Raoul Ruiz – Mistérios de Lisboa AKA Mysteries of Lisbon (2010)


Raúl Ruiz is one of the great cinematic self-perpetuators, like Louis Feuillade and Jacques Rivette—a film like this gathers a motion and a rhythm that makes it feel like it could on and on, self-generating new stories and new characters ad infinitum.  Based on the novel by Camilo Castelo Branco (whose writing has been the source for Oliveira’s similarly fatalistic romance,Doomed Love), Mysteries of Lisbon is, to paraphrase a line from one of its many characters used to describe a disastrous relationship he had, a game that turns into a bourgeois romantic drama, to which I would add, that turns into a game.  It starts—as all stories must?—with an orphaned boy questioning his parentage and falling into a fever, and out of that starting point the film evolves less as a story than a cartography of characters crossing points in space and time.  On paper it is indeed all melodrama: identities revealed, lives saved in the past coming back to haunt the saviors, secret connections, loves turns to hatreds. Continue reading

Hirokazu Koreeda – Umi yori mo mada fukaku AKA After the Storm (2016)


A prize-winning author that wastes his money on gambling struggles to take back control of his existence as his aging mother and ex-wife move on with their lives, until a stormy summer night offers him a chance to bond with his young son once again.

Tara Judah wrote:
From sentiment to scenario and across his characters, places, imagery and impressions, Kore-eda’s films have a melancholic tonality that represents the aching of the human soul.

Familiar themes are revisited here including; broken families, the problem of the patriarch, strained relationships between fathers and sons, coming to terms with grief, as well as the unutterable bond that is created and strengthened through taking time to share a meal together. Continue reading

Jeff Nichols – Loving (2016)


The story of Richard and Mildred Loving, an interracial couple, whose challenge of their anti-miscegenation arrest for their marriage in Virginia led to a legal battle that would end at the US Supreme Court.
Loving is a 2016 American historical drama film which tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving, the plaintiffs in the 1967 U.S. Supreme Court decision Loving v. Virginia, which invalidated state laws prohibiting interracial marriage. The film was produced by Big Beach and Raindog Films, and distributed by Focus Features. The film takes inspiration from The Loving Story (2011) by Nancy Buirski, a documentary which follows the Lovings and their landmark case. Continue reading

Michael Truman – Touch and Go (1955)


Plot: Touch and Go stars Jack Hawkins as the head of a British family who decides to kick over
the traces and emigrate to Australia. No one in the family, least of all wife Margaret Johnston, is
enthused over this move, but they prepare themselves with dignity. As the technical and legal obstacles
preventing their move begin to mount, even Hawkins has second thoughts about hitching his star Down Under.
Since no one behaves very believably in the film, Touch and Go rises and falls on its individual comic
sequences, some of which are quite good. The title Touch and Go has been used so often that when the
film was released in the US, it was retitled The Light Touch. Continue reading

Robert Aldrich – Autumn Leaves (1956)


In the ’50s, Robert Aldrich was a favorite of the French Cahiers du Cinema critics. In the ’60s, though, Aldrich got sloppier as his budgets got bigger. Most of his later movies are at least a half hour too long, and formulaic action films like The Dirty Dozen and Too Late the Hero tarnished his once bright reputation. But movies like World for Ransom, Kiss Me Deadly, and Attack! still hold up as harsh portraits of violence, paranoia, and a new kind of universal dread that began with the A-bomb and ended with the JFK assassination. All of Aldrich’s early work is intriguing, but Autumn Leaves is his secret gem. It’s been passed over as camp because of its star, Joan Crawford, but Aldrich brings all his hard edges to this woman’s picture. The collision of his tough style with the soapy material makes for a film that never loses its queasy tension. Continue reading