Larisa Shepitko – Krylya (Крылья) AKA Wings (1966)

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Plot Synopsis by Clarke Fountain

The director of this film, Larisa Shepitko, was the wife of the distinguished director Elem Klimov and a very promising director herself. Based on a true story, Krylya tells of the efforts of a famous female fighter pilot from the World War II era to make a life for herself in the postwar era. At 42, the present pales before her memories of the past, and of her true love, now long dead. She is unable to come to terms with her past nor with the present, in which she is the director of a high school and the mother of an adoptive daughter. Her attempts to compensate for her distraction all lie in the direction of appearing authoritative, but the students and her daughter, with the unerring instincts of the young, distrust and despise her. In her distress, she is forced even more deeply into reliving her memories of the only time in which she was truly alive, seeking some kind of answer or resolution. Continue reading

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Kun-jae Jang – Hwioribaram AKA Eighteen (2009)

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Plot summary from M-Line Distribution:

Eighteen year-old Tae-hoon and Mi-jung have been going out for 100 days. During winter break they decide to take a trip to the beach to celebrate their anniversary. When they are back home after a few days, they have to confront a harsh situation – Mi-jung’s parents don’t allow them to see each other until they become college students.

Tae-hoon struggles to keep their love and wanders around Mi-jung but she is eventually changed and avoids him as her parents wish. Winter turns to spring, and Tae-hoon and Mi-jung both turn nineteen. Continue reading

Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Scream of the Ants (2006)

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Plot Synopsis from allmovie:
As a newlywed couple boards a train bound for India and are forced to reconcile atheism and faith in director Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s spiritual-themed drama. He is a non-believer that is consumed by doubt, and she has faith that life’s answers will come to her through prayer. Though there is little that this newlywed couple can agree upon — including the prospect of having children — they do love each other and are intent upon sharing a spiritual honeymoon. In the midst of a philosophical debate, a holy man on the tracks forces the train to grind to a halt. While the local beggars revere the man for his power over the imposing locomotives, the truth is much less mystical. Years ago the man failed in committing suicide on the tracks when the oncoming train saw him and slowed down. These days he is compelled by the beggars to reenact the “miracle” daily so that the train will stop and they can collect alms from the passengers. Continue reading

Pedro Aguilera – La Influencia (2007)

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Quote:
This is the story of a disoriented and vulnerable woman, overburdened with daily life problems and more: her belongings are impounded, her cosmetics shop has been closed down, and her children are forced to go to a public school. The childrenŽs vitality draw a sharp contrast against the apathy shown by their mother, who slowly plunges into a deep depression. The kids, becoming aware that she lacks the necessary strength and maturity to effectlvely face these problems, are forced to adopt adult attitudes. Life goes on, and things change. Sometimes changes are slow and unnoticeable, sometimes they are sharp and tangible, and everything is transformed, always.. Continue reading

Derek Jarman – The Tempest (1979)

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Quote:
Prospero, a potent necromancer, lives on a desolate isle with his virginal daughter, Miranda. He’s in exile, banished from his duchy by his usurping brother and the King of Naples. Providence brings these enemies near; aided by his vassal the spirit Ariel, Prospero conjures a tempest to wreck the Italian ship. The king’s son, thinking all others lost, becomes Prospero’s prisoner, falling in love with Miranda and she with him. Prospero’s brother and the king wander the island, as do a drunken cook and sailor, who conspire with Caliban, Prospero’s beastly slave, to murder Prospero. Prospero wants reason to triumph, Ariel wants his freedom, Miranda a husband; the sailors want to dance. Continue reading

Nagisa Ôshima – Nihon shunka-kô AKA Sing A Song Of Sex (1967)

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In Oshima’s enigmatic tale, four sexually hungry high school students preparing for their university entrance exams meet up with an inebriated teacher singing bawdy drinking songs. This encounter sets them on a less than academic path. Oshima’s hypnotic, free-form depiction of generational political apathy features stunning color cinematography.

This gets our vote as the most overlooked of Oshima’s films, underrated perhaps because its English title makes it appear frivolous. It’s decidedly not. Despite flights of comedy, (unnerving) sexual fantasy, youthful yearning, karaoke and hootenannies, Sing a Song of Sex offers an intent, penetrating portrait of a generation confronting its new freedoms and its inability to act on them. Oshima obviously considered the film very important, one infers from the essays he wrote about it. Continue reading

Akio Jissoji – Mandara (1971)

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Quote:
An often-overlooked confederate of Oshima Nagisa (1932-) and Yoshida Yoshishige (1933-), Jissoji Akio (1937-) was one of the avant-garde cinema directors of the early 1970s to focus on issues of sexuality and changing cultural values. Although Jissoji is best known for his first feature film Mujo (1970) and his biggest box office success Teito monogatari (1988), his second feature Mandara best portrays his attitude towards sexuality and Japanese culture. Working with the noted script writer Ishido Toshiro (1932-), who wrote the scripts for a number of famous films, including Oshima’s The Sun’s Burial (1960), Night and Fog in Japan (1960) and Yoshida’s A Story Written in Water (a.k.a. Forbidden Love, 1965), Jissoji created a complex portrayal of a utopian cult attempting the union of sexuality and an agrarian way-of-life. Two pairs of alienated unmarried college students from Kyoto visit an isolated hotel on a beach near Tsuruga where they become enmeshed in the devious schemes of the charismatic cult leader who eventually leads his surviving disciples on a fatal ocean voyage. Continue reading

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