Drama

Laurent Cantet – Entre les murs aka The Class (2008)

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Cannes Palmes d’Or winner ‘The Class’ follows a year in the lives of a class of junior high students who present a microcosm of society.

A fully sustained immersion in the academics, attitudes and frequent altercations of a group of junior high school students, “The Class” marks Laurent Cantet’s return to the sharply observed social dynamics and involving character drama that distinguished his 1999 debut, “Human Resources.” Talky in the best sense, the film exhilarates with its lively, authentic classroom banter while its emotional undercurrents build steadily but almost imperceptibly over a swift 129 minutes. One of the most substantive and purely entertaining movies in competition at Cannes this year, it will further cement Cantet’s sterling reputation among discerning arthouse auds in France and overseas.
Workshopped extensively with nonpro tykes at a Paris school in a manner not dissimilar to Mike Leigh’s improvisatory style (or that of “Human Resources”), “The Class” is a loose but full-bodied adaptation of Francois Begaudeau’s 2006 novel documenting a year in the life of a classroom, “Entre les murs.” French title translates to “Between the Walls”; fittingly enough, the film’s roving HD cameras never once leave the school grounds and only rarely leave the classroom, which is presented here as a microcosm of cultural, intellectual and aspirational differences. Read More »

Enki Bilal – Bunker Palace Hôtel (1989)

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Plot:
At some time in the future, a crumbling totalitarian state is racked by civil war between the old guard and the insurrectionists.
The current leaders take refuge in the Bunker Palace Hotel, a subterranean shelter staffed by run-down androids. A rebel spy, Clara, manages to infiltrate the secret base, but her mission is unclear. Meanwhile, the assembled leaders await with growing impatience the arrival of their president… Read More »

Kinji Fukasaku – Dôtonborigawa AKA Lovers Lost (1982)

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Lovers Lost tells the poignant love story between a 29-year-old woman, who has once been a prostitute but is now the mistress of a wealthy jewelry merchant, and a 19-year-old college student.

Watch out for the sensational and sensuous performance of Matsuzaka Keiko, once labeled the sexiest Goddess in Japan. Sanada Hiroyuki as Yasuoka Kunihiko.

A tragic love story between a lonely mature woman and a lonely young man, surrounded by various life struggles of the people at the bottom of the society in Dotonbori section in Osaka. Read More »

Shohei Imamura – Nippon konchuki aka The Insect Woman [+Extras] (1963)

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Quote:
Iamura’s episodic Insect Woman is justly one of his most famous works, and one his finest meditations on the means of survival in an often brutal, unforgiving world. Sachiko Hidari plays Tome, whose life is examined with an unjudging eye throughout her beginnings as a poor country girl through an arc which brings her to the city, relative success and a cyclical spiral back again. Refraining from the use of any melodramatic or other genre devices, Imamura’s film is almost reportedly in its stance, yet without the cold detachment such a gambit would yield in the hands of a lesser filmmaker. Tome is both heroine and villain, not fixed to a trajectory of narrative cinema’s needs, but reflecting the shading and improbability of the never ending struggle between survival and living. Read More »

Ingmar Bergman – Scener ur ett äktenskap AKA Scenes from a Marriage [Theatrical Cut] (1973)

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“Criterion” wrote:
Marianne (Liv Ullmann) and Johan (Erland Josephson) always seemed like the perfect couple. But when Johan suddenly leaves Marianne for another woman, they are forced to confront the disintegration of their marriage. Shot in intense, intimate close-ups by master cinematographer Sven Nykvist, the film chronicles ten years of turmoil and love that bind the couple despite their divorce and subsequent marriages. Flawless acting and dialogue portray the brutal pain and uplifting peace that accompany a lifetime of loving.. Read More »

Maren Ade – Alle Anderen AKA Everyone Else (2009)

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“I was interested in whether it was possible to tell the inner life of a relationship, the things you can’t express to a third person. When Gitti and Chris come home after the holiday, and someone asks her, “How was it?” she probably wouldn’t be able to tell what happened.” Maren Ade.

Everyone Else is a subtle dissection of the truths and cracks of a relationship – a relationship that, like any other, embodies love as well as power, respect as well as moments of dissolution. Spending the first days of their vacation in Chris’ family home in Sardinia, Chris and Gitti are the ideal couple. They play, make love, talk and make love some more. Read More »

Abel Gance – Austerlitz (1960)

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In what must be the longest lapse of time between a film and its sequel, 70-year-old Abel Gance continues his nearly legendary, 1927 historical drama Napoleon with this tale of Napoleon’s life after his victories in Italy. The first half of Austerlitz delves into the private life of Napoleon Bonaparte (Pierre Mondy), the prodigal son of Corsica. The supreme commander of the French armed forces goes about his family life and dallies with Josephine (Martine Carol) and mistress Mlle. de Vaudey (Leslie Caron). He occasionally displays bursts of temper that presage some of the macho violence of the battle scenes in the second half of the film, after Napoleon has proclaimed himself Emperor. This sequel shows that Gance has not lost his directorial touch. ~ Eleanor Mannikka, All Movie Guide Read More »