Yilmaz Güney & Atif Yilmaz – Zavallilar AKA The Poor AKA The Wretched Ones (1975)

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Synopsis:
The Poor Ones tells the semi-melodramatic story of three poor friends who met in prison where have been sent to on various offenses. These three friends do not want to get out when they are released. What are Abuzer, Haci and Arap going to do when they will be out? They have no one, no jobs… Apart from Haci and Arap, everything will be the same for Abuzer, who doesn’t know where to go. He will still be alone, starving on the streets of the big city. Continue reading

Jacques Demy – Lola (1961)

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Quote:
Jacques Demy was arguably the greatest romantic of the French New Wave, and Lola was one film in which he proved how vital both sides of that equation were to his vision. While Lola exists within the same workaday France of Jean-Luc Godard and François Truffaut’s early films, Raoul Coutard’s cinematography allows Demy to find a beauty and poetry in the most ordinary circumstances; Coutard’s moving camera brings the grace of a dancer to the film’s visual proceedings, no matter how shabby some of the characters’ circumstances may be. The narrative is so fluffy it threatens to blow away at any moment, but Demy primarily uses it as a device to focus on the emotional lives of his characters, and it is their common search for love that moves the story and keeps the film compelling. Demy’s casting is nothing short of superb: Anouk Aimée is joyously radiant in the title role, and her every word and movement convey such a seductive charm that it’s no wonder three men are vying for her hand; Marc Michel, Alan Scott, and Jacques Harden all resister in their own way as Lola’s suitors; and Annie Duperoux is spot-on as Lola’s teenage counterpart. Lola is a film whose goal is obviously to touch the heart rather than the mind, but Demy tells his simple story with such a rare blend of passion and intelligence that he’s able to please the intellect as well. The result remains one of the most purely pleasurable products of the French Nouvelle Vague. Continue reading

Marcel L’Herbier – Eldorado (1921)

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Synopsis wrote:
The tale of a dancer rejected by her lover and forced to endure other indignities in order to support her child is shown in avant garde style and traditional narrative techniques, with camera angles and architectural design defining the emotional states of the characters. Featuring Eve Francis, Jaque Catelain and Marcelle Pradot. Continue reading

Veiko Õunpuu – Püha Tõnu kiusamine AKA The Temptation of St. Tony (2009)

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Quote:
There’s no better cinematic praise than to be evocative of Béla Tarr’s tour de force Werckmeister Harmonies. And The Temptation of St. Tony is just that. Veiko Õunpuu has weaved an existential rumination on Eastern European temporality, where work is waiting and waiting is work, and a visually stunning critique of the exacerbation of difference that post-communist times have to offer. A nouveau riche class fascinated by its newly imported sense of sophistication and superiority is so in love with itself that getting a glimpse of the lower classes is as unbearable as staring at Medusa right in the eye. Continue reading

Lisa Aschan – Det vita folket (2015)

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Variety wrote:
Swedish director Lisa Aschan decided to follow up her critically acclaimed film “She Monkeys” with “White People,” which she describes as “a space odyssey inspired by ‘The Shining.’” The story follows a group of people who are kidnapped from the street and held hostage in an underground prison to await deportation. Will they escape? What will be the cost of freedom? The thriller opens up a discussion about universal themes of power and hierarchy. Continue reading

João Nuno Pinto – América (2010)

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Quote:
America a tragic story told in a burlesque and ironic way, within a love triangle. Liza, a beautiful young Russian woman, is married to Victor, a small-time crook who lives on scheming and swindling, born and bred in Portugal. Fernanda, the ex wife, who ten year’s passed decides to drop by, is the gang leader, an Andalusian Spaniard. Victor has to decide which women to follow, Liza cannot really leave him, Fernanda doesn’t really want to stay. The six year old kid hangs everybody by a string. Eastern European newcomers give new business perspectives that are going to rock their small world by the beach: Cova do Vapor. A chaotic neighborhood of precarious housing located at Lisbon’s gates, where the Tagus River meets the Atlantic, where fishermen and retired factory workers coexist. An obscure little place, where everything suddenly changes, even the weather. After a violent storm, the gangster’s house gets a rusted fishing boat hanging on top of their home. In the midst of the tragedy, there’s always room for love, and most of all, hope for a piece paper called passport, sometimes fake! Continue reading

Jan Troell – Ingenjör Andrées luftfärd AKA The Flight of the Eagle (1982)

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Quote:
Based on the novel by Per Olaf Sundman, Ingenjör Andrées Luftfärd (Flight of the Eagle) tells the real-life story of a Swedish engineer’s attempted expedition to the North Pole in a balloon. Jan Troell directs this over two-hour adventure drama set in 1897. Max Von Sydow stars as Salomon August Andrée, the engineer who leads the tragic journey in a balloon called The Ornen (The Eagle). He is accompanied by explorers Nils Strindberg (Goran Stangertz) and Knut Fraenkel (Sverre Anker Ousdal). Ingenjör Andrées Luftfärd was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in the 1983 Academy Awards. Using his experiences making this film, Troell went on to make the hour-long documentary En Frusen Drom (A Frozen Dream) in 1998 with archival information from the remains of the expedition found in 1930 on an island near the North Pole. ~ Andrea LeVasseur, All Movie Guide Continue reading