Artsploitation Films

Milestone, Flicker Alley, Oscilloscope, Cinema Guild...they're all here.
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domino harvey
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Artsploitation Films

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Jun 28, 2013 10:27 pm

Artsploitation Films

Okay, so the label name is pretty bad but I just watched their DVD of the wonderful Hemel and was impressed with the release from a graphic design standpoint alone-- it's a more beautiful package than anything Criterion's done in memory. There's also a nice booklet with some writings on the film and on-disc interviews. I was impressed with the effort put into something that might otherwise only be seen on a barebones Artificial Eye disc some years in the future. The label's thing seems to be releasing "controversial" foreign properties, but seems like a company to keep an eye on-- in this home video market, releasing micro-niche foreign films on disc with extras in this country is to be lauded

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chatterjees
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#2 Post by chatterjees » Sat Jun 29, 2013 12:07 am

I have one of their releases, its called Gandu. Its a good film and as you said, the label is definitely all about releasing some bold films around the world! Gandu is an Indian film made by a Bengali director, unfortunately due to its explicit nature the film is still banned there! Thanks to the company, I was able to finally able to watch it after waiting for almost 2 years! Hope to pick up some of their other releases soon! This disc is also loaded with extras and the package came with a nice booklet.
They promised to release blu-rays too at the beginning, but nothing so far! Actually, Kino was the distributor first, but the relationship didn't last long.

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Camera Obscura
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#3 Post by Camera Obscura » Sat Jun 29, 2013 4:48 pm

Bit of an odd mixture from arthouse to straight-up horror/exploitation flicks, to say the least, but it seems like quite a promising catalog (and heads-up to anyone starting up up a dvd-label in general in this day and age...). I haven't seen any of their releases, but I watched Sacha Polak's Hemel through other channels, and I'll happily subscribe to anyone putting an effort into releasing this. Definitely one of the more interesting films to come out of these corners from the last couple of years.

Of the upcoming releases I'm only familiar with the Lithuanian Vanishing Waves. Still a bit on the fence on this one, but it's a pretty bold cross-over of genuinely erotic sensibilities and various sci-fi and other influences (I actually expected this one to be picked up by some of the more established labels, it seemed to be doing quite well on the festival circuit, but Artsploitation might actually do it more justice).

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Travis Crawford
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#4 Post by Travis Crawford » Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:24 pm

Thanks for the kind words about our label; I'm the film acquisitions consultant, and I also write the DVD booklets you were commenting on. Just wanted to clarify one thing in a post -- we actually are now distributed by Kino Lorber, beginning with our title CLIP, which came out on DVD a couple weeks ago. We were initially announced as being distributed by them prior to our first release GANDU last year, but things didn't work out at that time, so our first five releases were handled independently by us, whereas subsequent titles like July's COMBAT GIRLS and VANISHING WAVES, and everything following, will be through Kino Lorber after all.

Camera Obscura, as in the guys that did MONDO CANDIDO and VIRGINS OF THE SEVEN SEAS? I love those discs. I still need to pick up SPIRITS OF DEATH from my friends at Diabolik DVD soon.

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Camera Obscura
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#5 Post by Camera Obscura » Sun Jun 30, 2013 8:53 am

Hi Travis,
Sorry for the confusion. I'm not affiliated with Camera Obscura the label, it's a nick I've been using for quite a long time (I don't think they're active over here, but on Lovelockandload, they regularly post updates under the handle CameraObscura, if I'm not mistaken). But I do love their output and did champion their discs on several occasions, so I totally agree with you on that! Transfer-wise, probably one of the best labels out there (seriously).

And do keep us posted on the latest updates! I'll definitely be following this thread.

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chatterjees
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#6 Post by chatterjees » Sun Jun 30, 2013 9:02 am

Travis Crawford wrote: Just wanted to clarify one thing in a post -- we actually are now distributed by Kino Lorber, beginning with our title CLIP, which came out on DVD a couple weeks ago. We were initially announced as being distributed by them prior to our first release GANDU last year, but things didn't work out at that time, so our first five releases were handled independently by us, whereas subsequent titles like July's COMBAT GIRLS and VANISHING WAVES, and everything following, will be through Kino Lorber after all.
Howdy Travis, hope you are doing well. My bad, I guess I was not following properly what was happening between your company and Kino! I am glad it all worked out finally. Its nice to see you here. :D

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colinr0380
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#7 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 6:32 am

I picked up Vanishing Waves to check out and unfortunately despite the amazing soundtrack and some great visuals was a little bit repulsed by the lead character of the film. I think that the film sincerely wants us to understand and be with the main character in his journey into the head of another comatose person, but he commits quite a few heinous and unconscionable acts during the film.

