Whilst these two films are easily ‘highly recommended’ films of the 90s, they sadly dont find themselves talked about that often, but they should. With the likes of Netflix,Amazon,Hulu,Shudder and so many more platforms that you can click and view, so many great films are often buried in the pile of cinematic tales. But thankfully there are still physical discs out there for us to hunt down, and with distribution companies such as 101 Films which give classic films that extra cherry on top. Here are two of them.
From director Stephen Frears (Dangerous Liaisons) and producer Martin ‘ Goodfellas’ Scorsese, The Grifters, is a taut thriller in which seduction and betrayal could lead to murder. When small-time cheat Roy Dillon (played by John Cusack) winds up in hospital following an unsuccessful scam, it sets up a confrontation between his estranged mother Lilly (played by Anjelica Huston) and alluring girlfriend Myra (Annette Bening) . Both Lilly and Myra are con artists playing the game in a league far above Roy, and always looking for their next victim. As Roy finds himself caught in a complicated web of passion and mistrust, the question is who’s conning who?
John Cusack was always the benchmark for ‘cool’ with his roles in many teen classics of the 80s, but as Cusack grew up, he carried the ‘cool’ with him in many films such as Grosse Point Blank and definately The Grifters. If you arent familiar with the earlier work of John Cusack, then The Grifters is a great starting point. For fans of HBOs Entourage, keep your eyes peeled for a young Jeremy Piven. But lets not delve too much into the film itself,as the tale is best left undiscussed before you watch it. Remember when I said 101 Films have a cherry on top of the film. Well once youve watched the film, the head for the special feature list which includes
A brand new feature length documentary on the film’s production, including newly recorded interviews with director Stephen Frears, cinematographer Oliver Stapleton, editor Mick Audsley, executive producer Barbara De Fina and co-producer Peggy Rajski.
Also released on the same date as The Grifters (May 21st) came Existenz, one of my favourite Cronenberg films that has also recieved a top notch makeover with all the features from a previous edition (that I own) but with all new features and signals the films first Uk release on blu ray and now sits proudly in my growing Cronenberg bluray collection.
Visionary director David Cronenberg (Videodrome) challenges the boundaries of reality in sci-fi thriller eXistenZ. During a closed-door demonstration of her new virtual reality video game, brilliant game designer Allegra Geller survives an attempt on her life by a crazed assassin. On the run with Ted Pikul, a young marketing trainee who falls into the role of bodyguard, Allegra convinces Ted to join her in her game, eXistenZ. As the line between fantasy and reality begins to blur, the real-life dangers they sought to escape start to merge with their virtual world.
eXistenZ stars Jennifer Jason Leigh (Annihilation), Jude Law (The Talented Mr. Ripley), and a stellar supporting cast including Ian Holm (Alien), Willem Dafoe (Platoon), Christopher Eccleston (28 Days Later) and Sarah Polley (Splice) and sadly found itself a little swamped by The Matrix which was released around the same time, and whilst both films deal with alternate realities and our heros venture into them ( or out of them) both The Matrix and Existenz are very different so please dont feel the need to choose one over the other. Existenz comes loaded with features, a lot of which Im still working through. A tip for you. If you havent checked out a Cronenberg commentary, then treat yourself. oh and in case youd like a run down of the other features on this bluray release. Then here goes.
• The Leader: An interview with Christopher Eccleston
• Full length Commentary with Kim Newman and Ryan Lambie
• Full length Commentary with Mondo Digital’s Nathaniel Thompson
• Limited edition booklet includes: ‘Enemy of Reality: David Cronenberg’s eXistenZ’ by Alex Morris, and ‘Of Fabrics and Flesh: An interview with Denise Cronenberg’ by Phillip Escott.
• The full Audio commentary by David Cronenberg
• Making-of documentary which runs for just short of an hour and focuses on a whole host of Cronenberg films as we go behind the scenes on production design.
• Promo Featurette
• Special Effects Featurette
• Backstage interviews with Jude Law, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Willem Dafoe, Jim Isaac (visual effects) and David Cronenberg
101 Films launched their new Black Label with The Grifters and eXistenZ both on dual format on 21 May 2018 and I cant wait to see what they have lined up next.