Bo Widerberg – Mannen på taket AKA Man on the Roof (1976)

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Police lieutenant Nyman is murdered in his hospital bed and Martin Beck and his colleagues have another murder to solve. They discover that Nyman was a very brutal and tough policeman who received many complaints about his brutality. Particularly interesting is a complaint from Åke Eriksson, whose wife died in police custody because of Nyman. Eriksson climbs up on a roof in central Stockholm and starts to shoot at people on the street below… Continue reading

Alfredo De Antoni – Il processo Clémenceau (1917)

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It is ironic that the very few references to this excellent film that I was able to find online all referred simply to the fact that this was Vittorio De Sica’s first film!? And, it is true of course that the young De Sica appears in the film briefly as the son of the Clemenceaus, but the film has so much more to offer… Based on Alexandre Dumas fils’ novel, the film stars Francesca Bertinini as Iza in this tragedy of a woman trapped in a loveless marriage. At 107 minutes, this was a lengthy film for 1917. It is divided into two parts, chronicling the life of Iza as a girl or young woman, and her life as an adult. The story is told through the pen of her husband, and this is in several ways important in appreciating the subtle weight of what could on the surface look like a “typical” Diva film of the era, but which does in fact carry more psychological weight, and was inspired by the more complex dramas that Asta Nielsen starred in during the early teens. Continue reading

Yi’nan Diao – Bai ri yan huo AKA Black Coal, Thin Ice (2014)

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Northern China, 1999. The grisly discovery of several corpses is made in a small town. A bloody incident during the attempt to capture the alleged murderer leaves two police officers dead and another badly injured. The surviving officer Zhang Zili is suspended from duty; he takes a job as a security guard at a factory. Five years later, another series of mysterious murders occurs. Aided by a former colleague, Zhang decides to investigate under his own initiative. He discovers that all the victims were connected to Wu Zhizhen, a young woman who works at a dry cleaners. Pretending to be a customer, Zhang begins to observe her and finds himself falling in love with the reticent Wu Zhizhen. One cold winter’s day he makes a horrific discovery. His life now in danger, he realises it is not always possible to separate guilt from innocence. Diao Yinan’s use of the characters of the ex-police officer and the femme fatale is a direct reference to classic detective films. This director’s third feature is a noirish thriller in drained colours which, whilst playfully alluding to the genre, also invites us into the lives of very ordinary people. (-berlinale.de) Continue reading

Henri-Georges Clouzot – La Vérité AKA The Truth (1960)

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Plot summary from IMDB:
Dominique Marceau is on trial for the murder of Gilbert Tellier. The counsels duel relentlessly, elaborating explanations for why the pretty, idle and fickle girl killed the talented and ambitious conductor freshly graduated from the conservatory. Was it passion, vengeance, desperation, an accident? The acquaintances of Gilbert testify, as well as Dominique’s former lovers, and her sister, Annie, the studious violin player engaged to Gilbert. The evidence they give progressively paints a more finely-shaded picture of the personalities of Dominique and Gilbert, and of their relationship, than the eloquent and convincing justifications of the counsels. Continue reading

Roy Del Ruth – The Maltese Falcon (1931)

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Synopsis:
Sam Spade is quite the womanizer. When his secretary tells him the new customer waiting outside his office is a knockout, he wastes no time before seeing her. It turns out she’s a knockout with money. And she wants to spend it on his services as a private detective. She has some story about wanting to protect her sister. Neither he nor his partner, Miles Archer, believes it. But with the money she’s paying, who cares? The job proves to be more dangerous than either of them expected. It involves not just the lovely dame with the dangerous lies, but also the sweaty Casper Gutman, the fey Joel Cairo, and the thuggish young Wilmer Cook. Three crooks, and all of them are looking for the statuette of a black bird they call the Maltese Falcon. Continue reading

Ramin Bahrani – Chop Shop (2007)

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Synopsis: Set in Willet’s Point, an industrial sprawl of auto repair shops and junkyards in outer New York City, CHOP SHOP tells the story of 12-year-old Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), an orphan living a hardscrabble existence in the “Iron Triangle.” The boy earns a meager living hustling customers… Set in Willet’s Point, an industrial sprawl of auto repair shops and junkyards in outer New York City, CHOP SHOP tells the story of 12-year-old Alejandro (Alejandro Polanco), an orphan living a hardscrabble existence in the “Iron Triangle.” The boy earns a meager living hustling customers into body shops, hawking candy on the subway, and helping to chop up the parts of stolen cars. Continue reading

W.S. Van Dyke – Night Court (1932)

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Quote:
Judge Moffett is as crooked as they come and the Board of Judicial Corruption is after him. So he hides out in the poor part of town. While there, she drops the bankbook that Moffett has listing his accounts and Mary returns it to him. But Moffett thinks Mary saw the book and he puts her away for six months on a trumped up charge. Mike is overcome with grief and when he comes to his senses, he talks to Mary who tells him about the book. This gets Mike beat up and put on a boat to South America, but he jumps ship and plots his revenge. Continue reading