Bruno Dumont – Ma Loute AKA Slack Bay (2016)

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Is there a more extraordinary auteur career than that of Bruno Dumont? Having started as one of Europe’s foremost purveyors of extreme cinema and extreme seriousness, he made a startling move to wacky broad comedy, and is handling it as if to the manner born. Now he gives us Ma Loute, or Slack Bay, a macabre pastoral entertainment by the seaside from the belle époque: it’s an old-fashioned provincial comedy with something of Clochemerle, a world in which everyone seems to have drunk their bodyweight in absinthe. There’s also the surreal meta-strangeness of Ken Russell’s version of The Boyfriend. Continue reading

Mahmoud Sabbagh – Barakah yoqabil Barakah AKA Barakah Meets Barakah (2016)

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A guy from the middle class meets a girl from a wealthy family and they start a romance in a country that frowns upon it.

This film was the official submission of Saudi Arabia for the ‘Best Foreign Language Film’ category of the 89th Academy Awards in 2017.

The leading actor Hisham Fageeh is probably best known for his 2013 music video No Woman, No Drive which amassed more than 14 million views on YouTube: link

The Arabic title of the film is بركة يقابل بركة‎.
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Yolanda Garcia Serrano & Juan Luis Iborra – Km. 0 aka Kilometer Zero (2000)

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The title refers to Madrid’s central square (from which all distances within Spain are measured). Zero may also describe the state of the lives of 14 strangers. The stories of these fourteen collide at this meeting point on a sultry August afternoon. Mistaken identities and second chances are among the results of this comedy of errors featuring, among other characters, a horny & gay university student, an internet-love seeker flamenco dancer, a macho but lovelorn gigolo, an actress, and a businessman starved for new sexual experiences. Continue reading

Maren Ade – Toni Erdmann (2016)

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The third film in 13 years from talented German writer-director Maren Ade is an expansive semi-comic portrait of grownup father-daughter awkwardness that also takes a chisel to the corporate bubble-world – and is likely to be one of the very best in this year’s Cannes competition.

‘Feelgood moments’ are, I imagine, something that Sight & Sound readers generally feel a little suspicious of. What’s more, you don’t very often encounter them in Cannes, certainly not in competition, and you certainly wouldn’t expect to come across one in the work of a highly-considered up-and-coming German auteur. Continue reading

Mario Mattoli – Un turco napoletano AKA Neapolitan Turk [+Extra] (1953)

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Based on a stage play by Eduardo Scarpetta, Il Turco Napoletano is retooled into a vehicle for Italian comedian Toto. The star plays a girl-happy dolt who assumes the identity of a missing Turkish gentleman. With stolen identification papers, the oafish impostor enters the home of a wealthy man who’d hired the Turk to protect his wife and daughter. What our hero doesn’t know–but everybody else does–is that the real Turk is a eunuch. To avoid the scissors of the censors, Il Turco Napoletano is presented as a play-within-a-play, so it isn’t really happening after all. The film was lensed by Oscar-winning Hollywood cinematographer Karl Struss. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

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A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

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I Don’t Want To Be A Man is like The Oyster Princess an early example of Ernst Lubitsch’s comic skills, and it also shares The Oyster Princess’ star, the irrepressible comedienne Ossi Oswalda, who in both films lends her name to the characters she plays. Here she plays a wild, rambunctious late teen barely under the control of her guardian/uncle and governess. (In reality it takes a while to work out that this middle-aged couple glaring disapprovingly out the window at Ossi’s mild antics outside are not her parents; they seemed rather coded as such.) Continue reading