Drama

Frantisek Vlácil – Stíny horkého léta aka Shadows of a Hot Summer (1978)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

From IMDB
Once more, Vlacil’s films are largely about subjects that are not seen on screen. With some spoilers, here we have a story set in 1947 when Ukrainian right-wing anti-Communist guerillas, looking like and feeling like Nazi’s, are trying to fight their way through Czechoslovakia to Austria. They come out of the forest to occupy a family’s countryside farm house, kidnapping a doctor to help heal one of their wounded, but this could just as easily be about the post-war occupying forces in Eastern Europe, or the occupying Soviet forces in the 60’s, as there is an initial belief that there is nothing anyone can do, or to coin a STAR TREK phrase, `Resistance is futile.’ The film has a very languid pace which establishes the mood and pace of this small village, much of it is wordless, with a Sergio Leone acid-western feel, easily the most outstanding feature is the original music by Zdenek Liska, which plays on the inner psychological turmoil, providing an unseen character in the film. The father gives the appearance of passivity, as he is outmanned and outgunned, while his eager young son wants a taste of immediate revenge. But a wiser course of action is called for, waiting, giving the impression he is yielding to their demands, as the father wants to protect the lives of his wife and children, which allows for large doses of screen time where various family members are performing daily farm chores, just trying to survive this ordeal, while interspersed in each frame are men with machine guns who sadistically threaten their every impulse. This farmhouse under occupation represents a country under occupation, all feel like helpless victims where every moment is spent in fear, any minute things could spin helplessly out of control, and this film skillfully gets under everyone’s skin. Read More »

Abbas Kiarostami – Gozaresh aka The Report (1977)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

The movie revolves around the life of a tax collector who is accused of taking bribes, and also has to deal with problems at home, including the suicide attempt of his wife. Read More »

C. Thomas Howell – Hourglass (1996)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

A business executive gets mixed up with a killer female and her lesbian roommate, who plot to take over his fashion business. Read More »

Srdan Golubovic – Klopka aka The Trap (2007)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Mladen, an ordinary man, signs a pact with the devil in order to pay for the life-saving operation for his son and becomes a murderer. But the act soon starts to haunt him: keeping the secret from his wife forces him into a kind of emotional poker, and his conscience does not cooperate very long in his betrayal of his own moral standards. A “Balkan version of Crime and Punishment”, wrote director Srdan Golubović, set against the backdrop of a transition process gone awry: “a modern ‘film noir’ about post-Milosevic Serbia, where there is no more war, just a moral and existential desert.” Golubović vividly dissects personality transformations from the perspective of a confession, always showing great respect for his protagonists. With its distinctive language of images, which finds a style of its own between close-ups and the representation of urban architecture, the film reveals an artistic approach to the theme that points beyond empty metaphors to the personal quality of the story — a story whose pull can’t be resisted.
(Berlinale Catalogue)
Read More »

Hans Alfredson – Den enfaldige mördaren AKA The Simple-Minded Murder (1982)

Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

Quote:
Set in 1930s Sweden. On the death of his mother, a young man with learning difficulties (and a harelip) is sent to work for a local rich landowner. He is ill-treated by the man who is a petty tyrant to all his employees. He makes friends with the disabled daughter of a poor family. Unable to take more debasement from the landowner he runs away and is harboured by the girl’s family. But the tyrant fights to get him back with bloody consequences. Read More »

Atom Egoyan – Where the Truth Lies (2005)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

From AMG:
A reporter unexpectedly gets a personal perspective on a legendary show-business story in this adaptation of Rupert Holmes’ novel, scripted and directed by noted Canadian independent filmmaker Atom Egoyan. In the mid-’50s, Lanny Morris (Kevin Bacon) and Vince Collins (Colin Firth) were a wildly popular comedy team who suddenly and unexpectedly broke up at the peak of their popularity. Fifteen years after Morris and Collins called it quits, journalist Karen O’Connor (Alison Lohman), who has earned a reputation for her celebrity exposés, wants to write about the true story of what happened with Morris and Collins — and to her surprise, her publisher tells her Collins has agreed to co-author the book for a cool million dollars. The only catch is that Collins has to tell the full truth about a very large skeleton in the team’s closet — a beautiful naked woman was found drowned in the bathtub of Morris and Collins’ hotel suite shortly before they broke up the act, and while the comics were cleared of any wrongdoing, rumors about the incident followed them for years. As O’Connor and Collins complete their book, they learn to their surprise that Morris has opted to write a book of his own about the team’s career; eager to learn what Morris has to say, O’Connor meets him posing as a schoolteacher, and soon falls into an unexpected romantic relationship with him. O’Connor soon finds herself playing two sides against one another as she tried to learn the truth about two men with dark and scandalous pasts. Where the Truth Lies became the subject of unexpected controversy when the MPAA gave the film an NC-17 rating due to a brief scene involving a ménage à trois; the film earned significantly more lenient rating in other countries. Read More »

Naomi Kawase – Sharasojyu aka Shara (2003)

29f7c043f76a2bde437fd0d52a185152

A film about mourning and its eventual passing. Like in Antonioni’s L’avventura and in Fahrhadi’s About Elly, the unexplained, unresolved disappearance of a central character puts into motion the complex interplay between the public and personal dimension of mourning. Kawase herself plays the mother who, seven years after the disappearance of one of her twins, is heavily pregnant again. This coincides with upsetting news from the authorities. The family and neighbours and friends are plunged once more into the work of mourning. But by means of an extraordinary street festival, a family ceremony of acceptance in which the curse of the disappeared is at last transformed into a benign omen for the coming birth, and the birth of a new family member the trance-like state of collective dissociation is broken. Ultimately, it is not just the disappeared twin who can pass on to the next life in peace, but the entire family. The three core scenes, the festival, the ceremony, and the birth are overwhelmingly effective, in part due to Kawase’s (and her team’s) subtle control, in part due to the impossible admixture of calm and joyous exuberance. If the ending does suggest notions of rebirth, release from the curse of eternal return and memory, it is accomplished, like the entire film, in the absence of dogma. There is no lesson here other than that life ought to be gentle. Read More »