Spoilers:

Our main character is a scientist who had worked on a device to allow themselves to be projected into the mind of another (shades of The Cell) which he does by getting into an isolation tank monitored by researchers (Altered States). Once inside the person's mind he encounters a mysterious woman with whom he immediately forms a 'dream woman' bond (shades of Paperhouse, albeit almost entirely sexual). Unfortunately he decides to not tell any of the team in the real world about this encounter, instead continuing his dream-world meetings under the pretext to the rest of his team that he is not encountering anything.

In the meantime his real relationship crumbles (a little like Altered States again), and one of the interesting but not entirely developed ideas of the film is that the dream-woman is very damaged and perhaps a little insane, as shown by the (excellent) dinner table scene which starts out a little Tom Jones-y, develops into 9 & 1/2 Weeks eroticism with food and then takes a turn into vivid horror as the woman cuts her tongue with a knife (strangely similar to the moment in the recent Evil Dead remake!), before saying that she cannot feel anything and asks Lukas, the male lead, to start biting her leg as hard as he can. She also takes the hero to an orgy that starts a little like the orgy scene from Derek Jarman's Jubilee and then turns into the bizarre body melding one from the end of Society.

Oh, and also to a very Mulhollland Drive-esque nightclub! (Her beach house is also very reminiscent of Lost Highway's, albeit captured in mid-explosion!). There is also a magnificent final sequence of our hero slowly chasing down the woman across a dark beach whilst they are both completely naked, all scored to Lila by Limousine),

The rest of the film shows our hero breaking all sorts of other ethical rules by tracking down the real comatose person whose mind he has been projected into and eventually (major spoilers):
SpoilerShow
In another Lynchian move beating the shadowy masculine presence that has been stalking her mind to death in a move that either liberates her (which I think the film was trying to suggest) or more problematically shows our hero's wish to control her mind. When that is combined with our hero being allowed one final visit to set things right results in the final chase sequence which seems to involve killing her (for her own good?!?), I have real problems with the relationship at the heart of the film
So a beautiful but extremely frustrating film. I think I'm going to come back to the magnificent soundtrack more than the film itself from now on. In some ways, despite some beautiful moments, the film felt overpowered rather than enriched by all the sci-fi references, or at least the references that I felt were sloshing around in its tank.

And I'll also be coming back to Kristina Buozyte's first feature film The Collectress from 2008, which Artsploitation thoughtfully included on the second disc of their set. I thought this film, in contrast to Vanishing Waves, works perfectly. It features the same actor, Marius Jampolskis, in the lead role who would later play the scientist in Vanishing Waves, and The Collectress despite being a drama rather than a science fiction has a few themes that connect the two films, especially the idea of destroying your 'real life' in preference to interacting through the medium of a screen - the first scene of Vanishing Waves involves a great pan around an apartment as our hero is working on his computer as his girlfriend goes to bed. The camera revolves to take in the entire room and returns to our hero as we glimpse that he may have been looking at porn instead of being desperately busy on his project. But it is just a glimpse. And the main male lead in The Collectress is a man who edits video footage, though in such a subversive and rebellious way that his clients are never that happy with the way that their wedding videos turn out!

The Collectress interestingly also deals with a person who in some ways uses others for their own personal fulfilment, in a move that is a little like a gender swapped version of Vanishing Waves to come. Instead of the man using the woman, here our female lead, Gaile, is a rather detached speech therapist with a cold and impassive demeanour who asks for a series of videos of her teaching to be produced in order to screen them during a conference she is giving. However once she sees herself on screen, watching her icy demeanour on screen she finds herself responding emotionally to events for the first time (which seems to be suggested in the opening sequence with her father as they watch a home video to stem from childhood issues).

She approaches the video editor and cajoles/blackmails (by paying off his gambling debts and buying him new editing equipment after it has been smashed by thugs wanting their money) him into editing the video footage that she produces so that she can experience events emotionally after the fact.

However (like the main character in Vanishing Waves) the series of events that she films steadily escalates, as if she can only feel emotion when she is in control and she needs to keep upping the thrill-seeking ante on herself. She cannot 'just' be filmed. She always has to be filmed doing something that she can then react to later. This thrill-seeking itself escalates to putting other people into dangerous situations (such as riding in a sports car with her) and letting her emotionally react to their fear, or in the case of an animal, her callous killing of it.

Gaile here is just as much of a selfish character as Lukas is in Vanishing Waves, but the difference here is that the film does not seem to be celebrating that selfishness, even while it also treats Gaile with some sympathy.

Despite all of Gaile's callous acts the video editor is falling in love with her, and so draws the line after filming her having sex with an anonymous man in a bathroom for her to play back and experience. This conflict then moves through the last section of the film, also drawing in the subplot with the sister, until Gaile in a magnificent final scene is forced to lose control of the camera and be herself for someone else's viewing pleasure, and to learn to feel emotionally in the moment rather than callously commit acts to make herself feel.

