Lino Brocka – Insiang (1976)

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Lino Brocka’s films combine popular melodrama, political import, and intense realism with a vivid, economical style. Made on impossibly low budgets on the fringes of the Philippine film industry, his movies have an urgency and immediacy that spring both from Brocka’s burning ideological commitments (he was one of the most outspoken critics of the Marcos regime) and his resourceful, imaginative approach to the exigencies of borderline production. Set in the Manila slums, this 1976 effort is centered on a teenage girl struggling to stay afloat in the overwhelming, dehumanizing poverty that surrounds her. Her mother, who operates a tiny fish market, takes in a local hood as a lover, but the thuggish pretty-boy is clearly more interested in Insiang. After he rapes her (in a single-take sequence astonishing in its curtness and brutality), Insiang plans her revenge–a revenge that is also a revolution against the unseen government that endorses the system of exploitation. With Hilda Koronel. Continue reading

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Kaneto Shindô – Gogo no Yuigon-jo AKA A Last Note (1995)

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Veteran Japanese filmmaker Kaneto Shindo was 82 when he directed this meditation on life, death, and loss. Following the passing of her husband, elderly former actress Yoko Morimoto (Haruko Sugimura) travels to her summer home in the mountains of Central Japan. Upon her arrival, her servant Tokoyo (Nobuko Otowa) has sad news for her — her long-time gardener has recently committed suicide. Adding to Yoko’s sorrow is the arrival of Tomie, an old friend from her days in the theater, who is traveling with her husband Tohachiro Urshikuni (Hideo Kanze), also an actor. Tomie has grown senile, and Tohachiro no longer has the money to support them; he informs Yoko that they’ve chosen to kill themselves rather than entering an old age home that they can’t afford anyway, and they are taking this final trip to say goodbye to their friends. As Yoko deals with this troubling news, Tokoyo has a confession to make — she had an affair with Yoko’s late husband, who was the biological father of Tokoyo’s daughter. A Last Note received the Critics Award at the 1995 Moscow International Film Festival. Continue reading

Luis Miñarro – Stella cadente AKA Falling Star (2014)

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Colourful feature debut from experienced producer Miñarro offers an almost hallucinatory look into the world of Amadeo van Savoy, who for two years was king of an ungovernable Spain around 1870. This intriguing episode is transformed into a plea for beauty, creativity and joy.

At first sight, Falling Star presents itself as a historic film about the brief rule of Amadeo van Savoy, a prince from Turin who was king of Spain for two years. His mainstay, the powerful General Prim, was murdered before Amadeo was properly installed and then he had no one to fall back on; Spain in 1871 was already plagued by administrative and financial crises.
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François Truffaut – Fahrenheit 451 [+Extras] (1966)

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Based on the 1951 Ray Bradbury novel of the same name. Guy Montag is a firefighter who lives in a lonely, isolated society where books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public. It is the duty of firefighters to burn any books on sight or said collections that have been reported by informants. People in this society including Montag’s wife are drugged into compliancy and get their information from wall-length television screens. After Montag falls in love with book-hoarding Clarisse, he begins to read confiscated books. It is through this relationship that he begins to question the government’s motives behind book-burning. Montag is soon found out, and he must decide whether to return to his job or run away knowing full well the consequences that he could face if captured. Written by Brian Rathjen {briguy_52732@yahoo.com}
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Radoslav Spassov – Otkradnati ochi aka Stolen Eyes (2005)

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This is a story of strange, impossible, inexplicable love between a Muslim Turk woman and a non-Muslim Bulgarian man. Ivan (the Bulgarian) is a pure and romantic young fellow, who gets caught up in the so-called “regeneration process” (when ethnic Turks’ names were forcibly changed to Bulgarian ones). He is responsible for the official seals, which is required to issue the new identity documents after the forced name changes. The schoolteacher Ayten tries to steal the seals, thinking that this way she can slow down the ethnic genocide. Their unexpected and unusual meeting brings these two characters together and makes them fell close, forcing Ivan to take a fateful decision -he must either “rename” Ayten, or face the consequences if he does not. Later on fate bring them together once again. Ayten’s small child is killed during an action by the special forces. Ivan, who has been among the main participants of this action is paralyzed with shock. The security forces decide to “erase” his memory. Ayten is also put in isolation, in the same hospital. From death, which is the only choice left to each of them, comes the common past of Ayten and Ivan. They gradually overcome their animosity; accept their differences and draw towards each other. But will the people around them accept their choice? Happy ending are a rarity in the Balkans. Then Ayteh’s brother returns from Turkey… Continue reading

J. Lee Thompson – Cape Fear (1962)

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Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

After an eight-year prison term for rape and assault, Max Cady (Robert Mitchum) is set free. Immediately making a beeline to Sam Bowden (Gregory Peck), the former prosecutor responsible for Cady’s conviction, Cady laconically informs Sam that he intends to “pay back” the attorney for his years behind bars. Conducting a meticulous campaign of terror, Cady is careful to stay within the law. Sam, realizing that Cady intends to wreak vengeance by raping the attorney’s wife (Polly Bergen) and daughter (Lori Martin), tries to put the ex-criminal behind bars, but has no grounds to do so. Chief Dutton (Martin Balsam) tries to help Sam with a few strong-arm tactics, but succeeds only in having the courts take Cady’s side in the matter. Things come to a head when Sam moves his family to the “safety” of a remote houseboat on Cape Fear river. Cady shows up unannounced and is about to ravage Bowden’s wife and daughter and when Sam turns the tables. Continue reading

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