Elio Petri – L’assassino AKA The Ladykiller of Rome (1961)

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The film is a frequently clever examination of a cynical social climber who finds himself in trouble. Arrested at his home and complete with a phoney alibi to cover his infidelity, our antique-dealer hero soon learns that he’s under suspicion for having murdered his ex-lover. Unfortunately for him, he’s not noted for his loving-kindness (he takes financial advantage of the desperate as he relieves them of their valuables) and is, romantically speaking, a cad, having exploited the soon-to-be-deceased lover for career purposes while romancing a younger bubblehead under her nose. All of this inhumanity seems to point to his being the killer, plunging him into a Kafka-lite nightmare that forces him to face up to his own brutishness. Continue reading

Bob Quinn – Poitín AKA Poteen (1978)

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Poitin is widely regarded as a classic of Irish cinema. It tells the story of a Conamara moonshiner, his daughter and two cheating agents who they outwit and bring to a tragic end. The story has a de Maupassant atmosphere, interspersed with comic moments. This is the digitally remastered version (2007) with new score by Bill Whelan.

Poitin stars Cyril Cusack, Niall Tóibín and Donald McCann, in their only appearance together on film. It is the first feature ever produced in the Irish language (with English subtitles hardcoded). All of the supporting cast are well known Conamara actors, and the film was shot entirely on location. Continue reading

Max Nosseck – Dillinger (1945)

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Synopsis:
Willie Sutton robbed banks during the Depression because, he explained, “That’s where the money is.” Former Indiana farmboy John Dillinger also knew where the money was. And his string of early-1930s heists, murders and daring jailbreaks were so bold and notorious he became Public Enemy #1. Dillinger, Oscar-nominated* for its screenplay, is the bullet-paced story of the man whose crimes captivated and terrified the nation. Lawrence Tierney plays the title role, breaking free of screen anonymity and moving into a 50-year tough-guy career that would include 1947’s Born to Kill and 1992’s Reservoir Dogs. Perhaps it was a brutal early prison stretch that turned Dillinger from kid to killer. Perhaps he was a murderous thug to his core. Either way, Dillinger presents his story with Film noir style and lets you decide.

— dvdbeaver Continue reading

Robert Bresson – Pickpocket (1959)

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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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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