Jean-Luc Godard – Made in U.S.A (1966)

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With its giddily complex noir plot and color-drenched widescreen images, Made in U.S.A was a final burst of exuberance from Jean-Luc Godard’s early sixties barrage of delirious movie-movies. Yet this chaotic crime thriller and acidly funny critique of consumerism—starring Anna Karina as the most brightly dressed private investigator in film history, searching for a former lover who might have been assassinated—also points toward the more political cinema that would come to define Godard. Featuring characters with names such as Richard Nixon, Robert McNamara, David Goodis, and Doris Mizoguchi, and appearances by a slapstick Jean-Pierre Léaud and a sweetly singing Marianne Faithfull, this piece of pop art is like a Looney Tunes rendition of The Big Sleep gone New Wave. Continue reading Jean-Luc Godard – Made in U.S.A (1966)

Todd Rohal – The Guatemalan Handshake [+Commentary] (2006)

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In the confusion following a massive power outage, an awkward demolition derby driver vanishes, setting in motion a series of events affecting his pregnant girlfriend, his helplessly car-less father, a pack of wild boy scouts, a lactose intolerant roller rink employee, an elderly woman in search of her lost dog, and his best friend – a ten-year-old girl named Turkeylegs.

Pieces of the mystery begin to come together as Turkeylegs sets out to find her missing friend. Cars drive circles in the dirt, a woman attends her own funeral, the sun rises sideways and an orange vehicle trades hands again and again. Everything eventually culminates in a massive demolition derby that throws all of the characters into different directions. Continue reading Todd Rohal – The Guatemalan Handshake [+Commentary] (2006)

Marianna Palka – Bitch (2017)

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The provocative tale of a woman (Marianna Palka) who snaps under crushing life pressures and assumes the psyche of a vicious dog. Her philandering, absentee husband (Jason Ritter) is forced to become reacquainted with his four children and sister-in-law (Jaime King) as they attempt to keep the family together during this bizarre crisis. Continue reading Marianna Palka – Bitch (2017)

Matías Piñeiro – Hermia & Helena (2016)

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Camila, a young Argentine theater director, travels from Buenos Aires to New York to attend an artistic residency to develop a Spanish translation of Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Upon her arrival, she begins to receive a series of mysterious postcards which set her down a winding path through her past and towards her future. Continue reading Matías Piñeiro – Hermia & Helena (2016)

Gennadi Sidorov – Starukhi aka Old Women (2003)

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This is a 2003 award-winning film about a group of old women living in an forgotten village somewhere in an endless sea of forest. They are living in poverty in these run-down wooden houses — yet they still have their spirit. One of the things that makes this movie unusual is that these old women are not caricatures per se and were played by non-professionals. They are all 3-dimensional characters of various sorts. This is so different from the usual portrayal of old women in film, where they are so often flat characters. Apparently, from the reviews posted by Russians, this is a fairly unusual modern Russian film. Honest yet uplifting (sort of) story about people who’s stories are not usually told. This film shows the negative side of the changes since the break-up and privatization of the Soviet Union. The poverty of these women is a direct result of this as they are pensioners and pensioners have not faired well. Corruption, government mismanagement, inflation, etc. Thus, the movie highlights others who have been hurt by the changes since 1991 also. Continue reading Gennadi Sidorov – Starukhi aka Old Women (2003)