Herbert Wilcox – Irene (1940)

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Sent by her employers on an errand to the home of the wealthy Mrs. Vincent, Irene O’Dare
meets Don, a friend of Bob, Mrs. Vincent’s son. Attracted to Irene, Don decides to invest
some money in Bob’s latest venture, the “Madame Lucy” dress shop, in order to give Irene a
job there as a model. She is very successful and Bob also becomes attracted to her. Smith,
the manager assigns Irene and other models to display gowns at Mrs. Vincent’s charity ball,
but Irene ruins the gown she was to wear, and appears instead in a quaint blue dress that
had belonged to her mother… and it is a big hit. A guest, Princess Minetti, places her as the
niece of Ireland’s Lady O’Dare, and Irene does not deny the relationship. Smith decides to
set her up in a Park Avenue suite as the niece of Lady O’Dare, so that she can attend
socially important gatherings wearing and displaying… Continue reading

Garin Nugroho – Opera Jawa aka Requiem from Java [+Extras] (2006)

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Inspired by ‘The Abduction of Sita’ from the ancient Indian and South East-Asian literary classic The Ramayana, OPERA JAWA is a unique musical tale of love, lust and tragedy. Setio and his wife Siti, own a pottery business in a small village ran by Ludiro, a powerful and ruthless businessman. Ludiro, who is in love with Siti, seizes his chance when the couple’s business collapses. He abducts and tries to seduce Siti. The two men fight and inevitably jealousy spills over into violence and tragedy. Continue reading

Ken Russell – Mahler (1974)

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Director Ken Russell made a number of biographical films of composers’ lives including The Music Lovers, (about Tchaikovsky) and Lisztomania. Russell embellished the other films with certain characteristic flourishes, which include a focus on the composers’ sexual obsessions, poetically telling anachronisms, and scenes which show Richard Wagner in a bad light. The story of Mahler is recounted in a much less complex and flamboyant manner and is a relatively reverent study of the life and work of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, here played by Robert Powell. The film tackles the touchy dilemma of Mahler’s Jewishness in the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna. He converts to Christianity, which has no effect on his brilliant musical output but which eats away at his physical and mental well-being. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was a conductor and composer of the late Romantic era and specialized in huge symphonic works. Though his works were performed widely during his lifetime, they were less and less-often played until Leonard Bernstein’s active campaign on their behalf brought him renewed recognition as a composer of the first rank, every bit the peer of Brahms or Stravinsky. Continue reading

Júlio Bressane – O Mandarim aka The Mandarin (1995)

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The history of Brazilian popular music in the 20th Century, focusing specially on the life and works of intriguing singer Mário Reis, a loner who, with his special way of singing – whispering and softly saying the words – in a time when singers with potent voices ruled, was in a way a forerunner of Bossa Nova style. Continue reading

Frank Tashlin – The Girl Can’t Help It (1956)

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The Alphabet Murders is a 1965 British detective film based on the novel The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie, starring Tony Randall as Hercule Poirot. The part of Poirot had originally been intended for Zero Mostel but the film was delayed because Agatha Christie objected to the script. The film varies significantly from the novel and emphasises comedy. Continue reading

Frank Tashlin – Artists and Models (1955)

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Jonathan Rosenbaum of the Chicago Reader wrote:

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The best Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis movie (1955) is also Frank Tashlin’s best feature at Paramount, a satire about the comic book craze with explosive uses of color and VistaVision, better-than-average songs, and much-better-than-average costars, especially Dorothy Malone and Shirley MacLaine (the latter giving Lewis a run for his money in terms of goofy mugging). Martin and Malone are comic book artists, MacLaine is a model for the Bat Lady, and Lewis is a deranged fan whose dreams wind up inspiring (or is it duplicating?) comic book stories and the coded messages of communist spies—or something like that. Five cowriters are credited along with Tashlin, but the stylistic exuberance is seamless, and this film eventually wound up providing the inspirational spark for Jacques Rivette’s late, great New Wave extravaganza Celine and Julie Go Boating (1974). With Eva Gabor and Anita Ekberg. 109 min. Continue reading

Anton Corbijn – Linear (2009)

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“Late May 2008 – at a band meeting I was introduced to the new songs. The reason for letting me in so early on this sonically and lyrically different U2 record is that the band have this idea for me to make some kind of moving imagery to go with the record. The thinking is that as a lot of people buy music from the internet and are likely to hear this on a computer or mp3 player, their listening pleasure could be heightened by visuals. Instead of just seeing a pack shot of the record sleeve, or a still photograph of the band for 45 plus minutes, as is often the case now, why not have a moving image for the duration of the record? It is not essential to the record, you can either watch it or ignore it. Brilliant! As always, U2 are thinking ahead, not so much having one foot in tomorrow’s door, as having built the house to which that door is the entrance. Continue reading