Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne – Le Fils AKA The Son [+Extras] (2002)

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Olivier is a good teacher of carpentry, but a touch gruff; even so, when he refuses to accept young Francis into his workshop, that doesn’t explain why he takes to following the boy, as if he were spying on him. Might it have something to do with his own dead son, as his estranged wife insists?

One strength of the Dardennes’ follow-up to Rosetta, winner of the Cannes Palme d’Or, is that, once again, they ask us to discover certain crucial facts for ourselves: by the time we’re faced with questions of ethical and spiritual import, we’ve done enough groundwork to assess the evidence properly. Wisely, the camera stays close to Olivier, with the result that, notwithstanding his subtle understatement and a relatively taciturn script, we’re privy to his every fleeting thought and nagging emotion. Never manipulative or sensationalist, the film is none the less deeply moving. – Time Out Continue reading

Jean-Pierre Dardenne and Luc Dardenne – Le Silence de Lorna AKA Lorna’s Silence (2008)

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Sokol and Lorna, two Albanian emigrants in Belgium, dream of leaving their dreary jobs to set up a snack bar. They need money, and a permanent resident status. Claudy is a junkie – he needs money to satisfy his addiction. Andrei, the cigarette smuggler, must hold up for a while outside Russia; he has loads of money. Fabio, the Italian taxi driver and aspiring gang boss, elaborates a clever scheme: he will pay Claudy to marry Lorna so that she acquires a Belgian citizenship. Then she is to re-marry Andrei, who will in this way obtain the coveted EU passport – and pay a hefty price to Fabio and Lorna for the service. Like all plans, this one will not survive the contact with reality.
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Marion Hänsel – Le lit (1982)

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A sculptor is fighting his final battle against death on his houseboat on the frozen Schelde river. Two women are at his side: his first wife, who he is divorced from, and his second wife. The latter is most concerned about his death as she realizes that in the end the only result will be irrevocable loneliness. She wants to postpone the fatal moment and therefore tries to find comfort in her reminiscences from the times when she was happy with him. A story about fidelity till after death. Continue reading

Rob Van Eyck – The Afterman (1985)

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What I have the honor of reviewing here is something totally unique and probably ranks quite high on the worldwide list of obscure Sci-Fi/horror movies. “The Afterman” is a Belgian post-apocalyptic thriller, but even in its own country of release (which is really small) it only received a minimal distribution and finding a decent copy on VHS is about as rare as encountering a salsa-dancing elephant. Fortunately – or unfortunately if you wish – there are not many people on the lookout for this film and that’s mainly either because they don’t know it exists or because the reputation of writer/director Rob Van Eyck isn’t exactly favorable around here. His most famous film “Blue Belgium”, inspired by the infamous Mark Dutroux pedophilia scandal, is generally considered as one of the worst Belgian movies ever and doesn’t really stimulate viewers to check out the director’s other works. Too bad, actually, since “The Afterman” is a truly special and deeply intriguing cinematic experiment, accomplished with an absolute minimum of financial means yet with a massive amount of controversial themes and downright shocking ideas in the screenplay. Continue reading