Arthouse

Aleksey Fedorchenko – Nebesnye zheny lugovykh mari AKA Celestial Wives of the Meadow Mari (2012) (HD)

The film was shot in Mari language and tells 23 different tales influenced by the Mari folklore. Each of these stories represents the specific approach to sexuality of “the last authentic pagans in Europe”. In view of this, the film could be considered a Mari “Decameron”.

Comprised of 23 vignettes illuminating the pagan-influenced mores of western Russia’s Meadow Mari, the latest film from director Alexey Fedorchenko (Silent Souls) is a beguiling, painterly portrait of a culture driven by a ritualistic appreciation of female beauty and feminine sexuality. Read More »

Elfi Mikesch – Mondo Lux – Die Bilderwelten des Werner Schroeter AKA Mondo Lux : The Visual Universe of Werner Schroeter (2011)

Werner Schroeter was one of the most significant proponents of New German Cinema. Schroeter was diagnosed with cancer in 2006. At the time, he was working for the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf gallery on a musical piece entitled ‘Schönheit der Schatten’ (The Beauty of Shadows) based on the works of Robert Schumann and Heinrich Heine. For Schroeter, oscillating between hope and trepidation, it marked the beginning of a race against time. In her film, Elfi Mikesch, who photographed a number of Schroeter’s films and who collaborated closely with him to create his vision, provides us with an intimate insight into Schroeter’s artistic output during the remaining four years of his life. Read More »

Fernando Pérez – La vida es silbar AKA Life is to Whistle (1998)

The film tells the stories of three end-of-the millennium Cubans, whose lives intersect on the Day of Santa Barbara (the African Saint Chango, ruler of destinies). Mariana, a ballerina, ponders breaking chastity vows she made to land the coveted role of Giselle; Julia has fainting spells each time she hears the word “sex,” and Elpidio, a musician, seduces a gringa tourist while Bebe, the narrator, takes us for a taxi ride along the streets of Havana. In Life Is to Whistle, Fernando Perez displays the same cinematographic lyricism that won his first film, Madagascar, the Special Recognition in Latin American Cinema award at the 1996 Sundance Film Festival. Read More »

Kun-jae Jang – Han yeo-reum-ui pan-ta-ji-a AKA A Midsummer’s Fantasia (2014)

Split into two parts, shot in black and white, the opening chapter First Love, Yoshiko follows a Korean director (Lim Hyung-kook) who is scouting for locations for his next film in the Japanese rural town of Gojo, and is joined by his assistant director Mijung (Kim Sae-byuk) who interprets for him. There he meets the locals including an elderly lady and a civil servant (Ryo Iwase) who helps him tour the area. The second part, Well of Sakura, captured in colour, is inspired by a story told in the opening chapter of a romance between a Korean woman and a local man. Mijung is now an actress while the civil servant is a persimmon farmer as they walk around the town and learn about each other. Read More »

Kar-Wai Wong – Hua yang de nian hua (2000)

HUA YANG DE NIAN HUA, a fascinating 2m 28s montage of images Wong kar-wai pulled from a number of vintage Chinese features, most of which were considered lost until some nitrate prints were discovered in a California warehouse during the 1990s. Focusing on the popular actresses of the time, the short’s lovely vintage costumes and imagery perfectly compliment the look and feel of the main feature. Unfortunately, the transfer (provided to Criterion by Wong’s company, Block 2 Pictures) is framed too tightly on top, bisecting a number of heads. Read More »

Govindan Aravindan – Esthappan AKA Stephen (1980)

After Kanchana Seeta (1977), the mythical dimension of Aravindan’s cinema acquires a quasi-real, quasi-mythical character in Esthappan (1980). Esthappan is a mysterious figure, allegedly immortal, in a Christian fishing village in Kerala. An enigmatic figure defying spatiotemporality, like many others in Aravindan’s films, Esthappan resides at the periphery of society. Although a more earthly version of Kummatty (the subject of Aravindan’s previous film), all manner of virtues and magical powers are ascribed to the Christ-like worker of miracles (including printing his own money and drinking whisky without getting drunk). Read More »

Judy Irving – The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill (2003)

A homeless musician finds meaning to his life when he starts a friendship with dozens of parrots.
In San Francisco, there are at least two flocks of largely wild parrots who flock around the city. This film focuses on the flock of cherry-headed conures (and a lonely blue-headed one named Connor) who flock around the Telegraph Hill region of the city and their closest human companion, Mark Bittner . Through his own words, we learn of his life as a frustrated, homeless musician and how he came to live in the area where he decided to explore the nature around him. That lead him to discovering the parrot flock and the individual personalities of it. In a cinematic portrait, we are introduced to his colorful companions and the relationship they share as well as the realities of urban wild life that would change Bittner’s life forever. Read More »