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

Alfred Hitchcock – Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith represented a change of pace for director Alfred Hitchcock. Out of his 50+ films, this one was his only comedy. Sure, The Master of Suspense usually added humorous touches to all of his films, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith was his only out and out farce.

The plot revolves around the Smiths, an otherwise happily married couple (Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery) who have a shocking conversation over breakfast in which Mr. Smith reveals that if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t get married. This sends Mrs. Smith into a huff and she starts PMSing on him. Then the Smiths learn through some contrivance that their marriage isn’t legal and after Mr. Smith doesn’t propose right away, Mrs. Smith goes into a snit and starts seeing other people. From there, the couple vie for each other’s affections by making the other one jealous until they finally realize they’re still in love. Continue reading