Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger – The Small Back Room [+Commentary] (1949)

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The Small Back Room details the professional and personal travails of troubled, alcoholic research scientist and military bomb-disposal expert Sammy Rice (David Farrar), who, while struggling with a complex relationship with secretary girlfriend Susan (Kathleen Byron), is hired by the government to advise on a dangerous new German weapon. Deftly mixing suspense and romance, The Small Back Room is an atmospheric, post–World War II gem. Continue reading

Wes Craven – The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Sandwiched between his notorious saga of rape, revenge, and realist horror, Last House on the Left (1972), and his franchise-initiating fairytale of supernatural serial killing, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes tends to get lost in critical discussion of America’s reigning horror auteur. This may be truer today than ever, considering Craven’s meteoric rise to mainstream respectability after the staggering box office success of his Scream trilogy (1996, 1997, 2000), for which he was ‘rewarded’ with the opportunity to direct a Miramax melodrama (Music of the Heart, 1999). A relentless chronicle of violence against and within the bourgeois family unit, Hills usually occupies the role of Craven’s ‘cult classic’ – celebrated by the director’s hardcore fans, appreciated for its low-budget aesthetic, generating semi-ironic readings which praise its archetypal allusions as well as its exploitation movie themes. Continue reading

Colin Eggleston – Long Weekend (1978)

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Now this is want you call a man vs. nature film! And a real merciless one too! This low-budget, under-appreciated (if forgotten) Australian gem is far from your typical excursion into horror with a melodramatic backdrop involving the couples’ martial problems, but the way the insightful story folds out you can’t deny that this isn’t one horrifying exercise when nature finally unleashes its devastating power with such an claustrophobic strangle hold. You might think the idea in this particular sub-genre would be hokey and overall, a campy b-grade animal feature, but here that’s not the case because there’s nothing cheap about the story and thrills, as it goes for some old fashion spookiness and slow grinding suspense, where we are asked to think about the couples’ careless actions towards nature and the environmental message. There’s a little bit more going on in the film’s material and visuals then you might think and it does play on your mind with it’s disorientating atmosphere. Continue reading

Baran bo Odar – Who Am I – Kein System ist sicher AKA Who Am I – No System Is Safe (2014)

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The outsider Benjamin and the charismatic Max share one mutual interest: hacking. Together with Max‘s friends, they form the subversive hacker group CLAY. CLAY provokes with hilarious hacks and connects with a whole generation. For the first time in his life Benjamin feels like he belongs. But when CLAY is suddenly investigated by German Secret Service and Europol, Benjamin must face the consequences of his actions. Continue reading

Dennis Gansel – Die Welle aka The Wave (2008) (HD)

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When Rainer Wegner, a popular high school teacher, finds himself relegated to
teaching autocracy as part of the schools project week, hes less than enthusiastic. So are his students, who greet the prospect of studying fascism yet again with apathetic grumbling: The Nazis sucked. We get it. Struck by the teenagers complacency and unwitting arrogance, Rainer devises an unorthodox experiment. But his hastily conceived lesson in social orders and the power of unity soon grows a life of its own. Continue reading

David Cronenberg – Dead Ringers (1988) (HD)

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In Dead Ringers, David Cronenberg tells the chilling story of identical twin gynecologists—suave Elliot and sensitive Beverly, bipolar sides of one personality—who share the same practice, the same apartment, the same women. When a new patient, glamorous actress Claire Niveau, challenges their eerie bond, they descend into a whirlpool of sexual confusion, drugs, and madness. Jeremy Irons’ s tour-de-force performance—as both twins—raises disturbing questions about the nature of personal identity. Continue reading

Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck – Das Leben der Anderen AKA The Lives of Others (2006)

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“I’m your audience,” Ulrich Mühe confesses to an actress in a bar somewhere in the middle of The Lives of Others (Das Leben der Anderen), and he means it in two ways: one, he has seen her perform on the stage but two, he is a member of the Stasi, the secret police arm of the East German government whose stated goal is “to know everything”, and he has been keeping her and her playwright boyfriend under surveillance for some time. The Lives of Others is concerned with three things: ostensibly and obviously it tackles the effects of government oppression, specifically on the lives of artists, but on a subtler level it also addresses the transformative power of art and how our ordinary lives can be interpreted as narrative. Continue reading