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

Eun-Hee Kim – Ddakjung Bulre AKA Beetles (2009)

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Screened at the Seoul Independent Film Festival, the 2008 Korean indie Beetles is the first feature film from director Kim Eun Hee. Blurring the boundary between dream and reality, fiction and documentary, this unconventional narrative art film integrates ecological footage, medical documentary, and a non-linear story to form a meditation on fear of death and coping with life. The director defies the traditional filmmaking format to present a strange but uniquely cerebral and affecting picture. Continue reading

Andrzej Zulawski – Cosmos (2015)

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By Carlo Chatrian, pardolive.ch

For his return to directing 15 years after La Fidélité, Andrzej Zulawski has chosen one of the most difficult authors to adapt and a text that poses significant challenges, given its constant verbal invention and narrative deviations. Cosmos, written 50 years ago by Witold Gombrowicz, four years before his death, is one of those works that creates a kind of precipitous vertigo.

Zulawski is clear from the start: it only takes a few minutes for the viewer to realize this is no classic adaption of a bourgeois novel. Instead, young Witold’s arrival at the house where he will stay is the entrance to an out-of-the-ordinary universe. A world where sparrows are hanged, where strange arrows take shape on the ceiling, where the television that’s always on for every meal broadcasts incessant images of war, where seduction and repulsion go hand in hand. The thin thread of an investigation – discovering who is responsible for these signs – becomes a metaphor for talking about language. See, for example, the brilliant tirade from the “paterfamilias”. Continue reading