Vasili Mass – Zirneklis AKA Spider (1991)

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A very Freudian psycho-sexual drama following a young beauty Vita, modeling for a painting of Virgin Mary. At her first visit to the studio of the shady artist Albert, Vita is caught in the net of his sinister universe. In a visually stunning sequence personages of Albert’s paintings come to life and attack Vita. The girl breaks away only to realize she’s now in the toils of some dark forces. Albert senses the awakening of Vita’s libido, and by night occurs in the form of a giant spider and sexually possesses her. The film builds up to the final battle between good and evil, played out against Vita’s sexual self-exploration. Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Trois couleurs: Rouge AKA Three Colors: Red (1994)

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This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red (Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. Krzysztof Kieślowski closes his Three Colors trilogy in grand fashion with an incandescent meditation on fate and chance, starring Irène Jacob as a sweet-souled yet somber runway model in Geneva whose life intersects with that of a bitter retired judge, played by Jean‑Louis Trintignant. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema. (-Criterion) Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Trzy kolory: Bialy AKA Three Colors: White (1994)

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This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red (Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. The most playful and also the grittiest of Kieślowski’s Three Colors films follows the adventures of Karol Karol (Zbigniew Zamachowski), a Polish immigrant living in France. The hapless hairdresser opts to leave Paris for his native Warsaw when his wife (Julie Delpy) sues him for divorce (her reason: their marriage was never consummated) and then frames him for arson after setting her own salon ablaze. White, which goes on to chronicle Karol Karol’s elaborate revenge plot, manages to be both a ticklish dark comedy about the economic inequalities of Eastern and Western Europe and a sublime reverie about twisted love. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema. (-Criterion) Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Trois couleurs: Bleu AKA Three Colors: Blue (1993)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

This boldly cinematic trio of stories about love and loss, from Krzysztof Kieślowski was a defining event of the art-house boom of the 1990s. The films are named for the colors of the French flag and stand for the tenets of the French Revolution—liberty, equality, and fraternity—but that hardly begins to explain their enigmatic beauty and rich humanity. Set in Paris, Warsaw, and Geneva, and ranging from tragedy to comedy, Blue, White, and Red (Kieślowski’s final film) examine with artistic clarity a group of ambiguously interconnected people experiencing profound personal disruptions. In the devastating first film of the Three Colors trilogy, Juliette Binoche gives a tour de force performance as Julie, a woman reeling from the tragic deaths of her husband and young daughter. Marked by intoxicating cinematography and stirring performances by such actors as Juliette Binoche, Julie Delpy, Irène Jacob, and Jean-Louis Trintignant, Kieślowski’s Three Colors is a benchmark of contemporary cinema. (-Criterion) Continue reading

Francesco Rosi – La Tregua AKA The Truce (1997)

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Based on Primo’s account of his liberation from Auschwitz and long journey home through a Europe caught between war and peace. The truce is not only an account of hardship and the rediscovering of humanity but of the relief, exuberance and comedy in a momentous journey after the most gruesome period of modern history. Continue reading

Hsiao-hsien Hou – Flowers of Shanghai AKA Hai shang hua (1998)

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SYNOPSIS
Shanghai, the 1880s, four elegant brothels (flower houses): each has an auntie (the madam), a courtesan in her prime, older servants, and maturing girls in training. The men gather around tables of food, playing drinking games. An opium pipe is at hand. The women live within dark-paneled walls. The atmosphere is stifling, as if Chekov was in China. The melancholy Wang is Crimson’s patron; will he leave her for the younger Jasmin? Emerald schemes to buy her freedom, aided by Luo, a patron. Pearl, an aging flower, schools the willful Jade, who thinks she has a marriage agreement with young master Zhu. Is she dreaming? Women fade, or connive, or despair. Continue reading