Lucile Hadzihalilovic – Innocence (2004)

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Is this a horror movie or a grim fairy tale? Dedicated to her colleague, confrontationalist director Gaspar Noé, and sourced from a work by dark expressionist Frank Wedekind, Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s stunning debut describes the purgatorial existence of schoolgirls in a sequestered rural college. In their crisp white gym shifts andpigtail ribbons colour-coded by age, these prepubescent model pupils are self-policing, save for a lone crippled mistress and a ballet teacher and the hovering threat of their ‘graduation’ ceremony in the mysterious house through the dark wood from whence none ever return. Meticulously shot by Benoît Debie with the chromatic richness of the pre-Raphaelite painters – you can almost smell the moss and decay – and miraculously acted by its predominately young cast, Hadzihalilovic’s film may make for a finally problematic feminist fable, but its unique vision conjures memories of the terrible beauty of Franju’s surreal work and Laughton’s supreme symbolist invocation of childhood, ‘The Night of the Hunter’. Continue reading

Julie N. Books – What is Film? (2016)

In What Is Film?, Julie N. Books critically evaluates three philosophical doctrines of film realism (transparency, illusionism, and perceptual realism) and defends her view that films are creative works of art. By examining contemporary films, such as computer-animated films and films with computer-generated images, Dr. Books shows how films are creative works of art, thereby undermining the long-held view that films are slavish recordings of reality. This book is ideal for academics and courses on the philosophy of film, film theory, film history, filmmaking, metaphysics, and the philosophy of art. Continue reading

Jean-Claude Rousseau – La vallée close AKA The Enclosed Valley (1995)

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My films are like that: in a room, but looking out onto an open sky. I can’t really say it except to repeat that Bresson note, ‘that without a thing changing, everything is different.’ The film exists. The fiction is set up, and we believe in it. The justness of the agreement leads us to believe it, because everything plays equally at being a sign. That’s the arrangement of the elements. It’s an act of faith. La vallée close is just this: elements treated above all as if in a documentary that, without being changed, portray the story and reveal between them the elements of fiction. But above all seen as they are, insignificant. And then in the relations they set up, they can satisfy our desire for a story. – Jean-Claude Rousseau Continue reading

Andrzej Wajda – Walesa. Czlowiek z nadziei AKA Walesa: Man of Hope (2013)

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The depiction of the life of Nobel Peace Prize winner and founder of Poland’s Solidarity movement, Lech Walesa, as events in the 1970s lead to a peaceful revolution.

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Wałęsa, an electrician at the Gdańsk Shipyards, participated in local demonstrations during the 1970s. Following the bloody aftermath, which remains with Wałęsa, he concentrates on his day-to-day duties. Ten years later, a new uprising occurs and he becomes an unexpected and charismatic leader of Polish dockworkers. Continue reading

Kôji Wakamatsu – Jitsuroku Rengo Sekigun: Asama sanso e no michi AKA United Red Army (2007)

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In a stark depiction of the dissatisfaction that followed the demise of 60’s idealism, United Red Army follows the story of the titular leftwing Japanese terrorist group that came together in 1972 as two pre-existing groups merged. Interspersed with large amounts of archival footage and employing a semi-pseudo-documentary style, the film visits upon the key historical figures and events that led to the United Red Army eventually purging much of its membership, leading five student radicalists to hole up in the Asano mountain lodge in Nagano Prefecture in a standoff against the police. Continue reading