Editor’s Notes: Goodbye to All That & Stray Cat Rock: The Collection are out on their respective formats July 14th.
Goodbye to All That
Goodbye to All That (IFC) stars Paul Schneider (Parks and Recreation) as Otto Wall, a North Carolina web designer and comfortable married family man. Out of the blue, his wife Annie (Melanie Lynsey) asks him to meet her at her therapist’s office. As Annie fights back tears, the therapist (Celia Weston) informs Otto that his 11-year marriage is over. Thrust back into bachelorhood, Otto finds himself in a series of romantic encounters ranging from getting in touch with a former crush (Heather Graham) to navigating the world of online dating. He longs for a lasting, meaningful relationship amid a string of one-night stands.
There’s a lot of cynicism in this look at the disintegration of a marriage, starting with the abrupt ambush of Otto, with Annie and her therapist ganging up on him. The oblivious Otto has no inkling of his wife’s unhappiness. Custody arrangements for their child Edie (Audrey Scott) are glossed over quickly. Annie never attempts reconciliation; she is set on divorce, enlisting her therapist as an ally. Otto has become complacent, drifting somnambulistically through suburban life. He’s not even aware that Annie has a therapist. In fact, he learns a lot about Annie not from face-to-face discussion, but from logging in to her Facebook page.
Director Angus McLachlan contrasts picturesque North Carolina locations with grim, claustrophobic interiors. What’s missing from the picture is an emotional focus. The director seems content to rely on gags about Otto’s sexual romps rather than show how his change of social status affects his self-image. The unlikely ease with which Otto manages to find hook-ups rings false and comes off as exactly what it is — a logic bump on the way to jokes.
The only bonus extra on this DVD release is the theatrical trailer.
Stray Cat Rock: The Collection
Stray Cat Rock: The Collection (Arrow) contains five Japanese biker films. The first, Stray Cat Rock: Delinquent Girl Boss, was originally a response by Nikkatsu Studios to rival Toei Studio’s Delinquent Boss series. Because of its popularity, four additional films in the series were made. Delinquent Girl Boss takes place in Tokyo where rival youth gangs are always trying to outdo each other in toughness. An all-girl gang led by Mei gets involved with dangerous types when her boyfriend Michio wants to join a powerful yakuza organization but inadvertently loses the gangsters’ money in a fixed boxing match. Mei and gang jump to the rescue as they take on the gangsters. The plot covers only two days and involves endless fights, chase scenes, and tough talk. It contains an underlying feminist theme along with pretty dark subject matter.
The other films in the series are basically stand-alone efforts. The second film, Wild Jumbo, is very different in tone with lots of humor and zany goings-on. Some of its scenes are reminiscent of classic silent comedy. The third installment, Sex Hunter, is best known here in America because it’s been available on DVD. It contains bizarre costume design, violence, and sex. Its soundtrack contains jazz-infused rock and group sounds, particularly Golden Haif, a mixed-race girl group popular in Japan at the time. The other films in the collection are Machine Animal and Beat ’71. Because the films have a short running time, they end well before their welcome is worn out and are entertaining for their over-the-top action. Performances are far from Academy Award-caliber, but that’s part of the fun. The movies, made in 1970 and 1971, have a washed-out look that resembles Hollywood exploitation pictures of the era. All films are in Japanese, with English subtitles.
Special features on the five-disc Blu-ray set include new English subtitles for all five films; interview with Yasuharu Hasebe, director of Delinquent Girl Boss, Sex Hunter, and Machine Animal; interview with Tatsuya Fuji, star of all five films; original trailers, and collector’s booklet.