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Belladonna of Sadness
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $39.99
Catalog #: CP663390001189BD
UPC #: 663390001189

One of the great lost masterpieces of Japanese animation, never before officially released in the U.S., BELLADONNA OF SADNESS is a mad, swirling, psychedelic light-show of medieval tarot-card imagery with horned demons, haunted forests and La Belle Dame Sans Merci, equal parts J.R.R. Tolkien and gorgeous, explicit Gustav Klimt-influenced eroticism. The last film in the adult-themed Animerama trilogy produced by the godfather of Japanese anime & manga, Osamu Tezuka and directed by his long time collaborator Eiichi Yamamoto (“ASTRO BOY” and “KIMBA THE WHITE LION”), BELLADONNA unfolds as a series of spectacular still watercolor paintings that bleed and twist together. An innocent young woman, Jeanne (voiced by Aiko Nagayama) is violently raped by the local lord on her wedding night. To take revenge, she makes a pact with the Devil himself (voiced by Tatsuya Nakadai, from Akira Kurosawa’s RAN) who appears as an erotic sprite and transforms her into a black-robed vision of madness and desire.

Extremely transgressive and not for the easily offended, BELLADONNA is fueled by a mindblowing Japanese psych rock soundtrack by noted avant-garde jazz composer Masahiko Satoh. The film has been newly restored by Cinelicious Pics using the original 35mm camera negative and sound elements – and including over 8 minutes of surreal and explicit footage cut from the negative. On par with Rene Laloux’s FANTASTIC PLANET and Ralph Bakshi’s WIZARDS as an LSD-stoked 1970s head trip, BELLADONNA marks a major rediscovery for animation fans. If Led Zeppelin had a favorite film, this would be it. In other words, Stairway to Hell.

Gangs Of Wasseypur
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $39.95
Catalog #: CP00066BD
UPC #: 663390000663

Presented by Adi Shankar, producer of A WALK AMONG THE TOMBSTONES, DREDD, LONE SURVIVOR, KILLING THEM SOFTLY and THE GREY. From Guneet Monga, the producer of THE LUNCHBOX, the most successful foreign-language movie of 2014 to date in the U.S., GANGS OF WASSEYPUR is director/writer/producer Anurag Kashyap’s ambitious and extraordinary blood-and-bullets fueled crime saga that charts seventy years in the lives – and spectacular deaths – of two mafia-like families fighting for control of the coal-mining town of Wasseypur, India. Inspired by the real-life exploits of local gangs and beginning with the bandit-like career of Shahid Khan (Jaideep Ahlawat) in the 1940s, the film follows the ruthless rise of his son Sardar (a brilliant Manoj Bajpayee) and his offspring, the surreally-named Danish, Perpendicular and Definitive Khans and their numerous wives and girlfriends. GANGS OF WASSEYPUR mirrors the tumultuous and explosive growth of modern India with ferocious cinematic intensity. As with Al Pacino’s Michael Corleone in THE GODFATHER, it’s the least likely of Sardar’s children – the perpetually stoned Faizal (Nawazuddin Siddiqui) – who rises to the top ranks of the Khan crime family, vowing brutal revenge on their longtime nemesis, the wily and seemingly unstoppable Ramadhir Singh (Tigmanshu Dhulia). Composer Sneha Khanwalkar’s stunning soundtrack ranks with legends like R.D. Burman, but don’t expect Bollywood-style dance numbers: this is a movie that up-ends every expectation of what great Indian cinema should look (and sound) like. Anurag Kashyap is known for his prolific and award-winning career in cinema, both as a director, screenwriter and as a producer. Among his noted directing credits are terrorist thriller BLACK FRIDAY, cult classic DEV D, and UGLY, which screened at Director’s Fortnight at Cannes 2013 where he also received the Knight of the Order of Arts and Letters. His highly anticipated neo noir drama BOMBAY VELVET is set for worldwide release in 2015 via 20th Century Fox. Widely regarded as the driving force of India’s new wave of filmmakers, Anurag also recently produced Michael Winterbottom’s TRISHNA and Ritesh Batra’s THE LUNCHBOX.

