John Ford – Mother Machree (1928)


from Waldo’s announce

Reels one, two and five — all that survives, unfortunately, of this late silent film by John Ford, though it’s enough to suggest that it might have been a major work. The story, supposedly based on the sentimental Irish ballad, is a blend of “Sylvia Scarlet” and “Stella Dallas,” about a single mother who joins a traveling circus (lead by Victor McLaglen) to support her child, only to eventually lose him to a rich couple. She meets her son (Neil Hamilton) years later when she’s employed as a domestic, and now he’s a swaggering young society man. Does she reveal her identity to him? We’ll never know, since the end of the film is missing. What you do get is one heck of a storm sequence in the first reel, filmed by Ford in the high expressionist style he was then absorbing from FW Murnau. Continue reading

Çagan Irmak – Dedemin Insanlari (2011)


Ozan is a ten-year old boy living in a small coastal town on the Aegean. His friends make fun of him, calling him an “infidel” because his grandfather Mehmet is an immigrant from Crete. Ozan is afraid of being left alone. He gets angry at his family, especially his grandfather, and he stubbornly challenges his family saying “We are Turks”.

Mehmet Bey, Ozan’s grandfather, is a respected shopkeeper in the community. He takes the people of the town under his wings, and helps them with their problems. Mehmet Bey is known for his tolerance and his grandson’s attitude not only has him worried but grieves him as well.
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Michael Haneke – Variation (1983)


Haneke depicts the emotional story of an adulterous relationship between a journalist and a teacher. The film poignantly explores the difficult dynamics between people who love one another but still can’t keep from hurting one another. Variation has been described by its director as being closer to John Cassavetes than to Hollywood melodrama. Continue reading

István Szabó – Édes Emma, drága Böbe – vázlatok, aktok aka Sweet Emma, Dear Böbe – Sketches, Nudes (1992)

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Emma has moved to Budapest from the countryside with her good friend Böbe, and both of them have taken jobs as schoolteachers. However, their wages are pitifully small, and all they can afford in the way of housing is a shared room in a boarding house near the airport. The two women have settled into their lives, but it isn’t easy: Emma’s sexual affair with the school’s married principal is not emotionally satisfying, and Böbe’s penchant for picking up foreigners and bringing them back to their room for sex creates unpleasant situations, to say the least. At school, it used to be clear what the quickest route to success was, but now that the “communists” are no longer in power, a lot of the senior people are floundering in uncertainty. Eventually, Emma gains the courage to strike out on her own. ~ Clarke Fountain, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Mikio Naruse – Okasan aka Mother (1952)


Mikio Naruse presents a compassionate, resigned, and poignant examination of human struggle, perseverance, and sacrifice in Okasan. Juxtaposing the innocence and optimism of youth with the austerity of life in postwar Japan, Naruse reflects the gradual erosion of hope in the face of change and uncertainty: the town festivals that coincide with episodes of illness and death in the family; the Fukuharas’ fond reminiscence of their hectic life as young parents with a newly opened business, as Ryosuke looks forward to the laundry shop reopening despite his debilitating illness; Chako’s picnic at an amusement park that exacerbates Masako’s motion sickness. From the opening shot of Toshiko’s affectionate voice-over against the image of the resourceful Masako, arched forward, cleaning the house, Naruse conveys the understated and bittersweet image of his archetypal, resilient heroine – an unsentimental, yet graceful and reverent portrait of a tenacious, aging woman struggling – and literally yielding – against the interminable burden of poverty, heartache, disillusionment, and unrealized dreams. Continue reading

Michael Haneke – 71 Fragmente einer Chronologie des Zufalls AKA 71 Fragments of a Chronology of Chance (1994)


This cerebral Austrian mystery, by avant-garde director Michael Haneke, will disturb those viewers with the patience to wade through it. The film begins with a grisly mass killing. It was Christmas eve 1993 and a 19-year old student inexplicably murders several people and then kills himself. The fragmented film flashes back to October 12 and then progresses toward the fateful night. Throughout the film many characters appear and suddenly reappear. A homeless teenaged Romanian exile roaming Vienna’s streets and begging provides continuity. Each fragment begins with a newscast that functions as a surreal Greek Chorus One shows footage of the war in Sarajevo, and the other is a story about Michael Jackson. — Sandra Brennan Continue reading

Mark Piznarski – The 60’s (1999)


The Herlihys are a working class family from Chicago whose three children take wildly divergent paths: Brian joins the Marines right out of High School and goes to Vietnam, Michael becomes involved in the civil rights movement and after campaigning for Bobby Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy becomes involved in radical politics, and Katie gets pregnant, moves to San Francisco and joins a hippie commune. Meanwhile, the Taylors are an African-American family living in the deep South. When Willie Taylor, a minister and civil rights organizer, is shot to death, his son Emmet moves to the city and eventually joins the Black Panthers, serving as a bodyguard for Fred Hampton. Continue reading