Drama

Sébastien Pilote – Le Vendeur (2011)

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This stunning Quebecois kitchen sink drama is so raw and real, the pain evoked so acute, you’ll be devastated by its quiet power while at the same time dazzled by its cinematic genius. The film had its World Premiere in Competition at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2011 and was cited as one of Canada’s Ten Best Films of the year in the Toronto International Film Festival’s (TIFF) CTT. That it has not garnered one single nomination for a Genie Award is an utter disgrace.

(Greg Klymkiw, canadianfilmcorner.blogspot.com)

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A tale of quiet resilience and human frailty that plays out against a harsh and apparently endless Quebec winter, befouled by the global economic downturn and a cruel twist of fate, Quebec filmmaker Sébastien Pilote’s debut, Le Vendeur (The Salesman) is a masterful observation of ordinary people squeezing what they need to get by out of unforgiving circumstances. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – The Paradine Case (1947)

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In no sense a ‘wronged innocent’ thriller, The Paradine Case sets out to be a morality tale on the dangers of Strong Emotion. A happy marriage is threatened when rising young barrister Peck falls hopelessly in love with the woman (Valli) he is defending on a murder rap. Blinded by passion, he can see neither her guilt, nor that her obsession lies elsewhere – with the man (Jourdan) whom he would destroy in her stead. Bleak in its message (those who love passionately inevitably destroy the object of their desire), the movie only half works; Peck is rather half-hearted, Valli coldly cat-like, Ann Todd as the rejected wife too self-sacrificing and loyally forgiving to be true. And the intricate, triangular plot is finally overburdened by the courtroom setting from which it tries to draw a laborious analogy between the perversion of love and justice. — FF, Time Out Film Guide 13 Read More »

Nikola Tanhofer – H-8 (1958)

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A bus and a truck are moving towards each other along a two-way traffic highway on a rainy day. At the very beginning we learn that a reckless driver of another car will cause them to collide while trying to pass the bus; we even learn what seats will spell doom for their occupants. The rest of the movie follows two streams of events on the bus and on the truck, getting us to know and like a wide variety of characters, wondering which ones will end up being casualties and holding breath for our favourites. The epilogue brings some more surprises… Read More »

Clive Brook – On Approval (1944)

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Plot Synopsis by Craig Butler (AllMovie):
English actor Clive Brook’s only directorial effort, On Approval, is based upon Frederick Lonsdale’s frothy 1926 play, though reset in the late 19th century. Brook plays George, a titled duke whose wealth has largely been spent but who has no intention of settling further into genteel poverty. George is enormously appealing to Helen (played by Googie Withers), a good-natured American heiress, and is equally appalling to Maria (Bea Lillie), an Englishwoman of considerable means. The imperious Maria is dating the eternally devoted Richard (Roland Culver), who worships her. Maria decides that she will marry Richard — after he spends a month with her in a secluded Scottish castle, where she will try him out “on approval.” Maria, however, does not intend to discover whether they are suitable for all aspects of marriage; every night he is to row across the loch and spend his nights at a local inn. Neither Maria nor Richard will lack for company, though, as George and Helen invite themselves along. Things get complicated when it turns out that there are no rooms available at the inn, leaving the men to share the castle with the women — a prospect that so horrifies the servants that they promptly leave the two couples high and dry. Left to their own devices, the foursome get to know each other — and they don’t necessarily like what they find. Read More »

David Mackenzie – Hallam Foe AKA Mister Foe (2007)

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Synopsis –

Hallam is almost over the sudden death of his mother when he begins to suspect that his beautiful step mother may have had a hand in her death, and it doesn‘t help that Hallam fancies her rotten. After a confrontation with his step mum, Hallam escapes to Edinburgh. Out of money and out of friends, he finds his tree–top skills well suited to the rooftops of the city, where he lives ferally, attempting to avoid the perils of the streets below and becoming obsessed with a gorgeous girl who happens to look just like his mother. Read More »

Alfred Hitchcock – Lifeboat (1944)

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Several survivors of a torpedoed ship find themselves in the same boat with one of the men who sunk it.

In the Atlantic during WWII, a ship and a German U-boat are involved in a battle and both are sunk. The survivors from the ship gather in one of the boats. They are from a variety of backgrounds: an international journalist, a rich businessman, the radio operator, a nurse, a steward, a sailor and an engineer with communist tendencies. Trouble starts when they pull a man out of the water who turns out to be from the U-boat. Read More »

Steve Collins – Gretchen (2006)

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The feature debut from writer-director Steve Collins is a hilarious, compassionate look at youthful trauma, misguided affections and the discovery of self worth. Gawky and disregarded, Gretchen Finkle (Courtney Davis) is a high school senior with zero social prospects, save for her sleazy, would-be rebel boyfriend Ricky (John Merriman). The discovery of his infidelity leads Gretchen to a devastated reassessment of her priorities and aims in life. Winner of the L.A. Film Festival’s ‘Best Narrative Feature’ award and featuring remarkable performances by Davis, Merriman, Becky Ann Baker (Freaks & Geeks) and Stephen Root (Office Space, DodgeBall), ‘Gretchen’ balances soul-searching melancholy with a sprightly wit and deadpan comic invention to become a standout among recent independent features. Read More »