James Mangold – Heavy (1995)

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Synopsis:
The life of an overweight, unhappy cook is forever changed after a kind, beautiful college drop-out comes to work as a waitress at he and his mother’s roadside restaurant.

Quote:
Heavy is not the kind of film to view when you’re looking for something upbeat. It’s too real, and, as a result, potentially too painful. On the way out of the theater, I heard someone remark, “Why did I just sit through that film? I’ve lived that story, and I don’t need to be put through it again!” Mangold captures the nuances of life perfectly, and, by never cheapening his vision through facile resolutions, he fashions a memorable cinematic portrait. Continue reading

Leos Carax – Les amants du Pont-Neuf AKA The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)

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Quote:
Leos Carax’s story of two homeless bums and their relationship is built around these contradictions and tensions that make the film a struggle to grasp. It’s a warm, beautiful and intimate film, but it’s also filled with harsh, repulsive imagery and a protagonist who is so rampantly selfish he makes spats of the film hard to watch as this almost naïve and childlike relationship is filled with dark, abusive undertones. Continue reading

Vasilis Georgiadis – Ta kokkina fanaria AKA The Red Lanterns (1963)

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Quote:
… It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also entered into the 1964 Cannes Film Festival….

The residents of a poor neighbourhood in Piraeus are asked to leave as modernization will take place. The prostitutes of one of the many brothels are preparing to move on. The camera follows their individual stories, their misery, shattered dreams and hopes for a better future. Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Krótki film o milosci AKA A Short Film About Love (1988)

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Quote:
An obscured thief breaks into a school gymnasium at night to steal a portable telescope from the science lab. On the following morning, the thief, Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) sets up the telescope on his desk, facing the window of his room, and across the courtyard into an adjacent apartment. Later in the day, an attractive, hurried woman named Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) stops by the post office in order to claim a money order after receiving a notification in her mailbox, only to be informed by the attentive young postal clerk, Tomek, that there is nothing being held at the station on her behalf. Back home, Tomek sets his alarm clock to 8:00 pm, the approximate time of Magda’s return home. Tomek would prepare his meals and dine in the privacy of his room, away from the curious gaze of his godmother (Stefania Iwinska), and spend hours observing Magda as she goes through the routine of her household tasks, often placing anonymous, silent telephone calls to hear the sound of her voice. Continue reading

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

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1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions. Continue reading

Masahiro Shinoda – Sakura no mori no mankai no shita AKA Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees (1975)

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Plot:
When a mountain man (Lone Wolf and Cub’s Tomisaburo Wakayama) kills a man and steals his wife (Shima Iwashita), he bites off more than he can chew. Rather than being a submissive victim, the beautiful woman soon browbeats her murderous husband into total compliance, convincing him to murder all but one member of his harem of dirty mountain women. She soon becomes his wife, and convinces him to take her (and the one girl she spared, now a maid) to the capital, where the mountain man begins his new vocation: collecting heads for his wife, who uses them as props in her own personal melodramas. Soon, Wakayama (his character has no name) becomes a feared figure in the city, and his wife’s collection of heads grows and grows. But how long can it last? Continue reading

Eldar Ryazanov – Vokzal dlya dvoikh AKA Railway Station For Two (1983)

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Quote:
Platon Ryabinin, a pianist, is traveling by train to a distant town of Griboedov to visit his father. He gets off to have lunch during a twenty minute stop at Zastupinsk railway station. He meets Vera, a waitress, after he refuses to pay her for the disgusting food he doesn’t even touch and misses his train due to police investigation of the incident. His passport is then accidentally taken away from him by Andrei, Vera’s fiancé, and his money is stolen as he waits for the next train to Griboedov. Vera learns that Platon is about to get sentenced and sent to prison in the Far East for a car accident he isn’t guilty for. During the few days that Platon has to spend in Zastupinsk he and Vera develop feelings for each other… Continue reading