That final scene feels extremely reminiscent of the final scene of Shinya Tsukamoto's A Snake of June, but also the earlier detached 'callous crime' section reminded me a lot of Cronenberg's Crash (there is also some beautiful atonal scoring that feels reminiscent of Howard Shore's score for that film), and the entire film has a strange feel of early Haneke (Benny's Video and The Piano Teacher especially) mixed with Atom Egoyan (Family Viewing and The Adjuster). But unlike Vanshing Waves these seeming connections enrich the experience of this particular film rather than overwhelm it with their own borrowed imagery.

I was extremely impressed by The Collectress and it was a wonderful decision to package it up with the perhaps more commercially viable Vanishing Waves. It even manages to make me appreciate Vanishing Waves slightly more in retrospect. While I wasn't too impressed with the main feature I'm certainly very excited to see what Kristina Buozyte will do next (apparently a segment on The ABC's of Death 2 is upcoming).
Last edited by colinr0380 on Thu Jul 19, 2018 11:28 am, edited 1 time in total.

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warren oates
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#8 Post by warren oates » Fri Aug 30, 2013 1:13 pm

I have to agree about Vanishing Waves. I'd go even further than you and say that, all and all, given my 120 odd minutes of patient suffering, it's fair to call it a pretentious, derivative failure. It borrows lots of images and scenarios from other better sci-fi and horror films and does pretty boring obvious stuff with them. What might have been a technically impressive (if still derivative and boring) graduate student short of 30 minutes or less gets stretched out to feature length with almost no thought to the narrative. You ask, for instance, why
SpoilerShow
the protagonist doesn't tell anyone about his mindscape encounters. Well, at the end, we still don't really know. Not much is ever made of his need for secrecy (or, for that matter, of its possibilities for dramatic irony) or why the scientists continue putting him under if he's insisting that nothing's happening. Or what they hope to glean from the experiment and whether it's supposed to help the subject in any way or not. And, of course, the whole thing ends exactly as you would expect, with the comatose woman realizing more or less what happened to her, processing her grief and then flatlining. So I'd say it's not just the psychology and motivations of the protagonist that are half-baked. And the film's singular instance of palpable dread -- when a coma-dream night drive down a lost highway arrives at a broken guardrail moment of truth -- is over before its can go anywhere.
Your endorsement of the bonus film The Collectress has me curious. I'm almost ready to pull it out of the "to sell" pile. But it sounds like it might be second-rate would-be Egoyan in the same way Vanishing Waves is often Lynch lite -- or is it really better than that?

Artsploitation sure puts out quality DVD packages. I just wish they were picking better films.

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colinr0380
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#9 Post by colinr0380 » Fri Aug 30, 2013 3:57 pm

It is difficult to say really. I didn't find myself as actively annoyed by The Collectress in the same way as I was by Vanishing Waves and, while it is a shame to admit, I do agree with your comments about Vanishing Waves often dragging out many of its scenes as well, and not really doing too much with what is quite a well worn sci-fi (or Lynchian) premise by now of entering other people's minds.

The Collectress runs a more compact 85 minutes. While I found a few of the scenes in the middle of the film dragged a little and felt a little padded (the charater upping the ante with her over the top antics causing her to lose her job until we get to the much more crucial to the narrative sex scene for the camera's benefit), they're nothing like as irritating as those in Vanishing Waves and the beginning and end of the film are pretty impressive, holding up the slightly saggy mid-section.

I think The Collectress works much better and is more engaging and better paced. It has a similarly problematic lead character but we are not meant to actively engage with them as in Vanishing Waves, more see her through the, similarly flawed but slightly more sympathetic, video editor's eyes. I enjoyed it a lot and wasn't actively irritated by the sense of Egoyan or A Snake Of June at the climax, compared to kind of being irritated by the sci-fi films that Vanishing Waves seemed influenced by and then proceeded to do little of interest with. I was pleasantly surprised by having a more positive reaction to The Collectress following my more negative reaction to Vanishing Waves though, so I might be having a positive reaction having watched the two films in close proximity.

(If you do check The Collectress out be warned that there are some occasional errors in the subtitles. Nothing major though, just a few words here and there and no check marks to separate who is speaking sometimes)

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domino harvey
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#10 Post by domino harvey » Fri May 01, 2015 2:35 pm

Label is apparently still alive, will be releasing Cub and the Treatment on Blu-ray this summer


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colinr0380
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Re: Artsploitation Films

#12 Post by colinr0380 » Mon Jul 30, 2018 2:01 pm

I just thought that since we had previously discussed Kristina Buožytė's films in the thread that it would be good to also link here to the great short piece that the director (along with Bruno Samper, who also co-wrote Vanishing Waves and The Collectress) made for The ABCs of Death 2 film (the best piece in the anthology): K Is For Knell, which is weirdly tonally similar to Vanishing Waves and The Collectress in the sense of some thing usurping mental images from another character, and maybe in the process killing them!

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