Herman Shumlin – Confidential Agent (1945)

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Synopsis:
In pre-World War II London, Spanish agent Denard struggles to close a high-level business deal that will strike a blow against fascists in his native country. But industrialists not yet alert to the threat of fascism reject him. A teenage ally caught up in his efforts is murdered. And the mission itself seems a failure. Yet neither the story nor Denard will stop there. Charles Boyer plays Denard and Lauren Bacall is a jaded industrial heiress who assists him in this intricate spy drama. For her second screen appearance, Bacall took a critical thumping, yet her presence smolders. The film itself still satisfies, thanks in no small measure to James Wong Howe’s atmospheric cinematography and the story craft of source novelist Graham Greene. Continue reading

Claude Sautet – L’arme à gauche AKA The Dictator’s Guns (1965)

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Synopsis:
Jacques Cournot, a freelance skipper, is hired by Mr Hendrix in Santo Domingo, first of all to advise him regarding the acquisition of a sailing boat. After a thorough inspection of a prospective vessel, the “Dragoon”, Cournot reports his positive appraisal to Mr Hendrix and initiates the negotiations with Mrs Osborne, the owner of the craft. Barely a couple of days later, Cournot finds himself in a bind as the police questions him about the exact kind of cruise he was supposed to organize for his principal. For the “Dragoon” is gone; Mr Hendrix has disappeared; Mrs Osborne is not aware of any deal; and the corpses of mysterious individuals, victims of a violent death, are found on the beaches of Santo Domingo.

— Eduardo Casais (IMDB) Continue reading

Toshiya Fujita – Shurayukihime aka Lady Snowblood (1973)

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Quote:
Out of all the films director Quentin Tarantino pays homage to in his interpretation of the revenge flick, “Kill Bill”, the 1973 classic film “Lady Snowblood” takes credit for probably being the most influential to him. And rightly so; “Lady Snowblood” is one of the most original revenge films ever, particularly because of the protagonist who deals out the vengeance is not a man…but a woman. Based on a manga written by Kazuo Koike, who also created the “Lone Wolf and Cub” and “Crying Freeman” manga series, “Lady Snowblood” is one of the best revenge films I’ve seen. Continue reading

René Clément – Plein soleil AKA Purple Noon (1960)

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Quote:
Purple Noon is a taut, intelligently written, and well crafted film about an amoral criminal. Tom Ripley (Alain Delon), commissioned to find and bring home an old school acquaintance named Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet), the errant son of a wealthy San Francisco businessman, is quickly seduced by the lifestyle of the idle rich. Without independent means, the parasitic Tom immediately leeches onto the squandering, philandering Philippe, who only seems too eager to flaunt his wealth and humiliate him. Soon, Tom’s pervasive presence turns a leisurely yachting cruise with Philippe’s girlfriend, Marge (Marie Laforet), into a claustrophobic nightmare. After instigating an argument between the two lovers, causing Marge to leave, Tom sets his plot in motion to assume Philippe’s identity. Purple Noon is a highly stylized and insidiously clever film on committing the perfect crime. Continue reading

Jerzy Skolimowski – 11 minut AKA 11 Minutes (2015)

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A jealous husband out of control, his sexy actress wife, a sleazy Hollywood director, a reckless drug messenger, a disoriented young woman, an ex-con hot dog vendor, a troubled student on a mysterious mission, a high-rise window cleaner on an illicit break, an elderly sketch artist, a hectic paramedics team and a group of hungry nuns. A cross-section of contemporary urbanites whose lives and loves intertwine. They live in an unsure world where anything could happen at any time. An unexpected chain of events can seal many fates in a mere 11 minutes. Continue reading

Nima Javidi – Melbourne (2014)

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The film recounts the story of a young couple on their way to Melbourne to continue their studies. However, just a few hours before the departure of their flight, they are unintentionally involved in a tragic event.

Quote:
This remarkable debut feature by Nima Javidi naturally reminds one of Asghar Farhadi’s films, with its strong sense of drama, tremendous actor interpretations and mature writing that does not compromise the integrity of any of the characters. But there is also something particularly “new generational” about it in the way it harnesses the choice in front of affluent young Tehranians: to stay in Iran and own up its problems or to leave the country to start life anew. The inciting event in the film that dramatizes this choice stops the train of life dead in its tracks, exposing its protagonists to the unbearable “nowness” of the present. It is a terribly universal predicament in which time freezes around the material reality before you and all plans for the future and memories of the past seem like a remote, inaccessible country, a crisis that makes you want to either regress in time (“wish mother were here”) or to jump to a future day when the clouds have cleared, a moment where husband and wife see each other’s innermost character in all its stark nakedness. Though the couple might physically arrive at the eponymous neverland, the utopia it once represented is irrevocably lost. – The Seventh Art Continue reading