Ishmael Bernal – Himala aka Miracle (1982)

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Himala is a landmark 1982 film directed by Ishmael Bernal. It tells the story of a young woman in a small town in the Philippines who claims to have seen an apparition of the Blessed Virgin Mary and suddenly begins to exhibit healing powers. More than a movie about faith-healing, the film is an excellent commentary on Third World poverty and backward and contradictory rural customs. The lead role is superbly played by one of the country’s premier dramatic actresses, Nora Aunor. Continue reading

René Clair – Le Million (1931)

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Synopsis
A penniless artist, Michel, is pursued by creditors when he discovers he has won the million florin lottery. He realises that he left the winning lottery ticket in his jacket, which he gave to his girlfriend, Béatrice, to repair. However, Béatrice, upset when she saw Michel with another woman, gave the jacket away. What ensues then is a madcap chase by Michel and his friends to recover the missing jacket – and the million florin prize.
Films de France.com Continue reading

Teuvo Tulio – Intohimon vallassa AKA In the Grip of Passion (1947)

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Quote:
This is based on a short story by neo-romanticist writer Johannes Linnankoski, and is a remake of Tulio’s now-lost debut film Taistelu Heikkilä Talosta (Battle for the House of Heikkilä). I don’t know how faithful this is to the story, which involves an abusive, alcoholic master of a country house and his wife, who struggles for the upkeep of the property against his destructive tendencies. The movie started Tulio’s downfall, with contemporary critics consistently calling it half-baked, and accusing Tulio of repeating himself. Continue reading

Teuvo Tulio – Unelma karjamajalla AKA In the Fields of Dreams (1940)

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This rural melodrama, based on the play “Hälsingar” by Swedish playwright Henning Ohlson, tells a story of two brothers, one a honest, hard-working man and the other a womanizing gambler who threatens to ruin their house. The latter hires a poor village girl as a maid, sparking the jealousy of a lustful senior maid. After the philandering brother has made the new maid pregnant and flees to America to avoid the consequences of his financial misdeeds, his elder brother is left to clean up the mess. Continue reading

Teuvo Tulio – Sellaisena kuin sinä minut halusit AKA The Way You Wanted Me (1944)

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Latvian-born Teuvo Tulio came to Finland as a young boy, and started his film career as a teenager acting in movies directed by his friend Valentin Vaala. His oriental looks (there was at least Turkish blood in him) and romantic roles gained him fame and the nickname of Finland’s Valentino. At the onset of adulthood Vaala’s and Tulio’s roads would part with Vaala eventually becoming the most prominent director inside Finland’s studio system (mini-Hollywood) and Tulio becoming perhaps the most esteemed independent director-producer of the nation. Continue reading

Manuel Mur Oti – Cielo negro AKA Black Sky (1951)

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Quote:
Emilia, a modest employee of a fashion house, is in love and does not hesitate to steal your business suit to accompany her boyfriend to the festival. But everything goes wrong, discovered the theft, is fired from her job and that’s not the worst.

Mur Oti was born in Vigo in 1908, the son of a prison warden who struck lucky in the spirits business and moved the family to Cuba when Manuel was 13. There the young Mur Oti developed strong relationships with his mother and two sisters, and learned to work the land as a cowboy. The former would come to influence his powerful, fully rounded women characters throughout his filmography; the latter fed into his depiction of the extremity of the Castilian climate in Orgullo – essentially a Spanish western. Continue reading

Tadashi Imai – Mata au hi made AKA Till We Meet Again (1950)

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Saburo and Keiko fall in love with each other but the tide of the war separates them.

Review:
It’s a scene that would be cherished and preserved in the cinema’s pantheon of moments were it known; a simple scene – a young man saying goodbye to his girl at her home. They are trying to come to terms with the fact that the fates don’t seem to want to be together. He leaves, and she goes back to the living room and moves to the window to watch him go. Snow is falling steadily. She waits for him to look back, which he does about 10 yards or so away. He starts to come back and stops in front of the window. He’s positioned lower down than her, but after longingly staring at each other, and the camera showing us each of their anguished faces in turn, he stands on tip toe to pucker up his lips to the glass. She in turn motions her head down to meet his lips. Continue reading