Sergey Loznitsa – Peyzazh (2003)

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Quote:
It begins with slow, 360 grade pans of a camera showing snowy countryside somewhere in Russia. The soundtrack has some natural voices.

The camera then is set at a bus stop in a Russian village. It continues to pan into the same direction, showing people waiting, talking to each other, drinking beer, staring, giving an occasional glance at the camera. The soundtrack is clearly from a different source than the pictures, but similar to the world of images. It has elderly people talking about their hard everyday life: sicknesses, alcoholism, dire poverty, violent drunken husbands, poor hospitals etc. etc. The voices curse, argue…

The people start gradually crowd into a full bus, they get in, and the buses leave. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – La danse – Le ballet de l’Opéra de Paris (2009)

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Description: In “La Danse: The Paris Opera Ballet,” his 36th documentary in more than 40 years, Frederick Wiseman takes his camera into the stately and elegant Palais Garnier in Paris, observing rehearsals, staff meetings and, finally, performances of seven dances, including classics like “The Nutcracker” and spiky new work by younger choreographers. To say that the film, sumptuous in its length and graceful in its rhythm, is a feast for ballet lovers is to state the obvious and also to sell Mr. Wiseman’s achievement a bit short. Yes, this is one of the finest dance films ever made, but there’s more to it than that. Continue reading

João Botelho – Quem És Tu? AKA Who Are You? (2001)

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Aged 13, Maria Noronha is an estremely pale and fragil girl, sick with tubercolosis. In order to alleviate her suffering, she gathers poppies from her garden, and at night puts them on the pillows on her bed. But the poppies have a devastating effect. Her deep sleep is disturbed by terrible ghosts and hallucinations: about the decadence of the Portuguese XVII century, the Jesuits’s power and the terrible Inquisition. Continue reading

Periklis Hoursoglou – O diaheiristis AKA The Building Manager (2009)

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The story of 50-something Pavlos unfolds in an unspecified modern-day Greek city, portraying the man’s midlife crisis with a light and gently ironic tone. Pavlos takes over custodial duties from his aging mother and immediately has to deal with a disaster involving a sewage pipe. The fix-it job becomes complicated and creates an apt parallel to Pavlos’s increasingly complicated personal circumstances. At heart Pavlos is gracious and kind, and he tries to be a good husband, son, and building manager. But the ensuing state of affairs turns him into a morose and angry man whose nerves sometimes snap. Will Pavlos succeed in fixing the broken sewage pipe before he can fix his own “broken” life? Director and screenwriter Periklis Hoursoglou, who plays the lead role, has shot a drama with comic touches and gentle socio-critical accents. Hoursoglou succeeds in creating a faithful, entertaining, and even touching portrait of “ordinary” interpersonal relations. Continue reading

Sepideh Farsi – Le voyage de Maryam AKA The Journey of Maryam (2003)

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A poignant and poetic piece exploring the nature of memory, longing, loss, and the people and places that make us who we are. Shot entirely from the vantage point of Maryam, the invisible heroine in search of her father, the film recalls the visual sophistication of Vertov or Farsi’s compatriot Kiarostami. However, in the end, a unique voice rises to the top befitting this intimate and personal journey through the neighborhoods, alleyways, and people of Tehran. Continue reading

António da Cunha Telles – Kiss Me (2004)

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Kiss Me” is the story of Laura, a woman who provokes intense desire and jealous and obsessive passions, fascinating every man that approaches her.
In the late fifties, Laura decides to grab destiny in her hands. She leaves a troubled past and a son behind and moves to Tavira , in the South of Portugal, to live with a strange aunt who makes her dream of America. Fascinated by the figure of Marilyn Monroe in the movies, she transforms herself into the Marilyn Monroe of the town. Years later, her son recreates her story. Continue reading

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sud pralad AKA Tropical Malady (2004)

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Like Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s other films, Tropical Malady is a mechanism to channel thoughts and feelings that are hard to express in words – which means that trying to write about it is at best reckless and at worst stupid. As mechanisms go, it’s beautiful and seductive, and has many working parts. But we shouldn’t forget that the name of Khun Apichatpong’s production company is “Kick the Machine”. Continue reading