RETURN TO OZ
1985, Disney, 113 min, USA, Dir: Walter Murch

Legendary film editor and sound designer Walter Murch directs this pleasantly subtle and delightfully bizarre sequel to THE WIZARD OF OZ. After a disturbing stint in a mental hospital, a cherubic Dorothy (Fairuza Balk) gets washed away to Oz, only to find it a changed place. Menacing Wheelers swivel around a broke-down Emerald City, vain witch Mombi covets her walk-in chamber of human heads, and a nefarious Nome King has wreaked terror on the land. With the help of new friends (the adorable Tik Tok and hapless, affable Jack Pumpkinhead), Dorothy sets out once again to save Oz from seemingly insurmountable villains.


INNERSPACE
1987, Warner Bros., 120 min, USA, Dir: Joe Dante

Lt. Tuck Pendleton (Dennis Quaid) volunteers for an experiment in which he is shrunk down to microscopic size; when rival scientists storm the lab, Pendleton is injected into the bloodstream of a hypochondriac (Martin Short) to protect the top-secret technology. This action-comedy take on FANTASTIC VOYAGE won an Oscar for Best Visual Effects. Costarring Meg Ryan.


THE DRIVER
1978, 20th Century Fox, 90 min, USA, Dir: Walter Hill

Criminally underrated and overlooked upon its initial release Walter Hill’s auto-noir, THE DRIVER, has justifiably built a cult following over the past decade from filmmakers, cinephiles and academics alike. Created in homage to Jean-Pierre Melville and Euro crime cinema, Hill pits existential getaway driver Ryan O’Neal against pit-bull detective Bruce Dern for a cat-and-mouse pursuit across the wasted underbelly of ’70s Los Angeles.

THE DRIVER is lean, mean and underpinned by a masterful cast that delivers sardonic wit and bitter brilliance on par with the very best film noir. Making her Hollywood debut, Isabelle Adjani has never been cooler in this twilight world where names are eschewed for actions. Where Hill most notably deviates from his peers and predecessors are the truly electric chase sequences. Breathless even by today’s standards, Hill repeatedly throws the viewer against his bumpers as he perilously races across LA’s unforgiving asphalt – an astonishing accomplishment considering the now-antiquated state of cars in 1978.

An influence on almost every heist film that followed, THE DRIVER represents a highlight of Hill’s stellar career and a stone cold, tough-as-nails masterpiece.


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