Drama

Keigo Kimura – Fûten Rôjin nikki aka Diary of a Mad Old Man (1962)

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Diary of a Mad Old Man is the journal of Utsugi, a seventy-seven-year-old man of refined tastes who is recovering from a stroke. He discovers that, while his body is decaying, his libido still rages on — unwittingly sparked by the gentle, kindly attentions of his daughter-in-law Satsuko, a chic, flashy dancer with a shady past. Pitiful and ridiculous as he is, Utsugi is without a trace of self-pity, and his diary shines with self-effacing good humor. At once hilarious and of a sadness, Diary of a Mad Old Man is a brilliant depiction of the relationship between eros and the will to live — a film of the tragicomedy of human existence. Read More »

Youssef Chahine – Awdat al ibn al dal AKA The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)

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In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment. (www.bam.org) Read More »

Jean-Marc Vallée – Café de Flore (2011)

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From IMDb :

A love story between a man and woman. And between a mother and her son. A mystical and fantastical odyssey on love.

From Toronto International Film Festival official website :

*** This description contains spoilers ***

Jean-Marc Vallée returns to French-language filmmaking with this powerful and unconventional love story that weaves together two disparate narratives to create a tale of emotion and destiny. The stories center on a devoted mother (Vanessa Paradis) of a young boy with Down syndrome in 1969 Paris, and a successful DJ (Kevin Parent) who is going through an emotional divorce in present-day Montreal. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Le Havre (2011)

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Synopsis
When an African boy arrives by cargo ship in the port city of Le Havre, an aging shoe shiner takes pity on the child and welcomes him into his home… Read More »

Ken Russell – Mahler (1974)

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Director Ken Russell made a number of biographical films of composers’ lives including The Music Lovers, (about Tchaikovsky) and Lisztomania. Russell embellished the other films with certain characteristic flourishes, which include a focus on the composers’ sexual obsessions, poetically telling anachronisms, and scenes which show Richard Wagner in a bad light. The story of Mahler is recounted in a much less complex and flamboyant manner and is a relatively reverent study of the life and work of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, here played by Robert Powell. The film tackles the touchy dilemma of Mahler’s Jewishness in the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna. He converts to Christianity, which has no effect on his brilliant musical output but which eats away at his physical and mental well-being. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was a conductor and composer of the late Romantic era and specialized in huge symphonic works. Though his works were performed widely during his lifetime, they were less and less-often played until Leonard Bernstein’s active campaign on their behalf brought him renewed recognition as a composer of the first rank, every bit the peer of Brahms or Stravinsky. Read More »

Kazuo Kuroki – Ashita AKA Tomorrow (1988)

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Quote:
On August 9, 1945, the Americans dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki. This film, based on a story by Mitsukaru Inoue, describes the daily life of people in Nagasaki the day before that fateful event. It presents the human drama of people’s lives, and their feelings of joy and sadness. These include a newlywed couple, an expectant mother, and lovers who must say farewell because the boy is called to serve in the army. Each of these people, like others in the city, hoped to live with their dreams for ‘tomorrow’. But tomorrow never comes for them, as their lives are brought to an abrupt and unexpected end. Knowing how the story ends, in this case, doesn’t detract from it at all; rather, it enhances the emotional impact, which is further heightened by the poignant musical score from Teizo Matsumura. ‘Ashita’ is the first film in Kazuo Kuroki’s ‘War Requiem Trilogy,’ which also includes ‘Utsukushii Natsu Kirishima’ (2002) and ‘Chichi to Kuraseba’ (2004) Read More »

Ousmane Sembene – Mandabi AKA The Money Order (1968)

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A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order. He deals with corruption, greed, problematic family members, the locals and the changing from his traditional way of living to a more modern one.

From Time Out:

A political film criticising the type of bureaucracy that has arisen in post-colonial Senegal. A money order is sent to an unemployed, illiterate relative by a hard-working lad seeking his fortune in Paris. But all attempts to cash the money order are frustrated: the man’s illiteracy and ignorance of finance allow him to be exploited by those with education. The power is in the hands of the clerks and intellectuals, who use their knowledge for private advantage. Although the film can be criticised for the relative gentleness of its attack, Sembene succeeds in pointing up the divisiveness created by the colonial heritage. The French-colonised elite are now busy oppressing and colonising their own people. Shot in Wolof, the local language, the film asserts Senegalese culture against the rapacious way of the West. Not surprisingly it proved popular with the ‘people’, but was ignored by the bourgeois when originally released. Read More »