Asya Klyashina is a cook in a small Russian village, lame and unmarried. During harvest time she works at a field camp where she renews acquaintance with Sasha, a driver returned from the city, who announces that he loves her but has no thought of marriage. Mothers look after their children amid the harvest; the men reminisce about the Patriotic War (“fighting for the Motherland, for Stalin”) and about the prison camps after the war. But complications to her life start when Asya discovers she is pregnant by another youth, Stephan. Continue reading
I, Justice (Czech: Já, spravedlnost; German: Als Hitler den Krieg überlebte [If Hitler Would Have Survived the War]) is a 1968 Czechoslovak psychological thriller, directed by Zbyněk Brynych.
At 1946, during the Nuremberg Trials, the Czecholsovak physician Doctor Heřman is abducted by a mysterious organization. To his horror, Heřman discovers that he is to treat Adolf Hitler, whose suicide in 1945 was faked. Hitler now lives in an isolated sanatorium in Germany, surrounded by his ostensibly loyal followers, a group of former high-ranking Nazis. But those men blame him for Germany’s defeat and destruction, and have decided that a single death is not satisfactory punishment for Hitler. Rather, he is made to believe that the Second World War is still being fought.. Continue reading
“… an auteur with a genuine spiritual sensitivity … one of the world’s few convincing existential filmmakers”
“… works of genius elevate the soul.”
– Peter Keough, Boston Phoenix
Bekir is in love with Uğur, Uğur is in love with Zagor… Like so many other love stories, this is a simple one-liner. It begins one day in a shop when a man is swept off his feet by a woman. In the course of time, Uğur comes to mean life itself for Bekir. Uğur always comes into the room when Bekir is asleep. For Bekir, sleep and life are akin to an angel or devil, defining on which side of the borderline he stands between sanity and insanity. From that moment on, Bekir finds Uğur beside him whenever he wakes up – which most of the time is in a different town. With Uğur’s presence, Bekir finds life freed of all its absurdity and given instead a single meaning: Uğur. As far as Bekir is concerned, there is no need now to look for any further meaning. His sole form of existence is being with Uğur; it no longer matters which town he is in, which streets he roams, at which tavern he drinks… Continue reading
Socially inept garbage man Simon is befriended by Henry Fool, a witty roguish, but talent-less novelist. Henry opens a magical world of literature to Simon who turns his hand to writing the ‘great American poem’. As Simon begins his controversial ascent to the dizzying heights of Nobel Prize winning poet, Henry sinks to a life of drinking in low-life bars. The two friends fall out and lose touch until Henry’s criminal past catches up with him and he needs Simon’s help to flee the country. Continue reading
Burning Bush is a three-part mini-series created for HBO by world-renowned Polish director Agnieszka Holland. Based on real characters and events, this haunting drama focuses on the personal sacrifice of a Prague history student, Jan Palach, who set himself on fire in protest against the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1969. Dagmar Buresová, a young female lawyer, became part of his legacy by defending Jan’s family in a trial against the communist government, a regime which tried to dishonour Palach’s sacrifice, a heroic action for the freedom of Czechoslovakia.
( HBO Europe)
Isabelle is an ex-nun waiting for her special mission from God. In the meantime, she is making a living writing pornography. She meets Thomas, a sweet, confused amnesiac who cannot remember that he used to be a vicious pornographer, responsible for turning his young wife, Sofia, into the world’s most notorious porn queen. Sofia’s on the run, convinced she’s killed him. Together, Isabelle and Thomas set out to discover his past, a past waiting to catch up with him.
Hal Hartley fans, rejoice! For his forth feature, Amateur, the non-mainstream director of The Unbelievable Truth, Trust, and Simple Men has once again stayed far from the embrace of Hollywood. Those unfamiliar with Hartley’s style might mistakenly tag this movie with a “bad” label, but, really, all the overblown elements are entirely intentional. If nothing else, the director — referred to as America’s closest thing to a “European auteur” — is known for being quirky and inventive in both dialogue and character presentation. Like many independent film makers, Hartley will not compromise to pander to a larger audience. Continue reading
Engaging, suspenseful, well-acted, atmospheric, and technically well-made Swedish thriller, based on the first book in Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy (which I have not read; Amazon.com/AdLibris.se). Clichés and little originality notwithstanding, there is a certain freshness to the proceedings, and the film is one of the better Swedish entries in the genre. The movie contains a couple of very disturbing and intense scenes that linger in the mind. While the ending makes the film feel slightly too long, it also ties up a few loose ends quite nicely. Michael Nyqvist convincingly portrays Mikael Blomkvist, but his character is underdeveloped; Noomi Rapace is excellent and memorable as Lisbeth Salander; in a smaller role, Peter Andersson is appropriately disgusting and slimy as Nils Bjurman. Sure-handed direction by Niels Arden Oplev.
Peter Ericson Continue reading