One of the most beautiful films ever made about aging. Voyage To The Beginning Of The World brings together 90-year-old Portuguese filmmaker Manoel de Oliveira and Italian icon Marcello Mastroianni, in what would be his last film. Playing a filmmaker clearly based on Oliveira, Mastroianni takes three actor friends on a driving tour of a mountain village, where one of the actors (Jean-Yves Gautier) is united with the elderly aunt he has never met.
Family becomes the link between the past and present, in a film of great simplicity, dignity and wisdom. Through Mastroianni, Oliveira speculates on beginnings and endings. The village is in the north (where the Portuguese nation began) on what remains of the past (a primitive wooden statue, the meaning of which has been lost) and on what disappears (the ruins of a hotel). The cinematography, by Renato Berta, is at once radiantly clear and surrealistically devoid of detail – as if what were seeing was already a recollection. (-Dave Kehr, NY Daily News – DVD Backcover) Continue reading
In this meditation on the history of cinema, contemporary scenes blend with clips from the silent era. A cinematographer (Mehdi Hashemi) consults with the shah of Iran (Ezzatollah Entezami) in an attempt to convince him that cinema is beautiful. Movies are censored, however: the shah bans them himself. But when the shah falls in love with a beautiful silent-film actress (Fatemah Motamed-Aria), he forfeits the throne and crosses into the realm of the movie screen to be with his love. Continue reading
The painful passage from being imprisoned in the extortionate dilemmas of familial and sexual relationships to accepting a personal point of view. A narrative constructed on the associative structure of memory and dreams. Continue reading
Nominated for the Golden Palm in Cannes 1994.
I’ve just seen a marvelous film. Edward Yang’s little-seen and under-distributed A Confucian Confusion is that screwball comedy I long to see that for once is smart, engaging and jabs you where it hurts and tickles most.
As suggested by the title, it deals with the trials and tribulations of a motley of urbanites living in modern Taipei and their escalating moral decadence (or not?). Among them is the young and lovely Chen Shiang-Chyi.
The dialogue is just so fun to listen to. The scenes are so expertly staged. The humor so spot-on.
Over-the-top funny yet never losing its grip on pressing contemporary issues. Confusion is indeed an artful blend of artistry and entertainment. For an Edward yang film, this is in fact a rare sight. Continue reading
Franta Louka is a concert cellist in Soviet-occupied Czechoslovakia, a confirmed bachelor and a lady’s man. Having lost his place in the state orchestra, he must make ends meet by playing at funerals and painting tombstones. But he has run up a large debt, and when his friend, the grave-digger Mr. Broz, suggests a scheme for making a lot of money by marrying a Russian woman so that she can get her Czech papers, he reluctantly agrees. She takes advantage of the situation to emigrate to West Germany, to her lover; and leaves her five-year-old son with his grandmother; when the grandmother dies, Kolya must come and live with his stepfather – Louka. Continue reading
In the 1960s and early ’70s, Claude Chabrol was celebrated as the Gallic Hitchcock for his crisp, character-rich thrillers. La Cérémonie, his 1997 hit adapted from Ruth Rendell’s novel A Judgement in Stone, is a return to form, an assured domestic drama set in the upper-class household of the kind but condescending Lelievres family. Sandrine Bonnaire, excellent in an enigmatic, uncommunicative role, stars as their new, neurotically silent maid Sophie. She performs her duties efficiently and emotionlessly, staring out from behind an implacable, mask-like face born of loneliness and defensiveness. Isabelle Huppert is the town’s gleefully misanthropic postmistress Jeanne, a gossipy, energetically insolent misfit who hates the Lelievres. When she becomes Sophie’s best friend, her pathological game of taunts and gossip goes into overdrive with her sudden access to their house, and an already simmering class conflict boils over in unleashed anger. Chabrol charts the cascade of mischief and misunderstandings to its shattering conclusion, with a sensitivity to character and an eagle-eyed remove that makes the explosive climax all the more chilling. Continue reading
Bosnian-born filmmaker Emir Kusturica made this farce, set in a Gypsy settlement along the banks of the Danube, where three generations of characters burst forth in manic and frenetic displays of charm, confusion, and chaos.
Garbage dump godfather Grga Pitic (Sabri Sulejman) and cement czar Zarije Destanov (Zabit Memedov), both in their 80s, remain friends even though they haven’t seen each other in 25 years. Zarije’s son Matko Destanov (Bajram Severdzan) goes to Grga for a loan. Matko is double-crossed by his partner, gypsy gangster Dadan Karambolo (Srdan Todorovic), who demands that Matko’s son, Zare Destanov (Florijan Ajdini), marry Dadan’s small sister, Afrodita (Salija Ibraimova). Continue reading