Jane Campion – The Piano (1993)

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Synopsis:
A mute woman along with her young daughter, and her prized piano, are sent to 1850s New Zealand for an arranged marriage to a wealthy landowner, and she’s soon lusted after by a local worker on the plantation.

Review:

Quote:
“The Piano” is as peculiar and haunting as any film I’ve seen.

It tells a story of love and fierce pride, and places it on a bleak New Zealand coast where people live rudely in the rain and mud, struggling to maintain the appearance of the European society they’ve left behind. It is a story of shyness, repression and loneliness; of a woman who will not speak and a man who cannot listen, and of a willful little girl who causes mischief and pretends she didn’t mean to. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Breaking the Waves (1996)

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Quote:
For those who aren’t aware of it, Lars von Trier is obsessed with Carl Dreyer. He views him as a father figure, his role model, his favorite film is “Ordet”, he used Henning Bendtsen as cinematographer on “Epidemic” and “Europa”, he bought the suit Dreyer wore at the opening of “Ordet” and wore it at the opening of “Europa” (and again in “Riget”) and finally, during an interview he announced “I am a Dreyer guy”.

Like “Ordet”, so does “Breaking the Waves” depict the conflict between dark religion, which preaches the fear of God, and light religion, which believes in the love of God, and Lars von Trier very wisely doesn’t question religion. Instead he employs the conflict as a tool by which to examine how love and goodness, a golden heart, leads to self-sacrifice and ultimately the martyrdom of Bess. Speaking of martyrdom, Lars von Trier made cinematographer Robby Müller shot Bess with same gaze as Falconetti in Dreyer’s “La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc”. As much he is a “Dreyer guy”, as much is “Breaking the Waves” a “Dreyer film”. Continue reading

Thomas Vinterberg – Festen [+Extras] (1998)

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The Father turns 60. His family, which is a big one of the kind, gathers to celebrate him on a castle. Everybody likes and respects the father deeply…or do they? The Youngest Son is trying to live up to The Father’s expectations. He is running a grill-bar in a dirty part of Copenhagen. The oldest son runs a restaurant in France, while the sister is a anthropologist. The older sister has recently committed suicide and the father asks the oldest son to say a few words about her, because he is afraid he will break into tears if he does it himself. The oldest son agrees without arguments. Actually he has already written two speeches. A yellow and a green one. By the table, he asks the father to pick a speech. The father chooses green. The oldest son announces that this is the Speech of Truth. Everybody laughs, except for the father who gets a nervous look on his face. For he knows that the oldest son is about to reveal the secret of why the oldest sister killed herself. Continue reading

Cinzia Th. Torrini – Caramelle AKA Sweeties (1995)

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Synopsis
Anna is not so very young any more, but still a voluptuous woman and full of desire. Unlike her husband, who prefers to watch television instead of making love to his wife. Diets and aerobics fail to revive his sexual interest, and Anna turns to a fortune-teller for help. Unfortunately, the love potions also have dissatisfying side-effects and surprising results. Finally, a proper solution is found in some magic sweets: each sweet will make Anna seven years younger. Which might be rather tricky for a compulsive eater … Continue reading

Christian Petzold – Cuba Libre (1996)

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Imdb:
WELL-MADE BUT DEPRESSING DRAMA
by jan onderwater (Amsterdam, The Netherlands)

Depressing, dark love drama with thin story line, that makes you wonder whether the makers believe in life at all. The male protagonist is constantly running into problems and gets beaten up time and time again, so much so that after a while I could not help laughing, which cannot have been the intention of the makers: they are vèry, vèry serious. The crux of the film seems to be a sharp comment on the money driven German society, in which it is impossible to show any real affection; of course this could be a dilemma of the makers themselves: money is not the problem, but what you do with it. Not forgotten is to include an extreme right wing man whose self-proclaimed purpose in life it is to free the street of socially undesirable elements. It is all very heavy symbolism with no relief, but it is certainly well-made with a script that – as the film progresses – becomes less and less surprising. The two acting leads are good.; fine cinematography. Continue reading

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