Fantasy

Andrey Konchalovskiy – Kurochka Ryaba AKA Ryaba My Chicken (1994)

This Russian-French comedy examines the effects of capitalism and democracy upon a Russian peasant village. It was filmed in the rural village of Bezvodnoye, the setting of this film’s 1967 precursor “Asya’s Happiness.” The outspoken peasant woman Asya returns in this new episode which begins with her walking along a road explaining why democracy doesn’t work. Her husband is an alcoholic who lives with a gypsy. Her son works on the black market for the mob. He was part of a theft involving a rare golden egg from the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Asya’s opinions seem to be well founded. In the village crime has increased, inflation is rising, and local authorities are ineffectual. Many locals are so angry at the town Capitalist for running his mill 24-hours per day that they stage a demonstration and begin waving pro-Communist banners. Asya’s pet chicken begins to grow and speak. Read More »

Stephen Quay & Timothy Quay – Institute Benjamente (1995)

Synopsis:
Jakob arrives at the Institute Benjamenta (run by brother and sister Johannes and Lisa Benjamenta) to learn to become a servant. With seven other men, he studies under Lisa: absurd lessons of movement, drawing circles, and servility. He asks for a better room. No other students arrive and none leave for employment. Johannes is unhappy, imperious, and detached from the school’s operation. Lisa is beautiful, at first tightly controlled, then on the verge of breakdown. There’s a whiff of incest. Jakob is drawn to Lisa, and perhaps she to him. As winter sets in, she becomes catatonic. Things get worse; Johannes notes that all this has happened since Jakob came. Is there any cause and effect? Read More »

Jacques Demy – The Pied Piper (1972)

Synopsis:
Greed, corruption, ignorance, stupidity, and disease. Midsummer, 1349: the Black Death reaches northern Germany. A family of strolling players travel to Hamelin for the Mayor’s daughter’s wedding to the Baron’s son. He wants her dowry to pay his army, while his father taxes the people to build a cathedral he thinks will save his soul. A local Jewish apothecary tries to find a treatment for the plague. The Priests charge him with heresy and witchcraft. A mysterious minstrel (Donovan), who joined up with the players and who has soothed the Mayor’s daughter with his music, promises to rid the town of rats for a fee. The Mayor agrees, then reneges after the rats have been dealt with. In the morning, the plague, the Jew’s execution, and the Piper’s revenge come at once. Read More »

Arunas Zebriunas – Polunochnyk AKA Naktibalada AKA Nightbird (1973)

In his dreams little Tomas escapes from his every day live to experience a lot of thrilling and exciting adventures. Read More »

Ingmar Bergman – Det sjunde inseglet AKA The Seventh Seal (1957)

Quote:
In recent years, The Seventh Seal has often been honored more for its historical stature than its prevailing vitality. Those who attended its first international rollout and were changed forever by the experience are now second-guessing their attachment to a work so firmly ensconced in the realm of middlebrow clichés. Its Eisenhower look-alike Reaper, emblematic chess game, and Dance of Death have been endlessly emulated and parodied. Worse, The Seventh Seal quickly assumed, and has never quite shaken, the reputation, formerly attributed to castor oil, of something good for you—a true kiss of death. A movie that’s good for you is, by definition, not good for you. Read More »

Iván Ávila Dueñas – La sangre iluminada AKA Enlightened Blood (2007)

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In this mind-bending drama, six lives are shared through a rare mathematical phenomenon that situates people at specific coordinates, allowing them to continue life in a new body. When this threshold is crossed, an unusual mutation occurs, and as one of these characters experiences a remarkable transformation, their bizarre out-of-body experience forms an entirely new network of experiences and memories. All the while that these “travelers” must endure their transitions, it is equally difficult for those around them to cope. Asking the question, “what if I could be someone else?” Enlightened Blood is an existential journey into the nature of life and thought that both mystifies and forces you to ponder the “what ifs.” Read More »

Nadezhda Kosheverova – Staraya, staraya skazka AKA A Very Old Story (1968)

A young puppeteer tells a story about a soldier who falls in love with a rude princess. Based on fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen. Read More »