Hsiao-Hsien Hou – Feng er ti ta cai AKA Play While you Play AKA Cheerful Wind (1981)

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The pop-star leads from Hou’s first feature, Cute Girl, are reunited in the director’s follow-up, a brisk work of bubble-gum romance that begins to experiment with the rules of the genre. This time, Taiwanese singing sensation Feng Fei-fei plays Hsing-hui, a trendy photographer visiting a seaside village in Penghu with her successful boss/fiancé. When she happens upon a flute-playing medic blinded in an ambulance crash (Kenny Bee), sparks fly, songs are sung, and she’s left with the tough decision of who to say “I do” to. Despite the eye-rolling premise, Hou infuses the film with enough formal ingenuity (long takes, telephoto lenses, on-location shooting) that a case can be made for its auteurial significance. Continue reading

Lars von Trier – Direktoren for det hele AKA The Boss of it All (2006)

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Film Description
Danish auteur Lars von Trier takes a break from his usual brand of idiosyncratic melodrama to deliver a light comedy of errors involving an actor hired to pose as the president of a company in order to perpetrate a large-scale fraud.
Probably best known for fatalistic tales of martyrdom like Dancer in the Dark and Breaking the Waves, von Trier this time delivers a simple and hilarious morality parable. Shot on a shoestring budget, The Boss of It All tells the story of Kristoffer, a down-on-his-luck actor who lands a bizarre job at an IT firm. Ravn, the second-in-charge, has hired Kristoffer to pose as the company head, a mysterious man named Svend E., who none of the employees have ever met. Quickly it becomes clear to Kristoffer that Ravn’s goal is to sell off the company to a racist Icelander while leaving the fallout in his own hands. But things get complicated when false relationships develop between Kristoffer, or “Svend E.,” and his other employees, whose farcical reactions to the appearance of the long-absent boss include everything from screaming matches to sexual favors. Though the goofy, off-the-cuff approach may seem to be a departure for von Trier, this uproarious romp of moral ambiguity will have you rolling in the aisles. Continue reading

F.J. Ossang – Zona Inquinata ou La vie n’est plus qu’une sale histoire de cowboys (1983)

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A dirty deal between cowboys. The fight between the Texan Benz, head of a gang of assassins, and Captain Mort, his right-hand man.

La Zone – the poor, dangerous quarters of Paris (George Lacombe, 1928); the administrative zone where Orpheus looks for his lost Eurydice (Jean Cocteau, 1950); Interzone – the working title for Naked Lunch (W.S. Burroughs, 1959). In 1983, Ossang created a synthesis of all these territories of unrest under a banner of dead colours. Continue reading

Albert Serra – El cant dels ocells AKA Birdsong (2008)

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The sublime and the mundane run hand-in-hand in Birdsong, Albert Serra’s stunningly photographed, intensely contemplative re-telling of the biblical journey of the Magi. Much of the sublimity derives from the film’s visuals, superbly tactile black-and-white images alive to the textures of the rocky landscape, which, along with the precise gradations of lighting (each scene seems shot at the one exact moment of day when its creation was possible) and the rustling of wind on the soundtrack, imbues the barren land with a richness of meaning commensurate with the Magi’s divine mission. Continue reading