Musical

Serge Bozon – La France (2007)



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Vive La France by Serge Bozon, a heady experiment full of soul that more than delivers on the allegorical chutzpah of its title. On receiving a troubling letter from her husband, a soldier in the First World War, Camille (Sylvie Testud) sets off to find him incognito, chopping her coif and wrapping her boobs to pass as a lad of 17. Deep in a forest landscape rendered with limpid concentration by cinematographer Céline Bozon, she falls in with a clutch of soldiers mobilized to the front. Or so it seems: Strange things are afoot in La France—like the spontaneous performance of twee, jangling ballads, rendered on scrap-yard acoustic instruments and sung, from an unabashed female perspective, by the harmonizing grunts. Weirder than the arrival of these inexplicable neo-retro-folk jams is how seamlessly they fit into Bozon’s melancholic war fable. Which is to say La France invents a curious and confident hybrid mode to accommodate, even reconcile, disparate modes and strategies: war film and musical, elegiac and avant-garde, cerebral and poignant, rigorous and flexible. Read More »

Cory McAbee – The American Astronaut (2001)

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Space travel has become a dirty way of life dominated by derelicts, grease monkeys, and hard-boiled interplanetary traders such as Samuel Curtis. Written, directed, and starring Cory McAbee of the legendary cult band The Billy Nayer Show, this sci-fi, musical-western uses flinty black and white photography, rugged Lo-Fi sets and the spirit of the final frontier. We follow Curtis on his Homeric journey to provide the all-female planet of Venus with a suitable male, while pursued by an enigmatic killer, Professor Hess. The film features music by The Billy Nayer Show and some of the most original rock n’ roll scenes ever committed to film. Read More »

Costas Ferris – Rembetiko (1983)

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Considered to be one of the most powerful and emotional Greek movies, Rembetiko focuses on the life of an individual woman, a real person, and through her personal story, it retells the story of Greece, from 1920 to 1955: the national disaster in Minor Asia, the one million refugees who came to Greece, the World War II, the Nazi occupation, the Civil War, immigration. The revival of an era, the recall of lost ethics of the old time musicians, and all the elements of a popular music drama, compose this epic masterpiece, accompanied by the music and songs of Stavros Xarhakos (most of them with lyrics by Nikos Gkatsos).

A voyage to history of the first half of the 20th century, but also a voyage to the origins of rembetiko – a Greek form of urban blues performed in lowclass joints where the social misfits of the twenties known as “rembetes” gathered. Read More »

Jirí Menzel – Zlocin v santanu aka Crime in a Music Hall [+Extras] (1968)

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Description: Black detective comedy Crime in the Cabaret is set in a cabaret Tartaros, where one evening lost a pearl necklace singer Regina Clara gave her devoted admirer of the minister of justice, and where it is later killed by one of the circus … The film shot in 1968, Jiri Menzel as his third feature film with a script, which collaborated with Joseph Škvoreckým and Jiri Suchy. An important part of the movie are the songs of George and Šlitr George Suchy, which in addition to the two protagonists sing Eva Pilarová. Read More »

Elio Espana – Bob Dylan and the Band: Down in the Flood (2012)

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Interesting doc about Dylan and the Band’s collaboration from 65 through 76. Interviews with Garth Hudson, John Simon, Barney Hoskyns, Syd Griffin etc. Rare footage from IOW 69, Tour 66. Sound excerpts from unreleased Basement Tapes. Read More »

Sergei Parajanov – Pervyy paren aka The First Lad (1959)

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A gem from Paradjanov’s early oeuvre is a musical agitation film or a romantic comedy, made by the young director under the guidance of Alexander Dovzhenko and set in the immense fields of the collectivised Ukraine. The social realism is replaced by colourful, convivial and dancing shots of the “Pabieda” (Victory) kolkhoz, where peasant women sing in the fields, and boys march with banners glorifying revolution. Against this backdrop, intense romantic feelings have reached a climactic stage; tailor Sidor Sidorovich, farmer Jushka and soldier Danila Petrovich all dote on the fair-haired Odarka. It is Jushka and Danila who engage in overt hostility; the initial “gentlemen’s” contest turns into an outright confrontation, resulting in miserable Jushka being increasingly more desperate and scorned by the villagers. Read More »

Ken Russell – il mefistofele (1989)

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Arrigo Boito’s Il Mefestefele was first performed in 1868 and his most known work. In Ken Russell’s modern interpretation presented by the Genoese Opera, it has Faust as an ageing hippy. He smokes marijuana and is tormented by his lost youth. Mephisto makes a bet with God that he can turn anyone to pagan life, even someone as innocent as Faust. From then on it is a battle of good against evil in a flamboyant, surreal display of primary colours, PVC costumes, nurses with swastikas, rocket trips, love and even characters dressed as Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse. Ken Russell said because the devil is always with us is his reason for the contemporary setting. Written by Archie Moore Read More »