Paul L. Stein – One Romantic Night (1930)

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Plot: A fairy-tale ball, first kisses, broken hearts, and a beautiful princess wooed by a handsome prince. So much can happen during One Romantic Night! Two great ladies of the screen who could scarcely be more dissimilar – waiflike, vulnerable Lillian Gish (in her Talkie debut), who excelled at heart-wrenching melodrama, and barrel-figured, bulldog-faced Marie Dressler, who excelled at everything – make a marvelous team as a monarchical mother and daughter in a romantic comedy about love and marriage among the crowned heads of Europe. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play The Swan, the film was remade in 1956 featuring Grace Kelly in Gish’s role, just before she became the real-life Princess Grace of Monaco. From the DVD! Continue reading

Guðmundur Arnar Guðmundsson – Hjartasteinn AKA Heartstone (2016)

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A remote fishing village in Iceland. Teenage boys Thor and Christian experience a turbulent summer as one tries to win the heart of a girl while the other discovers new feelings toward his best friend. When summer ends and the harsh nature of Iceland takes back its rights, it’s time to leave the playground and face adulthood. Continue reading

Denis Villeneuve – Un 32 août sur terre AKA August 32nd on Earth (1998)

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When Simone nods off at the wheel, her car goes out of control. She escapes serious physical injury, but her life changes direction nevertheless. She cancels a planned trip to Italy, quits her modeling job, and calls her friend Philippe with the suggestion that they have a baby together. To gain time, he agrees but only under the condition that they do it in the desert. The two leave Montreal for Utah where something unexpected awaits Philippe. Continue reading

Aleksandr Mitta & Kenji Yoshida – Moskva, lyubov moya AKA Moscow, My Love (1974)

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A Japanese girl came to Moscow to learn the art of dance. The love of a Moscow sculptor, the victory in the final-year students competition brought a lot of happiness to Yuriko. However a sudden disease of blood, result of an atomic bombardment of her town, bursts into her life. Continue reading

Douglas Sirk – All That Heaven Allows [+commentary] (1955)

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Douglas Sirk once said: “This is the dialectic—there is a very short distance between high art and trash, and trash that contains an element of craziness is by this very quality nearer to art.” When All That Heaven Allows was released by Universal Pictures in 1955, it was just another critically unnoticed Hollywood genre product, designed to appeal to the trashy “women’s weepie” audience. Now, in retrospect, it is considered to be closer to the art side of Sirk’s dialectic, and one of his key films. But this is part of a wider process of critical reevaluation in which his entire body of work has been rediscovered and reappraised by successive generations of filmmakers and historians. Continue reading

Henry Koster – Das häßliche Mädchen AKA The Ugly Girl (1933)

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“Das hässliche Mädchen” (The ugly girl) of the title is young Lotte (Dolly Haas), who is hired as a secretary by an insurance company precisely for her supposed ugliness, as the director (Otto Wallburg) hopes to avoid amorous affairs in his company this way. But as these things go, not only does one of his employees, Fritz (Max Hansen), fall for her, but unsurprisngly the ugly duckling soon transforms into a lovely lady. Fritz realises a little too late that he’s in love with Lotte, however, and meanwhile establishes an affair with the company director’s girlfriend. And obviously, this leads to all sorts of problems and funny situations… Continue reading