Pedro Almodóvar – Matador (1986)

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A dashing former matador named Diego Montes (Nacho Martínez), prematurely retired after a career-ending injury, rehearses the principal tenets of the art of the kill at a converted classroom on his estate to a group of aspiring bullfighters, including an unlikely, hypersensitive student named Angel Giménez (Antonio Banderas). The training lecture then cuts to the image of a beautiful, enigmatic woman sitting on a park bench, María (Assumpta Serna) as she initiates contact with an anonymous man innocuously passing by, follows him back to an apartment, and, at the height of physical intimacy, stabs him with a long ornamental pin behind the nape of the neck – in the region between the shoulder blades defined in bullfighting as the cleft of the clods. The shot then cuts back to the training grounds as Angel, intrigued by (and undoubtedly, attracted to) his instructor, follows Diego back to the house for a drink of water, and soon grows anxious when the conversation exposes his inexperience with women. Continue reading

Kevan Funk – Hello Destroyer (2016)

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A young junior hockey player’s life is shattered by an in-game act of violence. In an instant his life is abruptly turned upside down; torn from the fraternity of the team and the coinciding position of prominence, he is cast as a pariah and ostracized from the community.

Canada is amidst a renaissance of refreshing movies by a new wave of directors. Told with a bold disaffected style recalling Michael Haneke, this debut is at the forefront. Hello Destroyer is an intimate portrait of a young hockey player and an incisive reflection on institutionalized violence. Continue reading

Katarzyna Roslaniec – Szatan kazal tanczyc AKA Satan Said Dance (2017)

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In her latest feature film, Satan Said Dance, which was released in Polish theatres on 5 May by Kino Swiat, Katarzyna Roslaniec once again turns her attention to her favourite type of character. Indeed, in all her films she focuses on young girls from today’s youth whose world revolves around shopping, (often unsafe) sex, alcohol, drugs and building up an image. A model which is pushed to extremes in this new opus. Continue reading

Theodoros Angelopoulos – O Melissokomos AKA The Beekeeper (1986)

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Acquarello wrote:
The Beekeeper opens to a static shot of an extended dinner table festively covered with a white tablecloth and ornamented with rose petals that is sitting empty at the center of the courtyard in the rain, as the sound of Spyros’ (Marcello Mastroianni) affectionate voice is heard recounting to his young daughter the natural selection process of bees that culminates in the majestic queen’s dance. The guests have retreated indoors for what is revealed to be the wedding reception of Spyros’ daughter – now a grown woman – in the family home. From the onset, the middle-aged schoolteacher’s profound disconnection is immediately palpable as he shares a prolonged, uncomfortable silence with his wife (Jenny Roussea) while picking up shards of broken glass from an overturned tray of wine glasses. Dispirited by his inevitable separation from his beloved daughter, Spyros separates from his wife and embarks on his forefathers’ traditional vocation of apiculture. Traveling southward with his bees on an instinctual springtime migration, Spyros encounters a young hitchhiker (Nadia Mourouzi) who, abandoned on a rural truck stop, insinuates herself on the resigned and acquiescent Spyros through intermittent points on his indeterminate journey. Estranged from an unfamiliar modern world where his generation has become a historically incidental relic, Spyros attempts to reconnect with humanity through the promiscuous and rootless young woman and, in the process, retreats further into the solitude of his dying avocation. Continue reading

Irina Poplavskaya & Sergei Yutkevich – Dzhamilya AKA Jamilya (1969)

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The film is based on the story of the same name by Soviet writer Chinghiz Aitmatov. It is set in a remote Kirghiz village during the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945). A young wife of a soldier, Djamilya, fell in love with Daniar, a wounded war veteran living in her village. Daniar reciprocates her feelings. But suddenly Djamilya receives a letter from her husband with the news of his forthcoming return from the hospital. This forces the lovers to make a final decision. Years later, their young friend, Seid, who was a witness to their beautiful, albeit uneasy, love, reminisces about this wonderful couple… Continue reading