Jim Jarmusch – Night on Earth (1991)

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Quote:
A collection of five stories involving cab drivers in five different cities. Los Angeles – A talent agent for the movies discovers her cab driver would be perfect to cast, but the cabbie is reluctant to give up her solid cab driver’s career. New York – An immigrant cab driver is continually lost in a city and culture he doesn’t understand. Paris – A blind girl takes a ride with a cab driver from the Ivory Coast and they talk about life and blindness. Rome – A gregarious cabbie picks up an ailing man and virtually talks him to death. Helsinki – an industrial worker gets laid off and he and his compatriots discuss the bleakness and unfairness of love and life and death. Continue reading

Joseph Pevney – It Happens Every Thursday (1953)

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from TCM:
One morning in New York City, newspaper reporter Bob MacAvoy finishes his nighttime shift and stumbles into bed just as his very pregnant wife Jane rises. Jane cares for their young son Steve and then, while riding the subway to work, notices an advertisement for a small newspaper in Eden, California. Tired of never seeing her husband and living in their cramped apartment, Jane rushes home and convinces Bob that the paper represents the perfect escape from their city life. Within days, they buy the paper sight unseen and travel to their new home. Although Eden is charming, they are dismayed to find the Archive office a disheveled wreck. Inside, elderly employees Jake Armstrong and Matthew explain that the paper has only a tiny circulation and a broken printing press and so barely makes it out each Thursday. Dejected, the MacAvoys prepare to leave until real estate agent Fred Hawley arrives and informs them that he lied to them about the state of the paper in order to attract a great newspaperman who might bring Eden back to life. Seeing the five advertisements Fred has already procured, Bob happily settles down to work. Continue reading

Aki Kaurismäki – Ariel (1988)

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From Eye For Film:
Aki Kaurismäki’s first feature, Crime And Punishment (1983), updated and transplanted Dostoyevsky’s novel to present day Finland. Since then, the deadpan auteur has written, directed and edited some 20 films, which is about a fifth of Finland’s cinematic output since the Eighties. His films, however, have always proven more popular abroad than at home. Apart from Britain, few nations like to see their own follies, iniquities and all-round miserabilism being paraded in affectionately mocking entertainments, and Kaurismäki’s focus is very much on the dark absurdities of his motherland’s down-and-outs, drunks and dispossessed. Continue reading

Jean Renoir – French Cancan (1954)

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Synopsis
Henri Danglard, proprietor of the fashionable (but bankrupt) cafe ‘Le Paravent Chinois’ featuring his mistress, belly dancer Lola, goes slumming in Montmarte (circa 1890) where the then-old-fashioned cancan is still danced. There, he conceives the idea of reviving the cancan as the feature of a new, more popular establishment…and meets Nini, a laundress and natural dancer, whom he hopes to star in his new show. But a tangled maze of jealousies intervenes… Continue reading

Marcel Camus – Orfeu Negro AKA Black Orpheus [+Extras] (1959)

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Quote:
Screen: Legend Retold; ‘Black Orpheus’ Bows at the Plaza
By BOSLEY CROWTHER
Published: December 22, 1959

ALL tangled up in the madness of a Rio de Janeiro carnival, full of intoxicating samba music, frenzied dancing and violent costumes, the Frenchman Marcel Camus presents us a melancholy tale in his color film, “Black Orpheus” (“Orfeu Negro”), which came to the Plaza yesterday.

It is a tragic story of a Negro chap and a Negro girl who meet at the time of the annual blowout, fall suddenly and rapturously in love, whirl through the night in a furious revel and fall off a cliff in the dawn. At least, the fellow falls off the cliff, holding the dead body of the girl in his arms. She has been killed the previous evening while trying to escape a scoundrel in a skeleton costume. Continue reading

Aleksandr Medvedkin – Schastye aka Happiness [+Extras] (1932)

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Aleksandr Medvedkin’s Happiness, as rowdy as any Soviet silent movie, is a comic parable composed of equal parts of Tex Avery and Luis Buñuel. It satirizes the plight of a Soviet farmer who finds himself providing for the state, the church, and his peers at the expense of his personal satisfaction. A hapless young prole, Khmyr, is tasked by his wife with the goal of going out in the world and finding happiness, lest he end up dead and dissatisfied after a lifetime of toil, like his father. Through stylistic exaggeration and a systematic attack on pre- and post-Revolutionary Russia’s dearest institutions, the movie achieves a wide-ranging, and deeply wounding, attack on the limitations placed on personal freedom in Russian society Continue reading

Werner Herzog – Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen AKA Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

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Synopsis:

The inhabitants of an institution in a remote country rebel against their keepers. Their acts of rebellion are by turns humorous, boring and alarming. An allegory on the problematic nature of fully liberating the human spirit, as both commendable and disturbing elements of our nature come forward. The film shows how justifiable revolt may be empowering, but may also turn to chaos and depravity. The allegory is developed in part by the fact that the film is cast entirely with dwarfs. Continue reading