With Charles Burnett’s long unseen “Killer of Sheep” finally making the rounds thanks to Milestone and delighting many a critic frustrated with contemporary American cinema offerings, I humbly offer another little masterpiece, Christopher Munch’s debut “The Hours and Times,” which small video distrib Choices just released on DVD yesterday.
The new high-definition digital transfer was approved by director Munch and includes a 22-minute featurette on the making of the film, and a commentary by Münch. Hailed by the long-ago Village Voice as “the best American indie in many years,” “The Hours and Times” imagines what might have happened between John Lennon and Beatles manager Brian Epstein during a 1963 vacation in Barcelona. Beautifully restrained and shot in black-and-white, the movie stands as a testament to the profoundly intimate portraits that truly indie cinema can capture.
In an article for the Village Voice five years ago, I spoke with Munch about the difficulties of making movies his own way. “I know how difficult it is to make money theatrically, so I can’t really blame anyone for not wanting to spend money on a film that has more hurdles to cross,” he told me. “The goal of distributors is to grow their businesses and make money, and to go about that in a way that’s going to involve as little risk as possible. Nobody is engaged in a philanthropic effort here.” The times haven’t changed much, have they?