Michael M. Bilandic – Hellaware (2013)

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Jaded by the “incestuous, New York, socialite sh_t” that sells at prominent art galleries, Nate embarks on a quest for a more authentic brand of contemporary art. When a coked-up YouTube search leads to a music video from Delawarean Goth rappers Young Torture Killers, an Insane Clown Posse knock-off, Nate knows he’s found his subjects. He soon drags his friend-with-benefits Bernadette to rural Delaware to shoot the group playing in their parents’ basement. To “immerse himself” in the group’s culture and add an extra layer of realism to his work, Nate befriends the rappers and makes return trips to get to know them. But as his relationship with group develops, he becomes increasingly aware that, while you can take the boy out of the art world, you can’t take the art world out of the boy. Continue reading

Billy Wilder – The Apartment (1960)

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Immediately following the success of Some Like It Hot, Billy Wilder and I.A.L. Diamond wished to make another film with Jack Lemmon. Wilder had originally planned to cast Paul Douglas as Jeff Sheldrake; however, after he died unexpectedly, Fred MacMurray was cast.

The initial concept for the film came from Brief Encounter by Noël Coward, in which Celia Johnson has an affair with Trevor Howard in his friend’s apartment. However, due to the Hays Production Code, Wilder was unable to make a film about adultery in the 1940s. Wilder and Diamond also based the film partially on a Hollywood scandal in which high-powered agent Jennings Lang was shot by producer Walter Wanger for having an affair with Wanger’s wife, actress Joan Bennett. During the affair, Lang used a low-level employee’s apartment. Another element of the plot was based on the experience of one of Diamond’s friends, who returned home after breaking up with his girlfriend to find that she had committed suicide in his bed. Continue reading

François Truffaut – Domicile conjugal AKA Bed and Board (1970)

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So here he is for the last time, Antoine Doinel, who has grown up like the rest of us and has finally, apparently, found conjugal peace. He has changed a lot along the way. Francois Truffaut first introduced Antoine in “The 400 Blows” (1959), his first feature. The character was roughly based on Truffaut’s own youth and adolescence, when he was the next thing to a juvenile delinquent and prowled the streets of Paris.

“The 400 Blows,” with Godard’s “Breathless” (1960) and Chabrol’s “Le Beau Serge,” inaugurated the French New Wave and changed the face and style of filmmaking almost overnight. But we don’t remember “The 400 Blows” for historical reasons; we remember it because, for many of us, it was our first taste of personal, almost intimate, filmmaking. Continue reading

Jaco Van Dormael – Le tout nouveau testament (2015) (HD)

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Did you know that God is alive and lives in Brussels with his rebellious daughter and nagging wife? An off-the-wall Belgian comedy offers a refreshing new perspective on the Biblical tradition.
God exists! He lives in Brussels. He’s a real bastard, odious with his wife and daughter. We know a lot about his son, but very little about his daughter. Her name is Ea and is ten years old. One day, she revolts against her father, hacks his computer and leaks to the entire world their inevitable date of death by SMS.

“I’m not a believer but I was brought up Catholic. I’m interested in religions as I’m interested in good stories. I remember wondering as a child why God didn’t do anything when His son was crucified. Why doesn’t He do anything when children are dying of leukaemia? Why does Batman save people, but God doesn’t?” (Jaco Van Dormael) Continue reading

François Truffaut – Une belle fille comme moi AKA A Gorgeous Bird Like Me (1972)

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François Truffaut’s Une belle fille comme moi is a pitch-black comedy of sexual exploitation in which who’s doing the exploiting and who’s getting exploited is neatly reversed. Camille (Bernadette Lafont) is the subject of a “sociological thesis” on criminal women, being written by Stanislas Prévine (André Dussollier), a hapless professorial type who listens to Camille’s jailhouse confessions with great interest. Camille has had a tough life, it seems, always being desired and exploited by the men she meets, who only want her for sex. Camille, of course, relentlessly turns this state of affairs to her advantage, letting these men take her to bed and have their way with her, while ruthlessly exploiting them in turn, taking their money and plotting various criminal acts surrounding her multiple affairs. Camille is in jail, it seems, for the one crime she actually didn’t commit, but there’s no lack of criminality in this femme fatale. While Stanislas analyzes her in terms of her unhappy childhood and her bad luck in relationships, suggesting various repressed psychological reasons for her bad behavior, Stanislas’ good-girl secretary Hélène (Anne Kreis) asks him to consider the possibility that this girl is just a “tramp.” Continue reading

Woody Allen – Shadows and Fog (1991)

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As Wolcott Gibbs once said to Shakespeare: Kafka, here’s your hat.

That’s just one of the deliciously eccentric messages being sent out by Woody Allen in his rich, not easily categorized new black-and-white comedy, “Shadows and Fog.” Among other things, “Shadows and Fog” contemplates life, death, love, literature, movies, American humor in general, the gags of Bob Hope in particular, the music of Kurt Weill and the changing fashions in B.V.D.’s.

Kleinman (Mr. Allen) is a timid clerk in the kind of unidentified Middle European city once so beloved by Kafka, Kafka’s imitators, the masters of the German Expressionist cinema of the 1920’s and their imitators. It is always night in this closed world of miasmic fog, cobbled alleys and street lamps that shed too little light but cast photogenically deep shadows. Continue reading