Sacha Guitry – Les 3 font la paire AKA Three Make a Pair (1957)

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Plot: Jojo’s ambition is to become a gangster, but to be admitted into a gang he has to prove himself by committing a daring act. To that end, he kills someone in broad daylight, not knowing that his victim is an actor who is playing a scene in a film directed by a cranky film-maker (Darry Cowl). The murder is caught on film, leading Commissaire Bernard (Michel Simon) to think that the killer will be easy to find. Sure enough, Bernard soon makes his arrest, a clown from a circus, but then he faces an almost insurmountable problem. The clown has an identical twin, who is also a clown with the same circus. Both men claim to be innocent… Continue reading

Dusan Makavejev – Ljubavni slucaj ili tragedija sluzbenice P.T.T. AKA Love Affair, or the Case of the Missing Switchboard Operator (1967)

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An early (1967) film by Dusan Makavejev, the master of the eastern European dirty joke (WR: Mysteries of the Organism, Montenegro). The passionate affair of a telephone operator and a Marxist rodent exterminator is intercut with lectures on criminology and sexology, with occasional cooking lessons. It’s very funny and, with its ragged arrangement of warring styles and ideologies, very original: it’s like a smutty, sticky-fingered Godard. – Dave Kehr, The Chicago Reader Continue reading

Ursula Puerrer & A. Hans Scheirl & Dietmar Schipek – Flaming Ears (1992)

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FLAMING EARS is a pop sci-fi lesbian fantasy feature set in the year 2700 in the fictive burned-out city of Asche. It follows the tangled lives of three women — Volley, Nun and Spy. Spy is a comic book artist whose printing presses are burned down by Volley, a sexed-up pyromaniac. Seeking revenge, Spy goes to the lesbian club where Volley performs every night. Before she can enter, Spy gets into a fight and is left wounded, lying in the streets. She is found by Nun–an amoral alien in a red plastic suit with a predilection for reptiles, and who also happens to be Volley’s lover. Nun takes her home and subsequently must hide her from Volley. It’s a story of love and revenge, and an anti-romantic plea for love in its many forms. An avowedly underground film which was shot on Super 8 and blown up to 16mm, FLAMING EARS is original for its playful disruption of narrative conventions (the story is a thread rather than a backbone in the film), its witty approach to film genre, and its visual splendor. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Tulitikkutehtaan tyttö aka The Match Factory Girl (1990)

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Synopsis:
Iiris leads a bleak existence. She has a dead end job working on the assembly line at a match factory. What meager wages she earns all goes toward supporting her mother and stepfather, with who she lives in a small, crowded house. They largely ignore her unless she does something against their sensibilities, which leads to them exacting emotional and physical abuse toward her. And Iiris is also ignored socially, because of her overall somber demeanor and the fact that she has no money to make herself look more attractive to men. She believes her life will change with her chance meeting with well-off businessman, Aarne. However, what she believes is the start of a possible relationship with Aarne was solely a one-night stand for him, he who has no intention of ever seeing her again. The aftermath of this encounter with Aarne leads to Iiris making some decisions of how she will deal with her bleak life. Continue reading

Jacques Tourneur – Out of the Past (1947)

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Quote:
Out of the Past is so perfect a film noir that it is considered practically a textbook example of the genre. In his first starring role (it had previously been offered to John Garfield and Dick Powell), Robert Mitchum plays Jeff Bailey, the friendly but secretive proprietor of a mountain-village gas station. As Jeff’s worshipful deaf-mute attendant (Dick Moore) looks on in curious fascination, an unsavory character named Joe (Paul Valentine) pulls up to the station, obviously looking for the owner. Jeff is all too aware of Joe’s identity; he’s been dreading this moment for quite some time, knowing full well that it will mean the end of his semi-idyllic existence, not to mention his engagement to local girl Ann (Virginia Huston). In a lengthy flashback, the audience is apprised of the reasons behind Jeff’s discomfort – and thus begins a tale of treachery, betrayal and intrigue that extends into the present day and turns Jeff’s life upside down. Out of the Past was remade in 1984 as Against All Odds, with Jane Greer cast as the mother of her original character. Continue reading

Marko Babac, Zivojin Pavlovic & Vojislav ‘Kokan’ Rakonjac – Grad AKA City (1963)

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The first film of the Yugoslav Black Wave.

Quote:
Grad is a psychological drama about the thin line that separates depression and melancholy. It gives us the opportunity to understand that the alienation of the modern socialist man is not just a social problem, but also a poetic aestheticization of urban thinking and behaviour. For Pavlovic, Bapca, and especially Rakonjca, self-destruction is not a defence mechanism, but a lifestyle.

Exploring new areas of old sites, Grad is, in a figurative sense, the first Yugoslavian film that deals with the suburb as a metaphor of alternative culture. Through their analysis of public consciousness, the three directors project their secret Bauhaus, seeking its shadow in the hidden areas of obsolete thought, in the everyday of Socialism. Continue reading

Enzo Milioni – La Sorella di Ursula AKA The Sister of Ursula (1978)

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Plot summary:
Two sisters from Austria, Ursula (Barbara Magnolfi) and Dagmar (Stefania D’Amario) check into a lavish seaside hotel in Italy. Still grieving the loss of their recently deceased father, they are warmly welcomed by the hotel’s owner and manager (Vanni Materassi) who invites them to check out the adjoining nightclub. They are introduced to the hilariously awful singer Stella Shining (Yvette Harlow) and the suave and debonair closet junkie Filippo (Marc Porel). It would all be deadly dull if it wasn’t for a mad unseen killer who’s going around raping and murdering the local women with a giant wooden dildo! A subplot involving a drug ring and lots of near hardcore sex fails to spice up things any further. Continue reading