Krzysztof Kieslowski – Krótki film o zabijaniu AKA A Short Film About Killing (1988)

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Death from the very beginning — a rat decomposing in the water, a cat hanging from a railing as giggling children run off. In Krzysztof Kieslowski’s expansion of the Decalogue: Five segment (“Thou shalt not kill”), the commandment bounds individual and governmental killing into one object of anguished contemplation. Biblical intimations also figure in the bar exam summation (“Since Cain, no punishment has been capable of improving the world”) of apprentice attorney Krzysztof Globisz, one of the three Warsaw dwellers whose path ominously converge; the others are a 20-year-old drifter (Miroslaw Baka) and a jaundiced, middle-aged cabbie (Jan Tesarz). The obscured-vision effects of Slawomir Idziak’s dirty-sepia filters — characters encircled by soiling irises — suggest isolated realities clashing appallingly in the most excruciating murder since Torn Curtain’s farmhouse killing: a mid-ride throttling, Tesarz’s writhing foot emerging bare from shoe and sock, a heavy body dragged through an almost Tarkovskyan marsh before the final bludgeoning at Bakas hand’s. Continue reading

Henri Decoin – Les Inconnus dans la Maison aka Strangers in the House (1942)

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Synopsis:
Since his wife left him, almost twenty years ago, the once brilliant lawyer Loursat has slumped into a life of despondency and drunkenness. He lives in a vast empty house with his teenage daughter, Nicole, with whom he hardly communicates. One fateful day, something happens which pulls Loursat back from the abyss: he discovers a dead body in his house. When his daughter and her group of rebellious young friends are charged with the murder, Loursat decides to take charge of the case.
— scarabus Continue reading

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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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