August 4, 2010

The Patterns Trilogy and Other Short Films by Jamie Travis

The Patterns Trilogy and Other Short Films by Jamie Travis (Zeitgeist) If you’re unfamiliar with the cinema of Toronto-based director Jamie Travis, then you’re not hitting up the right film festivals. All six of Travis’ shorts premiered at TIFF before earning massive praise on the international circuit, and his most recent project, The Armoire, landed a spot in last year’s Canada’s Top Ten shorts program. Travis was featured on the cover of EYE WEEKLY back in 2007 for his aesthetically arresting The Patterns Trilogy, the main feast in this delicious spread of chic shorts. The result is a triptych send-up of the boy-meets-girl blueprint, complete with screw-turning suspense, hypnotic split-screens and (why not?) singing and dancing. Rounding out this package is two-thirds of Travis’ Saddest Children in the World trilogy, which includes Why the Anderson Children Didn’t Come to Dinner (about three siblings who endure breakfast and lunch before executing their fantastic escapes) and The Saddest Boy in the World (see title). 

Also Available

A Prophet (Sony) You’ve seen The Godfather, Scarface, Goodfellas et al., but I pretty much guarantee you’ll be wowed by Jacques Audiard’s French jailhouse drama, which follows a young inmate’s rise to power from illiterate punk to criminal kingpin. With its precise, unsettling take on corruption inside and outside prison walls, plus a breakout performance by Tahar Rahim, A Prophet rightfully won the Grand Prix at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival and an Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film. (It was robbed.) Extras: subtitled commentary with Audiard, Rahim and co-writer Thomas Bidegain, deleted scenes, more. 

Deathsport + Battletruck (Shout! Factory) Our summer in subversive cinema continues with this double dose of Corman-produced oddballs that expand on last month’s theme of Alien knockoffs. Deathsport is a sorta-sequel to Death Race 2000, only it’s now the year 3000, where duelling cars have been replaced with duelling motorcycles and David Carradine plays an entirely different character. Inferior in nearly every respect to Death Race, Deathsportis an amusing trip nonetheless. The same can be said for Battletruck, which makes its long-overdue DVD debut. Originally released in New Zealand, Corman rebranded it Warlords of the 21st Century for Americans, who took to its Road Warrior-esque charms. A far cry from Corman’s finest, the film’s grungy appeal owes a lot to Chris Menges’ nifty camera work. Extras: commentaries and stills galleries for both. 

Elvis On Tour (Warner) Five years before the world became Elvis-less, this 1972 concert doc covered the King’s 15-city US tour, and also marked his final big-screen appearance. Trying to recreate the trippier, hippier vibe of concert films like Woodstock and Gimme Shelter, On Tour intercuts among psychedelic split-screens, backstage banter, rehearsal footage, archive material and career and movie montages supervised by Martin Scorsese (who’d worked as an editor on Woodstock). While these devices were already losing their novelty, the film still nabbed a Golden Globe for Best Documentary, making it the lone Presley pic to win any award. On Tour is no That’s the Way It Is (the superior Elvis concert film from 1970), but remains an engaging depiction of what was the beginning of the end for E, whose gaudy appearance reaches its zenith here.