Henri Desfontaines – Belphégor (1927)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Restored by “La Cinémathèque Française” in 1988

Plot :
A ghost has been seen during the night in the Louvre Museum (Paris), and a guard is found dying near the statue of Belphégor, a god of Moabites and Ammonites. A young reporter, Jacques Bellegarde, begin to investigate but soon he’s being threatened by some letters sent by … Belphégor

It’s a silent mini-serie in 4 parts, after a popular book of Arthur Bernède, in the style of the 1st Fantômas (in fact, René Navarre was Fantômas in the Louis Feuillade’s movie)

Nearly 40 years later, a remake of this serie was made with Juliette Greco and met a great success in France, and is much better known that this one. Continue reading

Robert Altman – Secret Honor (1984)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Robert Altman’s electric 1984 filmed version of the play by Donald Freed and Arnold M. Stone, starring the inimitable Philip Baker Hall as Tricky Dick, in a one-man show.

From Time Out London:
Alone in his study late at night, Richard Milhouse Nixon ponders the pardon he’s been offered for the Watergate scandal, and contrasts his secret honour with his public shame. Cue for raving resentment galore and perceptive insights into the politics of power and money. Made with a student crew at the University of Michigan, Altman’s one-man theatrical adaptation, for all its dense verbosity, is resolutely cinematic, employing a prowling camera to illuminate the dark areas of its melancholy, megalomaniac hero’s soul. While Baker Hall, ranting with drunken fervour at presidential portraits and a bank of security videos, suggests nothing less than a sometimes lucid, sometimes lunatic incarnation of mediocrity, irredeemably tainted by fame and failure. Fascinating stuff. –Geoff Andrew Continue reading

Peter Greenaway – The Belly of an Architect (1987)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
An American architect arrives in Italy, supervising an expedition for a French architect, Boullée, who is famous for his oval structures. Through the course of 9 months he becomes obsessed with his belly, suffers severe stomach pains, loses his wife, his unborn child and finally his own expedition. Continue reading

Federico Fellini – La città delle donne AKA City of Women (1980)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Marcello is in the compartment of an Italian train, facing forward when the mineral water of the woman seated across from him starts to fall toward him. He catches the bottle and makes eye contact and follows her when she leaves the compartment. For a few moments she finds him attractive too. Then suddenly she gets off the train and starts walking through a field. Marcello follows her, loses her, finds himself in a large hotel surrounded by women. A feminist conference is taking place and he tries to escape. Continue reading

Juraj Jakubisko – Vtáckovia, siroty a blázni AKA Birds, Orphans and Fools (1969)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Slovak director Juraj Jakubisko is often described as the Fellini of Eastern Europe. After the 1968 film The Deserter and the Nomads, he was put in exile in Czechoslovakia after the soviet invasion. With cooperation from a Paris film studio he made this film. Birds Orphans and Fools is a brilliant, surreal and underrated tragic comedy that not many people seem to know about. The story is about three orphans who have lost their families in war. Although the two men Andrej and Yorick and the lady Marta are adults, they act foolish like children trying to live life to the fullest. They resort with their landlord and other orphans in an apartment that is distorted with various shelves, cupboards and animals scattered about. But the main characters can’t block out the pain of living in a war torn country, and after Yorick is put in prison and returns a year later, things will never be the same. Towards the end the climax becomes maybe one of the most tragic in cinema history. This was the first film in Jakubisko’s trilogy of Happiness. If you enjoyed Jodorowsky’s Fando & Lis or Vera Chytilova’s Daisies, you have to see this film. Continue reading

Mauro Bolognini – Madamigella di Maupin AKA Mademoiselle de Maupin (1966)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Maddalena (the radiant Catherine Spaak) is obliged to dress as a young cleric to escape an invading army, which gets her into hot water as she is forcibly drafted to fight on the other side under the fiery Alcibiade (Robert Hossein). This leads to a series of comic misunderstandings as Alcibiade begins to suspect himself of unnatural feelings for a brother officer. A delightfully frivolous, sexy entertainment, enhanced by the director’s light touch with period detail. Continue reading

Chan-wook Park – Ah-ga-ssi aka The Handmaiden (2016)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions. Continue reading