Aleksandr Rou – Vechera na khutore bliz Dikanki AKA The Night Before Christmas (1961)

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The whimsical combination of Christmas phantasmagoria and an eccentric fairy tale makes this film an unforgettable spectacle. The action takes place both in a village of Dikanka in the Ukraine and at the palace of a Russian Empress. Blacksmith Vacula has enraged the devil himself: in a church he painted the devil’s figure in such a way that even the hell’s inhabitants could not help laughing. Solokha, Vacula’s mother, is known to be a witch, not averse to flying on a besom. Vacula’s sweetheart, Oksana, demands for a Christmas present a pair of tcherevichki (shoes) that the Empress wears. Only then she will agree to marry Vacula. And the devil promises to help the blacksmith get the Empress’ shoes, on condition that Vacula sells him his soul. Meanwhile, Christmas is almost here. Based on Gogol’s story. Continue reading

Gerd Oswald – A Kiss Before Dying (1956)

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Quote:
In Gerd Oswald’s A Kiss Before Dying (1956) Bud Corliss (Robert Wagner) is a psychopath with one singular desire: He wants to become rich by marrying the daughter of a man who owns a copper mine. Bud’s actions reveal how when a man loves money more than people, people become objects to be used and manipulated.

The Hare Psychopathy Checklist lists 20 common traits of psychopaths. Bud possesses nearly all of these traits including “superficial charm”, “pathological lying”, “cunning and manipulativeness”, “lack of remorse or guilt”, “criminal versatility”, and a “parasitic lifestyle.”1 Although psychopaths commit actions that are unthinkable to normal people, they are not insane: “a mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot distinguish fantasy from reality, or is subject to uncontrollable impulsive behavior.” A 2012 study of 269 psychopaths concluded that “psychopaths are not mentally ill and should be held entirely responsible for their violent and manipulative actions.” Psychopaths are not restrained by a typical person’s sense of right and wrong. Lacking the conviction of guilt for what they do, they harm innocent people without remorse. Continue reading

Mikhail Kalatozov – Soy Cuba (1964) (HD)

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Four vignettes in Batista’s Cuba dramatize the need for revolution; long, mobile shots tell almost wordless stories. In Havana, Maria faces shame when a man who fancies her discovers how she earns her living. Pedro, an aging peasant, is summarily told that the land he farms has been sold to United Fruit. A university student faces down a crowd of swaggering U.S. sailors and then watches friends shot by police when they try to distribute a pro-Castro leaflet. The war arrives on the doorstep of peasants Mariano, Amelia, and their four children when Batista’s forces bomb the hills. Mariano wants peace, so he seeks out the guerrillas to join the fight. Continue reading

Kirdy Stevens – Taboo (1980) (HD)

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Synopsis:
A woman who’s husband leaves her is sexually frustrated by the absence of a lover in her life. Avoiding the lecherous advances of the men she meets, she that finds her son’s interest in her exceeds the limits of their relationship. And to her shock, she finds herself excited by the prospect. Meanwhile, she does find a suitable man for herself, but things start heating up between mother and son… Continue reading

Hans Richter – Dadascope (1961)

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Dadascope is a comprehensive portrait of the Dada movement with its specific techniques of sound and visual clash, word puns, chess, dice and other games of chance. Richter stated, “There is no story, no psychological implication except such as the onlooker puts into the imagery. But it is not accidental either, more a poetry of images built with and upon associations. In other words the film allows itself the freedom to play upon the scale of film possibilities, freedom for which Dada always stood – and still stands.” Continue reading

Henri Decoin – Les Inconnus dans la Maison aka Strangers in the House (1942)

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Synopsis:
Since his wife left him, almost twenty years ago, the once brilliant lawyer Loursat has slumped into a life of despondency and drunkenness. He lives in a vast empty house with his teenage daughter, Nicole, with whom he hardly communicates. One fateful day, something happens which pulls Loursat back from the abyss: he discovers a dead body in his house. When his daughter and her group of rebellious young friends are charged with the murder, Loursat decides to take charge of the case.
— scarabus Continue reading