Béla Tarr – Werckmeister harmóniák AKA Werckmeister Harmonies (2000)

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Synopsis:

This story takes place in a small town on the Hungarian Plain. In a provincial town, which is surrounded with nothing else but frost. It is bitterly cold weather – without snow. It is twenty degrees below zero. Even in this bewildered cold hundreds of people are standing around the circus tent, which is put up in the main square, to see – as the outcome of their wait – the chief attraction, the stuffed carcass of a real whale. The people are coming from everywhere. From the neighbouring settlings, from different holes of the Plain, even from quite far away parts of the country. They are following this clumsy monster as a dumb, faceless, rag-wearing crowd. This strange state of affairs – the appearance of the foreigners, the extreme frost – disturbs the order of the small town. The human connections are overturning, the ambitious personages of the story feel they can take advantage of this situation, while the people who are condemned anyway to passivity fall into an even deeper uncertainty. The tension growing to the unbearable is brought to explosion by the figure of the Prince, who is pretending facelessness and is lying low behind the whale. Even his mere appearance is enough to break loose the destroying emotions. The apocalypse that sweeps away everything spares nothing. I does not spare the outsiders wrapped up in scientificness, does not spare the teenage enthusiasts, the people who have philistine fears for ease, the family – nothing that the European culture preserved as from of attitude in the last centuries. Continue reading

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Michael Powell – The Phantom Light (1935)

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synopsis

Three talented screenwriters collaborated in adapting Evadne Price and Joan Roy Byford’s play The Haunted Light to the screen as Phantom Light. This British chiller-diller-thriller begins with the mysterious murder of a lighthouse keeper. After his death, the region is plagued by shipwrecks, each heralded by a “phantom light” beaming from the lighthouse. Female detective Binnie Hale teams with new keeper Gordon Harker and navy officer Ian Hunter to solve the mystery. Directed with a sure and steady hand by Michael Powell, The Phantom Light is infinitely superior to the quota-quickie melodramas then flooding the British film market.- Hal Erickson
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Dino Risi – Anima Persa AKA Lost Soul AKA The Forbidden Room (1977)

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When the young would-be artist Tino arrives in Venice to live at the house of his uncle while he studies art, he soon discovers that his Austrian/Venetian uncle’s house is packed with mystery — there are abandoned rooms from which strange sounds emanate. Eventually, he is told that his uncle’s insane brother is being kept in rooms on the top floor, and only Uncle Fabio (who is seldom home) is permitted to visit them. However, youth and curiosity impel him onward to even more discoveries. Continue reading

Bob Clark – Black Christmas (1974)

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Synopsis:
Black Christmas (also released under the titles Silent Night, Evil Night, and Stranger in the House) is a 1974 Canadian independent horror film directed by Bob Clark and written by A. Roy Moore. The story follows a group of sorority sisters who are stalked and murdered over Christmas vacation by a killer hiding in their sorority house. It was inspired by the urban legend of “The Babysitter and the Man Upstairs”, but was also largely based on a series of murders that took place in Quebec, Canada around Christmas time.

Black Christmas is generally considered to be one of the first slasher films. A remake of the same name, produced by Clark, was released in December 2006. Continue reading

Sergio Caballero – La distancia (2014)

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Quote:
A heist-movie of such exquisitely bizarre loopiness to make Inception look like Ocean’s Eleven, Sergio Caballero’s The Distance (La distancia) is a likeably giggle-inducing dollop of deadpan surrealist whimsy. Observing a trio of telepathic Russian dwarves tasked with robbing an abandoned Siberian power-station, Caballero’s follow-up to 2010’s even more deliciously outre Finisterrae confirms the Catalan’s status as a puckish jester in the court of current European art-cinema. Adventurous audiences enduring the longueurs and waywardness of his gloriously uncompromised vision are rewarded with a hilariously abrupt finale that should delight many but leave others baffled and bemused. Festivals with late-night slots to fill will clamor for this cultish item, which might even find small distribution niches in eccentricity-embracing territories such as Japan and France. Continue reading

Bruno Dumont – P’tit Quinquin AKA L’il Quinquin (2014)

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Synopsis:
A clueless police inspector stumbles his way through a provincial murder investigation, in this shocking — and shockingly funny — change of pace from premier French auteur Bruno Dumont (L’humanité, Hadewijch).
Originally conceived and broadcast as a four-part miniseries, Bruno Dumont’s P’tit Quinquin works seamlessly when screened in its cinematic version.
Dumont has again chosen to shoot his new film against the countryside of his birthplace, the Boulonnais region around Calais; apart from that, the film marks a notable change in tone for this immensely creative filmmaker. (Well, it does share one other thing in common with his earlier films: like L’Humanite, the film centres on a police detective investigating a murder.)
P’tit Quinquin is — believe it or not for those who have been following Dumont’s career — a comedy. Little prepares you for the adventure, rollicking and slapstick, in this idiosyncratic screwball of a film. Chuckles abound — at times you can’t quite believe what you are seeing — but, not surprisingly in the hands of a director who has always managed to keep a firm, controlling hand on his material, the film never spirals into silliness. Wit and intelligence prevail. Continue reading

Yves Allégret – Une si jolie petite plage AKA Riptide (1949)

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Synopsis:

‘One rainy night, a stranger arrives in a nondescript seaside town and checks into a cheap hotel. All that is known about him is his name – Pierre – and everyone he meets is suspicious of him. He appears to know the area well; he seems to be in good health. But why is he here? Why is he so sad?’
French Film Site Continue reading

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