Dog.  Penélope Cruz is set to star in the film, along with an actor named Edgar Ramírez.

The plot is described in the Deadline article as, "a dark and hilarious twist on the classic Oedipal theme. Story follows 11-year-old Junior, a delusional aspiring Broadway star with an inappropriate obsession with his mother Immaculada. After orchestrating an accident that nearly kills his abusive father, he encourages Nacho, the handsome man living in the family’s guesthouse, to court his mother and become his new dad. But when the two fall in love, Junior becomes so jealous that he is no longer the subject of his mother’s attention that he hatches a plan to frame Nacho for his father’s murder."  Sounds fun to me; reminds me of the 1972 Robert Klein film, Rivals.  There's already an IMDB page for the film, with a general 2018 release date.

Meanwhile, there's still no news on the Russian Petersburg film, which Solondz presumably wrapped on a couple years ago now.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Blu Wiener-Dog

Okay, I guess it exists!  There was just one week's delay, and now Solondz's latest film, Wiener-Dog, is available on both DVD and blu-ray, as MOD DV-Rs and BD-Rs, direct from Amazon.  The blu is a single-layer disc with no special features or anything, but you are given the option of a 5.1 or Stereo mix.  The back of the case lists Closed Captions, too, but they don't seem to actually be on here.  The UPC symbol is also layered over the description, though; so clearly the artwork was a rush job.  But how does it look?  Pretty good!  Wanna see a couple screenshots?
The picture is slightly letterboxed to 1.85:1 and looks great in HD.  Unfortunately, as a BD-R, however, the playback was completely borked on my PC's blu-ray drive and even my Seiki.  But it worked alright in my Pioneer player.  Again, region free collectors might want to hold out for a properly pressed disc from another region.  Unfortunately, it's looking like Canada and the UK are only getting DVDs, so Germany's the only blu option so far (of course, more regions may still announce releases in the coming months... I'd be surprised if nothing came out in Australia, for instance).  I've been able to find a release date for that one now, though: November 29.  But for now at least, this is what we get.  And aside from BD-R playback drama, this is pretty satisfying.

Of course, you can also watch it streamed from Amazon now, if that's your bag.  Look at all the 1-star reviews it's getting from people expecting a happy family film about a puppy - yikes!  But hey, it's here.  We've finally got Wiener-Dog.  I haven't even had a chance to watch it yet; my copy just arrived an hour ago, but I can't wait.  =) 

Update 8/31/16: I imagine hearing this from the guy who runs toddsolondz.com carries roughly the same degree of integrity as your mother telling you that you're handsome, but I've just watched Wiener-Dog and thought it was great!

Now, I just wonder what's happening with Petersburg Carousel...

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Wiener Dog on DVD and Blu-Ray... Next Week?!

It would seem so!  Amazon has pre-orders for Wiener Dog up now on both DVD and blu-ray, with a release date of August 23rd.  And considering Amazon isn't just the seller but the film's own distributor, they should know.

...On the other, just a week away from release, and they just have a poster up as the image rather than a proper cover isn't a promising sign.  The seasoned DVD collector in me tells me to expect delays.  But who knows?  Hopefully not.  And hey, I'm just happy to see that this is getting a physical release at all, and not just going the "streaming exclusive" route.

Excited by this discovery, I searched around and saw that Amazon.ca has an Oct 11th release date, UK has December 5th, and Germany has pre-orders up but no specified date yet. The bad news is that the US release is going to be a BD-R (as in a made-on-demand burned disc as opposed to a pressed, manufactured blu-ray), so it may be worth holding out for one of these foreign releases, as those are coming from Mongrel Media, Spirit Entertainment Limited (never heard of them...) and GmbH, respectively.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

The Rare Graduate Film, Babysitter, Now Viewable Online!

It's been hard to find much info on Solondz's graduate film, Babysitter. It was listed on some of his early bios, and Solondz once personally confirmed for me that it exists, but that's about it. The IMDB even removed their listing for it. But any mystery surrounding Babysitter can now be considered solved, as the entire nine-minute short has been uploaded onto Vimeo for Le CiNéMa Club!

It's a surprisingly high quality transfer, and for a student film with no synced sound, it's also surprisingly entertaining. As opposed to Feelings, which comes off as more of an interesting early exercise by the filmmaker, this one's engaging in its own right. You can feel his distinct writer's voice in the work; and it's entertaining enough that it's really worth the watch even if you're not a die-hard Solondz fanatic. Maybe the next time Criterion or another high end label gives one of his films the special edition treatment, they could include this and his other short films as bonus features.