Sergio Corbucci – Totò, Peppino e la dolce vita (1961)

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Plot (Babelfish translation):
Antonio goes to Rome, the great city center of the ” dolce vita”, with the money collected from the fellow countrymen, in order to spend them on a project: To construct a freeway for the home town. But the countrymen do not have more news and they send Peppino to search for him. But when Peppino meet Antonio he is also dragged into metropolian habits and the sweet roman life, between beautiful actresses, cocaine exchanged for borotalco (?) and orgies. The town folks impatiently await news… Continue reading

Marlen Khutsiyev – Mne dvadtsat let AKA I Am Twenty [+Extras] (1965)

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Synopsis:
I am Twenty is notable for its often dramatic camera movements, handheld camerawork and heavy use of location shooting, often incorporating non-actors (including a group of foreign exchange students from Ghana and the poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko) and centering scenes around non-staged events (a May Day parade, a building demolition, a poetry reading). Filmmakers Andrei Tarkovsky and Andrei Konchalovsky both play small roles in the film. The dialogue often overlaps and there are stylized flourishes that echo the early French New Wave, especially François Truffaut’s black and white films. The screenplay, co-written by Gennadi Shpalikov, originally called for a film running only 90 minutes, but the full version of the film runs for three hours. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Le Jour se lève aka Daybreak (1939)

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Le Jour se lève (or Daybreak) is a 1939 French film directed by Marcel Carné and written by Jacques Prévert, based on a story by Jacques Viot. It is considered one of the principal examples of the French film movement known as poetic realism.

In 1952, it was included in the first Sight and Sound top ten greatest films list.

Synopsis:
After committing a murder, a man locks himself in his apartment and recollects the events the led him to the killing. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Les visiteurs du soir AKA The Devil’s Envoys (1942)

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Synopsis
Two wandering minstrels, Gilles and Dominique, arrive at the castle of the Baron Hugh just as he announces the engagement of his daughter Anne to the knight Renaud. However Gilles and Dominique have really sold their souls to The Devil and have been charged with traveling throughout the land and tempting mortals into damnation by causing them to fall in love with them. Dominique causes both Renaud and Hugh to fall for her. Meanwhile Gilles seduces Anne but then falls for her himself. And so The Devil arrives in person to visit a cruel punishment on the two lovers. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Les enfants du paradis aka Children Of Paradise [+Commentary] (1945)

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Synopsis
©Hal Erickson
Even in 1945, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise was regarded as an old-fashioned film. Set in the Parisian theatrical world of the 1840s, Jacques Prévert’s screenplay concerns four men in love with the mysterious Garance (Arletty). Each loves Garance in his own fashion, but only the intentions of sensitive mime-actor Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault) are entirely honorable; as a result, it is he who suffers most, hurdling one obstacle after another in pursuit of an evidently unattainable goal. In the stylized fashion of 19th-century French drama, many grand passions are spent during the film’s totally absorbing 195 minutes. Amazingly, the film was produced over a two-year period in virtual secrecy, without the knowledge of the Nazis then occupying France, who would surely have arrested several of the cast and production staff members (including Prévert) for their activities in the Resistance. Children of Paradise has gone on to become one of the great romantic classics of international cinema. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Les portes de la nuit AKA Gates of the Night (1946)

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S y n o p s i s:
February 1945. In the Paris metro, manual worker Jean Diego is accosted by a tramp, who introduces himself as Fate and lets slip the tragic future that awaits him. According to Fate, Diego is destined to meet a beautiful young woman he once encountered in the past. Sure enough, within a few hours, Diego runs into Malou, the woman he has long dreamed of. Malou is grateful for Diego’s company, particularly as she has just walked out on her husband Georges, a man for whom she is ill-suited. Ignoring a warning from the tramp that he is heading for an unpleasant death, Malou’s cruel brother Guy sets out to stir up trouble for his own amusement. Having told Georges that his wife has fallen for another man, Guy hands him his gun. The trap is sprung and the outcome is just as the tramp predicted… Continue reading

Jacques Tati – Jour de fête AKA The Village Fair [1964 re-edited version] (1949)

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Synopsis
Jacques Tati’s award-winning feature début – a dazzling blend of satire and slapstick is early evidence of his unique talent. Acclaimed by international critics as an innovative comic masterpiece, Jour de fête is an hilarious exposé of the modern obsession with speed and efficiency, set amidst the rural surroundings of a tiny French village. Tati plays an appealingly self-deluded buffoon a postman who, impressed by the bristling efficiency of the American postal system, makes a wholly misguided attempt to introduce modern methods in the depths of rural France. Continue reading