Stanley Kwan – Hong meigui, bai meigui aka Red Rose, White Rose (1994)

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Plot Synopsis

This sensitive Asian melodrama chronicles the two major loves in the life of a man who cannot change. The story is divided into two parts; each part focused upon one woman. The story begins in Shanghai during the early 1930’s and follows the loves of Zhen-bao. His early love life abroad is chronicled in the opening scenes. The real story begins as Zhen-pao returns to Shanghai and stays at his friend Wang’s apartment. Zhen-bao meets Wang’s moody, selfish wife Jiao-rui. The two begin a passionate affair. Zhen-bao nicknames her “Red Rose”……. Time passes. In the second half, Zhen-bao is a businessman who woos and marries Yen-li, his “White Rose.” She is from a peasant background and very young. She endeavors to be the perfect wife. More time passes. It is 1943 and Zhen-bao is back to his old ways……… –edited for spoilers from Sandra Berman @allmovieguide.com Continue reading

François Truffaut – La femme d’à côté AKA The Woman Next Door (1981)

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Quote:
MUCH in the way that a writer of precise, clean, seemingly effortlessly flowing prose can capture one’s attention in an opening paragraph of essential but banal information, Francois Truffaut can draw us immediately into the everyday world of his films, which look familiar but are as foreign to most of us as life among a tribe of aborigines.

The inhabitants of his world are not exotic. No rings in their noses. No lavender-dyed hair. They have no difficulty differentiating reality from fantasy. To all appearances they tend to be commonplace. Yet it is the exhilarating talent of this film maker to be able to define the commonplace in a manner that is not at all commonplace, and thus to find – and appreciate – the mystery within. This is the continuing revelation of each of Mr. Truffaut’s best films, especially of ”Jules and Jim,” ”La Peau Douce,” ”Stolen Kisses” ”The Story of Adele H” and, now, of ”The Woman Next Door,” a love story of almost self-effacing mastery. Continue reading

Max Ophüls, Stuart Heisler, Mel Ferrer, Preston Sturges, Paul Weatherwax – Vendetta (1950)

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Max Ophuls’ first American film. Fired by Howard Hughes after falling behind schedule, Ophuls was replaced by Preston Sturges, who had written the script. Sturges was then fired also. Over the next four years, Hughes tinkered incessantly with the project, and an array of writers and directors had their way with it. Finally editor Don Siegel attempted to put the thing together and make sense of it.

So the movie is messy but with stunning sequences. Most sources credit Mel Ferrer with directing the ending, but it’s clear he only shot the leaden coda. The actual climax is a beautifully orchestrated, stunningly lit stalking scene with the principal characters hunting each other through a misty wood. Absolutely beautiful, and if this is what made Ophuls go over schedule, as seems likely, he was right to take the time to get it looking this amazing. Continue reading

Christian Petzold – Yella (2007)

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Christian Petzold’s drama deals with a woman, who leaves her hometown for a promising job and a new life,
but is haunted by the truths of the past. As her marriage to Ben broke and her professional career has no future
in her native town in the Eastern part of Germany, Yella has decided to search for a job in the West. When she gets
to know Philipp, a smart executive at a private equity company in Hanover, she becomes his assistant and gets involved
into the world of ruthless and big business. Realizing her dreams could come true with Philipp’s help, she starts hearing
voices and sounds from her past, which menace her new and better life… Continue reading

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