Drama

Lloyd Bacon – Marked Woman [+Extras] (1937)

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Bette Davis’ famous walk-out from her home studio of Warner Bros. may have hurt her financially, but in the long run it paid off with bigger parts in better films. Like many Warners films of the period, Marked Woman was “torn from today’s headlines.” Specifically, it was inspired by the recent downfall of gangster Lucky Luciano, who at one time controlled all prostitution activities in New York.

The ladies herein are euphemistically characterized as “night club hostesses,” but when Luciano look-alike Johnny Vanning (Eduardo Cianelli) shows up at a fancy clip-joint to give the girls their marching orders, the audience can tell exactly what’s going on. Read More »

David Cronenberg – Crash (1996)

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Quote:

Adapted from the controversial novel by J.G. Ballard, Crash will either repel or amaze you, with little or no room for a neutral reaction. The film is perfectly matched to the artistic and intellectual proclivities of director David Cronenberg, who has used the inspiration of Ballard’s novel to create what critic Roger Ebert has described as “a dissection of the mechanics of pornography.” Filmed with a metallic color scheme and a dominant tone of emotional detachment, the story focuses on a close-knit group of people who have developed a sexual fetish around the collision of automobiles. They use cars as a tool of arousal, in which orgasm is directly connected to death-defying temptations of fate at high speeds. Ballard wrote his book to illustrate the connections between sex and technology–the ultimate postmodern melding of flesh and machine–and Cronenberg takes this theme to the final frontier of sexual expression. Holly Hunter, James Spader, and Deborah Unger are utterly fearless in roles that few actors would dare to play, and their surrender to Cronenberg’s vision makes Crash an utterly unique and challenging film experience. Read More »

Joseph Cedar – Hearat Shulayim aka Footnote (2011)

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*Nominated for Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2012.

*Best Screenplay at Cannes 2011.

The story of a great rivalry between a father and son, both eccentric professors in the Talmud department of Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The son has an addictive dependency on the embrace and accolades that the establishment provides, while his father is a stubborn purist with a fear and profound revulsion for what the establishment stands for, yet beneath his contempt lies a desperate thirst for some kind of recognition. The Israel Prize, Israel’s most prestigious national award, is the jewel that brings these two to a final, bitter confrontation. Read More »

Claude Lelouch – Vivre pour vivre AKA Live for Life (1967)

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The film won the Golden Globe for Best Foreign Language Film and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.

Description: Robert Colomb, a famous TV newscaster, is married to Catherine, but is continually unfaithful. He is about to replace his current mistress, Mireille, with Jacqueline when he meets, and becomes fascinated with Candice. He takes her along on an assignment in Kenya and later establishes an “arrangement” with her in Amsterdam. When he tells Catherine about the affair, she is silent. He is assigned to Viet Nam, tells Candice their affair is over and, to his astonishment, discovers that is more than acceptable to her as she as tired of him. Returning from a Vietnamese prison he decides to return also to Catherine, but discovers she has made a new life for herself. He ponders whether he should break into her life again, rekindle their old love or just disappear from her life. While he is pondering, Catherine—a big hand for the little lady—makes the decision for this selfish and conceited ass. Written by Les Adams (IMDB). Read More »

Don Askarian – Avetik (1992)

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“Avetik” is very much in tradition of the cinema of dreams. A gorgeous and mesmerizing film, “Avetik” both thrills the eye and boggles the mind. It takes you on a journey of the mind that leads to heaven or hell – a succulent garden full of bare-breasted goddesses or a frozen step of devastation and death”. “Askarian is capable of producing images that are unlike anything ever seen before, yet hit you with a primal immediacy”.Hovering between the realms of poetry and history, this stunningly photographed, elegiac work-hot mostly in long takes-mixes cryptic metaphor and fantastic symbolism to tell the story of Avetik, an Armenian filmmaker exiled in Berlin. Director Askarian employs dreamlike images-a crumbling, ancient stone chapel gradually reduced to nothing by the rumbling vibrations of passing military vehicles; a ghostly cemetery of carved tombstones in which a woman takes a starving sheep in her arm and breast-feeds it back to life-to reflect the history of his homeland and shades of his own exile in Germany. In sensuous, lyric tableaux, Askarian explores German racism, the 1915 Armenian genocide, the disastrous earthquake of 1989, tranquil childhood memories, and images inspired by erotic medieval poetry. Read More »

Marco Ferreri – Liza AKA La Cagna [+Extra] (1972)

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synopsis:
This dark offbeat comedy from Marco Ferreri features Marcello Mastroianni and Catherine Deneuve. Mastroianni plays Giorgio, who lives on a island somewhere off the Mediterranean coast of France. He lives there with his dog, and the remains of an old German World War II airbase.

He earns his living drawing cartoons. Liza (Deneuve) swims to the island from a rich man’s yacht, and the yacht’s crew confirm the end of her relationship with the owner by bringing her luggage to the island. She and Giorgio meet and become involved. She is jealous of his relationship with the dog and kills her rival while assuming its duties: wearing a collar, fetching sticks, etc. Read More »

Marco Ferreri – Ciao maschio aka Bye Bye Monkey (1978)

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Winner of the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, in 1978. It would be interesting to bail up the panel now and ask them why they gave Ferreri’s film the award (in a tied decision with in tie with Jerzy Skolimowski’s The Shout). I suspect that they would not remember, let alone be able to explain why. In the 70s the absurdist, non-conventional, sexually-candid aspects of the film were all qualities that were regarded as inherently significant but times change and like so many films of its era, the meaning is now far less apparent. Broadly speaking, Ferreri’s first English-language film is a Fellini-esque portrait of the male species under attack from castrating women. Gérard Depardieu stars as a lighting technician who is raped multiple times by the members of the feminist theatrical group he works for. He subsequently finds a baby chimpanzee inside the remains of a huge stuffed gorilla and starts a relationship with one of his rapists. Marcello Mastroianni as a lonely old man and James Coco as a decadent wax museum owner also move in and out of the story. Whilst the images of the characters with the beached giant gorilla (which presumably Ferreri salvaged from Dino De Laurentis’ 1976 remake of King Kong) shot against the New York skyline are haunting and there are individual moments of surreal humour throughout the film, the absence of much in the way of narrative, characterological or dramatic development will make Ferreri’s film a trial for those other than students of the era or of the director’s work in particular.
BH @ cinephilia.net.au
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