Sacha Guitry – Le Roman d’un Tricheur AKA Confessions of a Cheat (1936)

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Synopsis
The story of the cheat begins and ends with personal misfortune. When he was a young boy, our hero was caught stealing money from the family shop. As a punishment, he was not allowed to join his family on their picnic. They ate mushrooms and died of food poisoning, he survived and was placed in the care of his unscrupulous aunt and uncle, who intended to rob him of his inheritance. Years later, our hero ends up as a croupier in a casino at Morocco. There, he is about to embark at what looks like being a very lucrative career – as a professional cheat. Continue reading

Roy Andersson – En duva satt på en gren och funderade på tillvaron AKA A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence (2014)

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Synopsis:
Like modern times’ Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, Sam and Jonathan, two travelling salesmen peddling novelty items, take us on a kaleidoscopic wandering through human destinies. A trip that shows us the beauty of single moments, the pettiness of others, the humour and tragedy that is in us, life’s grandeur as well as frailty of humanity. A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence was Awarded Golden Lion for Best Film at the 2014 Venice International Film Festival. Continue reading

Alessandro Blasetti – Resurrectio (1931)

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PLOT SYNOPSIS:
Desperate because abandoned by his lover (V. Alexandrescu), orchestra conductor hesitates: to kill himself, or kill her? He simply shoots the portrait of the lover and returns to conducting, helped in his “resurrection”, by a cute girl (L. Franca), who restores his will to live.
Second film by Blasetti, after the silent “Sun” (1929), and the only one for which he signs the script himself. Produced by Cines, it is the first Italian sound film but, deemed not commercial enough, was released after La canzone dell’amore (1930) by Righelli.
It is interesting at stylistic level, for the ambitious mixage of dialogs, music (Amedeo Escobar) and noises in parallel with experimental visual inventions. Continue reading

Vittorio De Sica – Maddalena, zero in condotta AKA Maddalena, Zero for Conduct (1940)

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Imdb comment:

This is definitely one of the best comedy ever made anywhere…In a Technical school girl students learn to write commercial letters to a Mr Doe in Germany…one day one of these letters is posted by mistake..the problem is that this Mr Doe really exists…The exquisite vittorio de Sica was a great performer before reaching stardom in 1946 with “the bicycle theft”…The movie is always charming ,never vulgar nor stupid and you really get off the movie theatre happy with yourself and life in general..Mussolini censors used Cinema to divert people in those black days…its is not the only movie of its kind but it is the best by miles..After 1960 Italian Directors like Fellini or Scola reacted strongly against this type of comedies..Now they dont seem to know how to make them anymore. Continue reading

Søren Kragh-Jacobsen – Mifunes sidste sang aka Mifune’s Last Song (1999)

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As developed by Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, Dogma 95’s so-called “Vow Of Chastity” places restrictions on filmmakers—use only handheld cameras, real locations, and available light while avoiding superficial action (weapons, murders, etc.) and genre pieces—for the ostensible purpose of a truer, more organic cinema. Critics anxious to dismiss the movement were silenced by Vinterberg’s entry, Dogma 1: The Celebration, a devastating black comedy made all the more powerful by its stripped-down, home-movie-like quality. But the Dogma tenets seem arbitrary in Dogma 3: Mifune, which follows the rules but misses the point, employing cruddy naturalism to pass off a contrived and deeply conventional story. Had Von Trier and Vinterberg thought to include the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold or estranged-autistic-brother (a la Rain Man) under “superficial action,” director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen might have improvised something less predictable. On its own modest terms, however, Mifune is still a well-performed and mildly affecting provincial drama that shares Vinterberg’s interest in family, if not his wit and innovation. Continue reading

Brian de Palma – The Wedding Party (1969)

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This independent film was a joint effort by Sarah Lawrence theatre professor Wilford Leach and two of his students, protégé Brian De Palma and wealthy Cynthia Monroe, who bankrolled the project. The trio shared screen credit as writers, directors, and producers, although it is De Palma’s touch that is most evident in the film’s technical aspects, while Leach’s theatrical background suggests he was responsible for supervising the performances of the ensemble cast.
The film was made in 1963 but not released until six years later, after one of its supporting players, Robert De Niro, had begun to draw notice for his work in off-Broadway theatre and De Palma’s 1968 release Greetings. Also in the cast were Jennifer Salt and William Finley, both of whom were De Palma regulars, and fellow Sarah Lawrence student Jill Clayburgh as the bride-to-be.
(from wiki) Continue reading