Mara Eibl-Eibesfeldt – Im Spinnwebhaus (2015)

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Jonas is already head of the family at just 12 years of age. He has been helping his two younger siblings and supporting his mother, Sabine, since his father left. Sabine is very loving towards her children but she often loses her patience and disappears into her room for the day. Mysterious demons drive her to spend a weekend away to relax in the “sunny valley”. But the weekend grows into weeks in which the three children hear nothing from their mother. Food and money have long since run out, the house has become more and more like a haunted castle: a spiderweb house. Jonas tries his best to maintain the appearance of an intact family. On the hunt for something to eat, he meets a young man, Felix Count of Gütersloh, who speaks in rhymes and declares himself to be not quite right in the head. Rather like a guardian angel, he takes Jonas under his wing and shows him how to get by in a world without adults. The film is less a social drama than a modern-day fairy tale shot in black and white. The audience is immersed in the eerily beautiful world of the children which unfolds its own particular magic. Continue reading

Wim Wenders – In weiter Ferne, so nah! AKA Faraway, So Close! (1993)

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Quote:
In Faraway, So Close! angels watch over the people of Berlin. The world weighs heavily upon these men and women. Their attachment to things diminishes their desire for the invisible. As one angel laments, “It’s so exhausting to love people who run away from us.”

Despite the destruction of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War, the people of Eastern Europe are anxious about the future. The angel Cassiel, played by Otto Sand, feels great compassion for them. When a young girl falls from the balcony of her high-rise building, his urge to do good is so strong that he crosses over into humanness and catches the girl in his arms on the street. All he loses in this change of existence are his wings and ponytail. Continue reading

Govindan Aravindan – Kummatty AKA The Bogeyman (1979)

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Kummatty is adapted from a Central Kerala folk tale about a partly mythic and partly real magician called Kummatty. Kummatty travels from place to place and entertain children with dancing, singing and performing magic. At one such performance at a village, Kummatty turns a group of children into animals. But one boy, who was changed into a dog, is chased away and misses the moment Kummatty changed the children back to their human form. The dog-boy has to wait a year until Kummatty returns to the village to get back his human form. Aravindan claimed Kummatty to be his personal favourite film. Kummatty won the State award for best children’s film. Continue reading

Helmut Käutner – Der Apfel ist ab AKA The Original Sin AKA The Apple Fell (1948)

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Lubitsch wrote:
Time again to raise more interest in post war German cinema before the Heimatfilm wave and Käutner’s witty and inventive comedy is just a fine example to do that. Again it’s in the end no masterpiece, but not unlike Geheimnisvolle Tiefe you can feel the experimental impulse and vibrancy of these early post war films.
An apple juice producer can’t decide between his wife and his secretary and tries to commit suicide. Being committed to psychiatry (the doctor being played by director Käutner himself) he falls asleep and dreams of adventures as Adam and Eve in heaven and hell. The realistic frame story is shot like a parody of a rubble film with tilted camera angles throughout, while the main story line, the dream, takes place in a surrealistic heaven and hell decoration which takes input from Dali, Miro and other artists. Continue reading

Moumen Smihi – Chroniques marocaines AKA Moroccan Chronicles (1999)

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In Moroccan Chronicles, set in the ancient city of Fez, a working class mother, abandoned by her husband who has emigrated to Europe, tells three tales to her just-circumcised ten-year-old son. In the first, Smihi re-stages the Marrakech market scene from Hitchcock’s The Man Who Knew Too Much, in which a monkey trainer makes children dance for tourists. In the second, two lovers meet on the ramparts of Orson Welles’s Essaouira locations for Othello and speak of their own forbidden love. And in the third, set in Smihi’s home town of Tangier, an old sailor dreams of vanquishing a sea monster: the Gibraltar ferry that connects Europe to Africa. Continue reading

Shion Sono – The Virgin Psychics AKA Eiga: minna! Esupâ da yo! (2015)

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From Busan International Film Festival:

High school student Kamogawa Yoshiro wakes up one day to discover that he has psychic superpowers. He also soon discovers that others in the city have the gift, only some of them are hellbent on causing trouble. He becomes embroiled in several strange incidents and eventually overcomes those seeking to do the city and its people harm, meeting the woman of his dreams along the way. A film that takes a different approach to the superhero genre by introducing a joyful young man who becomes a hero not by boasting of his superpowers but by overcoming temptation.
The Virgin Psychics is an adaptation of a serial comic strip that has been published in Weekly Young Magazine since 2009. It was later made into a TV show (also by SONO Sion) in 2013 and is the director’s fifth film. SONO is the same filmmaker who brought us Love & Peace, Shinjuku Swan, The Chasing World, and the independent film Whispering Star (scheduled to be released in theaters next year), which was shot in the area ravaged by the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown. (PARK Jin-hee) Continue reading