John Llewellyn Moxey – Foxhole in Cairo (1960)


In 1942, Rommel halts his victorious Afrika Korps and sends German agent John Eppler
and radio operator Sandy to Cairo. Their mission is to learn where the British plan to
launch their counteroffensive. Eppler immediately communicates with Amina, an Egyptian
cabaret dancer and his former mistress, who agrees to help him. Unknown to them,
British counterespionage chief Captain Robertson has learned of Eppler’s presence in
Cairo and is working with the leader of Cairo’s Jewish underground, Radek. Amina lures
an ineffectual British officer, Major Wilson, to her houseboat and has him drugged and
robbed of his briefcase containing British counteroffensive details. While Eppler and
Sandy relay the information to Rommel that the battle will take place at Alam Halfa,
Yvette, a member of the Jewish underground, sneaks aboard the boat and revives the
unconscious Wilson. They are interrupted by Amina, who shoots Wilson but is herself
stabbed to death by Yvette. Eppler arrives and is about to kill Yvette when Robertson
and Radek appear and arrest Eppler. Eppler’s satisfaction at having already informed
Rommel that the counteroffensive will take place at Alam Halfa is short-lived. Robertson
had seen to it that the plans in Wilson’s briefcase were false–the real battle will take
place at El Alamein. Read More »

Isabel Coixet – Cosas que nunca te dije AKA Things I Never Told You (1996)


Ann’s boyfriend leaves her in Prague after suddenly announcing that he doesn’t love her anymore. Lonely, Ann calls a helpline and meets another man, depressed and unhappy. A sensitive and carefully written love story.

Some reviews:
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Isabel Coixet directs and writes an off-beat comedy/drama about the search for love amidst the misery of existence, that succeeds in its efforts to be cute. Lili Taylor is an over educated camera shop clerk at a loss after being dumped by her foreign correspondent boyfriend in Prague via telephone, who out of the blue mentions he doesn’t love her anymore. Into the picture steps a lonely real estate salesman, Andrew McCarthy, temporarily working for dad after his relationship ended with him being dumped. He works nights as a volunteer for Hope Line to gain insight into his own depression, and takes Taylor’s desperate suicide call on the hot-line. They form a relationship when he goes into her camera store and they meet without realizing they spoke to each other. To complicate things further, Taylor makes some embarrassingly foolish video-tapes to send to her lover in hopes of explaining herself more to him. But the videos are stolen by the shy delivery boy Alexis Arquette, who has a secret crush on her.
An engaging and meaningful narrative follows along with likable performances and some plot surprises, as the overall tone remains quirky enough to veer away from the traps of sitcom.
It was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon. Read More »

Vittorio Cottafavi – Una donna ha ucciso (1952)


In 1951, two years after the “scandal” of the Fiamma che non si spegne, Cottafavi got the opportunity to work on a film with a small production company, Novissima Film. With little means, a number of technical and financial problems and working Sundays with the pieces of film given to him bit by bit, Cottafavi shot Una donna ha ucciso, a minor film that marked his comeback to directing. Followed by Traviata ’53 (1953), In amore si pecca in due (1953), Nel gorgo del peccato (1954) and Una donna libera (1954), Una donna ha ucciso was also the first of a pentalogy of melodramatic movies about the condition of women in contemporary society and the moral and social problems related to it. The film is based on a real crime story that took place immediately after the war. An Italian woman killed her English wartime lover for the sake of love. The story was reformulated by Cottafavi with the help of Siro Angeli and Giorgio Capitani. It was the producer who had the idea to make it a film; in fact, he had just gotten the rights to the autobiography of this woman who had been recently pardoned and released from jail. They planned to exploit the melodramatic and passionate elements of the story at a time when, for example, Raffaello Matarazzo’s films were enjoying enormous success. Gianni Rondolino Read More »

Bernardo Bertolucci – Prima della rivoluzione AKA Before the Revolution (1964)

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The study of a youth on the edge of adulthood and his aunt, ten years older. Fabrizio is passionate, idealistic, influenced by Cesare, a teacher and Marxist, engaged to the lovely but bourgeois Clelia, and stung by the drowning of his mercurial friend Agostino, a possible suicide. Gina is herself a bundle of nervous energy, alternately sweet, seductive, poetic, distracted, and unhinged. They begin a love affair after Agostino’s funeral, then Gina confuses Fabrizio by sleeping with a stranger. Their visits to Cesare and then to Puck, one of Gina’s older friends, a landowner losing his land, dramatize contrasting images of Italy’s future. Their own futures are bleak. (IMDb) Read More »

Alexandre Astruc – Albert Savarus (1993)


Based on the 1836 novel by Balzac (wiki)

Script-writers who adapt Balzac or Dostoievsky excuse the idiotic transformations they impose on the works from which they construct their scenarios by pleading that the cinema is incapable of rendering every psychological or metaphysical overtone. In their hands, Balzac becomes a collection of engravings in which fashion has the most important place, and Dostoievsky suddenly begins to resemble the novels of Joseph Kessel, with Russian-style drinking-bouts in night-clubs and troika races in the snow. Well, the only cause of these compressions is laziness and lack of imagination. The cinema of today is capable of expressing any kind of reality. What interests us is the creation of this new language. (…) The fundamental problem of the cinema is how to express thought.
Alexandre Astruc, The Birth of a New Avant-Barde: La Camera-Stylo (1948) Read More »

Rafi Bukai – Avanti Popolo (1986)


Two Egyptian soldiers, Haled and Gassan, are stranded in the Sinai desert at the end of the Six Day War in 1967. This compelling and comical saga follows these soldiers’ attempts to find safety and water. The pair encounter Israeli soldiers on patrol, and Haled, (an actor as a civilian) attempts a virtuoso performance of Shakespeare’s Shylock. Eventually, the “enemies” stride across the sand singing “Avanti Popolo,” an Italian revolutionary song whose words neither side understands. An intelligent and artistic satire on the absurdity of war, this Israeli classic is the first film from acclaimed director Rafai Bukai. Read More »

Paul Schrader – Auto Focus (2002)


Review by Michael Hastings (Allmovie)

Though Paul Schrader isn’t often tapped to direct scripts other than his own, his touch proves essential to Auto Focus, a true-life tale of sex, celebrity, and videotape that seems tailor-made to the man who dreamed up Taxi Driver and American Gigolo. Schrader’s clinical, detached directorial style proves well-matched to the genial, humorous tone of Michael Gerbosi’s script; it’s like Hardcore without all the proselytizing (and without the sight of George C. Scott in a campy porn-producer costume). What Auto Focus is most interested in is not the narcotizing effects of anonymous sex — though that’s undeniably a big part of it — but the latent homosexuality lurking behind Bob Crane and John Carpenter’s buddy-buddy sexcapades. Finally cast in a role that successfully sends up and subverts his All-American charm, Greg Kinnear perfectly captures Crane’s kid-in-a-candy-store sexual awakening; meanwhile, Willem Dafoe underlines the desperation at the heart of the swinging lifestyle. Schrader overplays his hand in the film’s “downward spiral” sequences, switching to hand-held camera and bleached-out film stock, but even those minor technical miscalculations don’t detract from the film’s portrait of Crane as a man whose determination to lead the unobserved life ultimately led to his death. Read More »