Maroun Bagdadi – Liban, le pays du miel et de l’encens AKA Lebanon, the Land of Honey and Incense (1988)

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Doctor Fournier arrives in Beirut as the civil war is raging. He finds himself with a colleague working in a hospital controlled by a Shiite militia and treating the injured. Driven by his doctor’s oath, he crosses the demarcation line to treat Christian casualties of the ongoing clashes. This causes Muslims in his neighborhood to brand him a traitor. He is kidnapped to be exchanged for a fighter captured by Christian militiamen. The film is part of the TV series Médecins des hommes (Doctors of Men). It was considered the best movie in the series. Continue reading

Patrice Leconte – Tandem (1987)

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A fading television personality and radio quiz-show host is shielded by his right-hand man from learning his show has been cancelled in this situation comedy. Rivetot (Gerard Jugnot) is the loyal longtime assistant to Mortez (Jean Rochefort) who believes the news of the show’s demise will be fatal to his boss. He tries to keep the news from Mortez as long as possible as the show travels from town to town. Continue reading

Jim Henson & Frank Oz & Gary Kurtz – The Dark Crystal (1982)

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Jim Henson ventures into Tolkien territory in his all-Muppet fantasy feature The Dark Crystal. The titular Crystal maintains equilibrium in a mythical kingdom. When the Crystal is broken, the evil Skeksis take over, killing off the good-guy Gelflings and enslaving everyone else. Two of the Gelflings have survived: Jen was raised by the all-knowing Mystics, while Kira grew up amongst the swamp-dwelling Podlings. Jen and Kira join forces to “heal” the precious Dark Crystal and restore order to their world. Adults may find the whole affair a little precious, while children may be disturbed by the film’s mortality rate. Continue reading

Hans-Jürgen Syberberg – Parsifal (1982)

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Synopsis:
Richard Wagner’s last opera has remained controversial since its first performance for its unique, and, for some, unsavory blending of religious and erotic themes and imagery. Based on one of the medieval epic romances of King Arthur and the search for the holy grail (the chalice touched by the lips of Christ at the last supper), it recounts over three long acts how a “wild child” unwittingly invades the sacred precincts of the grail, fulfilling a prophecy that only such a one can save the grail’s protectors from a curse fallen upon them. Interpreters of the work have found everything from mystical revelation to proto-fascist propaganda in it. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Il Dialogo di Roma (1982)

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“The subject of this film is the conversation between a man and a woman. A couple, maybe lovers, maybe married, it doesn’t matter. (…) During this conversation, we do not see but the city of Rome. I wanted to transmit that what Rome provokes in me, the feeling of an intrinsic matter, indissoluble, in difference with Paris, made of small parks and open spaces, crossed by the sky and the wind. Hand in hand with the film, the difficulty of the two lovers assumes a clearer, more explicit form. But as much as, in my opinion, it is impossible to describe and film Rome, the difficulty in the love of a couple can never be totally understood.”
Marguerite Duras, Venice film festival catalogue, 1982. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Agatha et les lectures illimitées AKA Agatha and the Limitless Readings (1981)

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Quote:
One of Duras’ most fascinating treatments of the dialectical relationship between sound & image, what is spoken & what is left unsaid, is an evocative “adaptation” of her then unperformed play, Agatha. Featuring Bulle Ogier & Yann Andréa as the wandering protagonists, & Duras & Andréa’s disembodied voices on the soundtrack, it is equally a haunting meditation on the relation between humanity & its geographic surroundings. Shot in Duras’ beloved Trouville, whose remarkable array of beachside villas the writer-director considered “the most beautiful tracking” shot in “the history of cinema”. Continue reading