James Mangold – Heavy (1995)

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Synopsis:
The life of an overweight, unhappy cook is forever changed after a kind, beautiful college drop-out comes to work as a waitress at he and his mother’s roadside restaurant.

Quote:
Heavy is not the kind of film to view when you’re looking for something upbeat. It’s too real, and, as a result, potentially too painful. On the way out of the theater, I heard someone remark, “Why did I just sit through that film? I’ve lived that story, and I don’t need to be put through it again!” Mangold captures the nuances of life perfectly, and, by never cheapening his vision through facile resolutions, he fashions a memorable cinematic portrait. Continue reading

Bill Duke – Deep Cover (1992)

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Plot
Laurence Fishburne plays no-nonsense LAPD narc Russell Stevens, Jr., who has worked all his life to expunge the memory of his dope-addict father, whom he saw die in a liquor-store robbery. DEA agent Jerry Carver (Charles Martin Smith) orders Stevens to work as an undercover operative on a major case. The cop is to pose as a dealer in order to get the goods on South American drug lord. Stevens is so convincing as a dealer, that he fast works his way up through the ranks and gains the trust of lawyer and narcotics dealer David Jason (Jeff Goldblum) and his sinister associates, all lackeys to the kingpin who is the target of Stevens’ assignment. Through a series of fantastic but credible circumstances, Stevens eliminates the lower echelon, getting closer to his quarry, but in the process he finds himself so deep into the sinister and seductive world of the drug trade that he may never get out. In a surprise move, and just when he is about to bring the ringleader down, the DEA pulls the plug on his assignment, because the top dealer, an influential Latin American politician, may someday be useful to the State Department. allmovie,com Continue reading

Joshua Oppenheimer – The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase (1998)

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“In Louisiana Purchase I wanted to examine the whole question of historical memory, the making of history…”
— Joshua Oppenheimer

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase is an imaginative and innovative film essay which combines faux and real documentary with lyrical fiction to paint a monstrous yet beautiful portrait of America at the end of the millennium. With unflinching originality, the film meditates humorously on faith, myth, scapegoats, the idea of the alien, the end of the world, and the beginnings of redemption…. Oppenheimer’s monstrous yet charming ‘history of my country’ is written by a poet, sweet and dark, joyous as the wet rats who save themselves from drowning in the film’s last sequence…. It opens a genre of film as revelatory and intelligent dream, stimulant of social memory, and means for re-examining the relationship between fact and fiction, historical truth and social myth.
– Dusan Makavejev, May 1997 Continue reading

Joshua Oppenheimer & Nish Saran – Hugh (1996)

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Hugh is the earliest demonstration of Oppenheimer’s key thesis that hate and extremism are not necessarily disruptive forces – they can be thoroughly bedded into society. The titular subject is an elderly man who makes furniture, teaches children to play the piano and is hailed by his friends as one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. He also goes into town with his car plastered in sandwich boards and preaches about how homosexuality will destroy civilisation…
Hugh is ten minutes long, but has the complexity and nuance of a feature film, and as a bonus is shot in gorgeous high-contrast black-and-white reminiscent of Marc Singer’s excellent 2000 documentary cult classic Dark Days.
– Graham Williamson 2016 Continue reading

Jaco Van Dormael – Toto le héros aka Toto The Hero (1991)

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Synopsis:
Thomas and Alfred were born around the same time; a fire in the nursery had nurses scrambling to save the newborns. Because he felt that he deserved Alfred’s good fortune at being born into a wealthy family, Thomas conceives the idea that he and Alfred were switched at birth, and he can’t help seeing that his unhappiness should be Alfred’s, from the loss of his sister to his inability to have a relationship with the woman Evelyne. So, as his life is ending, he formulates a plan of revenge against his bitter enemy, his lifetime adversary, the man who stole his existence. Continue reading

Wiktor Grodecki – Telo bez duse AKA Body Without Soul (1996)

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Quote:
An unflinching portrait of life on the post-Communist streets of Prague where young men find it all too easy to pick up extra money as porno models and hustlers. Their clients consist largely of German, Swiss, and Dutch tourists in search of cheap sex – and for additional income they make pornos on the side. Along the way they are ripped off, abused, and degraded until they simply wear out. Continue reading

Julian Benedikt & Andreas Morell – Blue Note – A Story of Modern Jazz (1997)

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The artists list on this DVD reads like a Who’s Who of the best international jazz musicians of all times. It features Art Blakey, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Thelonious Monk and Sonny Rollins — musicians whose names have become synonymous with the great Jazz Age in the 1950s and 60s. With Carlos Santana, Cassandra Wilson and André Previn and jazz experts like Joachim Ernst Berendt and Bertrand Tavernier, the list of interviewees and artists on this DVD becomes encyclopaedic. But how many people have heard of Alfred Lion and Frank Wolff, to whom we owe the recorded memory of our Jazz legends? These two Jewish Germans emigrated from Nazi Germany to New York in 1939 and promoted Jazz Music, which at the time had received little serious attention from mainstream America. Without money or connections and speaking little English, the two men began to record practically unknown musicians, following their own taste and judgement, and thus establishing the legendary Blue Note label. Continue reading