I may be up to my neck in work, running, and the Phillies right now, but I’m really excited to check out The Hour of the Furnaces tonight at International House. The last movie I saw out there was Chris Marker’s amazing 240 minute documentary, The Grin Without a Cat. The Hour of the Furnaces is a 260 minute epic released in 1968 that covers leftist struggle in South America. If you’re curious you should check out this essay about the movie over at Senses of Cinema. I’m hoping to be really thrilled by tonight’s screening of The Hour of the Furnaces. It sounds like I won’t be disappointed.
I watched Gillo Pontecorvo’s Burn! as a warm-up, no pun intended. I’ve been meaning to see it since it was released on DVD some years ago, but simply hadn’t gotten around to it until last week when I finally mailed California Split back to Netflix after having it for over a month.
Burn! may not be as amazing as Pontecorvo’s Battle of Algiers, but it’s a pretty effective statement about business interests superceding all others, starring Marlon Brando. Most interesting, Brando doesn’t Sean Penn it up and draw so much attention to his character that it drowns out the meaning of the film. Pontecorvo doesn’t beat you over the head with message either. The story, if you’re willing to hear it, explains itself: sugar cane more or less cursed the Antilles in the colonial era. Thanks free trade!
(As a quick aside, did you notice that Greenspan almost recanted his Randian beliefs in testimony yesterday? It’s amazing!)
One of the reasons I hadn’t seen it sooner, despite having an interest in the topic, was the packaging and production of the DVD, as DVD Savant wrote at the time of its re-release nearly three years ago. Movies like this can either be lavish productions directed almost exclusively at the snooty movie market, or they end up cheapies in the cut-out bin. This definitely leans more toward the latter, as the print and packaging are a little lacking and the extras are nonexistent.
Stuff like this is a disappointment to those of us who wait patiently for leftfield classics to be reissued on DVD, only to find no reason to actually buy the product. Film buffs will spend money for a good product. It pays to cater to them! As DVD sales decline and studios waste money bulking up their Blu-Ray library, it might be a good idea to talk to experts about the classics that are just laying around. If the music industry is reissuing albums that came out six months ago, would it be impossible to lavish some attention on movies that the studios already own but are just collecting dust?