Home Movies/Out on Digital: July 6, 2017
Jeb (Trevor Peterson) is a boy-man “creative” in the puerile world of cable TV production. He’s the director of a failing go-girl sci-fi series for YAs, and is ordered by his bosses to bring a team of writers to a remote ski lodge where they will map out screenplays for the next season. It’s make or break—and Jeb’s eager but unstable mind begins to break.
Directed by Matthew Ward and Justyn Ah Chong, Wichita is a brilliantly conceived and executed study of madness and the pervasive links between voyeurism and what can be seen on screens. Wichita includes quietly bravura cinematography, including tracking shots that snake through the labyrinth of the lodge as if mirroring the twisted paths of Jeb’s mind. And then, it gets really strange. Built from the roots of Psycho and Frenzy, Wichita is a film Alfred Hitchcock might make if he were a young director today.
John Wayne was off the range in this 1975 action flick as Chicago Police Lieut. Jim Brannigan on special mission in London. Speaking tersely and waving a big revolver, Brannigan is chasing a Windy City mobster who disappears when kidnapped by rival criminals. Richard Attenborough, his Scotland Yard counterpart, arches his brow at barbaric Yankee police procedures. The London car chases are fun. Signature Duke line: “I wouldn’t try it unless you want to sing soprano.”
Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters
Shakespearean and Hollywood star Laurence Olivier enjoyed a side career directing at London’s Old Vic and, occasionally, on screen. In this 1970 rendition of Anton Chekhov’s Three Sisters, Olivier directed a rendition of the Russian classic that was more theatrical than cinematic. The cast, drawn from the Royal National Theatre, gives a meticulous realization to Chekhov’s melancholic reflections on the frustrated longings of provincial gentry, poised between an unrecoverable past and intimations of a catastrophic future.