Alex Gibney – Finding Fela! (2014)

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Finding Fela tells the story of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s life, his music, his social and political importance. He created a new musical movement, Afrobeat, using that forum to express his revolutionary political opinions against the dictatorial Nigerian government of the 1970s and 1980s. His influence helped bring a change towards democracy in Nigeria and promoted Pan Africanist politics to the world. Continue reading

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Hans-Jürgen Syberberg – Hitler – ein Film aus Deutschland AKA Hitler: A Film from Germany (1978)

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Quote:
The third and longest part of Syberberg’s extraordinary trilogy on German culture, history and nationalism (the two earlier films were Ludwig – Requiem for a Virgin King and Karl May), best described as a high camp, heavy-duty analysis of both history and historical analysis itself. The chosen method is to single out, act out, alter, and finally comment on the lives of a handful of ‘awkward’ German historical figures, from Ludwig of Bavaria through fantasy author Karl May to Hitler, the ‘madman’. Behind aesthetic complexity lies a simple purpose: to show up the sort of historical contradictions solved by Marxists with bare economic models, and by others with suspect reference to the ‘greatness’ or ‘madness’ of the figures involved. Visually lyrical, the style is eclectic to the point of hysteria; and the tone oscillates between the operatic (Wagner figures large) and the colloquial (Hitler in conversation with his projectionist) without ever quite coming unstuck. Humour mixes with mythology and analysis in the attempt to reunite art, history and ideology. It’s a quite remarkable film, with a sense of metaphor equal to its intellectual courage. Continue reading

Robert Frank – Cocksucker Blues [+Extras] (1972)

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Plot Outline :
With Cocksucker Blues, Frank bids a final adieu to the utopia of the Beat generation. What did the Rolling Stones expect when they hired him to make a film about their 1972 North American tour? There are scenes of groupie sex in private jets, cocaine snorting, and even a masturbation scene in which Jagger reveals himself to be the cameraman in a reflected image.

But ultimately Frank focuses on the lonely spaces that permeate the rock and roll machine. This is the ultimate direct cinema. The camera movement infects the images with an unbelievable filmic energy, and Frank ignores all orientation guidelines. Populated by the living dead, Cocksucker Blues is a zombie film with no refuge. Continue reading

Hervé Lewis – Les plus belles inconnues de Paris AKA The Most Beautiful Women In Paris (2005)

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Hervé Lewis is not only a mentor to many stars (Johnny Hallyday, Jean Reno, Emmanuelle Béart, and more), but also a professional photographer. After the success of many renowned advertising campaigns for Aubade Lingerie, Hervé Lewis’ first film, in which he rediscovers the lighting of his black and white photographs, is dedicated to the beauty of women. His pure and poetic images convey an uncommon sensuality, power and intensity. Through Hervé Lewis’ lens, every woman becomes a star. Continue reading

Franco Maresco – Belluscone. Una storia siciliana (2014)

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The film critic Tatti Sanguineti arrives in Palermo to find out what has happened to Franco Maresco’s unfinished movie: Belluscone. Una storia siciliana. A film that was supposed to tell the story of the unique relationship between Berlusconi and Sicily through the misadventures of the Palermitan impresario of Neapolitan “neomelodic” singers and organizer of street festivals, Ciccio Mira—an undaunted supporter of Berlusconi, nostalgic for the old days’ Mafia— and two artists in his stable, Erik and Vittorio Ricciardi, who perform in the squares of Palermo a song entitled “Vorrei conoscere Berlusconi” (“I Want to Meet Berlusconi”). The film focuses on three failures: the political and human one of a Berlusconi now on the wane; that of the unfortunate and “slapdash” Ciccio Mira, rooted in an old but tenacious culture; and finally, the artistic one of the director, who chooses to disappear after realizing that tilting at political windmills is pointless, in a country that has long identified with Berlusconian “culture” and probably continues to do so.
Continue reading

Mads Brügger – Det røde kapel AKA The Red Chapel (2009)

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A witty and controversial documentary from Zentropa, which won the SUNDANCE World Cinema Jury Prize in 2010.

Quote:
A journalist with no scruples and two Danish/Korean comedians—one a self-proclaimed “spastic”—travel to North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange. On the pretext of being a small Danish theatre group, named The Red Chapel, they are allowed into the country, but unbeknownst to the North Koreans, cultural exchange is not really what they have in mind. Mads Brügger, the journalist; Simon, the straight man; and Jacob, the spastic, use humor to challenge one of the world’s most notorious regimes. The troupe rehearse under the watchful eye of government officials brought in to “collaborate” on their performance and make it more palatable for the Korean regime. They are shown the important historical sights by a female government employee, who smothers poor Jacob with motherly affection. Continue reading

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