1991-2000

Bille August – Smilla’s Sense of Snow (1997)

REVIEW by Angus Wolfe Murray (from eyeforfilm.co.uk):

When Smilla Jasperson came home that winter’s day in Copenhagen, the boy lay dead on the pavement. He had been playing on the roof, the police said, and probably slipped on ice.

She was friends with the boy, a six-year-old Greenlandic Inuit, who lived with his alcoholic mother one floor down in her apartment block. She knew he had a fear of heights and would never have been up there unless something, or someone, had forced him. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Zire darakhatan zeyton AKA Through the Olive Trees (1994)

Quote:
‘Olive Trees’: Bears Message
By Desson Howe
Washington Post Staff Writer
July 19, 1996

“Through the Olive Trees,” Abbas Kiarostami’s subtly involving faux-documentary, acquaints you directly with the time-consuming, spiritually enervating process of filmmaking. But there’s more to it than that. A film-within-a-film drama, it’s about a movie crew that is recruiting amateur actors in a mountainous region of Iran for a romance called “And Life Goes On‚. . .‚.” The area has just been devastated by an earthquake. Homes are crumbled and deserted. Many people are now living by the side of the highway. But the upheaval doesn’t preclude local excitement. Kids skip school and hike five miles to watch the filming. Girls, their heads draped in chadors, vie shyly to be chosen for a part. Read More »

Patricia Mazuy – Travolta et moi AKA Travolta and me (1993)

ALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS IN THEIR TIME is a series of films
commissioned by the French-German TV station Arte. Ten directors were
asked to participate by making a movie about their teenage years. Each
film had to include at least one party scene which highlighted the music
of the time. TRAVOLTA AND ME, Patricia Mazuy’s entry, transpires in
1978 and (not surprisingly, given the title) takes its inspiration from
U.S. disco and SATURDAY NIGHT FEVER. Read More »

Roman Polanski – The Ninth Gate (1999)

A rare book dealer, while seeking out the last two copies of a demon text, gets drawn into a conspiracy with supernatural overtones. Read More »

Angela Schanelec – Plätze in Städten AKA Places in Cities (1998)

Synopsis
Mimmi lives with her mother in an apart-ment on the edge of town. They won’t be living together for much longer because Mimmi is about to take her final exams at school and will soon move out. Mimmi’s mother is still young and sometimes wish-es Mimmi didn’t need her so much and yet, at other times, that she needed her more, like before. But Mimmi herself doesn’t say very much and it’s often hard to tell what thoughts preoccupy her. She sees her girlfriend, goes out with her boyfriend; she also has the odd flash-in-the-pan relationship with other men. She is often alone – perhaps just waiting for the time to pass, or for a new life to begin. On a school trip to Paris she meets and sleeps with a young man. When she gets back to Berlin she discovers that she is pregnant. She heads for Paris again where she spends two days trying to find the father of her child. She has no money and doesn’t even know where she can sleep. She begins to daydream – and gets more and more tired. Read More »

Yimou Zhang – Yi ge dou bu neng shao AKA Not One Less (1999)

Quote:
In a remote mountain village, the teacher must leave for a month, and the mayor can find only a 13-year old girl, Wei Minzhi, to substitute. The teacher leaves one stick of chalk for each day and promises her an extra 10 yuan if there’s not one less student when he returns. Within days, poverty forces the class troublemaker, Zhang Huike, to leave for the city to work. Minzhi, possessed of a stubborn streak, determines to bring him back. She enlists the 26 remaining pupils in earning money for her trip. She hitches to Jiangjiakou City and begins her search. The boy, meanwhile, is there, lost and begging for food. Minzhi’s stubbornness may be Huike and the village school’s salvation. Read More »

Kiyoshi Kurosawa – Hebi no michi AKA Serpent’s Path (1998)

Midnight Eye review:
Serpent’s Path and its companion piece Eyes of the Spider (Kumo No Hitomi) both start from the same premise: a man taking revenge for the murder of a child. Kurosawa used this premise as the jumping-off point for the two films rather than their definition, resulting in a pair of works which are not so much occupied with revenge, but with the mental processes of human beings in situations that have placed them outside everyday life. Read More »