Arthouse

Mitsuo Yanagimachi – Kamyu nante shiranai AKA Who’s Camus Anyway? (2005)

Quote:
Throws down the gauntlet with the very first shot, in which the camera glides sinuously all over the sprawling exterior of a university campus, caroming from one group to characters to another, for minute after self-consciously virtuosic minute, and just as you’re idly wondering whether Fred Ward is going to show up and start ranting about the opening of Touch of Evil, we suddenly pick up two film students engaged in discussion of that very topic, who then proceed to address The Player itself. Except that Altman’s achievement really is little more than a clever, hollow joke, whereas Yanagimachi has taken that sort of suffocating pomo referentiality as his subject. Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – The Passion according to Andrei AKA Andrei Rublev (1966)

Synopsis
An expansive Russian drama, this film focuses on the life of revered religious icon painter Andrei Rublev. Drifting from place to place in a tumultuous era, the peace-seeking monk eventually gains a reputation for his art. But after Rublev witnesses a brutal battle and unintentionally becomes involved, he takes a vow of silence and spends time away from his work. As he begins to ease his troubled soul, he takes steps towards becoming a painter once again. Read More »

Raoul Ruiz – The Territory (1981)

A small group of well-to-do vacationers go on a hiking trip into the woods. Foolishly unprepared to deal with Mother Nature and their situation, they wander around lost for days and weeks, becoming more and more fatigued, hungry, and desperate. A brief encounter with a pair of epicureans on a bridge fails to garner them any of the gluttons’ feast due to a language barrier. Eventually their party begins to die, and the survivors ration their meat among them, attaching a religious-type ritual to its dispensation. Read More »

Masao Adachi – Yûheisha – terorisuto AKA Prisoner / Terrorist (2007)

Politically-motivated Japanese filmmaker Masao Adachi’s first feature in over three decades tells the tale of an imprisoned terrorist who is forced to confront his ideological convictions head-on after failing in his mission and being subjected to gross treatment while held as a detainee. “M” was one of three terrorists involved in a suicide attack on a high-profile airport. Unfortunately for “M,” his grenade failed to detonate. Immediately captured and thrown in prison, “M” gradually loses his grip on reality as a result of his maltreatment, and begins to question the ideas that drove him to attempt the ultimate sacrifice. Read More »

Lav Diaz – Kagadanan sa banwaan ning mga engkanto AKA Death in the Land of Encantos (2007)

A Filipino poet named Benjamin Agusan (Roeder Camanag) is the hapless native who returns to his hometown Padang to witness the aftermath of the super typhoon. For the past seven years, Benjamin had been living in an old town called Kaluga in Russia. With his grant and residency, he taught and conducted workshops in a university. The poet published two books of sadness and longing in the process. In Russia, Benjamin was able to shoot video collages, fell in love with a Slavic beauty, buried a son, and almost went mad. He came back to bury his dead-father, mother, sister and a lover. He came back to face Mount Mayon, the raging beauty and muse of his youth. He came home to confront the country that he so loved and hated, the Philippines. He came back to die in the land of his birth. He wanders around the obliterated village meeting old friends and lovers. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Hamlet liikemaailmassa AKA Hamlet Goes Business (1987)

Quote:
A sardonic and irreverent contemporary adaptation of William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hamlet Goes Business is an idiosyncratically whimsical, yet incisive satire on corporate greed, materialism, corruption, and vengeance. Shot in black and white and employing high contrast lighting, the film achieves an atmospheric noir that reflects Aki Kaurismäki’s irrepressibly droll sense of humor and penchant for understated irony. Kaurismäki incorporates traditional, often manipulative and hackneyed stylistic devices of lush, overarching music, directed stage lighting, expressionistic gestures, skewed camera angles, and meticulously composed slow motion shots in order to playfully subvert dramatic convention: Lauri’s angered departure from Hamlet’s office; Hamlet’s self-consciously tormented delivery of a poem to Ophelia; the overdramatic, but anticlimactic plot device of the Murder of Gonzago play-within-a-play episode to expose Klaus’s treachery; the exquisite choreography of Ophelia’s final moments of despair. By integrating muted emotion with exaggerated theatricality, Kaurismäki creates a delirious and incongruent fusion of highbrow art film and pop culture kitsch – a patently iconoclastic comedic tragedy on indecision, inertia, and alienation.
(filmref.com) Read More »

Larisa Sadilova – S dnyom rozhdeniya aka Happy Birthday (1998)

OMG by by Mark Deming
Blending dramatic situations with a documentary -influenced visual style, S Dnyom rozhdenya / Happy Birthday looks in at a typical day in a Russian maternity hospital. The patients range from a middle aged woman pleased if surprised by her current pregnancy to a Muslim woman whose marriage to a Russian has blighted her relationship with her family. No matter what their situations, the women draw strength and support from each other as they share their common experience. This film was shown at the 1999 Rotterdam Film Festival. Read More »