Grigori Kozintsev – Korol Lir AKA King Lear (1969)

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From IMDB user comments:

Black and white cinematography of Gritsius, the music of Shostakovich and the enigmatic face of Jarvet, makes all other versions of King Lear smaller in stature. Lord Olivier himself acknowledged the stark brilliance of this film. Oleg Dal’s fool lends a fascinating twist to the character. The “Christian Marxism” of Kozintsev can knock-out any serious student of cinema and Shakespeare.

Kozintsev is one of least sung masters of Russian cinema. His cinema is very close to that of Tarkovsky and Sergei Paradjanov. Kozintsev’s Lear is not a Lear that mourns his past and his daughters–his Lear is close to the soil, the plants, and all elements of nature. That’s what makes Kozintsev’s Shakespearean works outstanding. Continue reading

Richard Wallace – The Fallen Sparrow (1943)

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Synopsis:
A former Spanish Civil War prisoner, John McKittrick arrives in New York to find the truth behind the death of his friend Louie Lepetino. He finds himself being chased by Nazi agents who want an item he has brought back from Spain and cannot give up. When another of his friends is murdered, McKittrick realizes that he cannot trust anyone around him – not anyone.

— Jim Beaver (IMDb) Continue reading

Ettore Scola – C’eravamo tanto amati AKA We All Loved Each Other So Much (1974)

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Quote:
C’eravamo tanto amati, a tribute to Vittorio De Sica, is not only about the difficult, frustrating post-World War II years of three men whose class differences overwhelm the close bond they formed while fighting for the Resistance. It is also a complex survey of thirty years of Italian cinema and its relationship to Italian history, photographed in various appropriate cinematic styles.
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Mu Fei – Xiao cheng zhi chun AKA Spring in a Small Town (1948)

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Taking place in a ruined family compound after the war, the film tells the story of the once prosperous Dai family. The husband and patriarch, Dai Liyan is an invalid, and spends his days in the courtyard nostalgic for the past. His marriage to Zhou Yuwen has long been rendered loveless, though both still feel concern for the other. Liyan’s young teenage sister Dai Xiu, meanwhile, is too young to remember the past, and stays cheerful and playful in the ruins of her home. Into this dreary but unchanging existence comes Liyan’s childhood friend Zhang Zhichen, a doctor from Shanghai and a former flame of Zhou Yuwen before she ever met her husband. The rest of the film details Zhou Yuwen’s conflicting emotions between her love for Zhang, and her loyalty to her husband and his family. Continue reading

Max Ophüls – Divine (1935)

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Synopsis:
Ludivine Jarisse is a young woman who lives a contented but unexciting life in the country. One day, she is visited by Roberte, an old friend who has made a career for herself as an actress at a Paris music hall, L’Empyrée. Roberte intends to take a break and invites her friend to take her place. Ludivine readily accepts, and soon becomes a musical hall diva under the name Divine, although she is at first reluctant to expose herself in the revealing costumes she is given. One of her colleagues attempts to take advantage of her naivety, but when she resists, he implicates her in a drugs trafficking affair. Divine remains untainted by all this vice and falls in love with an honest milkman, Antonin. He offers to marry her and she is finally able to leave the music hall to start a new life, back in the country. Continue reading

Lino Brocka – Insiang (1976)

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“Insiang” is Lino Brocka’s tale of one girl’s coming of age in the slums of Manila. The title character, played by Hilda Koronel, is a young girl who lives in a small crowded shanty with her mother, Tonia (Mona Lisa). Her boyfriend Danny (Rez Cortez) treats her little better than a sex object and her mother’s lover Dado (Ruel Vernal), overcome by desire for young Insiang, rapes her in her own home. She runs to her mother for sympathy but gets rejected instead. Disillusioned and worn out, Insiang decides on revenge.

“Insiang” has the distinction of being the first Filipino film to be screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978, where both Lino Brocka and Hilda Koronel garnered much attention and acclaim from the international film community. The film also earned a number of important awards and nominations including the Manila Film Festival Best Actress Award for Koronel. Continue reading

? – 1925 Studio Tour (1925)

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Untitled and without any crew credits, this 32-minute silent documentary takes you on a tour of MGM in 1925, meeting the people who create the movies, and watching some of them do it. I found it fascinating, especially when some of the moviemakers were identified by the inter-titles. It was nice to be able finally to attach a face to some familiar names such as writers Agnes Christine Johnston, Jane Murfin, Waldemar Young and others who are identified and shown in closeups. I noted that Howard Hawks was included as a writer – he didn’t start directing until later. Less interesting were the showing of groups of unidentified crew members: about 50 cameramen lined up in a row, each hand cranking their cameras, seemed to serve no useful purpose. Unlike the writers, who were identified individually, the directors were all identified first in an inter-title, and the camera then panned across them standing in a row, but you could not tell which name belonged to which director. I did recognize Erich von Stroheim, but only because he was also a famous actor. When the actors and actresses were introduced as a group by inter-titles, it was much more fun, because identifying them became a game. I also saw three unlisted actors: Ford Sterling, William Haines and Sojin, and there are probably others. Continue reading