Mikhail Belikov – Raspad AKA Decay (1990)

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It’s a truly extraordinary film, easily the best we’ll see about Chernobyl, and criminally rarely seen. It has satirical and surreal moments, but is ultimately a damning indictment of everything about the country in the 1980s. The visual allusions to Eisenstein and Tarkovsky are beautifully appropriate…
Excellent NY Times review is here:
link Continue reading

Mike Nichols – Wit (2001)

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From stefflbw:

Thompson is terrific in Nichols’ Angels in America but on a higher plane in Wit. The film is sad and real, and in pursuit of the consolations of poetry.

Plot:
Based on the Margaret Edson play, Vivian Bearing is a literal, hardnosed English professor who has been diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer. During the story, she reflects on her reactions to the cycle the cancer takes, the treatments, and significant events in her life. The people that watch over her are Jason Posner, who only finds faith in being a doctor; Susie Monahan, a nurse with a human side that is the only one in the hospital that cares for Vivian’s condition; and Dr. Kelekian, the head doctor who just wants results no matter what they are. Continue reading

Frantisek Vlácil – Stíny horkého léta aka Shadows of a Hot Summer (1978)

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From IMDB
Once more, Vlacil’s films are largely about subjects that are not seen on screen. With some spoilers, here we have a story set in 1947 when Ukrainian right-wing anti-Communist guerillas, looking like and feeling like Nazi’s, are trying to fight their way through Czechoslovakia to Austria. They come out of the forest to occupy a family’s countryside farm house, kidnapping a doctor to help heal one of their wounded, but this could just as easily be about the post-war occupying forces in Eastern Europe, or the occupying Soviet forces in the 60’s, as there is an initial belief that there is nothing anyone can do, or to coin a STAR TREK phrase, `Resistance is futile.’ The film has a very languid pace which establishes the mood and pace of this small village, much of it is wordless, with a Sergio Leone acid-western feel, easily the most outstanding feature is the original music by Zdenek Liska, which plays on the inner psychological turmoil, providing an unseen character in the film. The father gives the appearance of passivity, as he is outmanned and outgunned, while his eager young son wants a taste of immediate revenge. But a wiser course of action is called for, waiting, giving the impression he is yielding to their demands, as the father wants to protect the lives of his wife and children, which allows for large doses of screen time where various family members are performing daily farm chores, just trying to survive this ordeal, while interspersed in each frame are men with machine guns who sadistically threaten their every impulse. This farmhouse under occupation represents a country under occupation, all feel like helpless victims where every moment is spent in fear, any minute things could spin helplessly out of control, and this film skillfully gets under everyone’s skin. Continue reading

Özer Kiziltan – Takva aka A Man’s Fear Of God (2006)

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A man’s fight between his religious beliefes and his instincts and desires. The atmosphere during the religious ceremonies makes a thrilling contrast to the priest’s everydays somehow dirty business in Istanbul where all is only about money. For the viewer these contrasts are sometimes amusing and sometimes shocking. The not-too-bright main character Muharrem is played by the fantastic Erkan Can. The director manages to show Muharrem’s troubled emotions in fantastic pictures. In one of my favourite scenes Muharrem is almost haunted by display mannequins wearing sexy lingerie while he is on duty for his brotherhood.
–totorochi Continue reading

Roy Ward Baker – A Night to Remember (1958)

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Quote:
Director Roy Ward Maker, and his producer, William MacQuitty, have done a sterling job in putting the tragic sinking of the Titanic in 1912 on the screen with an impressive, almost documentary flavour. With around 200 speaking roles in the film, few of the actors are given much chance to develop as characters. Even leading player Kenneth More, is merely part of a team. The ship itself is the star.

The story tells how the Titanic widely regarded as unsinkable, set out on her maiden voyage bound for the United States on the night of the 14th April, 1912, and how she struck an iceberg and sank – in less than three hours – with the loss of 1,302 drowned, and only 705 survivors.

The errors and confusion which played a part in the drama are brought out with no whitewashing. Technically director Roy Baker does a superb job under difficult circumstances, with special mention for the lifeboat scenes which were expertly done. Eric Ambler’s screenplay (from Walter Lord’s book) brings out how some people kept their heads, and others became cowards. Continue reading