Arthouse

Salvador Carrasco – La Otra Conquista aka The Other Conquest (1998)

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It is May 1520 in the vast Aztec Empire one year after the Spanish Conqueror Hernán Cortés’ arrival in Mexico. “The Other Conquest” opens with the infamous massacre of the Aztecs at the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. The sacred grounds are covered with the countless bodies of priests and nobility slaughtered by the Spanish Armies under Cortés’ command. The lone Aztec survivor of the massacre is a young Indian scribe named Topiltzin Topiltzin, who is the illegitimate son of the Aztec Emperor Moctezuma, survives the onslaught by burying himself under a stack of bodies. As if awakening from a dream, the young man rises from among the dead to find his mother murdered, the Spanish in power and the dawn of a new era in his native land. A New World with new leaders, language, customs… and God. Read More »

Ferzan Ozpetek – Harem suaré (1999)

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Plot Synopsis by Gönül Dönmez-Colin

Following the success of Hamam, Turkey-born, Italy-based Ferzan Ozpetek delivers another exotic film that delves into the traditions of his origin. Once again, the exotic city of Istanbul is the place of intrigue. But, unlike Hamam, which was a contemporary story, Harem Suare takes place at the turn of the century in the last days of the Ottoman Empire. The locale of this ornate story of love, power, and fear is the magnificent Yildiz Palace, where Sultan Abdulhamit whiles away the time listening to the finale of La Traviata as rebellions rage all over the country. The Sultan cannot stand unhappy endings, so he has asked Safiye, his favorite concubine, who is Italian, to rewrite the libretto so that Violetta does not die. Nadir, one of the black eunuchs, has plans for Safiye, whom he thinks should become the official wife. Nadir’s plans take a different turn when he and Safiye fall in love. In the harem, which is isolated from the rest of the world, life goes on with its plots and subplots, loyalties and betrayals, happiness and tragedies as if time did not exist. The story is told from the point of view of Safiye, concentrating more on human relations than on palace politics. The director plays with mirror images to reflect the two faces of personalities and the complexities of intercultural relations. Mythology is blended with sexuality, emphasizing the delicate nuances of language. The exotic element is not abused and historical details are used sparingly and only when necessary. Acting by young French actress Marie Gillain, who plays Safiye, and Lucia Bose, who plays her in old age, as well as Alex Descas as the eunuch Nadir and famous Turkish actor Haluk Bilginer as Sultan Abdulhamid are all commendable. 52nd Cannes Film Festival, 1999. Read More »

Jean-Jacques Beineix – Diva (1981)

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Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren’t enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules’s mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta’s pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene. Watch it–and watch your back. —Ali Davis Read More »

Jay Rosenblatt – The Smell of Burning Ants (1994)

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Winner of 23 Awards

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male. It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness.

Through formative events of a boy’s life, we come to understand the ways in which men can become emotionally disconnected and alienated from their feminine side. The common dismissal that “boys will be boys” evolves into the chilling realization that boys frequently become angry, destructive and emotionally disabled men. The Smell of Burning Ants illustrates how boys are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film is a catalyst for discussion and an opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds of childhood. Read More »

David Lynch – Wild at Heart (1990)

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After breaking parole for self defensive manslaughter, Sailor Ripley and his girlfriend Lula Fortune head down the highway for sunny California. Lula’s mother sends out a private detective and a hitman after them. Sailor and Lula encounter an assortment of extremely bizarre “people” while discovering hidden secrets about one another. Full of lurid imagery and references to The Wizard of Oz. (Written by Jennifer Harrison)
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John Cassavetes – Husbands (1970)

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Quote:
After FACES, Cassavetes embarked on HUSBANDS, in which he starred with Peter Falk and Ben Gazzara. The film centered around three friends dealing with life and mortality after the death of a mutual friend.
Though neither FACES nor HUSBANDS were very popular with the mainstream moviegoing audience, both were pivotal in the integration of cinema verité traditions in future Hollywood films. This crossover of the experimental and popular was clear in Cassavetes most successful film. Read More »

Bert Haanstra – Fanfare aka The Brass Band [+Extras] (1958)

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Imdb:
After a fight the brass band in a small village splits up into two separate bands. They both want to win a contest and will do anything to prevent the other band from winning it.

user review:
Brilliant movie from the lower countries!
27 February 2001 | by biepmiep (Rotterdam)

This movie is about a brass band in the fictional place of Brederwiede. When they want to compete in a competition the band splits up in two, because the two lead men in the band can’t agree on the music. Both of them go to the narrator, who is the most intelligent person in town. He composes two separate pieces of music which at the competition will become one piece of music. Very clever done! There is also a love story in this movie: the boy and girl are both children of one of the band leaders. Highlight of the movie is the competition itself when the two pieces of music are combined by a planned coincidence. I saw this film before the very funny Brassed Off. It has got similarities and makes watching these movies even more fun. Read More »