Giuseppe Makes A Movie
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $29.99
Catalog #: CP00065BD
UPC #: 663390000656

While the rest of America slept, DIY filmmaker/musician Giuseppe Andrews (a one-time teen actor in Independence Day and Detroit Rock City) has made over 30 experimental features with titles like Doily’s Summer of Freak Occurrences, Trailer Town and Utopia Blues. Set in some demented alternate universe (i.e. Ventura, California), they are populated by real-life alcoholics and drug addicts, trash-talking senior citizens and trailer park residents dressed in cow outfits and costume-shop wigs, acting out booze-fueled vignettes of severe psychosis filtered through Giuseppe’s John Waters-meets-Harmony Korine-meets-Werner Herzog sensibility. Director Adam Rifkin (Look, The Dark Backward) creates a wildly surreal, outrageously funny and strangely touching portrait of a truly Outsider Artist inhabiting a world few of us even know exists, as he follows Giuseppe and his seriously impaired troupe on the production of his latest 2-day opus, Garbanzo Gas, starring Vietnam Ron as a Cow given a weekend reprieve from the slaughterhouse at the local motel. Beyond the sun-stroked Theater of the Absurd madness of Giuseppe’s vision, there is a remarkable and endearing sense of family among the director, his amiably bonkers dad Ed, patient girlfriend Mary, Sir Bigfoot George and the rest of his surreal Trailer Park rep company. As skate-punk Spit sagely observes about Giuseppe’s movies: “They’re just like, nothing really makes any sense, and I don’t know, that’s kinda how reality is, and nobody really cares to accept that.”

Jane B. Par Agnes V. / Kung-Fu Master!
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: Blu-ray
SRP: $39.99
Catalog #: CP6339000090BD
UPC #: 663390000908

JANE B. PAR AGNES V.: “ I’ll look at you, but not at the camera. It could be a trap ”, whispers Jane Birkin shyly into Agnès Varda’s ear at the start of JANE B. PAR AGNES V. The director of CLEO FROM 5 TO 7 and VAGABOND once again paints a portrait of a woman, this time in a marvelously Expressionistic way. “ It’s like an imaginary bio-pic,” says Varda. Jane, of course, is the famed singer (“ Je t’aime … Moi non plus ”), actress (BLOW UP), fashion icon (the Hermes Birkin bag) and longtime muse to Serge Gainsbourg. As Varda implies, JANE B. PAR AGNÈS V. abandons the traditional bio-pic format, favoring instead a freewheeling mix of gorgeous and unexpected fantasy sequences.

In each, Jane inhabits a new character, playing a cat & mouse game with Varda as they explore the role of the Muse and the Artist, all the while showcasing the multifaceted nature of Birkin’s talent. “ I’d like to be filmed as if I were transparent, anonymous, like everyone else, ” says Birkin. But her wish to be a “ famous nobody ” is impossible to achieve; Birkin is simply too magnificent, too mesmerizing. Here, Varda’s signature mix of aesthetic innovation and generosity of emotion results in a surreal and captivating essay on Art, Fame, Love, Children and Staircases. For its first-ever U.S. theatrical release the film has been newly-restored from the original 35mm camera negative, overseen by director Varda herself.

KUNG FU MASTER!: A lovely, bittersweet companion to JANE B. PAR AGNÈS V. from director Agnes Varda and star/muse Jane Birkin, KUNG-FU MASTER has nothing to do with martial arts – the film’s title comes from an arcade video game played obsessively in the film by a teenaged boy, Julien. Birkin delivers one of her finest performances as a lonely 40-year old woman who finds herself shattering taboos by falling in love with the 14-year old Julien – but is it romance, or a desperate attempt to turn back time in the face of middle age?

KUNG-FU MASTER! is truly a family affair: Varda’s son with the late director Jacques Demy, Mathieu Demy, plays Julien – and Birkin appears here with her two real-life daughters: Charlotte Gainsbourg (from Lars von Trier’s MELANCHOLIA) and Lou Doillon, her child with well-known filmmaker Jacques Doillon. Briefly released in the late 1980s in the U.S. and long unavailable here, KUNG-FU MASTER! has been beautifully restored from the original 35mm c

Private Property
Studio: Cinelicious Pics
Format: DVD/BD Combo
SRP: $34.99
Catalog #: CP6339000131
UPC #: 663390001318

Two homicidal drifters (played to creepy perfection by Warren Oates and Corey Allen) wander off the beach and into the seemingly-perfect Los Angeles home of unhappy housewife Kate Manx, in this long-lost California noir written & directed by THE OUTER LIMITS creator Leslie Stevens. Lensed in stunning B&W by master cameraman Ted McCord (THE TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE), PRIVATE PROPERTY is both an eerie, Jim Thompson-esque thriller and a savage critique of the hollowness of the Playboy-era American Dream.

Warren Oates delivers his first screen performance here, years before he emerged in THE WILD BUNCH and TWO-LANE BLACKTOP as one of the finest character actors of his generation; his bizarre Lennie-and-George relationship with the underrated Corey Allen (James Dean's hot rod rival in REBEL WITHOUT A CAUSE) is fueled by a barely-suppressed homoerotic tension. Director Stevens (a protégé of Orson Welles) and lead actress Manx were married at the time, and the film was shot in their home; several years later, Manx tragically committed suicide and her fragile spirit seems to hang over the film.

 


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