Volker Schlöndorff – Michael Kohlhaas – Der Rebell AKA Man on Horseback [alternate English cut] (1969)

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Man on Horseback (German: Michael Kohlhaas – der Rebell) is a 1969 German drama film directed by Volker Schlöndorff based on the novel Michael Kohlhaas by Heinrich Von Kleist. It was entered into the 1969 Cannes Film Festival.[1]

Another film based on the book is scheduled for release at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival. The made-for-TV western “The Jack Bull” (1999) starring John Cusack is also based on von Kleist’s “Michael Kohlhaas.”

Synopsis: It’s medieval times. Kohlhaas merchants with horses. When going to the local fair to sell his horses, is forced by a noble to leave him part of the merchandise as payment for traveling through his land, promising to give it back when the fair is over. When he returns, the horses are almost dead, and the man refuse to respond, so Kohlhass begins to fight unsuccesfuly against the injustice.

This is your basic revenge story with a bunch of horses and violence. Also, David Warner wears some ridiculous leather pants and gets Anna Karina to walk on his back. Continue reading

Gonzalo Suárez – Morbo AKA Morbidness (1972)

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This Spanish thriller by dilettante director Gonzalo Suarez tells the story of two newlyweds and the uncanny happenings that attend their low-budget honeymoon. For much of the film the audience is treated to scenes of freshly-married bliss. The couple have parked their car/camper combination in a remote area, and generally frolic around. Then they begin to experience some odd occurrences, such as one of their two hamsters killing the other one. When hubby discovers a nearby home where he can get water, the story gets much more complicated and involves a blind woman, a murderer, and some inexplicable symbolism. Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Marketa Lazarová (1967)

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In less than a minute, before the film’s opening titles even conclude, Marketa Lazarová has announced itself as something potentially unique, perhaps indefinable. The first line of a brief prologue declares, “This tale was cobbled together almost at random,” before a title card reiterates what we’re about to see as a “rhapsody in film,” one “freely adapted” by director František Vláčil and co-screenwriter František Pavlíček. That all these things are soon confirmed, even exceeded, is certainly the impetus behind Marketa Lazarová’s reputation as simultaneously one of the greatest and most difficult works of Czechoslovakian cinema. Though it emerged at the height of what came to be known as the Czech New Wave, this 1967 film stands as something rare not just amid the anarchic vulgarity of Daisies or the emotional naïveté of Loves of a Blonde, but also among the greater cinematic landscape of the period. What this film is—along with being, yes, random, free, and rhapsodic—is something stranger, something paradoxical and altogether original: an intimate epic, a tangible hallucination, a visceral symphony, and, perhaps most affectingly, a beautiful display of brutality. Continue reading

Pilar Miró – El Crimen de Cuenca AKA The Cuenca Crime (1980)

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The Cuenca Crime (79) became a cause celebre for critics of the limitation on freedom of expression in Spain (the film is set in 1912 and is about an innocent peasant tortured by two members of the Civil Guard in order to extract a murder confession). The film was briefly suppressed and Miro was tried unsuccessfully for defamation. When released in 1981, it became the highest grossing film in Spanish box office history. Continue reading

Asghar Farhadi – Forushande AKA The Salesman (2016)

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The Salesman tells the story of a young couple Emad and Rana who play the lead roles in a local rendition of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. Meanwhile, their personal relationship takes a hit after moving into a house that was previously inhabited by a woman who allegedly pursued a career in prostitution. Continue reading

Saeed Roustayi – Abad va yek rooz AKA Life+1Day (2016)

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The graphic account of a poverty-stricken family living in Tehran through the days before the youngest daughter of the family, Somaieh, is departing to start her marriage to a supposedly rich Afghan. While all members of the family have their worries about the wholeness of the marriage, she is struggling with her madly debilitating troubles including a silly mother who is gravely ill, a drug abusing brother, an obsessively compulsive sister, a considerably smart teenage brother who is being ruined in the environment, and a cunning oldest brother in need of money. Continue reading