Musical

Otto Preminger – Carmen Jones (1954)

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Love, passion, betrayal and tragedy. Carmen Jones is an adaptation of Bizet’s legendary opera, Carmen. It tells the story of a young, free spirited woman called Carmen Jones whose great beauty is the object of many men’s desires. However, Carmen sets her sights on young army officer Joe, who is engaged to his sweetheart, Cindy Lou. Joe quickly succumbs to Carmen’s charms , forsaking his Cindy Lou, thus beginning the tragic love story. Read More »

Aki Kaurismäki – Total Balalaika Show [+ Extras] (1994)

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Description: On June 12, 1993, Audience of 70.000 people witnessed a historical event on the Senate Square in Helsinki. Leningrad Cowboys performed for the first time together with the 100 singers, 40 musicians and 20 dancers of the Alexandrov Red Army Chorus and Dance Ensemble, on the biggest stage ever seen in Finland. The programme included rock classics from “Happy Together” and “Delilah” to “Gimme All Your Lovin” and “Knocking On Heaven`s Door”, as well as traditional hits from the Ensemble`s own repertoire.

From the beginning to the end, the concert was a roaring success. Aki Kaurismäki and his crew filmed the event. TOTAL BALALAIKA SHOW is a documentary on the concert, and extraordinary, unforgettable encounter of the old and the new, of East and West.
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Alan Parker – Bugsy Malone (1976)

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At first the notion seems alarming: a gangster movie cast entirely with kids. Especially when we learn that “Bugsy Malone” isn’t intended as a kid’s movie so much as a cheerful comment on the childlike values and behavior in classic Hollywood crime films. What are kids doing in something like this?

But then we see the movie and we relax. “Bugsy Malone” is like nothing else. It’s an original, a charming one, and it has yet another special performance by Jodie Foster, who at thirteen was already getting the roles that grown-up actresses complained weren’t being written for women anymore. She plays a hard-bitten nightclub singer and vamps her way through a torch song by Paul Williams with approximately as much style as Rita Hayworth brought to “Gilda.” She starts on stage, drifts down into the audience, arches her eyebrows at the fat cats (all about junior high school age), and, in general, is astonishingly assured. And her performance seems just right in the film; “Bugsy Malone” depends almost totally on tone, and if you put kids in these situations and directed them just a little wrongly the movie would be offensive. But it’s not, and it’s especially right with Foster. Read More »

Ahmed El Maanouni – Trances (1981)

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Quote:
It was in 1981 while I was editing a film, The King of Comedy. We worked at night so no one would call us on the telephone and I would have television on, and one channel in New York at the time, around 2 or 3 in the morning, was showing a film called Transes. It repeated all night and it repeated many nights. And it had commercials in it, but it didn’t matter. So I became passionate about this music that I heard and I saw also the way the film was made, the concert that was photographed and the effect of the music on the audience at the concert. I tracked down the music and eventually it became my inspiration for many of the designs and construction of my film The Last Temptation of Christ. […] And I think the group was singing damnation: their people, their beliefs, their sufferings and their prayers all came through their singing. And I think the film is beautifully made by Ahmed El Maanouni; it’s been an obsession of mine since 1981 and that is why we are inaugurating the Foundation with Trances. (Martin Scorsese, May 2007) Read More »

Tony Gatlif – Canta, gitano (1982)

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One of the unknown Gatlif movies, a short one.
Best Short Film – Fiction (Meilleur court métrage de fiction)- Cesar 1983

Gatlif plays himself in this one…pretty nice to see the guy that made Vengo (another great one!) dancing in a red shirt…
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Mohsen Makhmalbaf – Sokout AKA The Silence (1998)

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Quote:
The Silence (Sokhout), a startlingly fresh and elegant work, is about a ten-year-old boy, Khorshid, who is blind. Khorshid’s father, in Russia, has abandoned him and his mother, who in order to sustain their existence fishes in the river on which the rural dwelling that includes their threadbare apartment is situated. This woman has no other choice but to rely on Khorshid’s meager income for rent. It is not enough, however, and in a few days’ time they will be evicted by the landlord, a greedy, powerful presence whom we never see except for, once, as a hand knocking at the door. A strange, elliptical film of haunting, limpid visual beauty, The Silence ends with two events: the eviction, as the mother, who is calling for her son, and her one great possession, a wall mirror, symbolic for art and inspiration, that is, humanity’s spirit, are rowed across the river, the mirror’s reflection in the water symbolically linking human spirituality and Nature; and the boy, as usual off on his own, passing forever into a life of the imagination in which he is able to orchestrate sounds in his environment—to which his blindness has made him acutely sensitive and receptive—into a finished piece, one in fact familiar to us as the opening movement of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. Only a fool could miss the social and political implications of such a film, and the government, not at all fooled in this regard, responded brusquely. The Silence was banned in Iran. Read More »

Roberto Rossellini – Giovanna d’Arco al rogo AKA Joan at the Stake (1954)

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It was once said of Ingrid Bergman that she’d played Joan of Arc so often that she wouldn’t be satisfied until she was burned at the stake. Actually, nobody ever said that, but someone should have. Directed by Bergman’s then-husband Roberto Rossellini, Joan at the Stake is a nonmusical adaptation of the oratorio by Paul Claudel and Arthur Honegger. Essentially a glorified monologue, the film makes no bones about its theatricality. Bergman is impressive as always, far more so than the presentation. While not nearly as bad as its reputation suggests, Joan at the Stake was a box-office flop, principally because the torrid Bergman-Rossellini romance was old news by 1954. Read More »