Gleb Panfilov – Nachalo AKA Debut AKA The Beginning (1970)

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A film-in-film story set in a provincial town in Russia. Pasha (Churikova) is an amateur actress who plays a witch at a local club, but her dream is to play Joan of Arc. In a strike of luck she is cast as Joan of Arc in a big screen film. Now she is torn between her luck and her love to Arkadi (Kuravlev) who is a married man. Continue reading

Jean Vigo – L’Atalante (1934)

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In 1934, French director Jean Vigo tragically died of tuberculosis at the age of just 29, leaving behind his one and only completed feature, L’Atalante (1934). A simple, yet visually complex tale of two young newly weds travelling aboard a barge, Vigo’s film has since been awarded classic status, with its director heralded as one of French cinema’s most significant auteurs despite a relatively small body of work. This new Artificial Eye collection allows completists to revisit Vigo’s newly restored magnum opus, as well as several short films from the same period. Continue reading

Arthur Maria Rabenalt – Am Abend nach der Oper AKA In the Evening After the Opera (1945)

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This totally forgotten film is adapted from a story by Franz Nabl who also provided the basis for Der verzauberte Tag. The story is about a rich murderer (Siegfried Breuer) who killed his wife out of jealousy nd tries to start a new life. He meets a young woman (Gusti Huber) and marries her without telling her the secret directly. She feels there’s something wrong and things get complicated when a dubious individual not only gets the legal papers which prove the husband has been a convict, but also falls in love with the young woman.
The film not only boasts an intelligent script and great performances, but is very well shot and directed. The lighting is often elaborate, intertwining with the sumptuous set design, while an inquisitive camera slides through the rooms. This one is a must see and should be a strong incentive for German users to consider buying the box. Continue reading

Chan-wook Park – Ah-ga-ssi AKA The Handmaiden (2016)

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Park Chan-wook’s giddy mixture of historical romance and auteur eroticism is spiced with ghosts, horror and S&M.
Expectations are fully met in Park Chan-wook’s exquisitely filmed The Handmaiden (Agassi), an amusingly kinky erotic thriller and love story that brims with delicious surprises, making its two-and-a-half hours fly by. Though spiced up with nudity and verbal perversions for adult audiences, it never descends into the cheap and tawdry, and violence, considering this is from the cult director of Oldboy, remains surprisingly offscreen. Its bow in competition at Cannes should get the CJ Entertainment release off to a fast start. Continue reading

Satyajit Ray – Charulata AKA The Lonely Wife (1964)

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The opening shots of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata bypass melodrama for the feel of a fairy tale, with bored housewife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) flitting about her spacious Victorian home like Rapunzel amusing herself in her tower. Even shots that stay still for less than a second frame Charu behind bars, be it bedposts or the wooden blinds she jerks open in order to peer at the bustling city life below. Never again does the camera move as swiftly nor as giddily as it does when Charu, armed with a pair of binoculars, hustles along each window to follow the movement of a man she finds interesting. The scene ends as quickly as it came to life, nothing more than a fleeting distraction from the tedium of her sheltered existence. Continue reading

Martin Ritt – Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972)

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Based on Peter DeVries’ novel Witch’s Milk, Pete ‘n’ Tillie stars Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett in the title roles. Middle-aged when they first meet, eternally joking Pete and repressed “old maid” Tillie don’t immediately hit it off. Gradually, their friendship deepens into love and culminates (reluctantly, on Pete’s part) in marriage, eleven years of which is explored in this film. Throughout the funny and tragic moments, and despite the many breakups, their love endures. Oscar nominations went to screenwriter Julius J. Epstein and supporting actress Geraldine Page Continue reading