Drama

Masahiro Shinoda – Setouchi munraito serenade AKA Moonlight Serenade (1997)

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Continuing the Setouchi trilogy — which began with 1984’s MacArthur’s Children — this film looks at Japan just after World War II. The film opens with documentary footage of the 1995 Hanshin earthquake that flattened Kobe. The devastation reminds an elderly Keita Onda of the ruined landscape of Kobe just after the Allied bombing raids, which he witnessed from his home on nearby Awajishima Island. Cut to 1945, when Keita’s father, Kokichi (Kyozo Nagatsuka), receives the ashes of his eldest son who died on the battlefield. A rigid traditionalist, Kokichi decides to follow custom and return the ashes to his son’s birthplace in Kyushu. He hires out a car — a lavish expense that has the neighbors’ tongues wagging about a possible mass suicide. Instead, the family — consisting of the father, the mother Fuji (played by Shinoda’s wife, Shima Iwashita), Keita (Hideyuki Kasahara), daughter Hideko (Sayuri Kawachi), and teenaged son Koji (Jun Toba) — end up on a ferry bound for the south of Japan. Koji and his father are locked in a battle of wills. While dad preaches the value of tradition, Koji is much more interested in all things American. As the film progresses, Koji falls for a beautiful war-orphan named Yukiko (Hinano Yoshikawa). Also featured in this film are side stories about other passengers on the boat, including a sweet-talking black marketer who enlightens Kokichi on the joys of foreign liquor, a drug-addled soldier who falls in love with an impoverished woman about to turn tricks just to eat, and a dapper middle-aged man who jumps from the boat. Read More »

Alain Corneau – Le nouveau monde AKA New World (1995)

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Synopsis
A young boy who worships all things American comes of age in this amiable French melodrama set in Orleans where over 14,000 American GIs were stationed. The film opens with the solemn vow between young Patrick and Marie-Jose that they will both head to the US when they grow up. The children are totally obsessed with American culture and even surreptitiously go through the gringo garbage to find things such as old magazines, clothing, and empty packages. Years pass and the two friends are seen as lusty 16-year olds. Patrick finds himself feeling smothered by Marie-Jose and ends up falling for the vivacious blonde Yankee coquette, Trudy. He lives to go to the military base where he can hear the live jazz he is so crazy about. Soon his studies begin to suffer. On base, Patrick is befriended by a clumsy but kindly sergeant who buys him a drum kit so he can play with the jazz quintet when it entertains the troops. But when Patrick gets a chance to play drums at an out-of-town concert, his father forbids it, causing his son to rebel. Tragedy ensues. Read More »

Paul Goldman – Australian Rules (2002)

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IMDB:
In Prospect Bay, a remote outpost on the South Australian coast, two communities, the Goonyas (whites) and the Nungas (blacks), come together on the one field they have in common, the football field. But the underlying racism and class warfare threatens to make the team’s greatest victories irrelevant. This holds particularly true for Blacky, a white teen who is more interested in books than sport, and his best friend, Dumby, the Aboriginal star of the team. Written by Anonymous
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Luis Buñuel – El Angel Exterminador aka The Exterminating Angel [+Extras] (1962)

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Plot Outline :

A group of people in formal dress arrives at an elegantly appointed home for a dinner party. However, once dinner is over and the guests retire to the drawing room, they discover that the servants have gone away, and for some reason they cannot leave. There is no explanation why — there are no locked doors or barred windows preventing them from going home – but the guests are convinced that they’re stranded. Left to their own devices, they slowly but gradually degenerate into genteel savagery. Read More »

Carlos Reygadas – Batalla en el cielo aka Battle in Heaven (2005)

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Batalla en el Cielo, Carlos Reygadas

The sequel to Japón is a big-city story of demise in mega-city Mexico about a fat driver, the beautiful daughter of his boss and the surprising confession of an unforgivable crime. Upsetting and exciting existential drama by one of the world’s greatest film talents.
Immediately following its première in Cannes, the alarming and exciting Battle in Heaven split the film world into friend and foe. Many pages have been dedicated to the social, moral, existential and cinematographic aspects of Carlos Reygadas’ second film. He tells the story of a simple, big-city crime that – accidentally yet predictably – becomes an unforgivable one: Marcos and his wife kidnap a baby – and the baby then dies. Reygadas is not interested in the hows and whys of this act, for which neither church nor state can offer a truly redeeming punishment. What is important is the way that Marcos, a simple driver working for a rich general, reacts to the tragic outcome of his action. Seeking redemption, Marcos confesses the crime to Ana, the beautiful young daughter of his boss and a prostitute in an upmarket brothel. One crime leads to another, and Marcos’ path leads him on a pilgrimage to the Basilica Guadalupe. Starting and ending with both class-conscious and controversial scenes of fellatio, Battle in Heaven is an uninhibited, ambitious must-see film with its rather mysterious title, its grand camera movements (works of art in themselves, shot by Diego Vignatti), references to Rossellini, Tarkovski and Buñuel, and its meticulously-composed mise-en-scène and impressive soundtrack. [from IFFR catalogue] Read More »

Arild Andresen – Kompani Orheim (2012)

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Jarle Klepp gets a message that forces his mind back to something he’d rather forgotten – his childhood with his father in Stavanger. When “Orheim” was his surname. Read More »

Fei Xie – Ben ming nian AKA Black Snow (1990)

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A semi-literate who was deprived of schooling during the Cultural Revolution, Li Huiquan, is released from labor camp. But his attempts to make good are continually thwarted. His street stall selling clothes puts him on the fringe of the black market, and he soon gets lured back into his old neighbourhood gangs. His disenchanted comrades include a nightclub chanteuse as well as an escaped convict. (IMDb) Read More »