Drama

Jean-Claude Brisseau – À l’aventure (2009)

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A sexually unfulfilled young woman embarks on a series of graphic erotic encounters and becomes involved with a student of psychoanalysis who offers to put her under hypnosis. Yes, the notorious Jean-Claude Brisseau, director of The Exterminating Angels and Secret Things, is back with his latest provocation. Another idiosyncratic philosophical meditation on the enigmas of female sexuality, it features the director’s latest discovery, Carole Brana. Pretentious smut for high-brows, a dirty old man’s fantasies writ large, or a profound and daring exploration of society’s sexual taboos? You decide. Read More »

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no jôken AKA The Human Condition III: A Soldier’s Prayer (1961)

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Criterion Collection wrote:
Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best. Read More »

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no jôken AKA The Human Condition II: Road to Eternity (1959)

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Criterion Collection wrote:
Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best. Read More »

Masaki Kobayashi – Ningen no joken I aka The Human Condition I (1959)

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Criterion Collection wrote:
Masaki Kobayashi’s mammoth humanist drama is one of the most staggering achievements of Japanese cinema. Originally filmed and released in three parts, the nine-and-a-half-hour The Human Condition (Ningen no joken), adapted from Junpei Gomikawa’s six-volume novel, tells of the journey of the well-intentioned yet naive Kaji (handsome Japanese superstar Tatsuya Nakadai) from labor camp supervisor to Imperial Army soldier to Soviet POW. Constantly trying to rise above a corrupt system, Kaji time and again finds his morals an impediment rather than an advantage. A raw indictment of its nation’s wartime mentality as well as a personal existential tragedy, Kobayashi’s riveting, gorgeously filmed epic is novelistic cinema at its best. Read More »

Michelangelo Antonioni – La signora senza camelie AKA The Lady Without Camelias [+Extras] (1953)

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Clara Manni (Lucia Bosé, so good in Antonioni’s A Story of a Love Affair), a Milan shop girl, is discovered on the street and used for a bit part in a movie. That single part brings her immediate celebrity, and with the coaxing of her producer, Gianni, she becomes a screen sex symbol. She has great success in several sex comedy vehicles, but Gianni decides to push her into the world of the art film in order to attain artistic legitimacy and respect. She never wishes for this, since money is never an issue to her, but she is pushed head first into a production of Joan of Arc. The film is brutally attacked by the critics, and Clara’s dignity and identity are thrown into question in the harrowing final shot. Read More »

Claude Sautet – Vincent, François, Paul… et les autres AKA Vincent, François, Paul and the Others (1974)

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Description: Three friends face mid-life crises. Paul is a writer who’s blocked. François has lost his ideals and practices medicine for the money; his wife grows distant, even hostile. The charming Vincent, everyone’s favorite, faces bankruptcy, his mistress leaves him, and his wife, from whom he’s separated, wants a divorce. The strains on the men begin to show particularly in François and Paul’s friendship and in Vincent’s health. A younger man, Jack, becomes attractive to Lucie, François’s wife. Another young friend, the boxer Jean, who’s like a son to Vincent and whose girlfriend is pregnant, has taken a bout with a merciless slugger. Has happiness eluded this circle of friends?

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Yasujiro Ozu – Banshun aka Late Spring (1949)

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Plot from allmovie by Hal Erickson

Veteran Japanese writer/director Yasujiro Ozu’s second postwar production was 1949’s Late Spring or Banshun. Chisu Ryu plays another of Ozu’s realistic middle-class types, this time a widower with a marriageable daughter. Not wishing to see the girl resign herself to spinsterhood, Ryu pretends that he himself is about to be married. The game plan is to convince the daughter that they’ll be no room for her at home, thus forcing her to seek comfort and joy elsewhere. What makes this homey little domestic episode work is the rapport between Chisu Ryu and Setsuko Hara, who plays the daughter. Late Spring is no facile Hollywood farce; we like these people, believe in them, and wish them the best. Read More »