Matthias Glasner – Der freie Wille AKA The Free Will (2006)

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Quote:
Stylistically and thematically, The Free Will combines the poetic realistic redemption films of the Dardenne brothers with the more cynical sensibility of Lars von Trier. The film opens like a horror film, with the graphic and brutally impassive depiction of an assault and capture of serial rapist Theo (Jürgen Vogel). The scene is a warning and a scar through which the remainder of the film is filtered. After spending nine years in a rehabilitation program, Theo is released and begins the difficult process of assimilating back into society. He becomes involved with another troubled soul, Nettie (Sabine Timoteo) and, with shades of Beauty and the Beast, the film suggests that Theo may be reformed. Despite the painstakingly slow developments, Vogel’s amazingly nuanced performance infuses Theo’s every action with terrific suspense. (He also co-wrote the screenplay.) The hand-held camera seemingly floats on the same deceptively still waters of Theo’s emotional facade, further aggravating the terrific uncertainty that drives the action. The film is so finely and delicately sketched in documentary style that unbelievable moments, like the occasionally overwrought yelp from Nettie, disturb like a speedboat’s wake. But there are very few of these moments. What results is a powerful and at times very intense tragedy documenting the psychological limits of self-transformation. Continue reading

Lav Diaz – Ebolusyon ng isang pamilyang Pilipino AKA Evolution of a Filipino Family (2004)

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An intimate
made with uncompromising and austere seriousness, Lav Diaz’s “Evolution of a Filipino Family” patiently and methodically observes the collapse and hopeful revival of a poor farming clan, meant to symbolize a nation’s history spanning 1971 to 1987. Ten-hour running time, radically slow pace and hyperminimalist mise en scene will excite international cinephiles at the most daring fests and showcases, which are the only conceivable venues outside of homevid. Continue reading

Martin Scorsese – No Direction Home: Bob Dylan (2005)

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IMDB:
Portrait of an artist as a young man. Roughly chronological, using archival footage intercut with recent interviews, a story takes shape of Bob Dylan’s (b. 1941) coming of age from 1961 to 1966 as a singer, songwriter, performer, and star. He takes from others: singing styles, chord changes, and rare records. He keeps moving: on stage, around New York City and on tour, from Suze Rotolo to Joan Baez and on, from songs of topical witness to songs of raucous independence, from folk to rock. He drops the past. He refuses, usually with humor and charm, to be simplified, classified, categorized, or finalized: always becoming, we see a shapeshifter on a journey with no direction home. Continue reading

Asia Argento – The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things (2004)

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Quote:
The dysfunctional twenty-three-year-old Sarah takes her six-year-old natural son Jeremiah from the home of his beloved foster parents with the support of the social service to live with her. Along the years, the boy shares her insane and low lifestyle and is introduced to booze and drugs and mentally, physically and sexually abused by Sarah, her lovers and her religiously fanatic family. Continue reading

Aaron Katz – Quiet City (2007)

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Stephen Holden, The New York Times wrote:
Aaron Katz’s film “Quiet City” is punctuated with images of New York at twilight that cast a mood of reflective melancholy reminiscent of the loneliness at the heart of Edward Hopper paintings. Silhouettes of television aerials against a glowing orange and purple sky; yellow traffic lights on a nearly deserted avenue; a silvery subway train in the middle distance slipping through the dusky, blue-gray light; an industrial landscape at sunset: These and other beautiful images, photographed by Andrew Reed, resonate with the characters’ lives. “Quiet City” belongs to the movie genre labeled mumblecore, so named partly because the young, nerdy characters in these films rarely address any subject outside their immediate social sphere. If they don’t actually mumble their words, the tone of their conversations is restricted to various shades of chat, much of which seems trivial. Tender and sad, “Quiet City” is a fully realized work of mumblecore poetry. Continue reading

Nikos Grammatikos – O Vasilias AKA The King [+Extras] (2002)

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Synopsis wrote:
Trying to turn his back on a dark past, a thirty-year-old man returns to his hometown in the Peloponnese with the hope of making a fresh start. The local society treats him with hostility, but he doesn’t give up and manages to integrate into this new environment. When, however, a girl who knows about his past comes into his life, he is driven to conflict with the people around him and, in the end, to his own destruction. Continue reading