Drama

Bert Haanstra – Dokter Pulder zaait papavers AKA When the Poppies Bloom Again [+Extras] (1975)

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Doctor Kees Pulder is unexpectedly visited by his old study pal Hans van Inge Liedaerd. They recall youth memories until they’re totally boogaloo. The next morning, Pulder discovers that Hans left quietly and stole his medicines, including a bulk of morphine. In the evening a brick is thrown through the window with a note from Hans. Not long after, Hans dies from an overdosis. Following his funeral, Pulder gets under the spell of Hans’ past. He meets one of his old lovers, Mies, who tells him they were planning on committing suicide together. Pulder starts visiting Mies regularly. In the end they sow poppies in her backyard, with the juice of which Mies wanted to kill herself. For Kees, it’s still not too late. Read More »

Mia Hansen-Løve – Un amour de jeunesse AKA Goodbye First Love (2011)

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In her exceptional third feature, writer-director Mia Hansen-Løve (The Father of My Children) shows once again her talent for capturing the agony and the ecstasy of adolescence. Besotted teenagers Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky) and Camille (Lola Créton) struggle, as all couples must, with a painful push-pull dynamic, heightened by the young man’s decision to leave Paris and travel through South America. Over the course of eight years, we watch Camille, initially devastated by her boyfriend’s departure, emerge with new passions, intellectual and otherwise. Touchingly illuminating the indelible imprint that first romance leaves, Hansen-Løve’s film also explores the hard-won satisfaction of leaving the past behind. Read More »

Andrey Zvyagintsev – Elena (2011)

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Elena and Vladimir are an older couple, they come from different backgrounds. Vladimir is a wealthy and cold man, Elena comes from a modest milieu and is a docile wife. They have met late in life and each one has children from previous marriages. Elena’s son is unemployed, unable to support his own family and he is constantly asking Elena for money. Vladimir’s daughter is a careless young woman who has a distant relationship with her father. A heart attack puts Vladimir in hospital, where he realizes that his remaining time is limited. A brief but somehow tender reunion with his daughter leads him to make an important decision: she will be the only heiress of his wealth. Back home he announces it to Elena. Her hopes to financially help her son suddenly vanish. The shy and submissive housewife then comes up with a plan to give her son and grandchildren a real chance in life. (Cannes Film Festival) Read More »

Lina Wertmüller – Pasqualino Settebellezze aka Seven Beauties (1975)

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Lina Wertmüller’s harrowing 1976 film stars Giancarlo Giannini as a petty crook with seven unattractive sisters to support, and it features a picaresque, World War II-era journey through a prison asylum, army service, and a Nazi concentration camp. Wertmüller is more indulgent in highbrow sadomasochism than she is real profundity, but there’s no denying that the film is powerful in its story of subjugation and survival. A climactic scene in which Giannini saves his skin at the camp by seducing its disgusting female commandant is unnervingly honest. Giannini became a ’70s international icon partially on the basis of this work. Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – Zerkalo AKA The Mirror [+Extras] (1975)

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SYNOPSIS
With Zerkalo (The Mirror), legendary Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky crafts perhaps his most profound and compelling film. What started off for Tarkovsky as a planned series of interviews with his own mother evolved into a lyrical and complex circular meditation on love, loyalty, memory, and history. Time shifts and generations merge as a single extraordinary actress (Margarita Terekhova) plays the narrator’s former wife as well as his mother. Tarkovsky’s memories as well as those of his mother are intermingled as a dark, sumptuous, and dreamlike pre-World War II Russia is evoked, accompanied throughout by the voice of Tarkovsky’s father reading his own elegiac poetry. The spectacle of nature and its ubiquitous and ever-shifting presence is captured by Tarkovsky’s camera as if by magic–the family cabin nestled deep in the verdant woods, a barn on fire in the middle of a gentle rainstorm, a gigantic wind enveloping a man as he walks through a wheat field–all creating indelible images with deep if mysterious emotional resonance. As the timeline shifts between the narrator’s generation and his mother’s, newsreel footage of Russian wars, triumphs, and disasters are juxtaposed with imagined scenes from the past, present, and future, crafting a silently lucid cinematic panopticon of memory, history, and nature. (Rotten Tomatoes) Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – Segodnya uvolneniya ne budet (Сегодня увольнения не будет) AKA There Will Be No Leave Today (1958)

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From wikipedia

There Will be No Leave Today (Russian: Сегодня увольнения не будет, Sevodnya uvolnyeniya nye budyet) is a 1959 student film by the Russian film director Andrei Tarkovsky and his fellow student Aleksandr Gordon. The film is about members of the Soviet army during a time of peace. It was Tarkovsky’s second film, produced while being a student at the State Institute of Cinematography. Read More »

Semih Kaplanoglu – Bal AKA Honey (2010)

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The young boy Yusuf’s best friend is his father, who supports his family’s modest life with the honey he collects from tall trees in the forests of the remote Turkish countryside. Yusuf is a quiet boy, and his mother is concerned for his future. Perhaps he will follow in his father’s footsteps, or perhaps school will offer him other opportunities. But the honey crop is failing, and Yusuf has trouble learning how to read. The greatest fear strikes when Yusuf’s father doesn’t return home from the forest. Read More »