Satyajit Ray – Charulata AKA The Lonely Wife (1964)

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The opening shots of Satyajit Ray’s Charulata bypass melodrama for the feel of a fairy tale, with bored housewife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) flitting about her spacious Victorian home like Rapunzel amusing herself in her tower. Even shots that stay still for less than a second frame Charu behind bars, be it bedposts or the wooden blinds she jerks open in order to peer at the bustling city life below. Never again does the camera move as swiftly nor as giddily as it does when Charu, armed with a pair of binoculars, hustles along each window to follow the movement of a man she finds interesting. The scene ends as quickly as it came to life, nothing more than a fleeting distraction from the tedium of her sheltered existence. Continue reading

Martin Ritt – Pete ‘n’ Tillie (1972)

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Based on Peter DeVries’ novel Witch’s Milk, Pete ‘n’ Tillie stars Walter Matthau and Carol Burnett in the title roles. Middle-aged when they first meet, eternally joking Pete and repressed “old maid” Tillie don’t immediately hit it off. Gradually, their friendship deepens into love and culminates (reluctantly, on Pete’s part) in marriage, eleven years of which is explored in this film. Throughout the funny and tragic moments, and despite the many breakups, their love endures. Oscar nominations went to screenwriter Julius J. Epstein and supporting actress Geraldine Page Continue reading

James Mangold – Heavy (1995)

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Synopsis:
The life of an overweight, unhappy cook is forever changed after a kind, beautiful college drop-out comes to work as a waitress at he and his mother’s roadside restaurant.

Quote:
Heavy is not the kind of film to view when you’re looking for something upbeat. It’s too real, and, as a result, potentially too painful. On the way out of the theater, I heard someone remark, “Why did I just sit through that film? I’ve lived that story, and I don’t need to be put through it again!” Mangold captures the nuances of life perfectly, and, by never cheapening his vision through facile resolutions, he fashions a memorable cinematic portrait. Continue reading

Leos Carax – Les amants du Pont-Neuf AKA The Lovers on the Bridge (1991)

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Leos Carax’s story of two homeless bums and their relationship is built around these contradictions and tensions that make the film a struggle to grasp. It’s a warm, beautiful and intimate film, but it’s also filled with harsh, repulsive imagery and a protagonist who is so rampantly selfish he makes spats of the film hard to watch as this almost naïve and childlike relationship is filled with dark, abusive undertones. Continue reading

Vasilis Georgiadis – Ta kokkina fanaria AKA The Red Lanterns (1963)

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… It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. It was also entered into the 1964 Cannes Film Festival….

The residents of a poor neighbourhood in Piraeus are asked to leave as modernization will take place. The prostitutes of one of the many brothels are preparing to move on. The camera follows their individual stories, their misery, shattered dreams and hopes for a better future. Continue reading

Krzysztof Kieslowski – Krótki film o milosci AKA A Short Film About Love (1988)

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An obscured thief breaks into a school gymnasium at night to steal a portable telescope from the science lab. On the following morning, the thief, Tomek (Olaf Lubaszenko) sets up the telescope on his desk, facing the window of his room, and across the courtyard into an adjacent apartment. Later in the day, an attractive, hurried woman named Magda (Grazyna Szapolowska) stops by the post office in order to claim a money order after receiving a notification in her mailbox, only to be informed by the attentive young postal clerk, Tomek, that there is nothing being held at the station on her behalf. Back home, Tomek sets his alarm clock to 8:00 pm, the approximate time of Magda’s return home. Tomek would prepare his meals and dine in the privacy of his room, away from the curious gaze of his godmother (Stefania Iwinska), and spend hours observing Magda as she goes through the routine of her household tasks, often placing anonymous, silent telephone calls to hear the sound of her voice. Continue reading

Chan-wook Park – Ah-ga-ssi aka The Handmaiden (2016)

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1930s Korea, in the period of Japanese occupation, a new girl (Sookee) is hired as a handmaiden to a Japanese heiress (Hideko) who lives a secluded life on a large countryside estate with her domineering Uncle (Kouzuki). But the maid has a secret. She is a pickpocket recruited by a swindler posing as a Japanese Count to help him seduce the Lady to elope with him, rob her of her fortune, and lock her up in a madhouse. The plan seems to proceed according to plan until Sookee and Hideko discover some unexpected emotions. Continue reading