Rolf Schübel – Gloomy Sunday – Ein Lied von Liebe und Tod (1999)


Budapest in the thirties. The restaurant owner Laszlo hires the pianist András to play in his restaurant. Both men fall in love with the beautiful waitress Ilona who inspires András to his only composition. His song of Gloomy Sunday is, at first, loved and then feared, for its melancholic melody triggers off a chain of suicides. The fragile balance of the erotic ménage à trois is sent off kilter when the German Hans goes and falls in love with Ilona as well. Continue reading

Cédric Klapisch – L’Auberge espagnole AKA The Spanish Apartment (2002)


A new housemate, Isabel, a lesbian, teaches Xavier about the moves and touches that most appeal to women and he tries them out on Anne-Sophie, the neurologist’s wife who eagerly submits to his advances. The film, however, has a larger theme: learning to discover our true self, not the one parents or teachers expect us to be. The experience allows Xavier to get in touch with his own creative energies and reminds him of his childhood longing to become a writer. While L’Auberge Espanole never explores any character in much depth and the camera tricks can become tiresome, it has intelligence, fun, and exuberance and, with Barcelona scintillating in the background, rekindles the time when life was an adventure of discovery. Continue reading

Júlio Bressane – Garoto (2015)


A girl, a boy, a murder, some great landscapes, the sound of wind. Like a young couple on the lam film shot by Straub/Huillet. It achieves a beauty few films can.

Boy meets girl at the end of the world. Once again, Julio Bressane stages the beginning of life itself as a stylized and dysfunctional yet mysteriously minnellian dance. O Garoto, element of the collective project Telha brilhadora, that comprises also O prefeito by Bruno Safadi, O espelho by Rodrigo Lima and Origem do mundo by Moa Batsow, is a film that has at its core a mischievous insurgent sexual energy that bristles and sparks relentlessly poetic hybris. Those who are not familiar with Bressane’s work may be puzzled by the minimalistic approach and its reiterative patterns, but it is obvious that O Garoto (The Kid) is just a different kind of educaçao sentimental Continue reading

John Duigan – The Year My Voice Broke (1987)


Danny Embling (Noah Taylor) must face the bittersweet aches and sometimes harsh consequences of growing up when his childhood love (Loene Carmen) falls for a troubled older boy (Ben Mendelsohn) and the three whirl amidst the excitement and confusion of their own budding sexuality. Set in 1952, in a small rural town in the Australian outback, this poignant coming-of-age film beautifully captures the exquisite torture of adolescent longing and alienation. Continue reading

Timo von Gunten – La femme et le TGV AKA The Railroad Lady (2016)


A touching story between a lonely woman and a TGV train driver.

The spirit of warming one’s heart and melting one’s shell brings the fifth Oscar nominee to life. La femme et le TGV (dir. Timo von Gunten; Switzerland, 30 min.) stars Jane Birkin (Blow Up, Twice Born) in a quirky and amusing love story about a frumpy baker who finds one daily bit of solace in her small Swiss town. Every day when the TGV train goes whizzing by, she rushes to the window and waves her flag. For such a grumpy sourpuss, the baker completely melts with joy each time the train passes. She’s as happy as a kid in a candy store—doubly so when a pen pal from the train starts pitching gifts and notes out the window. Birkin is lots of fun and gives La femme et le TGV its sprightly bounce and offbeat charm. Of all the shorts nominated here, La femme et le TGV is the most complete picture. With its economy of storytelling, upbeat tone, and underdog spirit, this fun comedy is a refreshing reminder that lightening up and being good to one’s neighbours is the richest truffle of all. Continue reading