Gaspar Noé – Seul Contre Tous aka I Stand Alone (1998)

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“A grim portrait of disaffection and loneliness, Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone is a movie clearly conceived to make a stir. With an armed, frustrated, and hate-filled time bomb at its center, it unabashedly recalls Taxi Driver, offering its own nihilistic spin on Martin Scorsese’s masterpiece of urban anomie and redemption. For a feature debut, it’s unbelievably daring. Noe doesn’t shy away from sprucing up his familiar story with Godard-ian flourishes, including occasional intertitles, a torrent of offscreen narration, and even a warning to the audience to leave before the wrenching finale. A more jarring conceit is the frequent use of abrupt cuts and fast dollies, accompanied by gunshots on the soundtrack. Genuinely startling and somewhat misconceived, the distracting device nonetheless goes some way toward evoking the volatile mindset of the protagonist. The movie shines a light on the circumstances that breed fascist and racist impulses. As politics, it isn’t terribly illuminating: Its depiction of underclass, xenophobic rage is shocking in its brutality but hardly revelatory in its insight. As a psychological interrogation, it’s more compelling, plunging the viewer into the mind of a disturbed man without sugarcoating. It’s this brazen willingness to shove something so repellent in its audience’s face that makes I Stand Alone both a courageous movie and an unpleasant experience. Whether the movie is genuinely probing or merely preoccupied with provocation is up for debate. What’s not is the movie’s visceral impact: This unrelenting essay about a lumpen brute sticks with you, despite — or perhaps because of — its lacerating bleakness” (AMG)
Continue reading Gaspar Noé – Seul Contre Tous aka I Stand Alone (1998)

Pat O’Neill – Trouble In The Image (1996)

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Pat O’Neill’s second long-form work, following Water & Power. A master of the optical printer, and the single greatest influence on Peter Tscherkassky’s “manufractured” cinema, O’Neill reprocesses and recontextualises fragments of found footage & public service broadcasts to extraordinary effect, meshing it with his own original footage (incorporating time-lapse, motion control and innumerable exposures). Cinematic non-sequiturs amass, layer upon visual layer, creating trouble in the image. Continue reading Pat O’Neill – Trouble In The Image (1996)

Abbas Kiarostami – Ta’m e guilass AKA Taste of Cherry (1997)

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Winner of the Gold Palm at the 50th Cannes Festival, Taste of Cherry follows along with Mr Badii’s trajectory. He is a man in his fifties, and he is driving about in his car over points in the city where the unemployed are available for odd, occasional jobs.
Mr Badii tries, in the midst of all these people, to find someone willing to get into his car and earn himself some quick, easy money in exchange for a small job. A small job that is difficult to explain and that no one seems willing to accept.

Mr Badii dialogs with a series of characters who are more or less marginalized by society and who receive his suggestion with varied reactions. Continue reading Abbas Kiarostami – Ta’m e guilass AKA Taste of Cherry (1997)

Atom Egoyan – Calendar [+Extras] (1993)

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Atom Egoyan directs and stars in this painfully honest account of an Armenian photographer’s search for love in spite of himself. His marriage in tatters, he starts dating again, but can’t quite jump in with both feet, and his heart, first. With every date, he puts the women through the paces, asking them to make sexually charged phone calls to others. When he finally meets his match, his ex suddenly comes back into the already murky picture.
-netflix synopsis Continue reading Atom Egoyan – Calendar [+Extras] (1993)

Louis Malle – Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

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A group of actors arrive in a rundown theater in the heart of New York City. For the next couple of hours, they are going to rehearse Anton Chekhov’s play Uncle Vanya.

The actors gather around a small table placed in the middle of the stage and begin acting.

Uncle Vanya has spent the majority of his life working for Serybryakov, the snobbish husband of his late sister. For the modest amount of 500 rubles per year, he has carefully managed Serybryakov’s estate, which the old man is now planning to sell.

Uncle Vanya is frustrated – but not only because Serybryakov wants to sell the estate. The old man has returned home with his beautiful wife, Yelena (Julianne Moore), whom Uncle Vanya loves. She knows about his feelings but has chosen to ignore them because she understands that having a relationship with another man after years of marriage simply isn’t right. But Uncle Vanya has incorrectly assumed that Yelena is ignoring him because he is poor. Continue reading Louis Malle – Vanya on 42nd Street (1994)

Robert Altman – Short Cuts [+Extras] (1993)

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From two American masters comes a movie like no other

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While helicopters overhead spray against a Medfly infestation a group of Los Angeles lives intersect, some casually, some to more lasting effect. Whilst they go out to concerts and jazz clubs and even have their pools cleaned, they also lie, drink, and cheat. Death itself seems never to be far away, even on a fishing trip. Continue reading Robert Altman – Short Cuts [+Extras] (1993)