Ange Leccia – Nuit bleue AKA Blue Night (2010)

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Following a death, a young woman returns to her island of birth, Corsica. She finds herself in a nationalist male world in the impressive and desolate landscape around Cap Corse. The story in this film without dialogue by the artist Ange Leccia is driven by songs such as Ne dis rien by Serge Gainsbourg. A young woman, Antonia, returns to her island of birth, Corsica, after one of her relatives has disappeared at sea. She is torn back and forth between her old love Ettore and the dumb Alexander. The quest for Antonia’s place in the masculine environment of armed nationalism is an excuse for all kinds of peregrinations in the spectacular landscape of Cap Corse – a landscape that itself becomes a leading character. The plot of this fascinating film, entirely without dialogue, is told in songs such as Ne dis rien by Serge Gainsbourg. With the songs, the maker reveals the psychology of his characters, who seem to be in the grip of an age-old, atavistic melancholy. Continue reading

Eugène Green – A Religiosa Portuguesa AKA The Portuguese Nun (2009)

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Filmmaker Eugene Green pays homage to Manoel de Oliveira, a Portuguese director whose had a profound influence on his style, with this drama of a woman eager for a new lease on life. Julie (Leonor Baldaque) is a French actress who is still nursing a broken heart after a bad breakup with her boyfriend. Julie travels to Lisbon to begin work on her latest project, in which she’ll play the title role in a screen adaptation of the novel Letters of a Portuguese Nun. Julie is fascinated with Lisbon, and spends much of her spare time exploring the city, and she opens herself up to encounters with a wealthy and prominent man (Diogo Dória) as well as one of her fellow actors (Adrien Michaux). However, Julie learns the most about herself and her heart when she strikes up a friendship with a local boy who has lost his parents (Francisco Mozos), enjoys some long conversations with a nun (Ana Moreira) who is advising the production, and learns to love Portugal’s native fado music. A Religiosa Portuguesa (aka The Portuguese Nun) was an official selection at the 2009 BFI London Film Festival. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi Continue reading

Grzegorz Królikiewicz – Sasiady AKA Neighborhooders (2014)

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The setting is a run-down tenement house—a so-called famuła, characteristic of the city of Łódź—and several incidents—both humorous and terrifying—involving the building’s tenants: some people want to earn the respect of their neighbors by beating each other up; an altruistic housewife with two hearts makes a donation to someone in need. The residents include a priest built like an MMA fighter, a charming prostitute, and a man planning to commit suicide. Continue reading

Christophe Honoré – Métamorphoses (2014)

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One of France’s most unpredictable writer-directors, Christophe Honoré (Dans Paris, Love Songs) offers an audacious, erotically upfront re-reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, enacted by a fearless cast of (largely unknown) young actors in contemporary French settings. Kicking off with a startling take on the story of Diana and Actaeon, Honoré’s film follows the wanderings of Europa (Akili), a high-school student who encounters a marauding truck driver – none other than Jupiter (Hirel), father of the gods. Streams of stories within stories bring the old transformation myths a modern-day slant – Narcissus as an arrogant teenage heart-throb, Orpheus as a charismatic housing-estate preacher – and add a multi-racial, polysexual perspective, teasing out the perversity, violence and rapture of classical legend. You may detect shades of Borowczyk, Pasolini, Rohmer and Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane, but this savage, rhapsodic, moving film is something entirely its own. A fabulous soundtrack completes the wayward beauty –BFI Continue reading

Roberto Minervini – Louisiana AKA The Other Side (2015)

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Synopsis
In an invisible territory at the margins of society, at the border between anarchy and illegality, lives a wounded community that is trying to respond to a threat: of being forgotten by society’s institutions and having their rights as citizens trampled. Disarmed veterans, taciturn adolescents, drug addicts trying to escape addiction through love, ex-special forces soldiers still at war with the world, floundering young women and future mothers, and old men and women who have not lost their desire to live. In this hidden pocket of humanity opens the abyss of today’s America. Continue reading

Jocelyn Saab – Kanya Ya Ma Kan, Beyrouth AKA Once Upon a Time in Beirut (1995)

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“This reflexive voyage into a celluloid Beirut becomes the key to finding out to which Beirut one is returning, and to point to the new Beirut one wishes for the future.” – Ella Shohat and Robert Stam, Cineaste

Distraught over Beirut’s destruction, Yasmine and Leila embark on a journey in search of its past. Their possession of two rare, unreleased film reels lands them an encounter with Monsieur Farouk, a reclusive film connoisseur.

Through the magic of cinema, the three of them go back in time on a mythical and history-laden tour of the city. Here the movie shines with images of Beirut from the large-scale American studio efforts of the 1970’s to the Beirut of the 1960’s as seen through the lenses of Arab filmmakers, to the French-directed films of the 1930s. Once Upon a Time: Beirut offers an enchanting look at one of the Middle East’s most complex and beautiful cities. Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Dekalog AKA The Decalogue (1989)

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Dekalog was made for Polish TV as a series of ten films, each just under an hour in length, inspired by one of the Ten Commandments (the Decalogue), set in contemporary Warsaw in and around the same apartment block. Dekalog V and VI also exist in re-edited versions just under an hour and a half each for cinema release, under the titles A Short Film About Killing and A Short Film About Love respectively.
As well as being set in and around the same apartment block, the films are linked in other ways. Major characters in one part make walk-ons in another. An ethical dilemma mentioned by one of Zofia’s students in VIII is the very one that drives the plot of II. And in all but two of the films there appears a mysterious young man (Artur Barcis), who appears, looking on, at important moments. Continue reading