Jean Epstein – Coeur fidèle AKA The Faithful Heart (1923)

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In Coeur Fidèle’s accompanying 44-page booklet, Jean Epstein, at a 1924 address, argues his film as “romantic” rather than”realist”, the label with which Italian poet Ricciotto Canudo assigned it before his death. The truth is that Epstein’s largely unknown masterpiece provides a fascinating agreement of the two styles, oscillating with seamless precision between reverie and sincerity. Marie (Gina Manès) is in love with Jean (Léon Mathot), a kind-hearted man who works on the Marseille docklands, but Marie’s adoptive parents want to marry her off to the obnoxious and unemployed drunk Petit Paul (Edmond Van Daële), and the scene is set for a sensational melodrama to unfold. Continue reading

Pedro Almodóvar – Julieta (2016)

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Julieta (Emma Suarez) is a middle-aged woman living in Madrid with her boyfriend Lorenzo. Both are going to move to Portugal when she casually runs into Bea, former best friend of her daughter Antia, who reveals that this one is living in Switzerland married and with three children. With the heart broken after 12 years of total absence of her daughter, Julieta cancels the journey to Portugal and she moves to her former building, in the hope that Antia someday communicates with her sending a letter. Alone with her thoughts, Julieta starts to write her memories to confront the pain of the events happened when she was a teenager (Adriana Ugarte) and met Xoan, a Galician fisherman. Falling in love with him, Julieta divides her time between the family, the job and the education of Antia until a fatal accident changes their lives. Slowly decaying in a depression, Julieta is helped by Antia and Bea, but one day Antia goes missing suddenly after a vacation with no clues about where to find … Continue reading

Michelangelo Antonioni – Le amiche AKA The Girlfriends (1955)

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Michelangelo Antonioni’s Le Amiche opens with an aerial shot of Turin, Italy that, in the moment, could easily be mistaken as simply a cheery, picturesque backdrop for the credits sequence. Retroactively, though, the image proves deceptive and even misleading in its suggestion of peace and tranquility. Antonioni’s 1955 film interrogates the detrimental socio-economic dimensions of modernity in Turin by moving an assortment of characters through confrontations and conversations in drawing rooms and cafés, and outside on beaches and in alleyways, so that a character’s elation or devastation must be understood in relation to the place where it occurs. Le Amiche is filled with characters asking one another “why” something is happening, but for the director, “where” is always the most optimal question. Continue reading

Bo Widerberg – Elvira Madigan (1967)

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“Exquisite” is only the first word that surges in my mind as an appropriate description of Elvira Madigan, a Swedish film by Bo Widerberg that was put on at the late show in Philharmonic Hall last night. For exquisite it is in all the lovely and delicate sense of the word as used to define the felicities of sensuous experience. Continue reading

António da Cunha Telles – Kiss Me (2004)

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Quote:
Kiss Me” is the story of Laura, a woman who provokes intense desire and jealous and obsessive passions, fascinating every man that approaches her.
In the late fifties, Laura decides to grab destiny in her hands. She leaves a troubled past and a son behind and moves to Tavira , in the South of Portugal, to live with a strange aunt who makes her dream of America. Fascinated by the figure of Marilyn Monroe in the movies, she transforms herself into the Marilyn Monroe of the town. Years later, her son recreates her story. Continue reading

Willi Forst – Maskerade AKA Masquerade in Vienna (1934)

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Review:
“Maskerade” is the second film directed by Willi Forst. While the ‘Vienna film’ had been popular since the early 1930s not least due to Forst’s work as an actor and singer, it was “Maskerade” that brought the genre to a probably never surpassed high point.

The plot, set in Vienna around 1900, seems to be feather-weight at first sight. When a nude drawing of a society lady, made by the artist Heideneck (Adolf Wohlbrück), gets into the newspaper by accident, a near scandal is caused. Heideneck saves his neck by randomly giving the name of an unknown girl as the drawing’s model. However, a romance soon develops between the artist and the girl (Paula Wessely), which causes the jealousy of Heideneck’s former girlfriend Anita (Olga Tschechowa)… Continue reading

Louis Feuillade – Le Gamin de Paris AKA Paris Urchin (1923)

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Two war orphans, Joseph, apprentice printer, and Lisette, typist, live with their grandmother in Belleville. Lisette loves his next door neighbor, the painter Amedee, but this one does not offer him a union. Joseph Amedee learning is the son of a general, advocates for Lisette and everything ends in marriage. Continue reading