Hans-Jürgen Syberberg – Hitler, ein Film aus Deutschland AKA Hitler: A Film from Germany (1977)

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Director Hans-Jurgen Syberberg examines the rise and fall of the Third Reich in this brooding seven-hour masterpiece, which incorporates puppetry, rear-screen projection, and a Wagnerian score into a singular epic vision. Syberberg, who grew up under Nazi tyranny, ruminates on good and evil and the rest of humanity’s complicity in the horrors of the holocaust. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Les mains négatives (1978)

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Marguerite Duras (1914 – 1996) was one of France’s most famous writers of the twentieth century. Her talents ranged across fiction, film, playwriting, andjournalism, and all through her long career, just the mention of her name could be counted on to start a spirited discussion in a Parisian café or in an American or English college literature or women’s studies department. A compulsive worker, Duras wrote 34 novels and a wide variety of shorter works, returning to writing even after a stroke robbed her of the use of her dominant hand. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Nathalie Granger [+Extras] (1972)

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The most insidious thing about the nouveau movie, which is a polite way of describing Marguerite Duras’s newest, most minimal film, “Nathalie Granger,” is that it traps you in its own time, unlike the nouveau roman, which can be skipped through or read at leisure in an afternoon or a year. You can’t skip through “Nathalie Granger.” To see it you are forced to watch it for as long as it lasts, while, in turn, it watches its characters, rather as if the camera were a Siamese cat whose feelings had been hurt. Without betraying the slightest interest, the camera records the physical appearance of two expressionless women who look a lot like Jeanne Moreau and Lucia Bose. They share a house with their two children, one of whom, Nathalie, is apparently a problem. “She wants to kill everyone,” says one of the women, who seem to be interchangeable. “She wants to be an orphan, or a Portuguese maid.” Nathalie, however, remains docile—this being a minimal movie. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – India Song (1975)

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Poetical tale of Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of a French diplomat in India in the 1930s. At 18 she had married a French colonial administrator and went with him on posting to Savannakhet, Laos. There she met her second husband who took her away and for 17 years they lived in various locations in Asia. Now in Calcutta, she takes lovers to relieve the boredom in her life. Told in a highly visual style with little dialogue but a constant voice-over narrative by the different characters. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert (1976)

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When the film Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert was initially shown in 1976, many viewers found it hauntingly beautiful but deeply perplexing. Some, seeing it as a sign of Duras’ inability to separate herself from the making of India Song, even ascribed the film to a kind of postpartum depression. Since that time, the film has been placed in perspective as an inseparable component of the India cycle as a whole, although little has been written, with certain notable exceptions, on its specific relation to the other works. Son nom de Venise dans Calcutta désert is a purely metanarrative epilogue that culminates the progressive decomposition of spectacle as well as the dismantling of the neocolonial subject conceived as specular identity that was initiated by previous works in the India cycle. The film confirms the paradoxical character of the mimetic illusion, whose mirror functions as an ontological abyss for the desiring subject. Its seductive ideal of absolute identity and mastery in fact results in passivity and impotence. Conceived as a means of guaranteeing individuals the illusion of a form of immortality, it actually removes them from the arena of real action, enslaving them to a sterile fantasy. Continue reading

Kidlat Tahimik – Mababangong bangungot aka Perfumed Nightmare (1977)

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Upon first glance, Perfumed Nightmare looks amateurish and raw. It is, too, I suppose, but this works to the film’s advantage. This is the semiautobiographical story of a young Filipino man (played by writer/director Kidlat Tahimik) who worships everything about America. He is especially caught up in the space program: he wants to visit Cape Canaveral, and he is the president and founder of his small (300 people) village’s Werner Von Braun fan club. This might just be the only fan club in the world that worships the Bavarian expatriate who is regarded as the father of rocketry. He and his club members have ice cream sales to fund their activities, which include sponsoring the Miss Philippenes pageant. Continue reading

Joseph Strick – Road Movie (1974)

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“This cult favorite from one of cinema’s richest eras, directed by Academy Award-winning director Joseph Strick, stars Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Robert Drivas (Cool Hand Luke) delivering bravura performances as a pair of brutish truck drivers who pick up a prostitute on a trip across America. Regina Baff (The Paper Chase) tears at the heart as the beaten and furious hooker who exchanges her body for a ride to New York, only to be further abused. Rejected and scorned, she becomes determined to seek revenge.” – DVD packaging copy Continue reading