Marguerite Duras – India Song (1975)

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Poetical tale of Anne-Marie Stretter, the wife of a French diplomat in India in the 1930s. At 18 she had married a French colonial administrator and went with him on posting to Savannakhet, Laos. There she met her second husband who took her away and for 17 years they lived in various locations in Asia. Now in Calcutta, she takes lovers to relieve the boredom in her life. Told in a highly visual style with little dialogue but a constant voice-over narrative by the different characters. Continue reading

Joseph Strick – Road Movie (1974)

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“This cult favorite from one of cinema’s richest eras, directed by Academy Award-winning director Joseph Strick, stars Barry Bostwick (The Rocky Horror Picture Show) and Robert Drivas (Cool Hand Luke) delivering bravura performances as a pair of brutish truck drivers who pick up a prostitute on a trip across America. Regina Baff (The Paper Chase) tears at the heart as the beaten and furious hooker who exchanges her body for a ride to New York, only to be further abused. Rejected and scorned, she becomes determined to seek revenge.” – DVD packaging copy Continue reading

Rachel Talalay – Tank Girl (1995)

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Based on a popular British cult comic book, this film is the story of a futuristic feminist superhero and her fight to preserve the environment against an evil government bureaucracy. The action is set in the year 2033, after an ecological disaster of drought and pollution has ravaged the countryside, and water is scarce. Tank Girl (Lori Petty) is a sassy punker who has her own vintage tank in tow, along with other high-tech weapons. Her mutant friends join her in bizarre battles against the corporate-statist Department of Water and Power and its villainous chief, Kesslee (Malcolm McDowell). At stake is the world’s water supply, which the Department is hoarding and which the rebels frequently raid. Rock star Iggy Pop has a cameo as Rat Face, one of the half-human, half-kangaroo Rippers. Courtney Love coordinated the post-punk soundtrack. Continue reading

Iván Zulueta – Arrebato AKA Rapture (1979)

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Synopsis:
Madrid,1980. Jose Sirgado, a labouring bohemian b-movie filmmaker finishes editing the sequel to a previous film. Visibly displeased he journeys home to his girlfriend strung out on heroin. After attempting to tidy his home and taking some heroin himself he opens a mail package from an old acquaintance Pedro P. containing a reel of super-8 film, a cassette tape and a key to his apartment. Watching the film and listening to the accompanying tape on which Pedro talks through the pair’s first meeting, their ensuing friendship and how he developed an addiction to filmmaking, notably recording himself in bed as he reached a state of rapture induced by the camera manifested in a series of flashbacks. As Pedro’s gravelly voice over wears on it becomes clear that his camera has taken on a vampiric life of its own absorbing its subjects and ultimately erasing them from the real world. Pedro’s final recording informs Jose of his suspected fate and informs him to visit his apartment where he too is absorbed by the camera. Continue reading

Robert Fischer – The Cinema and its Double – Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s ‘Despair’ Revisited (2011)

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This absolutely top-notch documentary by Robert Fischer is a fascinating look back at not just the film in question, but Fassbinder’s meteoric career which ended all too soon with his untimely death. Archival footage of Fassbinder is utilized (including several fascinating snippets culled from interviews he did at the disastrous Cannes premiere of Despair), as well as many others involved in the film and its release. Even if you’re not a particular fan of Despair, or even in fact of Fassbinder, this is stellar documentary filmmaking and is an intriguing look at one of the most enigmatic masters of the New German Cinema. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Jaune le soleil (1971)

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Adapted from Duras’ Abahn Sabana David.

Jaune le soleil est un film de Marguerite Duras sorti en 1972, adapté de son roman Abahn Sabana David.

Tout le film se passe dans une seule pièce où sont réunis les représentants des deux forces politiques et leur ennemi “le juif”. Un personnage féminin établit le dialogue entre ces individus et commente l’idéologie de chacun ; ceci jusqu’à la scène finale où chacun semble se rallier à une idée commune.

Note de tournage :
“Il faudrait que le film donne l’impression d’avoir été tourné sans électricité, que tout effet de lumière en soit complètement banni. Que tout le film baigne dans une lumière uniforme qui n’avantage aucun personnage. Que ce soit la même lumière pour tous. C’est un film sur la parole, l’image ici sert à porter la parole. .(…) Ici c’est la parole qui tient lieu de contact corporel, ainsi que les bruits, les cris des chiens, le bruit des mots….” Cahiers du cinéma n° 400 Octobre 1987 Continue reading

Russ Meyer – Beyond the Valley of the Dolls [+Extras] (1970)

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This film is a sequel in name only to Valley of the Dolls (1967). An all-girl rock band goes to Hollywood to make it big. There they find success, but luckily for us, they sink into a cesspool of decadence. This film has a sleeping woman performing on a gun which is in her mouth. It has women posing as men. It has lesbian sex scenes. It is also written by Roger Ebert, who had become friends with Russ Meyer after writing favorable reviews of several of his films.

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It’s deadpan-droll throughout (with at least as many highly quotable lines as Rocky Horror), cod-moralistic, carefully balanced between satire and melodrama, gratuitously focused on women with outsize breasts, and shot and edited with astonishing mastery. Much of Meyer’s film language, as Ebert points out, is redolent of ‘pure’ silent cinema: to-the-point storytelling and earnestly expressive performances, plus montage sequences worthy of Slavko Vorkapich.

— Tony Ryans, Sight & Sound Continue reading