Stanley Kwan – Yin ji kau aka Rouge (1987)

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Plot Synopsis

Hong Kong filmmaker Stanley Kwan directs this stunning supernatural melodrama about a passion, romance, and lost history. Fleur (Anita Mui) is a 1930s high-class courtesan who finds herself sucked into a doomed relationship with Twelfth Master Chan Chen-Pang (Leslie Cheung), the rakish scion of a prosperous business family that disapproves of their union. After a brief but intense courtship, the two resolve to be together in the afterworld by swallowing opium. Yet once there, Fleur discovers that she is alone. After waiting 50 years for her dearly beloved, she re-emerges in 1987 to place a personal ad. In the process, she enlists the aid of a pair of journalists: Yuen (Alex Man) and his feisty, occasionally jealous girlfriend Ah Chor (Emily Chu). Fleur learns that the Hong Kong she knew has by and large disappeared: the brothel where she worked was now a kindergarten. As she tells them of her love for Twelfth Master, the two journalists begin to find their relationship intensifying. As Fleur’s spirit grows weaker, their search continues until it yields results that are both sad and ironic. — Jonathan Crow @allmovieguide.com Continue reading

John Cromwell – Jalna (1935)

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In this adaptation of author de la Roche’s chronicle of the passionate lives of the strange Whiteoaks of Jalna, their beautiful family estate located in souther Ontario. The story begins as a young Whiteoak, a novelist travels to New York where he encounters a charming woman, marries her, and takes her back to Jalna. There she encounters many difficulties as she attempts to adjust to life with his odd family. It does not help that several soap-operatic events transpired while he was gone when his brother married the illegitimate daughter of a despised neighbor. One day a “sexy dame” suddenly shows up on the family porch. Soon she and the novelist are trysting away, but before he can consummate their affair he is killed during a terrible fall. The new widow then realizes that it is a different brother that she loves. They soon marry. ~ Sandra Brennan, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Søren Kragh-Jacobsen – Mifunes sidste sang aka Mifune’s Last Song (1999)

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As developed by Danish directors Lars Von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg, Dogma 95’s so-called “Vow Of Chastity” places restrictions on filmmakers—use only handheld cameras, real locations, and available light while avoiding superficial action (weapons, murders, etc.) and genre pieces—for the ostensible purpose of a truer, more organic cinema. Critics anxious to dismiss the movement were silenced by Vinterberg’s entry, Dogma 1: The Celebration, a devastating black comedy made all the more powerful by its stripped-down, home-movie-like quality. But the Dogma tenets seem arbitrary in Dogma 3: Mifune, which follows the rules but misses the point, employing cruddy naturalism to pass off a contrived and deeply conventional story. Had Von Trier and Vinterberg thought to include the hooker-with-a-heart-of-gold or estranged-autistic-brother (a la Rain Man) under “superficial action,” director Søren Kragh-Jacobsen might have improvised something less predictable. On its own modest terms, however, Mifune is still a well-performed and mildly affecting provincial drama that shares Vinterberg’s interest in family, if not his wit and innovation. Continue reading

Jack Conway – Arsène Lupin (1932)

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Synopsis by Mark Deming
John Barrymore plays a burglar and his brother Lionel Barrymore is the detective trying to catch him in this cleverly cast drama. An upscale thief who works under the name of Arsene Lupin is making the rounds of the homes of the wealthy and privileged, and Detective Guerchard (Lionel Barrymore) is determined to track him down. What he doesn’t know is that the suave and sophisticated Duke of Charmerace (John Barrymore) is actually the man behind the robberies. Will Guerchard find out the thief’s true identity before he can execute a daring theft from the Louvre Museum? Karen Morely co-stars as Sonia, the Duke’s love interest. Continue reading

Vincent Sherman – Saturday’s Children (1940)

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This third film version of Maxwell Anderson’s play Saturday’s Children stars Claude Rains as the impecunious but proud father of a large brood. Rains’ daughter Anne Shirley marries idealistic John Garfield, a would-be inventor who works for Shirley’s father. Feeling that he’s been tricked into marriage, Garfield gives every indication of turning out to be as much “failure” as Rains. Only when Garfield and Shirley are on the verge of breaking up do they realize that material gain is not the only barometer of success in life. Previous filmizations of this story include Saturday’s Children (29), starring Corinne Griffith, and Maybe It’s Love (35), costarring Ross Alexander and Gloria Stuart. Continue reading

Ole Christian Madsen – Kærlighedshistorie AKA Kira’s Reason: A Love Story (2001)

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En Kærlighedshistorie AKA Dogme # 21

REVIEW by Scott Tobias (from avclub.com):

The 21st film to receive official Dogme certification, and one of the few unharmed by its minimalist limitations, Ole Christian Madsen’s powerful Kira’s Reason: A Love Story could be the undercard to A Woman Under The Influence, John Cassavetes’ seminal study of a marriage and mental illness. Beginning with a wife’s return home after time in a psychiatric ward, both films gain their tension from the strained attempt to return to normalcy after everything has irrevocably changed, a transitional phase made all the more painful by brief flashes of the couple’s old dynamic. Though Madsen’s middle-class heroes have little in common with Cassavetes’ more combative blue-collar counterparts, their reunion is similarly raw, painful, and unexpectedly romantic, as they try to redefine their relationship around a new set of terms. Looking and acting uncannily like a young Genevieve Bujold, Stine Stengade gives a touchingly unhinged performance as the title character, a madwoman who tries to find her footing as a wife and mother after being committed for an unspecified condition. While she was away, her husband Lars Mikkelsen had an affair with her sister, but he seems genuinely willing to grant her every opportunity to reenter their lives. Continue reading