Hitoshi Matsumoto – Saya zamurai aka Scabbard Samurai (2010)

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Recently widowed samurai Kanjūrō (Nomi Takaaki) puts down his sword and abandons his master, with nine-year-old daughter Tae (Kumada Sea) in tow. Now wanted for desertion, Kanjūrō is captured by a rival lord (Kunimura Jun), who makes an unusual offer. Kanjūrō will be released if he can bring a grin to the lord’s son (Shimizu Shūma), who hasn’t smiled since his mother’s death. If Kanjūrō can’t succeed within thirty days, he must commit seppuku. With the help of his jailers — and some harsh reinforcement from his daughter — the humorless Kanjūrō devises comically desperate (or desperately comic) methods to save his skin and crack the son’s stony exterior. Though more sentimental than writer/director Matsumoto Hitoshi’s previous films (Big Man Japan, Symbol), Scabbard Samurai is unmistakably in the same spirit, with deadpan absurdism and bizarre stunts recalling the variety shows that made his name.) Continue reading

Glenn Gordon Caron – Wilder Napalm (1993)

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Wilder and Wallace are brothers and pyrokinetics. Ever since childhood they’ve been able to start fires with their minds but following a tragedy in which they accidentally killed a man, the brothers have grown up very differently. Wilder has become a regular 9-5 workaday joe but Wallace performs his feats with a traveling circus. When the circus comes to Wilder’s home town Wallace starts coming on strong to Wilder’s wife, Vida who, ironically, is a slight pyromaniac. Written by Stefan Halldorsson Continue reading

Jean-Luc Perreard – Itineraire bis (2011)

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Synopsis:
‘Jean is 35 and still lives with his mother in the small Corsican town where he was born. His future is clearly mapped out for him – to take over the running of the family restaurant. But one day something happens that sets him on new and unexpected course. He meets Nora, a young woman who has just been thrown into the sea from her racing yacht. Nora awakens something in Jean, a sense of adventure, a yearning for new experiences. Jean’s life has only just begun…’
– Films de France Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – The Feminine Touch (1941)

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Disgusted by having to pass “pinhead” football heroes in order for his college to soar to football victory, Professor John Hathaway (Don Ameche) takes his leave of Digby College. With his wife Julie (Rosalind Russell) in tow, Hathaway sets out to conquer Manhattan’s literary circles, his scholarly manuscript on the subject of “jealousy” tucked under his arm in the romantic comedy The Feminine Touch (1941). Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – I Live My Life (1935)

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Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A brisk romantic/comedy Joan Crawford vehicle capably directed by W.S. Van Dyke and gamely written but not one of the better scripts by Joseph L. Mankiewicz. It’s from the short story “Claustrophobia” by A. Carter Goodloe. It’s the usual class warfare Joan Crawford film of that era with the good looking actress dressed chic and defending her free-spirited upper-class superficial lifestyle in her argumentative romance with the commoner Brian Aherne, who thinks the high society crowd are idlers and lightweights.

Bored heiress Kay Bentley (Joan Crawford) travelling with her dad (Frank Morgan) on his yacht meets on the Greek island of Naxos handsome Irish archaeologist Terry O’Neill (Brian Aherne), who’s on an archaeological dig for the Pygmalion statue. Learning that he thinks very little of the society jet set Kay tells Terry she’s Ann Morrison, the secretary of Mr. Bentley. They kiss and he falls madly in love, surpisingly following the attractive secretary to New York where he hopes to marry her. Learning the truth, the two have a spat but nevertheless grow fonder of each other. Continue reading

Robert Downey Sr. – Moment to Moment (1975)

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Quote:
Also known as TWO TONS OF TURQUOISE TO TAOS TONIGHT, and even as JIVE, this is a movie you’ve most likely never seen. Highly personal and at the same time completely illogical, this cacophonous comedy has virtually no semblance of a storyline or plot. The great Elsie Downey, the director’s then-wife and the mother of his children (who are featured prominently throughout), drives the film with her boisterous performance in what may very well be more than 10 roles. Shot and edited piecemeal over a few years, MOMENT TO MOMENT is a collage of everything from staged scenes to home movies, and features a soundtrack by the legendary Jack Nietszche and David Sanborn. No matter what you call it, this film is surely Downey at his most avant-garde and absurd.—Anthology Film Archives. Continue reading

Robert Downey Sr. – Pound (1970)

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Quote:
There’s something liberating about director Robert Downey’s films, even when by rights they should be put on a leash by their small budgets and settings. Never was the case truer than in POUND, the kind of project that major studios would run a mile from. Long out of circulation, Downey’s film populates a dog pound with different human characters who pace about their cage, uncertain about their future. Some wait in hope for their owners to redeem them, others plot to escape, but most wait to see if they will make it to the end of the day without getting ‘The Needle’. It seems like a cute gimmick to have human characters playing dogs, but Downey has never been one to play by the rules, even if they would provide an interior logic to his story. The dog-human switcheroo isn’t as straightforward as it should be: the first camera angle inside the pound shows us the characters as dogs, the second shows them again as people. But are we still to treat them as ‘dogs’? They have a TV set in their cage; can understand human speech; and are revealed in flashbacks as having human lives outside of the pound. Continue reading