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

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

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

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 Francesco Rosi – La Tregua AKA The Truce (1997)

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

Bernardo Bertolucci – L’assedio AKA Besieged (1998)

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Quote:
Shandurai (Newton), an African refugee in Rome, pays her way through medical school as a live-in cleaner for English pianist and composer Kinsky (Thewlis). Shy and timid, he woos her with gifts and music, but she rejects his overtures; her husband’s a political prisoner in her homeland, she says. Kinsky responds with an act of love simple, profound and pivotal. Continue reading Bernardo Bertolucci – L’assedio AKA Besieged (1998)

Lino Brocka – Macho Dancer (1988)

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Macho Dancer is a 1988 Philippine film, directed Lino Brocka, which explores the harsh realities of a young, poor, rural gay man, who after being dumped by his American boyfriend, is forced to make a living for himself in Manila’s seamy red-light district. Based on a true story, the film frank depiction of homosexuality, prostitution, drag queens and crooked cops, porno movie-making and sexual slavery, and drugs and violence caused the Filipino government censors to order extensive edits of the film, forcing an uncensored edition to be smuggled out of the Philippines and shown to a limited number of international film festivals. This print is now part of the permanent collection at The Museum of Modern Art in New York [Images in the Dark: An Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Film and Video. 1994. Raymond Murray] Continue reading Lino Brocka – Macho Dancer (1988)