Stefan Uher – Slnko v sieti Aka The Sun in a Net (1962)

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A student, Oldrich “Fajolo” Fajtak, has a romantic attachment to two girls: his hometown love Bela, and Jana – a lover whom he meets during a summer job on a collective farm. One storyline of the film peels layers off Bela’s permanently tense home life marked by her blind mother’s helplessness, her father’s past break with his father who lives in the village where Fajolo is finding some consolation in the arms of his new lover Jana. As Fajolo begins to pry into Bela’s grandfather’s secrets, she, in turn, allows her new boyfriend Peťo to read and deride Fajolo’s remorseful letters from the farm. This lovers’ triangle provides the film with several oppositions: town and country, intelligentsia and worker, collective and personal truth in communist Czechoslovakia. The potential symbolism of the film appeared ominous to the Communist authorities bent on banning the film, but the nascent political thaw helped the filmmakers prevail and the release of “The Sun in a Net” became its harbinger in Czechoslovak film and culture.
Stanislav Szomolányi’s location cinematography and Ilja Zeljenka’s musique concrète score remain striking. Continue reading

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Pierre Prévert – Mon frère Jacques [2004 restored version] (1961)

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Restored in 2004 by Catherine Prévert

Cast
Jacques Prévert … Himself
Pierre Prévert … Himself
Arletty … Herself
René Bertele … Himself
Pierre Brasseur … Himself
Jacques B. Brunius … Himself
Raymond Bussières … Himself
Marcel Carné … Himself
Marcel Duhamel … Himself
Jean Gabin … Himself
Paul Grimault … Himself
Alexandre Trauner … Himself
Jeanne Witta … Herself
Continue reading

Larisa Shepitko – Krylya (Крылья) AKA Wings (1966)

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Plot Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

The director of this film, Larisa Shepitko, was the wife of the distinguished director Elem Klimov and a very promising director herself. Based on a true story, Krylya tells of the efforts of a famous female fighter pilot from the World War II era to make a life for herself in the postwar era. At 42, the present pales before her memories of the past, and of her true love, now long dead. She is unable to come to terms with her past nor with the present, in which she is the director of a high school and the mother of an adoptive daughter. Her attempts to compensate for her distraction all lie in the direction of appearing authoritative, but the students and her daughter, with the unerring instincts of the young, distrust and despise her. In her distress, she is forced even more deeply into reliving her memories of the only time in which she was truly alive, seeking some kind of answer or resolution. Continue reading

Piotr Studzinski – Twarz AKA The Face (1966) (HD)

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Portrait of an artist as a young manic. First, a montage of still photographs of an artist’s face. Then motion. He stirs in sleep; he paints and expresses frustration. He looks for a light for his cigarette. He sketches, wads it up; makes tea; stares at his face in a mirror, then looks at canvas after canvas of self-portraits. He becomes agitated and defaces the work. He rips and tears, punches and kicks the art. Then he destroys mirrors. The catharsis over, he rests and begins again to paint. (IMDb) Continue reading

Nagisa Ôshima – Nihon shunka-kô AKA Sing A Song Of Sex (1967)

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In Oshima’s enigmatic tale, four sexually hungry high school students preparing for their university entrance exams meet up with an inebriated teacher singing bawdy drinking songs. This encounter sets them on a less than academic path. Oshima’s hypnotic, free-form depiction of generational political apathy features stunning color cinematography.

This gets our vote as the most overlooked of Oshima’s films, underrated perhaps because its English title makes it appear frivolous. It’s decidedly not. Despite flights of comedy, (unnerving) sexual fantasy, youthful yearning, karaoke and hootenannies, Sing a Song of Sex offers an intent, penetrating portrait of a generation confronting its new freedoms and its inability to act on them. Oshima obviously considered the film very important, one infers from the essays he wrote about it. Continue reading

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea – Memorias del subdesarrollo AKA Memories of Underdevelopment (1968)

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Plot Synopsis
Sergio, a wealthy bourgeois aspiring writer, decides to stay in Cuba even though his wife and friends flee to Miami. Sergio looks back over the changes in Cuba, from the Castro Revolution to the missile crisis, the effect of living in an underdeveloped country, and his relations with his girlfriends Elena and Hanna. Memories of Underdevelopment is a complex character study of alienation during the turmoil of social changes. The film is told in a highly subjective point of view through a fragmented narrative that remembles the way memories function. Continue reading

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