Alain Tanner – Les hommes du port (1995)

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After 40 years Alain Tanner again travels to the port of Genoa, where he worked for a shipping company as a 22-year-old. On the back of his own memories he depicts the rough world of the dockworkers, another of those trades that has undergone fundamental changes as a result of recessions, modernisation and liberalisation. “The visual impression of the harbour and the city has changed very little, but what goes on there nowadays is completely different. The city is still as beautiful and alien and somewhat sad as before. But the port is dying, like so many other major ports. In Genoa, as elsewhere in Italy, the economic, social and political climate is highly explosive. But you also feel that things are in flow and the country is on the verge of some far-reaching changes. (…) In this film I wanted to explore my own memories of Genoa, uncover its present and guess at its future. Genoa, this beautiful, this sad, this alien town has become for me a metaphor for society in change.” Continue reading

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Aki Kaurismäki – La Vie de bohème AKA The Bohemian Life (1992) (HD)

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Quote:
Based on the same 19th-century novel (Henri Murger’s Scenes de la Vie de Boheme) that inspired Puccini’s opera, the story is about three down-and-out losers doomed to penury and artistic obsession. There’s Albanian painter Rodolfo (Matti Pellonpää), playwright Marcel (Andre Wilms) and composer Schaunard (Kari Väänänen). Their problems are exactly the same: no rent or food money and the futile struggle to be recognized.

It doesn’t help Marcel that he refuses to reduce his 21-act play to commercial size or that the chances of Schaunard’s latest work making it (it’s called The Influence of Blue on Art) seem remote. Continue reading

Pawel Pawlikowski – Last Resort (2000)

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synopsis – AMG:
Last Resort opens as Tanya (Dina Korzun), a young Russian traveling to England with her son Artiom (Artiom Strelnikov), is questioned at a British airport’s passport control. Tanya tells the official she is visiting England on a vacation, but then switches her story and says that her English fiancי is meeting her, and finally, out of desperation, asks for political asylum. She and Artiom are duly packed off to an immigrants’ center in a grim coastal town, where they are given a small apartment and informed that their application for asylum will take over a year to process. After Tanya’s fiancי dumps her over the phone, she gradually befriends Alfie (Paddy Considine), who runs an arcade. Alfie wins the trust of Tanya and her street-smart son, and soon Tanya must decide how far she wants to carry her relationship with this new friend. Last Resort was screened at the 2000 Edinburgh International Film Festival. — Rebecca Flint Marx Continue reading

Ken Loach – My Name Is Joe [+extras] (1998)

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Synopsis:

When recovering alcoholic and amateur football manager Joe (Peter Mullan) falls for health worker Sarah, who should know better, they both suspect the romance may be a bad idea, but it blossoms nevertheless. However, the lovers have very different ideas about how to deal with the problems Glaswegian life throws at them, and when Joe is forced to do some drug running to pay off a debt, their tentative relationship is in danger of spluttering to a halt. Continue reading

Jon Jost – Frameup (1993)

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synopsis

Made on short ends of film left over from The Bed You Sleep In, Frameup is a freewheeling road comedy about a pair of dimwitted lovers on the run. Ricky-Lee (Howard Swain), a two-bit criminal prone to spouting lengthy, obscenity-laced soliloquies, meets Beth-Ann (Nancy Carlin), an airheaded waitress with a weakness for romance novels, at the diner where she slings coffee. Immediately smitten, she joins him on a meandering journey across the Pacific Northwest — punctuated by the occasional robbery — and on into California, where the couple dream of heading to the sunny beaches of Los Angeles. Ricky-Lee’s ineptitude catches up with him eventually, however, and their trip is cut short when a convenience store robbery goes awry. Continue reading

José Luis Cuerda – La Lengua De Las Mariposas aka Butterfly (1999)

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Synopsis: Veteran director Jose Luis Cuerda delivered this sensitive portrait of a child coming of age during a tense political situation just before the Spanish Civil War. On his first day of school, frail eight-year-old Moncho (Manuel Lozano) is so terrified by the imposing figure of his teacher Don Gregorio (Fernando Fernan Gomez) that he flees into the nearby woods. In spite of his authoritarian appearance, the schoolmaster proves to be a kind, free-thinking Republican who teaches Moncho the virtues of being good. The boy is soon spending much of his time with the elderly Gregorio in the Galician countryside, admiring such wonders of nature as the tongue of a butterfly. Other people in young Moncho’s world include his down-to-earth mother (Uxia Blanco), his Republican father, and his older brother, who plays the saxophone with a group of local musicians. However, when the Fascists roll into town, the boy’s life changes forever. La Lengua de las Mariposas was screened at the 1999 San Sebastian Film Festival. -Jonathan Crow (AMG) Continue reading

Werner Schroeter – Malina (1991)

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In “Malina,” the German film maker Werner Schroeter’s adaptation of a novel by Ingeborg Bachman, Isabelle Huppert portrays a writer who suffers from an interminable case of existential angst.

Isabelle Huppert’s unnamed character is a chain-smoking novelist who lives in Vienna with a calm and devoted male companion, Malina (Mathieu Carriere). Although attractive and successful, she is emotionally disturbed. In the film’s opening scene, she has a vision of herself as a little girl being thrown to her death by her father from the roof of a building. The father, a demonic figure, reappears in several expressionistic set pieces, sometimes to the accompaniment of operatic music.

One day in front of a flower shop, she spies a handsome stranger, Ivan (Can Togay), whom she chases into a bank and inveigles into embarking on a steamy affair. Although Ivan enjoys the relationship, he takes it more lightly than does the woman, who grows obsessed…. Continue reading

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