António da Cunha Telles – O Cerco AKA Besieged AKA The Circle (1970)

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Quote:
A young woman leaves her abusive husband to become the mistress of a married American living in Lisbon. He pays for her apartment, and she becomes a model. After an affair with a photographer and a small-time drug dealer, she manages to liberate herself from her dependency on male authority figures. She brings a new attitude and newfound personal freedom into her life while fighting in a society not ready to accept her views in this poignant drama. ~ Dan Pavlides, Rovi

A portrait of the Portuguese urban society of the seventies. The story of Marta, a young and pretty girl who leaves her husband in search of her true identity. She doesn’t quite know what she wants, but at least she knows what she’s escaping from. Soon she encounters financial difficulties and finds herself involved with shady characters, a situation that leads to a mysterious murder.
She is trapped…
An outstanding performance by Maria Cabral. Continue reading

Horst E. Brandt & Heinz Thiel – Heroin (1968)

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This East German movie was co-produced with studios in Hungary and Yugoslavia, with many interesting location shots (border checkpoint to West Berlin, the Gellert bath in Budapest, and more). The plot is about French drug dealers, who obtain heroin somewhere in the Middle East, and smuggle it in several steps to East Berlin, and from there to France (or so it appears), killing when necessary. The hero is an officer of East German customs, who with detective work, some masquerade, and occasional violent action ultimately unravels the whole network, of course with the support of the local customs departments. Continue reading

Frank Perry – Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)

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Review by Michael Costello

Frank Perry’s bleak study of the lot of a beleaguered Manhattan housewife features three excellent performances. Carrie Snodgress stars as the wife of a lawyer (Richard Benjamin) whose unbearable status-anxiety drives her into the arms of an equally neurotic emotional sadist (Frank Langella). Made during the nascent days of the women’s movement, the film is a strident and simplistic take on the woman-as-victim, yet in some scenes captures the miserable details of this woman’s life with such precision and vividness, that it still has residual power. Benjamin’s overbearing lawyer is memorable as one of the most irritating characters ever to appear onscreen, and in his insane hunger for social status, he’s something of a precursor to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Snodgress is so brilliantly effective in her Academy Award-nominated performance, that it becomes painful to watch what amounts to the torture of her passive, emotionally abused housewife. As a narcissistic womanizer with an amazingly well-modulated voice, Langella is also exceptional, and his subsequent 15 minutes as a sex symbol speaks volumes about how differently women saw themselves at the time. While the film’s failure to examine these characters in greater depth, and the director’s lack of vision ultimately leaves one unsatisfied, it remains a provocative work which undoubtedly still speaks to the plight of many women. Continue reading

Luchino Visconti – Il gattopardo AKA The Leopard (1963)

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Luchino Visconti’s “Il Gattopardo” is an epic on the grandest possible scale. The film recreates, with nostalgia, drama, and opulence, the tumultuous years of Italy’s Risorgimento, when the aristocracy lost its grip and the middle classes rose and formed a unified, democratic Italy. Burt Lancaster stars as the aging prince watching his culture and fortune wane in the face of a new generation, represented by his upstart nephew (Alain Delon) and his beautiful fiancée (Claudia Cardinale). Awarded the Palme d’Or at the 1963 Cannes Film Festival, “Il Gattopardo” translates Giuseppe Tomasi di Lampedusa’s novel, and the history it recounts, into a truly cinematic masterpiece. Continue reading

Martin Scorsese – It’s Not Just You, Murray! (1964)

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Synopsis:
Now middle-aged, mobster Murray looks back at his humble beginnings as a bootlegger and his rise to becoming wealthy and highly influential. Through it he talks about how much of his success and happiness is due to the support of his “friend” Joe. Unfortunately the only one who blindly believes Joe is anything close to a friend is Murray, because it’s obvious to everyone that Joe back-stabs him at every chance and is sleeping with his wife.– IMDb. Continue reading

Giuseppe Patroni Griffi – Il mare (1963)

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Quote:
Tourist season has not yet begun. Capri is deserted and the sky is sadly grey. An actor arrives. He’s waiting for a woman who won’t come. In the meanwhile he’s having a strange relationship with a young alcoholic man who even tries to kill him; he’s bored, with no ideals, strong and weak at the same time. The two men are shaping a strange friendship, or at least they try, until a woman comes on the isle.
“In this movie words are used in a way different from usual. When they talk to each other, the three leading actors talk about ordinary things, not about their relationship. They never talk about their feelings. The story is sombre, as it’s filled with missed attractions and hidden feelings. The actors express themselves with moves, gestures and their contribution is fundamental for that. Only good actors can do that” (Patroni Griffi) Continue reading

Manoel de Oliveira – A Caça AKA The Hunt (1964)

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Quote:
“A caça” is one Oliveira’s most distressing and mysterious films. Two boys, Roberto and José, enter a hunting ground, flooded with marshes. José falls into a quagmire and Roberto runs to the village looking for help. The locals form a human chain to save the victim…

“I conceived ‘A caça’ after reading in a newspaper that a boy was sucked down into a pit of quicksand and the other, due to fear, fled without helping him. The movie is based on this event.” In this laconic way, Oliveira summarizes his purpose. His first intention was to make a feature film about such an anguishing event. Continue reading