Eiichi Yamamoto – Kanashimi no Beradonna AKA Belladonna of Sadness (1973)

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Belladonna of Sadness was the third and final animated feature film produced by Osamu Tezuka’s Mushi Pro studio. The studio went bankrupt two months after the film came out. The film is loosely based on French historian Jules Michelet’s La Sorcière about witchcraft and Joan of Arc. Jeanne and Jean have just been married, but Jean can’t afford to pay the marriage tax demanded by the king. As a result, Jeanne is raped by the king. To save her husband and marriage, Jeanne sells her body and soul to the devil. In return she obtains the power to save the villagers from the black death, whip them up into an orgy, and turn them against the king while he is away at war. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – Sinai Field Mission (1978)

SINAI FIELD MISSION shows the routine activities of the diplomats and electronics technicians who operate the U.S. Sinai Field Mission, the early warning system established in 1976 to help facilitate the disengagement between Egypt and Israel after the 1973 war. The major purpose of the Mission is to monitor the approaches to strategic passes and to verify the operations of the Egyptian and Israeli surveillance stations in the Sinai Buffer Zone. Continue reading

Mauro Bolognini – Per le antiche scale AKA Down the Ancient Stairs (1975)

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Quote:
A mental hospital somewhere in Tuscany during the thirties. Far away from fascism, this closed world is ruled over by Dr. Bonaccorsi, a passionate and benevolent psychiatrist whose dream is to isolate the germ of madness. He’s also a very active womanizer and three women benefit from his sexual itch: Francesca, the hospital manager’s wife, Bianca, his devoted nurse and Carla, the nymphomaniac wife of a doctor. His well-ordered universe starts to be challenged with the coming of Anna, a trainee psychiatrist, who disapproves of his theory on the origin of madness. Worse, she resists his advances. Since Bonaccorsi is more insecure than he looks, what will become of him? Continue reading

Shôhei Imamura – Karayuki-san AKA The Making of a Prostitute (1975)

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Quote:
A film about another kind of “unreturned soldier” than Shohei Imamura has profiled elsewhere, KARAYUKI-SAN finds the filmmaker traveling to Malaysia to interview Kikuyo Zendo, one of the countless Japanese women who were kidnapped or otherwise sold into sexual slavery in order to service the Japanese military in Southeast Asia.

74 years old at the time of filming, she offers a frank and harrowing testimony into her horrific wartime experiences, and the factors that have led her to choose exile over repatriation. Continue reading

Elio Petri – La classe operaia va in paradiso AKA The Working Class Goes to Heaven (1971)

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Quote:
“Lulu the Tool” is no more descriptive a title for Elio Petri’s Italian social drama that opened yesterday at the D. W. Griffith Cinema than “La Classe Operaia Va in Paradiso” (“The Working Class Goes to Heaven”), the title under which it shared (with “The Mattei Affair”) the grand prize of the 1972 Cannes Film Festival. But if neither tag is memorable, there is little doubt that the director-writer, whose convictions are Communist, has projected a cynical view of the worker’s lot that is both fascinating and sobering.

Mr. Petri, who scored with his 1970 dissection of police authority in “Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion,” has again joined Ugo Pirro in writing the script. With Gian Maria Volonte, the top cop in “Investigation,” he points up the Kafkalike condition of “Lulu.” Continue reading

Lino Brocka – Insiang (1976)

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“Insiang” is Lino Brocka’s tale of one girl’s coming of age in the slums of Manila. The title character, played by Hilda Koronel, is a young girl who lives in a small crowded shanty with her mother, Tonia (Mona Lisa). Her boyfriend Danny (Rez Cortez) treats her little better than a sex object and her mother’s lover Dado (Ruel Vernal), overcome by desire for young Insiang, rapes her in her own home. She runs to her mother for sympathy but gets rejected instead. Disillusioned and worn out, Insiang decides on revenge.

“Insiang” has the distinction of being the first Filipino film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, where both Lino Brocka and Hilda Koronel garnered much attention and acclaim from the international film community. The film also earned a number of important awards and nominations including the Manila Film Festival Best Actress Award for Koronel. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Kaseki no mori AKA The Petrified Forest (1973)

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Synopsis:
Based on novel by Shintaro Ishihara, this is a human drama about the complex relationship of parent and child. Haruo spends his time working in a university hospital when he meets a childhood friend. On the other hand Haruo’s long estranged mother wishes to make amends with her lost son.

Review:
One day, a young medicine student Hauro Himoto (Ken’ichi Hagiwara) runs into his attractive ex-schoolmate Eiko Izawa (Sayoko Ninomiya) and they fall in love with each other in no time at all. The only obstacle which intrudes the couple is the owner of a barbershop who simultaneously is her lover and her employer and pesters Eiko out of his jealousy. Hauro and Eiko resolve to get rid of the insufferable male so that they can remain together without further complications… Continue reading