Robert Bresson – Pickpocket (1959)

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Quote:
Michel is an inscrutable young man – neatly dressed, mild mannered, intelligent – hardly the type whom one would suspect to be a pickpocket. And perhaps, that is reason that he does it. Robert Bresson’s Pickpocket is a well crafted, austere, and taut film of a man driven by his self-destructive compulsion. We first encounter Michel (Martin LaSalle) at a Paris racetrack, stealthily fingering through the clasp of a woman’s handbag, reaching in, pocketing her money. A wild, almost euphoric gaze comes over his impassive face, heightened by the cheering crowd as the horses approach the finish line. Soon, his compulsion consumes him. His friend, Jacques (Pierre Leymarie) furnishes him with contacts for employment opportunities, but he does not follow through. Continue reading

Claude Sautet – L’arme à gauche AKA The Dictator’s Guns (1965)

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Synopsis:
Jacques Cournot, a freelance skipper, is hired by Mr Hendrix in Santo Domingo, first of all to advise him regarding the acquisition of a sailing boat. After a thorough inspection of a prospective vessel, the “Dragoon”, Cournot reports his positive appraisal to Mr Hendrix and initiates the negotiations with Mrs Osborne, the owner of the craft. Barely a couple of days later, Cournot finds himself in a bind as the police questions him about the exact kind of cruise he was supposed to organize for his principal. For the “Dragoon” is gone; Mr Hendrix has disappeared; Mrs Osborne is not aware of any deal; and the corpses of mysterious individuals, victims of a violent death, are found on the beaches of Santo Domingo.

— Eduardo Casais (IMDB) Continue reading

Petr Kazda & Tomás Weinreb – Já, Olga Hepnarová AKA I, Olga Hepnarova (2016)

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Olga Hepnarova was a young, lonely lesbian outsider from a coldhearted family who couldn’t play the part society had chosen for her. Her paranoid self-examination and inability to connect with other people eventually drove her over the edge of humanity when she was only 22 years old. The film shows the human being behind the mass murderer. Guided by her letters, we delve into Olga’s psyche and witness the worsening of her loneliness.

Olga is a complex young woman desperate to break free from her unfeeling family and social conventions. With her Louise Brooks-like tomboyish looks she drags herself, chain-smoking, from one job to another until she appears to find her niche as a truck driver. Although she has female lovers she does not form a bond with any of them; instead she clashes, time and again, venting herself in wordless emotional outbursts and other behavioural extremes. Continue reading

Franz Novotny – Exit… nur keine Panik AKA Exit… But No Panic (1980)

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Quote:
The Year is 1980 and it’s Summer in Vienna

Most people outside of Austria will rarely get a chance to see this movie, but if you get a chance like this, don’t let it pass as you as you’re on for a real treat. ‘Exit’ is not just an Austrian cult movie, it’s a funny and at the same time disturbing and at times depressing look into Vienna in the 80’s. This is “the” movie parents in 1980’s Austria did not want their kids to see.

Viennese crook and would-be playboy Kirchhoff dreams of owning his own coffee house and having lots of beautiful women. In order to reach his goal, he is sometimes compelled to leave the straight and narrow.

Comedy, violence, sex and vandalism are the ingredients of this Austrian cult classic. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Kaseki no mori AKA The Petrified Forest (1973)

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Synopsis:
Based on novel by Shintaro Ishihara, this is a human drama about the complex relationship of parent and child. Haruo spends his time working in a university hospital when he meets a childhood friend. On the other hand Haruo’s long estranged mother wishes to make amends with her lost son.

Review:
One day, a young medicine student Hauro Himoto (Ken’ichi Hagiwara) runs into his attractive ex-schoolmate Eiko Izawa (Sayoko Ninomiya) and they fall in love with each other in no time at all. The only obstacle which intrudes the couple is the owner of a barbershop who simultaneously is her lover and her employer and pesters Eiko out of his jealousy. Hauro and Eiko resolve to get rid of the insufferable male so that they can remain together without further complications… Continue reading

Horst E. Brandt & Heinz Thiel – Heroin (1968)

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This East German movie was co-produced with studios in Hungary and Yugoslavia, with many interesting location shots (border checkpoint to West Berlin, the Gellert bath in Budapest, and more). The plot is about French drug dealers, who obtain heroin somewhere in the Middle East, and smuggle it in several steps to East Berlin, and from there to France (or so it appears), killing when necessary. The hero is an officer of East German customs, who with detective work, some masquerade, and occasional violent action ultimately unravels the whole network, of course with the support of the local customs departments. Continue reading