It is summer in the estate on the edge of town that provides the location for Sam de Jong’s feature debut Prins. And it is hot. Any lad who has money here has got to be a wide boy. And if you are driving a Lamborghini you will definitely earn respect. The film’s young director unfolds his story with ease, infusing it with a good dose of irony and grotesque exaggeration. The boys hang out on the street, cracking pumpkin seeds, talking about motorbikes, Rolex watches and how to kiss a girl. One of them is 17-year-old Ayoub. He is head over heels in love with pretty Laura who may smile at him invitingly when she passes by, but later sends him packing with a withering look. Her boyfriend is one of the really tough guys. How on earth can Ayoub compete? He has hardly any money, shares a tiny room with his sister at home; his mother is careworn and his father lives on the streets. He has to do something. Cue the guy in the pastel-hued violet Lamborghini – a complete nut that everyone says you should just stay away from. It is going to be a long, nightmarish night for Ayoub. Continue reading
This Dutch film, based upon the classic 19th century S&M novel, chronicles the relationship between a dominatrix and her slave. Much of the soundtrack includes works by Mahler and Tchaikovsky. Wanda has a number of sado-masochistic encounters with Severin in a variety of locations including a crypt. In the end, he is left branded by another man while she leaves with a woman. Continue reading
In August 1991 a failed coup d’e´tat attempt (known as Putsch) led by a group of hard-core communists in Moscow, ended the 70-year-long rule of the Soviets. The USSR collapsed soon after, and the tricolour of the sovereign Russian Federation flew over Kremlin. As president Gorbachev was detained by the coup leaders, state-run tv and radio channels, usurped by the putschists, broadcast Tchaikovsky’s swan lake instead of news bulletins, and crowds of protestors gathered around Moscow’s White House, preparing to defend the stronghold of democratic opposition led by Boris Yeltsin, in the city of Leningrad thousands of confused, scared, excited and desperate people poured into the streets to become a part of the event, which was supposed to change their destiny. A quarter of a century later, Sergei Loznitsa revisits the dramatic moments of August 1991 and casts an eye on the event which was hailed worldwide as the birth of “Russian democracy.” What really happened in Russia in August 1991? What was the driving force behind the crowds on the Palace Square in Leningrad? What exactly are we witnessing: the collapse or the regime or its’ creative re-branding? Who are these people looking at the camera: victors or victims? Continue reading
The Sea That Thinks is a 2000 Dutch experimental film directed by Gert de Graaff. The film makes heavily use of optical illusions to tell a “story within a story” revolving around a screenwriter writing a script called The Sea That Thinks. The script details what is happening around him and eventually begins to affect what happens around him. Continue reading
In 1931 the Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein travels to Guanajuato to direct his film Que viva México. There he encounters a new culture and its dealings with death; he also discovers another revolution – and his own body. Peter Greenaway depicts Eisenstein as an eccentric artist who travels to Mexico filled with the hubris of being an internationally celebrated star director. Once there, he gets into difficulties with his American financier, the novelist Upton Sinclair. At the same time he begins, in the simultaneously joyful and threatening foreign land, to re-evaluate his homeland and the Stalinist regime. And, in doing so, he undergoes the transition from a conceptual filmmaker into an artist fascinated by the human condition. Under his gaze, the signs, impressions, religious and pagan symbols of Mexican culture assemble themselves anew.
Making use of extreme close-ups, split-screens and a dramatic montage – all to enact the transformation of a hero who presents himself as a tragic clown – Greenaway deliberately quotes and modifies Eisenstein’s own cinematic tools. Scene by scene the film gets closer to Eisenstein the man, who finds himself surprised by an unexpected desire Continue reading
A relatively straightforward genre exercise compared with last year’s Cannes-competing “Borgman,” “Schneider vs. Bax” (which has already opened in its native Netherlands, where it did arthouse business rather than action-movie numbers) likely wouldn’t have interested festivals or foreign distribs if not for the career-rekindling acclaim his previous feature attracted. Van Warmerdam would be the first to admit this follow-up was designed to be as different from “Borgman” as possible. Still, there’s so escaping the macabre and borderline-surreal sensibility that underlies them both, which should earn this pic playdates around the world in venues that would have ignored him a year earlier. Continue reading
The career of Federico Fellini lasted for forty years and made him perhaps the most illustrious of all the filmmakers to have come out of Italy. Those forty years saw the appearance of titles that have carved out a permanent niche in the memory of generations of film lovers. Fellini, a richly illustrated book written and edited by Sam Stourdzé, Director of the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne (Switzerland), taps into the sources of his fertile imagination and brings the vital power of his work into the limelight providing insight into the obsessions and motivations of the man behind La Strada, La Dolce Vita and 8¿. Continue reading