Ingmar Bergman – The Serpent’s Egg [+ commentary / extras] (1977)

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Following the suicide of his beloved brother and deaths of even the most distant acquaintances, Abel Rosenberg attempts to discover the truth while facing depression, alcoholism, and anti-semitism.

Vincent Canby wrote:

BERLIN, NOV. 3-11, is a city without sunlight. Mostly it rains. It snows occasionally but it’s the kind of snow that is already gray by the time it reaches the cobblestones. Everything is damp, chilled. No winter coats anywhere. People cling to one another for warmth, but there is none. In effect, life is over in Ingmar Bergman’s new film, “The Serpent’s Egg.” What we witness are involuntary twitches, the glazing of eyeballs—the onset of rigor mortis. Continue reading

Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

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A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

Quote:
I Don’t Want To Be A Man is like The Oyster Princess an early example of Ernst Lubitsch’s comic skills, and it also shares The Oyster Princess’ star, the irrepressible comedienne Ossi Oswalda, who in both films lends her name to the characters she plays. Here she plays a wild, rambunctious late teen barely under the control of her guardian/uncle and governess. (In reality it takes a while to work out that this middle-aged couple glaring disapprovingly out the window at Ossi’s mild antics outside are not her parents; they seemed rather coded as such.) Continue reading

Matthias Glasner – Der freie Wille AKA The Free Will (2006)

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Quote:
Stylistically and thematically, The Free Will combines the poetic realistic redemption films of the Dardenne brothers with the more cynical sensibility of Lars von Trier. The film opens like a horror film, with the graphic and brutally impassive depiction of an assault and capture of serial rapist Theo (Jürgen Vogel). The scene is a warning and a scar through which the remainder of the film is filtered. After spending nine years in a rehabilitation program, Theo is released and begins the difficult process of assimilating back into society. He becomes involved with another troubled soul, Nettie (Sabine Timoteo) and, with shades of Beauty and the Beast, the film suggests that Theo may be reformed. Despite the painstakingly slow developments, Vogel’s amazingly nuanced performance infuses Theo’s every action with terrific suspense. (He also co-wrote the screenplay.) The hand-held camera seemingly floats on the same deceptively still waters of Theo’s emotional facade, further aggravating the terrific uncertainty that drives the action. The film is so finely and delicately sketched in documentary style that unbelievable moments, like the occasionally overwrought yelp from Nettie, disturb like a speedboat’s wake. But there are very few of these moments. What results is a powerful and at times very intense tragedy documenting the psychological limits of self-transformation. Continue reading

Various – Deutschland im Herbst AKA Germany in Autumn (1978)

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Quote:
Germany in Autumn does not have a plot per se; it mixes documentary footage, along with standard movie scenes, to give the audience the mood of Germany during the late 1970s. The movie covers the two month time period during 1977 when a businessman was kidnapped, and later murdered, by the left-wing terrorists known as the RAF-Rote Armee Fraktion (Red Army Faction). The businessman had been kidnapped in an effort to secure the release of the orginal leaders of the RAF, also known as the Baader-Meinhof gang. When the kidnapping effort and a plane hijacking effort failed, the three most prominent leaders of the RAF, Andreas Baader, Gudrun Enslin, and Jean-Carl Raspe, all committed suicide in prison. It has become an article of faith within the left-wing community that these three were actually murdered by the state. The movie has several vignettes, including an extended set of scenes with the famous director Rainer Werner Fassbinder discussing his feelings about Germany’s political situation at the time. Fassbinder’s scenes almost seem to be candid documentary footage, but aren’t. Other scenes include documentary footage of the joint funeral of Baader, Enslin, and Raspe. Continue reading

Zbynek Brynych – Die Weibchen AKA Femmine carnivore AKA The Females (1970)

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Synopsis:

‘Eve is an overworked secretary who has been sent to take a cure in the institution of Doctor Barbara in the remote town of Bad Marein. Upon her arrival and during the following days Eve notices the complete absence of men except for the overweight groundskeeper Adam and the town’s head of police.
When a group of three man make their way to the town and into the arms of the many females of the sanatorium Eve has a terrible thought. Because one of them does not show up the next morning the suspects the inmates being responsible for the murder. Continue reading