2001-2010

Fernando Pérez – José Martí: el ojo del canario AKA Martí, the Eye of the Canary (2010)

This historical drama, depicting different phases in the late childhood and youth of the so-called “Apostle of Cuba” José Martí, is most of the time a biopic full of commonplaces often found in this genre, directed by Fernando Pérez, one of the most respected names in Cuban cinema.

Narrated in four movements, in the first two (“Bees” and “Arias”), the 9 year old Martí (endearingly played by Damián Rodríguez) is bullied in school by schoolmates and abused by his schoolmaster, while he learns notions of justice and oppression from his father. He discovers the beauties of Mother Nature with an old slave, explores his sexuality and enters into the world of high art in a Havanan theater. The boy also becomes aware of the high price a poor child has to pay for education. Read More »

Felix van Groeningen – Dagen zonder lief AKA With Friends Like These (2007)

Everybody who went to college and had good friends there, or spent lots of careless time with wild and young companions, will be deeply affected by this film. Dagen Zonder Lief shows us in a glowing, slow burning way what we all know: nothing lasts forever, not even friendship. The wonderful characters in Dagen Zonder Lief were young together and had loads of fun, as the subtle flashbacks show us, but those days are over. One is married and has a little baby; another one left for New York; yet another one is about to enter the snobbish world of his snobbish girlfriend. There’s still a spark when they meet, but that’s it: just a spark. Not the burning fire of the old days. The suicide of one or their common friends and the inexplicable need to settle prevents them from truly reliving the old days. They hardly ever mention it, but you can see it in their every movement and expression. Read More »

Mario Monicelli – Le rose del deserto AKA The Roses of the Desert (2006)

A sanitary battalion of Italian Army is sent to Sorman oasis in Lybia during the Africa campaign in 1940. Soon an Italian missionary, living nearby, succeed to transform the occupation by Italian Army in a kind of humanitarian mission. In fact all the battalion is involved to help the local population. The war anyway goes on with no regards to human feelings. The “glorious” Fascist campaign is going to became a fast retreat. Read More »

Álvaro Brechner – Mal día para pescar AKA Bad Day to Go Fishing (2009)

Quote:
A flamboyant impresario and an ageing ex-wrestling champion arrive in a small town, offering a hefty award to the local challenger. In fact, the promoter wants to rinse the spectators for every penny. But, is this a good day to go fishing? Read More »

István Szabó – Taking Sides (2001)

Plot
A tale based on the life of Wilhelm Furtwangler, the controversial conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic whose tenure coincided with the controversial Nazi era. One of the most spectacular and renowned conductors of the 30s, Furtwangler’s reputation rivaled that of Toscanini’s. After the war, he was investigated as part of the Allies’ de-Nazification programme. In the bombed-out Berlin of the immediate post-war period, the Allies slowly bring law and order–and justice–to bear on an occupied Germany. An American major is given the Furtwangler file, and is told to find everything he can and to prosecute the man ruthlessly. Tough and hard-nosed, Major Steve Arnold sets out to investigate a world of which he knows nothing. Orchestra members vouch for Furtwangler’s morality–he did what he could to protect Jewish players from his orchestra. To the Germans, deeply respectful of their musical heritage, Furtwangler was a demigod; to Major Arnold, he is just a lying, weak-willed Nazi. Read More »

Michael Haneke – La pianiste AKA The Piano Teacher (2001) (HD)

Quote:
Erika Kohut is a piano teacher at the Vienna Conservatory prestigious music school in Vienna. In her early forties and single, she lives with her overprotective and controlling mother in a hermetically sealed world of love-hate and dependency, where there is no room for men. Her sex life consists of voyeurism and masochistic self-injury. Lonely and alienated, Erika finds solace by visiting sex shops and experimenting with masochism. Ata a recital, she befriends Walter, a handsome young man, whom she seduces and with whom she begins an illicit affair. As Erika slowly drifts closer to the brink of emotional disorder, she uses the love-stricken Walter to explore her darkest sado-masochistic fantasies, which eventually lead to her undoing. Read More »

Pascal Thomas – L’heure zéro aka Towards Zero (2007)

An updated French version of Agatha Christie’s 1944 novel by François Caviglioli, Clémence De Bieville, Roland Duval and Nathalie Lafaurie as directed with style and panache by Pascal Thomas. Instead of England the action is transferred to the breathtaking beauty of Brittany, France. Not only does the magic of Christie’s mystery remain intact, but it is enhanced by the significant rugged coastlines of the area (captured beautifully by cinematographer Renan Pollès) as the setting for the mansion overlooking the sea where the action takes place. Read More »