Edgardo Castro – La noche (2016)

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Gritty journey through the sexual underbelly of Buenos Aires, with graphic depictions of the highs and lows in one man’s quest for intimacy.

The story tells, from an accentuated hyper-realistic aesthetic, the life of Martin, a man in his forties who is desperately lonely and seeks, through sex, some company, to spend that time of which nothing seems to be expected. Under this constant desolation, he finds in cocaine, alcohol and in some other orgy a state of momentary pleasure every night. Continue reading

Dominik Spritzendorfer & Elena Tikhonova – Elektro Moskva (2013)

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Elektro Moskva is an essayistic documentary about the Soviet electronic age and its legacy. The story begins with the inventor of the world’s first electronic instrument, Leon Theremin, unveiling the KGB’s huge pile of fascinating devices, some of which were musical. They all came into existence as a by-product of a rampant defense industry. Nowadays, those aged and abandoned ‘musical coffins’, as solidly made as a Kalashnikov, are being recycled and reinterpreted by the post-Soviet generations of musicians, sound collectors and circuit benders. The story of the Soviet synthesizers as an allegory to the everyday life under the Soviet system: nothing works, but you have to make the best out of it. An electronic fairy tale about the inventive spirit of the free mind inside the iron curtain- and beyond. Continue reading

Marco Bellocchio – Fai bei sogni AKA Sweet Dreams (2016)

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With the innocuously titled Sweet Dreams (Fai bei sogni), Italian director Marco Bellocchio stages a gentle, eminently watchable return to some of the key themes that have haunted his 50 years of filmmaking, particularly the scarring left by a dysfunctional family and maternal love gone awry. The story of a 9-year-old boy who loses his beloved mother is a much simpler, more direct film than the thematically rich My Mother’s Smile (2002), and has none of the churning family anger of Fists in His Pocket (1965). But based on journalist Massimo Gramellini’s best-selling autobiographical novel, it has an emotional unity and urgency that holds the attention, only flagging in the last innings of a surprisingly compact drama running well over two hours. Continue reading

Lina Wertmüller – Mimì metallurgico ferito nell’onore AKA The Seduction of Mimi (1972)

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Mimi is a Sicilian dockworker who loses his job when he votes against the Mafia candidate in what he thinks is a secret ballot. He leaves his wife behind and goes to Turin, where he meets and moves in with Fiore, a street vendor and Communist organizer. They have a child, he works non-union jobs, and again he comes to the Mafia’s attention. This time they’re impressed, promoting him to a supervisor’s job back in Sicily. He must keep Fiore and the child a secret, which is fine with Fiore, as long as he never makes love to his wife. He doesn’t, and when she becomes pregnant, he knows he’s a cuckold. His personal revenge and the Mafia’s tentacles then intertwine in tragicomic ways. (IMDb) Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Al-mohager AKA The Emigrant (1994)

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The biblical tale of Joseph is told from an Egyptian perspective in this interesting character study. In this film, Joseph is called Ram. Ram, tired of his family’s backward superstitious life, and tired of being picked on by his brothers, wants to go to Egypt to study agriculture. His brothers travel with him across Sinai, but then suddenly sell him to Ozir, an Egyptian who works for a Theban military leader, Amihar. Amihar is impressed by Ram’s drive and personal charm and so grants Ram some desolate land outside the capital. Ram soon finds himself a pawn in the political and sexual games between Amihar and his wife Simihit, a high priestess of the Cult of Amun. Continue reading

John Sayles – Passion Fish (1992)

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Character and dialogue are the driving forces in writer-director John Sayles’ movies. In Passion Fish, Sayles delivers a quality screenplay, and Mary McDonnell and Alfre Woodard do his script justice with some of the most accomplished work of their careers. McDonnell — who also stood out in the director’s Matewan — brings surprising originality to the role of the haggard, self-pitying accident victim, and Woodard never becomes a stereotypical provider of “tough love.” Vondie Curtis-Hall and Sayles regular David Strathairn offer colorful supporting turns. Passion Fish was the director’s simplest, most elegant work since his second feature, 1983’s Lianna. McDonnell and Sayles would be nominated for Academy Awards, and Sayles would also be nominated for his screenplay. ~ Brendon Hanley, All Movie Guide Continue reading