Ernst Lubitsch – Ich möchte kein Mann sein AKA I Don’t Want to Be a Man (1918)

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A teenaged tomboy, tired of being bossed around by her strict guardian, impersonates a man so she can have more fun, but discovers that being the opposite sex isn’t as easy as she had hoped.

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I Don’t Want To Be A Man is like The Oyster Princess an early example of Ernst Lubitsch’s comic skills, and it also shares The Oyster Princess’ star, the irrepressible comedienne Ossi Oswalda, who in both films lends her name to the characters she plays. Here she plays a wild, rambunctious late teen barely under the control of her guardian/uncle and governess. (In reality it takes a while to work out that this middle-aged couple glaring disapprovingly out the window at Ossi’s mild antics outside are not her parents; they seemed rather coded as such.) Continue reading

Sergei M. Eisenstein – Bronenosets Potyomkin aka The battleship Potemkin (1925)

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Marie Seton wrote:
When he made Potemkin in 1925, Sergei Eisenstein was not only a man with his total personality dedicated to creative work — albeit a creative work aimed at destroying all orthodox concepts of ‘art’ — but he was also a revolutionary fighter, a propagandist for the Russian Revolution. Thus, his work had a utilitarian purpose as well as an artistic one. He was educator and artist. At its most obvious level, Potemkin was regarded as propaganda for the Revolution; at a deeper level it was a highly complex work of art which Eisenstein thought would affect every man who beheld it, from the humblest to the most learned. Continue reading

Anthony Asquith & A.V. Bramble – Shooting Stars (1927)

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Before the constipated bloat and stagger of his 40s and 50s theatrical adaptations, Anthony Asquith was a lively and original maker of silent films. A Cottage on Dartmoor is already celebrated as a rare example of expressionist gloom and experimentation taking root in British soil. Underground has just been restored by the BFI, and it is to be hoped that this dazzling work will be next. Continue reading

Ala Eddine Slim – Akher Wahed Fina AKA The Last of Us (2016)

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With no dialogue, The Last of Us tracks a Sub-Saharan man through the desert to North Africa where he steals a boat. When it breaks down in the middle of the sea, he begins an imaginary surrealistic odyssey where he meets an older man, who might be an altered version of himself, and, in a wild landscape, rediscovers his relationship with primary nature. “A philosophical fable on being lost” (Giona Nazzaro).

Awarded with the Lion Of the Future in the 73rd Venice Film Festival (2016) Continue reading

Carl Theodor Dreyer – Glomdalsbruden (1926)

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Birgit Granhøj, CarlThDreyer.dk wrote:

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Tore takes over the rundown family farm. Applying his youthful energy, he intends to make it into a big farm like Glomgården on the other side of the river, where beautiful Berit loves. Tore falls in love with her, but her father has promised her to rich Gjermund. As her wedding to Gjermund draws near, Berit runs away and seeks refuge with Tore and his parents. She soon falls deathly ill but recovers, asking for, and getting, her father’s permission to marry Tore. Jealous Gjermund is determined to prevent their wedding, however, in a dramatic climactic scene playing out around the rushing river. Continue reading

Carl Theodor Dreyer – Du skal ære din hustru AKA Master of the House (1925)

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Victor Frandsen is a domestic tyrant. His wife Ida has to work as a slave for him and the rest of the family. She rises early to prepare everything for the day, she toils all day long, and she is often up also in the night, doing some sewing to earn extra money for the household. In daytime she is supported by an old woman called Mads, who was Victors’ nanny when he was a child. Mads is filled with loathing for Victor’s behavior towards his wife, and calls him a brute. She understands that Ida is on the verge of a serious breakdown, and persuades Ida’s mother, Mrs. Kryer, to take Ida away. Mads will herself take care of the household and the children for a time. When Victor comes home and finds out that Ida is gone, he gets angry. He asks his daughter, Karen, where her mother is, but she refuses to tell him. She only says that her mother is very ill, and that it will be his fault if she dies. The accusation strikes Victor in his heart, and he sits down, feeling dejected. Continue reading

F.W. Murnau – Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (1927)

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Roger Ebert wrote:
The camera’s freedom to move is taken for granted in these days of the Steadicam, the lightweight digital camera, and even special effects that reproduce camera movement. A single unbroken shot can seem to begin with an entire city and end with a detail inside a window — consider the opening of “Moulin Rouge!” (2001). But the camera did not move so easily in the early days. Continue reading