Friday, July 3, 2015

Some Call It Loving (Etiquette Pictures Blu-ray/DVD)

The year is one for Etiquette Pictures, a newly created venture by the good folks at Vinegar Syndrome geared toward bringing you obscure, artistic and often under appreciated films form yesteryear, restored with the utmost care and delivered in handsome packaging. Having been a supporter of Vinegar Syndrome since their first year, I’m glad to see the hardworking folks behind this outfit branch out into non-exploitation/horror/adult film. It’s a market place that really only has a few players restoring films of this type and vintage and those are either filmmaker focused efforts or more mainstream resto efforts like the good folks at Criterion (mainstream being a relative term here). The first Blu-ray release of any venture of this type should be considered their calling card; this is how the company will do business and what you can expect from quality of transfer, product form and supplementary content. Some Call It Loving is in the spotlight, and while many of you may not have heard of it, it’s unforgettable.

Based on a short story by John Collier, Some Call It Loving’s title conveys the observation you might make as you watch the picture; it shows a life completely unique that is guaranteed to seem just a little wacky. Beyond the opening sequence  that exists in an almost surreal, Jodorwoksian reality where a side show act could involve a “sleeping beauty” for which you may pay a fee to attempt to wake her with a kiss, the movie questions that very nature of love; how love begins and what might consist of a relationship or uncommon connections between individuals in an age after the sexual revolution. You may be uncomfortable with some of the nontraditional roles displayed in Some Call It Loving. Questions of both dominance, polyamory and the nature of true love are all addressed. Unfortunately you might not like just how far the rabbit hole goes; Some Call It Loving wasn’t built for a happy ending. This is a picture that simply walks you through the steps of unconventional love and allows you to see, in an almost cautionary way, how the world works outside of fantasy and idealism. 

I adore the performances by Tisa Farrow and Zalman King. This is well before Farrow went on to become a cult icon of sorts in Fulci’s Zombi and shows that she is as emotive as she is stunning. Zalman King plays the aloof, almost childlike, well financed seeker of love. Love is his mission and his control must be absolute, as if a child’s control over a toy, or he simply hides in the corner and dissolves. I was unfamiliar with King who is a consummate and well respected actor, having only seen him in a few more popular releases. His effort here is on point conveying a feeling of wonderment about love as well as a certain ennui that prevents him from truly understanding attachment as more than a physical connection. The big name on this one is Richard Pryor who plays a junkie and the best friend of our protagonist. He is the mirror by which we can better understand King’s character. Pryor’s dialogue is comedic; it’s sad and sweet and you’ll love and worry about him.

Great gobs of jazz music and soft focus are the predominant sensual aspects on screen and through the speakers. The “Sleeping Beauty theme” by Bob Harris is mesmerizing as is the music composed by Richard Hazard.  This is an art picture. For fans of Vinegar Syndrome’s work you’ll notice that this is a more highbrow. It’s conveys concept beyond an over saturation with physical gratuity. Be prepared to think a bit. Be prepared to feel a bit. The transfer is on par with the efforts from Vinegar Syndrome, the transfer and restoration looking gorgeous. The case takes notes from the Criterion Collection packaging, which while it does not necessarily convey a sense of defining Etiquette Pictures, it does offer a reliable and well-groomed case and presentation.  The booklet including essay and notes on transfer are included and both Blu-ray and DVD are provided. The cover art is a bit abstract which is unique to this release and may be the best example of defining Etiquette Pictures outside of their content selection.  Refined and tasteful yet challenging.

From Etiquette:

EP-001: Some Call It Loving
1972 / Director: James B. Harris
Blu-ray / DVD Release date = July 14th, 2015

In this modern day re-imagining of Sleeping Beauty, a disillusioned musician named Robert (Zalman King) obtains a carnival act from a sleazy carny and brings home a young girl (Tisa Farrow) who has been asleep for many years. After bringing her to his secluded castle and awakening her with a kiss, Robert tries to introduce her to his strange and magical world, but as their relationship develops Jennifer begins to pine for a life that is more complex than Robert can offer.

Director James B. Harris (Cop, Fast Walking) combines magical realism with sumptuous visuals by cinematographer Mario Tosi (Carrie, The Stunt Man) and a haunting score by Richard Hazzard (Xanadu, Terms of Endearment) to create a poetic love story like no other. Etiquette Pictures brings this forgotten masterpiece to Blu-ray and DVD for the very first time, in a new, Director & Cinematographer approved 2K restoration from the 35mm camera negative.

Extras include:

Special Features (on both DVD & Blu):
Commentary with Director James B. Harris
Video Featurette with Director James B. Harris
Video Featurette with Cinematographer Mario Tosi
Extensive Outtakes with Commentary
Reversible Cover w/ original French art
English SDH Subtitles

From Etiquette Pictures:

Make sure to enjoy the Etiquette Pictures website as well as follow them on social media for updates about future releases.

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