Walerian Borowczyk – Dzieje Grzechu AKA The Story of Sin (1975)



Walerian Borowczyk has become largely forgotten. This is partly due to a lack of availability (though at the time of writing there are currently four discs of his films on release in the UK) but primarily because his career hit a decline in the seventies that eventually led to a stint directing Emmanuelle 5. Yet both the man himself and his career are utterly fascinating. Starting out as an animator, producing a number of classic shorts including 1963’s Renaissance, Borowczyk moved into features with the distinctive Goto, Isle of Love and his masterpiece Blanche which earned him a place on the BFI 360 Film Classics list. His works from this point onwards, however, exist in a strange critical limbo as there is much debate as to whether they are art or simply soft porn with high production values and pretensions. As a result, the likes of La Bete and Docteur Jekyll et les femmes have never moved beyond a cult audience. This particular effort, The Story of Sin, the only film Borowczyk was able to make in Poland is one of his more popular works, especially in his home country, and in many ways it makes the perfect introduction to his work. By no means an exceptional film, and certainly not the director’s best, it does however allow for a succinct demonstration of his strengths and weaknesses. Moreover, the erotic content for which Borowczyk has become best known is relatively low-key, especially in comparison to, say, Behind Convent Walls or Immoral Tales, which will perhaps make it more accessible. Read More »

Atom Egoyan – Ararat (2002)


From All Movie Guide:

Canadian filmmaker Atom Egoyan explores his Armenian heritage, and how the country’s tragic history has touched several generations of the nation’s expatriates, in this ambitious drama. Edward Saroyan (Charles Aznavour), a veteran filmmaker of Armenian descent, is in Toronto shooting a film about the Siege of Van, in which invading Ottoman armies forced the evacuation of Armenian communities in 1915, leading to the genocide of over a million Armenian people at the hands of Turkish troops. Twenty-one-year-old Raffi (David Alpay) has been sent to Turkey to shoot background footage for the film; Raffi’s mother Ani (Arsinee Khanjian), an author and historian, is also involved in the project as a consultant. Lately Raffi and Ani have been at odds; Raffi has been dating Celia (Marie-Josee Croze), Ani’s stepdaughter, who is convinced that Ani is somehow responsible for the death of her father. Ani’s first husband, who was Raffi’s father, is also dead, after taking part in an assassination attempt on a Turkish political leader. As Raffi attempts to re-enter Canada with cans of exposed film, he’s detained by David (Christopher Plummer), a suspicious customs official who has his own tenuous link to Saroyan’s film — David is struggling to come to terms with the gay lifestyle of his son Philip (Brent Carver), whose lover Ali (Elias Koteas) is playing the villain in the picture. Ararat also features Eric Bogosian and Bruce Greenwood. Read More »

Alan Parker – Mississippi Burning [+Extras] (1988)


Mississippi Burning is a 1988 crime drama film based on the investigation into the real-life murders of three civil rights workers in the U.S. state of Mississippi in 1964. The movie focuses on two fictional FBI agents (portrayed by Gene Hackman and Willem Dafoe) who investigate the murders. Hackman’s character is loosely based on FBI agent John Proctor, and Dafoe’s character is very loosely based on agent Joseph Sullivan. Read More »

Alan Parker – Come See the Paradise (1990)


Plot Synopsis:

In 1942, over 100,000 Americans were interned in prison camps…..In America.

Portraying one of the shadier details of American history, this is the story of Jack McGurn, who comes to Los Angeles in 1936. He gets a job at a movie theatre in Little Tokyo and falls in love with the boss’s daughter, Lily Kawamura. When her father finds out, he is fired and forbidden ever to see her again. But together they escape to Seattle. When the war breaks out, the authorities decide that the Japanese immigrants must live in camps like war prisoners. Written by Mattias Thuresson. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Ten (2002)


Ten, the latest film by Iranian master filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami, focuses on ten conversations between a female driver in Tehran and the passengers in her car. Her exchanges with her young son, a jilted bridge, a prostitute, a women on her way to prayer and others, shed light on the lives and emotions of these women whose voices are seldom heard. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Zire darakhatan zeyton aka Through the Olive Trees [+Extras] (1994)


A film director is making a movie in the Iranian countryside. He recruits local actors, but when shooting begins, a problem comes to light. His male lead, a young man named Hossein (playing himself), is madly in love with his fifteen-year old female co-star, Tahereh (playing herself). Because of Hossein’s illiteracy and homelessness, a marriage is impossible, at least from the perspective of Tahereh’s grandmother (who is also her guardian). Undaunted, the young man continues to pledge his undying love. For her part, Tahereh is busy studying for her exams and the last thing she wants is to engage in a conversation — any conversation — with the ardent suitor she wishes would go away. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Nema-ye Nazdik AKA Close-Up [+Extras] (1990)

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Kiarostami Takes a Mirror to Movie-World Fame
Being Mohsen Makhmalbaf
by Michael Atkinson
December 29, 1999 – January 4, 2000

A full decade after its making, Abbas Kiarostami’s Close-Up emerges from the closed country of Rumored Masterpieces to no doubt pass through our cultural pipes as effectlessly as pork fat through a goose. (Zeitgeist displays admirable holiday spirit distributing it.) The must-see Iranian Godardian knot of a movie, Close-Up is no crowd-pleaser, but neither is it less breathtaking than Godard in his salad days. Most of this year’s best releases—Les Amants du Pont Neuf, Boiling Point, A Moment of Innocence included—have spent lonely years on the market, but Kiarostami’s film has artichoke-like layers which, once peeled, are forever resonant. How simple yet inexhaustible can a filmic text get? Here you have in vitro the ruminative spiral-evolution of Kiarostami’s Quoker “earthquake” trilogy and the mysterian subtractions and realist ellipses of Taste of Cherry and The Wind Will Carry Us. Seemingly bottomless, Kiarostami’s reflexivity never obscures his deep, aching concern for people. Nobody makes or has ever made movies with such mundane majesty. Read More »