Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 3, O Encantado AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 3, The Enchanted One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade doubts that she will still be able to tell stories to please the King, given that what she has to tell weighs three thousand tons. She therefore escapes from the palace and travels the kingdom in search of pleasure and enchantment. Her father, the Grand-Vizier, arranges to meet her at the Ferris wheel and Scheherazade resumes her narration: O auspicious King, in old shanty towns of Lisbon there was a community of bewitched men who, with all dedication and passion, devoted themselves to teaching birds to sing… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 2, O Desolado AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 2, The Desolate One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade tells of how desolation invaded men: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that a distressed judge will cry instead of giving out her sentence on a night when all three moons are aligned. A runaway murderer will wander through the land for over forty days and will tele transport himself to escape the Police while dreaming of prostitutes and partridges. A wounded cow will reminisce about a thousand-year-old olive tree while saying what she must say, which will sound none less than sad! The residents of a tower block in the suburbs will save parrots and piss inside lifts while surrounded by dead people and ghosts; including in fact a dog that… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. Damned tales! If things continue this way my daughter will surely end up with her throat slit! the Grand-Vizier, Scheherazade’s father, thinks in his palace in Baghdad. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

Miguel Gomes – As Mil e Uma Noites: Volume 1, O Inquieto AKA Arabian Nights: Volume 1, The Restless One (2015)

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In which Scheherazade tells of the restlessness that befell the country: It hath reached me, O auspicious King, that in a sad country among all countries, where people dream of mermaids and whales, and unemployment is spreading. In certain places, forests burn into the night despite the falling rain; men and women long to set out to sea in the middle of winter. Sometimes there are animals that talk although it is highly improbable that they are listened to. In this country, where things are not what they appear to be, men of power promenade on camels and hide permanent and shameful erections; they await the moment when taxes are collected so they can pay a certain wizard whom… And seeing the morning break, Scheherazade fell silent. [Kino Lorber] Continue reading

Umit Unal – Gölgesizler AKA The Shadowless (2009)

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A barber working in Istanbul longs to be ‘both here and far, far away’. And one day, without warning, he takes himself off and disappears abruptly into the great far away. The barber settles in a far-flung village, and as chance would have it the one-time local barber, Jingle Nuri, vanished from the place years ago. The village is in the hands of the mukhtar, the elected local chief. So the new barber rents his shop and opens the doors for business. The village is not, however, the innocent village. The mukhtar finds himself dealing with one mysterious disappearance after another. Güvercin, the prettiest girl in the village, is now missing without trace. The mukhtar and his only armed man, the village guard, set about questioning everyone in the village. The mukhtar suspects Cennet’s son more than anyone else. And he beats the gentle dreamer with the soul of a poet to a pulp as he cross-examines him – which causes the boy to lose his mind. Continue reading

Bartabas – Mazeppa (1993)

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Mazeppa tells the story of a painter (Gericault) who is brought into the sensuous and strange world of a traveling “circus” — not like Ringling Bros., but more of a demonstration of horse training and acrobatic feats on horseback. The story is of Gericault’s immersion in the sensual pleasures of the circus — gorgeous horses, gorgeous music by Ukrainian singers, gorgeous women — and his transformation by that experience. The main strength of the movie is in the lush visuals, particularly in the portrayal of the sensuality of the horses’ bodies and movement. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, which allows the viewer to concentrate on everything else, but also leads to some confusion about what is happening and why. It was my sense that this was partly intentional, paralleling Gericault’s experience. The film has the visual richness of The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover, but is not as disturbing (though there are some disturbing scenes at beginning and end). I loved this movie but gave it only a seven out of 10 because even after having seen it three or four times, I can’t really say what it’s about — I love the music and the imagery so much I’m willing to overlook that, but it’s hard to get anyone else to watch the movie with me. Continue reading

Stephen Quay & Timothy Quay – The PianoTuner of EarthQuakes (2005)

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Plot Outline: Dark fairytale about a demonic doctor who abducts a beautiful opera singer with designs on transforming her into a mechanical nightingale.

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To watch The Piano Tuner of Earthquakes is to enter the fabulist universe of the Brothers Quay, as unique and arcane as any imaginable. These identical twins have made some of the most original films of the last two decades, including Street of Crocodiles, selected by Terry Gilliam as one of the ten best animated films of all time. Continue reading

Alejandro Jodorowsky – The Rainbow Thief (1990)

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SYNOPSIS:
A petty crook, in search of the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hopes to cash in by befriending the heir to a huge fortune.

Production notes:
This was Jodorowsky’s sixth feature-length film, and his first British film. Filming was carried out in Gdansk, Poland. He was frequently threatened by the producers not to change anything in the script, effectively restraining further artistic involvement from his behalf. Jodorowsky has since disowned the movie. It was released in cinemas in London (May 1990), Italy (Il Ladro dell’arcobaleno, 1990), France (Le voleur d’arc-en-ciel, Paris, 1994) and, after, Spain (El ladrón del Arco iris, Cine Doré, Madrid, 2011); but it was never released in American cinemas.This movie, along with his previous Tusk in 1980, mark his most impersonal work, set far apart from his earlier work. It was discussed along with his other films in the documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky (1994). Continue reading