Amanzhol Aituarov – Prikosnoveniye (1989)

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MDB: Nice and sad Fairytale

I was pretty surprised to see this rare Kazach film. First of all it touches upon great Asian folk atmosphere and has wonderful music, partly composed by master of soviet electronic music Edward Artemeyev. The director shows great visionary in the film. Some parts of the film are made in colour-the rest are black and white. The story is also something new for me: a blind bagger-girl meets a steppen killer, who decides to protect her on her hard life way. They meet a lot of dangers and wise old men and stayed alive after really creepy moments. Finally they reached the girl’s motherland. Here the ways of them two separate really dramatically. One can see some gore moments in this philosophic tale. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Al-mohager AKA The Emigrant (1994)

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The biblical tale of Joseph is told from an Egyptian perspective in this interesting character study. In this film, Joseph is called Ram. Ram, tired of his family’s backward superstitious life, and tired of being picked on by his brothers, wants to go to Egypt to study agriculture. His brothers travel with him across Sinai, but then suddenly sell him to Ozir, an Egyptian who works for a Theban military leader, Amihar. Amihar is impressed by Ram’s drive and personal charm and so grants Ram some desolate land outside the capital. Ram soon finds himself a pawn in the political and sexual games between Amihar and his wife Simihit, a high priestess of the Cult of Amun. Continue reading

Giovanni Pastrone – Cabiria (1914)

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Standing out from all the stumbling efforts toward a new expression of cinema, Giovanni Pastrone’s story of the Second Punic War, Cabiria , demands special attention. Compared to the other colossal Italian spectacles of its time, it had an integrity and sense of purpose. From the beginning it was regarded as something special, and its premiere at the Teatro Vittorio Emmanuele, Turin, on 18 April 1914 was a great occasion. The film’s accompanying score by Ildebrando Pizzetti, performed by an orchestra of 80 and a choir of 70, added to the excitement. Viewed today, the film has lost little of its epic poetry to the zeitgeist, though the acting performances may seem dated. Continue reading

Kaige Chen – Jing Ke ci Qin Wang AKA The Emperor and the Assassin [+extra] (1998)

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Synopsis:
Set in 221 BC, The Emperor and the Assassin tells of Ying Zheng (Li Xuejian) and his obsession to unite seven Chinese kingdoms and become the first Emperor of China. The film mixes spectacular battle scenes with court intrigue, counterpointed by the King’s complex relationship with the only woman he has truly loved, the Lady Zhao (Gong Li). From protocol-ridden palaces to wide open grasslands, this is a visually striking film, both beautiful and at the same time burdened with the horrors of the period. Continue reading

Jerzy Kawalerowicz – Faraon (1966)

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Quote:
The Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in New York City’s retrospective – History Lessons: The Films of Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 30 January to 12 February 2004, screened the major work of this Polish director whose career spanned 50+ years. The programme offered, amidst the veteran’s varied output, a very special, culture vulture/archaeologist’s dream: Pharaoh (aka: Faraon), co-scripted by Kawalerowicz with Tadeusz Konwicki, and based on a novel by Boleslaw Prus. The best cinematic recreation of circa 1100 BC Late New Kingdom Dynastic Egypt ever, photographed on location at authentic sites and environs, the production design, costumes and props were all meticulously researched. Continue reading

Abel Gance – Bonaparte et la révolution (1972)

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The last film made by legendary French director Abel Gance, Bonaparte et la révolution (1971) was also his final attempt to release the Napoleonic biopic he had begun in the 1920s. Napoléon, vu par Abel Gance (1927) was over nine hours long, but represented only the first of a planned six-film series. Having failed to get funding for the remaining episodes, Gance revamped his silent film as Napoléon Bonaparte (1935) – adding newly-shot scenes and dubbing his decade-old footage. After other abortive attempts to resurrect part or all of his biopic in the 1950s, Gance gained funding from Claude Lelouch to release Bonaparte et la revolution in 1971. This last version recycles footage from the films of 1927 and 1935, as well as material from his television work of the 1960s. The result is a bizarre mishmash of old and new images, performances, and voices – less a coherent film than a document embodying the whole of Gance’s 45-year involvement with his eternally incomplete project. Continue reading

Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman – And the Oscar Goes To… (2014)

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On the opening night of its annual 31 Days of Oscar festival, TCM presents the world premiere of “And the Oscar Goes To…”, a documentary tracing the history of the Academy Awards. The documentary is one of a series of programming events leading up to the TCM 20th anniversary in April 2014. In telling the story of the gold-plated statuette that became the film industry’s most coveted prize, And the Oscar Goes To… traces the history of the Academy itself, which began in 1927 when Louis B. Mayer, then head of MGM, led other prominent members of the industry in forming this professional honorary organization. Two years later the Academy began bestowing awards, which were nicknamed “Oscar” and quickly came to represent the pinnacle of cinematic achievement. Continue reading