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

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