Aryan Kaganof – Shabondama Elegy AKA Tokyo Elegy (1999)

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Synopsis:

Virtuoso application of digital techniques in a feature combining the genres of film noir, art film and porn. Man condemned to death and on the run (Thom Hoffman) has a last intense sexual relationship (with porn actress Mai Hoshimo).

Ian Kerkhof’s new film boldly clashes genre conventions in a digital melt that seeks to invent a new form of film-making appropriate to the new digital age. On this occasion he is working with a Japanese producer and shooting in Japan with the enormously flexible and light DV camera, ‘re-mixing’ his material on the infinitely flexible AVID editing equipment to create a film for the big screen.No surprise, this determined renegade film-maker takes the opportunity to mix crime film, art film and porn movie. Continue reading

Claude Chabrol – Merci pour le chocolat (2000) (DVD)

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When the young Jeanne finds out that she could have mistakenly been exchanged, from her cradle, with another newborn (the son of a famous piano player), she decides to contact this family, not really thinking that this could be the truth. After she tells this to the presumed father and the rest of the family, even the son of the piano player starts having more than one doubt about his origins, and all this will lead to the discovery of a murder committed many years before by the second wife of the musician. The story is a pretext to dramatize the misdeeds and the hypocrisy of the French upper class members, shown without pity: the coldness between the family members, hidden by a false happiness; the lack of real feelings; the unbearable ‘bon ton’ of the mother, and so on. (IMDb) Continue reading

Thom Andersen & Noël Burch – Red Hollywood (1996)

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Thom Andersen and Noël Burch’s provocative documentary looks with fresh eyes at “Red” Hollywood—films by screenwriters and directors who were communists, ex-communists, or sympathizers and who were in some way implicated by the Hollywood investigations of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. Drawing on their extensive research and an array of arresting film clips, as well as on the reminiscences of blacklisted artists Paul Jarrico, Ring Lardner, Jr., Alfred Levitt, and Abraham Polonsky, the video reveals the degree to which the Hollywood left was able to tint movies with its political convictions. Taking issue with Billy Wilder’s oft-quoted put-down, “Of the Unfriendly Ten, only two had talent, the other eight were just unfriendly,” Red Hollywood reveals a largely neglected Hollywood legacy: films committed to raising questions regarding class, gender, and racism. Films that questioned the System itself—whether capitalism or the studio—and were answered with the blacklist. —Pacific Film Archive Continue reading

Thomas Ciulei – Gratian (1994)

The people in Izbuc, a village in the Romanian Carpathian mountains, think thast their fellow villager Gratian Florea is a werewolf. According to an old custom, when a child is born, the midwifes call upon the spirits, to make the child hard working, beautiful, loveable or wise. It is said that when Gratian was born, the umbilical cord broke only after the midwife called forth the werewolf. This crucial moment was to influence his whole life. His family and the whole village rejected him. At 73, Gratian lives in a shack outside the village, without water of heating.
Every Saturday Gratian goes into the village to beg for the food he needs for the following week. The saying goes that those who refused to give him something will have their sheep eaten by wolves after a few days. In his solitude, Gratian works with astronomical numbers. He says that his thoughts about belief, moral values, and eternal life will help him discover infinity. He sees himself as a traveler into the universe, who at a certain time will surpass the worldly existence and the essence of his soul will become equal to God. Continue reading

Jamil Dehlavi – Immaculate Conception (1992)

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Immaculate Conception is the story of a young western couple, Jewish-American Hannah and British Alistair who are living in Karachi and desperate for a child. They visit the eunuch shrine of Gulab Shah which has a reputation for curing infertility and, sure enough, Hannah conceives. Hannah decides to convert to Islam and coaxes Alistair to do the same.

This causes a conflict with her family, while steering Alistair into a brief love affair. Meanwhile, the eunuchs from the shrine seem to think they have a share in Hannah’s baby. As tension mounts, the dangerous cocktail of clashing cultures and religious beliefs threatens to explode in the faces of everyone involved. Continue reading