Jacques Tati’s gloriously choreographed, nearly wordless comedies about confusion in the age of technology reached their creative apex with Playtime. For this monumental achievement, a nearly three-year-long, bank-breaking production, Tati again thrust the endearingly clumsy, resolutely old-fashioned Monsieur Hulot, along with a host of other lost souls, into a bafflingly modernist Paris. With every inch of its superwide frame crammed with hilarity and inventiveness, Playtime is a lasting testament to a modern age tiptoeing on the edge of oblivion. Continue reading
The plot of Ajantrik (Pathetic Fallacy) revolves around Bimal and his battered taxi, an old Chevrolet, he calls Jagaddal. Because he treats his car as a living being, many consider Bimal to be mad.
Said Ritwik about the film: “You can call my protagonist, Bimal, a lunatic, a child, or a tribal. At one level they are all the same. They react to lifeless things almost passionately. This is an ancient, archetypal reaction….The tribal songs and dances in Ajantrik describe the whole cycle of life – birth, hunting, marriage, death, ancestor worship, and rebirth. This is the main theme of Ajantrik, this law of life.”
Music by Ali Akbar Khan.
Three strangers arrive at a chateau inhabited by four women believed to be vampires. But are they vampires or are they under the hypnotic machinations of an old man? Rollin shot the first part of this film as a short subject to be billed with an American vampire film bought by a distributor that just over an hour (it too was designed for double billing). His producers were impressed with what he accomplished with next to nothing and asked him to expand the film to feature length. Thus, the first half hour (part one) is an intriguing short that makes the most of its found locations, make-shift production design, and available lighting (and a very early example of a turntable effect around two arguing actors to heighten the intensity of the scene). The second half (which necessitates resurrecting several of the characters that were killed at the end of the first and introduces the Queen of the Vampires played by Jacqueline Seiger (who was an instructor at Felix Guattari’s anti-psychology clinic at the time). Lacking the structure of the first part, the near-plotless remaining hour allows Rollin to cram in an entire serial’s worth of car chases, mad doctors, vampires, fist fights, and gun fire as well as several more arresting – and iconic in the Rollin oeuvre – images to bring the short to feature length. Part 2 features also Olivier Martin (the protagonist of Rollin’s LE VAMPIRE NUE – forthcoming from Redemption USA) and, despite his large role in the part, an uncredited Jean-Loup Philippe (co-writer and star of Rollin’s LEVRES DE SANG). Continue reading
Marianne, some thirty years after divorcing Johan, decides to visit her ex-husband at his summer home. She arrives in the middle of a family drama between Johan’s son from another marriage and his granddaughter.
August 4, 2005
Ingmar Bergman is balancing his accounts and closing out his books. The great director is 85 years old, and announced in 1982 that “Fanny and Alexander” would be his last film. So it was, but he continued to work on the stage and for television, and then he wrote the screenplay for Liv Ullmann’s film “Faithless” (2000). Now comes his absolutely last work, “Saraband,” powerfully, painfully honest. Continue reading
Director David Lynch crafted this hallucinogenic mystery-thriller that probes beneath the cheerful surface of suburban America to discover sadomasochistic violence, corruption, drug abuse, crime and perversion.
Kyle Maclachlan stars as Jeffrey Beaumont, a square-jawed young man who returns to his picture-perfect small town when his father suffers a stroke. Walking through a field near his home, Jeff discovers a severed human ear, which he immediately brings to the police. Their disinterest sparks Jeff’s curiosity, and he is soon drawn into a dangerous drama that’s being played out by a lounge singer, Dorothy Vallens (Isabella Rossellini) and the ether-addicted Frank Booth (Dennis Hopper). The sociopathic Booth has kidnapped Dorothy’s young son and is using the child as a bargaining chip to repeatedly beat, humiliate and rape Dorothy. Though he’s drawn to the virginal, wholesome Sandy Williams (Laura Dern), Jeff is also aroused by Dorothy and in trying to aid her, he discovers his dark side. Continue reading
In the foothills of the Kurdish territories of Turkey, Jîn (Deniz Hasgüler), a young, red-scarfed rebel, slips away from her small guerrilla band to attempt a return to her family and a normal life. Hiding from both her comrades, to whom she is now a traitor, and the Turkish army, which views her as a terrorist, Jin takes refuge with the animals of the forest, who are themselves struggling under the brutality of war. In the silence, amongst the eternity of nature, Jin tends to the animals’ needs, and they, in turn, stare implacably back at her; their blank stares, understanding and accusatory all at once.
With her red head scarf, her encounters with grandmother, and her need to return to family, Jîn slips easily into the Red Riding Hood mould but this is not so much an update as it is a return to the tales rustic and very cautionary roots. Writer/director Reha Erdem has constructed a reality that nods to the past but eases back on the levels of codification that obscured the tales original purpose. Primarily, and most powerfully, Erdem reinstates men into the role of the wolf. And not just one. At every turn, Jîn is faced with a violently gropey suitor. Every (male) hand extended to her inevitably bares its claws. Continue reading
In the midst of rehearsals for a new play, amateur dramatics proponents Colin and Kathryn receive the shattering news that their friend George is fatally ill and only has a few months to live. Life begins to come apart at the seams – not just for Kathryn, who was once George’s partner, but also for her friends Tamara and Monica. The full force of the emotional turmoil they experienced in their youth and their long-buried dreams are rekindled. Much to the chagrin of their respectable, middle-class husbands, the women begin to argue about which of them should be allowed to accompany George on a final journey …
After Smoking/No Smoking (1993) and Coeurs (2006), this current work marks the third time French cinema doyen Alain Resnais has chosen to adapt a stage play by British playwright Alan Ayckbourn. By confining the action to an artificial, almost entirely studio-bound world, he succeeds in creating a tragicomic theatre of vanities. Employing the ironic distance of a sage observer of human nature, Resnais ponders the power of love and desire and in doing so enables his characters, driven by their longings, hopes and obsessions, to leave the beaten track for once.
–Berlin Film Festival Continue reading