Christophe Honoré – Métamorphoses (2014)

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One of France’s most unpredictable writer-directors, Christophe Honoré (Dans Paris, Love Songs) offers an audacious, erotically upfront re-reading of Ovid’s Metamorphoses, enacted by a fearless cast of (largely unknown) young actors in contemporary French settings. Kicking off with a startling take on the story of Diana and Actaeon, Honoré’s film follows the wanderings of Europa (Akili), a high-school student who encounters a marauding truck driver – none other than Jupiter (Hirel), father of the gods. Streams of stories within stories bring the old transformation myths a modern-day slant – Narcissus as an arrogant teenage heart-throb, Orpheus as a charismatic housing-estate preacher – and add a multi-racial, polysexual perspective, teasing out the perversity, violence and rapture of classical legend. You may detect shades of Borowczyk, Pasolini, Rohmer and Derek Jarman’s Sebastiane, but this savage, rhapsodic, moving film is something entirely its own. A fabulous soundtrack completes the wayward beauty –BFI Continue reading

Veit Harlan – Hanna Amon (1951)

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Synopsis
Hanna and her brother Thomas Amon live on the estate of their deceased parents. While Hanna of local veterinary and Thomas Brunner of the mayor’s daughter is secretly admired and sought after, the siblings have eyes only for each other. Thomas, however, forfeited the much older, seductive Vera Colombani, a castle owner. He follows her (his sister, defying the warnings) to the south, where they spend the winter. Thomas is dropped in the wake of the Colombani and returns repentant return to the home farm. But when he meets again with his former lover, he triggers a disaster the Colombani and eventually fall victim to Hanna. Continue reading

Arne Mattsson – Vaxdockan aka The Doll (1962)

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summary
A night watchman (Per Oscarsson) in Stockholm interrupts a burglary and finds a mannequin that he takes home; in his mind, it’s a beautiful and very much alive woman. Director Arne Mattsson knows how to use the shadows of black-and-white cinematography to chilling effect; that along with Oscarsson’s performance elevate this psychological look at loneliness and mental illness. The star must have studied Anthony Perkins in Psycho (1960); he looks like him and plays his character in a similar fashion. Behind the youthful façade lies insanity. Gio Petré is credible in the transition between doll and human. ~ Movie Hamlet. Continue reading

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