Risto Jarva – Työmiehen päiväkirja aka The Diary of a Worker (1967)

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Following passages selectively translated from Risto Jarva Society’s website:

Risto Jarva was a central director in the Finnish New Wave. His career is one of the most extensive and important in the history of Finnish cinema, even though he died in a car accident at the age of 43.

Risto Jarva was a humanist and an engineer within one person. The focus of his work is on the human between society and nature. In his feature films and short documentaries he mapped dominant and alternative ways of life, without forgetting neither history nor the future. That’s why his movies are both subjective and objective evidence of the way Finland was in the years 1962-1977. Continue reading

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