Umit Unal – Gölgesizler AKA The Shadowless (2009)


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)


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)


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

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)


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

Till Kleinert – Der Samurai (2014)


A wolf strives through the woods around an isolated German village. Jakob the young local police officer is onto him, but scents something more in the darkness. What he finds is a man, it seems, wild eyed, of wiry build, in a dress. He carries a katana, a Samurai sword. When the Samurai invites Jakob to follow him on his crusade towards the village, it becomes Jakob’s mission to pursue the lunatic to end this wanton destruction. At the end of the night Jakob has experienced too much, is too far from whom he once was. Something hidden has been unleashed to meet the first rays of daylight. –

Berlin International Film Festival 2014: DIALOGUE en Perspective (Nominated – Till Kleinert) Continue reading

Jean Cocteau – Le testament d’Orphée, ou ne me demandez pas pourquoi! AKA Testament of Orpheus (1960)



“Criterion” wrote:
In his last film, legendary writer/artist/filmmaker Jean Cocteau portrays an 18th-century poet who travels through time on a quest for divine wisdom. In a mysterious wasteland, he meets several symbolic phantoms that bring about his death and resurrection. With an eclectic cast that includes Pablo Picasso, Jean-Pierre Leáud, Jean Marais and Yul Brynner, Testament of Orpheus (Le Testament de Orphée) brings full circle the journey Cocteau began in The Blood of a Poet, an exploration of the torturous relationship between the artist and his creations. Continue reading

Jacques Rivette – Duelle (une quarantaine) AKA Twilight (A Quarantine) (1976)


It all began (as things Rivettian tend to do) auspiciously enough. There were to be four films in a series originally entitled Les Filles du Feu (after Gerard de Nerval) before the more expansive Scenes de la vie parallele replaced it. Each would center on a “non-existent myth” of a battle between goddesses of the sun and the moon for a mysterious blue diamond that has the power to make mortals immortal and vice versa. Each film was to be in a different genre: a film noir, a pirate adventure, a love story, and finally a musical – the last-mentioned of whose scenario particulars hadn’t been completely worked out when the four-film project went into production. Two films were ultimately completed – Duelle (the film noir) and Noroit (1976, the pirate adventure). But two days into the shooting of the third, Histoire de Marie et Julien the metteur en scène (as Rivette always chose to call himself, auteurism be damned) suffered a nervous breakdown, and the entire project fell apart – though traces of it linger in Merry-Go-Round (1981, a paranoid conspiracy jape that has everything but the goddesses) and the semi-demi-musical Haut/Bas/Fragile (1995). Continue reading