United Kingdom

Franco Zeffirelli – Romeo and Juliet (1968)

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Emulating Renato Castellani, who had previously in 1960 filmed Romeo and Juliet on location in an Italian hill city, Franco Zeffirelli, veteran stage and opera director, combined the neo-realism of Italian cinema with the unabashed sentimentality of a Puccini opera in making this enormously popular adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedies of young lovers. Moreover he filtered the action through the lens of Leonard Bernstein’s West Side Story to make the experience totally palatable to the rebellious youth of the late Sixties. What he sacrificed in Shakespeare’s language (and perhaps half or more of the text disappeared), he attempted to compensate for with a colorful and visually appealing panorama of life in a northern Italian city. Zeffirelli had previously accomplished much the same results with his filmed 1966 Taming of the Shrew (598) starring Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Moreover he also brought to the venture considerable experience as a director of staged Shakespeare for the RSC and other companies. Hundreds of aspirants were auditioned before lucky, then 14-year-old, Olivia Hussey snapped up the prized role as Juliet
Description from Shakespeare on Screen : an International Filmography and Videography by Kenneth S. Rothwell and Annabelle Henkin Melzer. Read More »

Carol Reed – The Third Man (1949)

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Synopsis:
Carol Reed reached the peak of his form with this classic noir, an elegy for American innocence and European elegance. Joseph Cotten, in fine form, stars as unemployed pulp-novelist Holly Martins. When he arrives in post-WWII Vienna on the promise of a job from his old friend Harry Lime (Orson Welles), he finds that Lime has recently died in a dubious car accident. Against the advice of British sector authority Major Calloway (Trevor Howard), who accuses Lime of criminal behavior, the indignant Martins decides to stay to investigate his friend’s death. He searches this city of rubble-strewn streets and bombed-out buildings, earnestly questioning Lime’s associates, a cynical, war-weary collection of black-market hustlers. At length, he realizes that the stories he’s hearing are so full of contradiction, he’s getting nowhere. Yet, he’s entranced by Lime’s beautiful girlfriend, Anna Schmidt (Alida Valli), who, unlike the others, seems to have loved Harry. Read More »

Roman Polanski – Cul-de-sac [+extras] (1966)

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Synopsis:

A wounded criminal and his dying partner take refuge at a beachfront castle. The owners of the castle, a meek Englishman and his willful French wife, are initially the unwilling hosts to the criminals. Quickly, however, the relationships between the criminal, the wife, and the Englishman begin to shift in humorous and bizarre fashion. Read More »

José Ramón Larraz – Vampyres (1974)

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“The 1970’s was the decade of the gothic lesbian vampire film. The exploitation efforts of Jean Rollin (LIPS OF BLOOD), Jess Franco (VAMPYROS LESBOS), and Hammer (LUST FOR A VAMPIRE) were enormously popular at the time. These films successfully combined the fear of death and eroticism, which struck a cord with male audiences. Many of the films merely hinted at the overt sexuality, and most never fully explored the sexual aspects of the genre’s premise. That all changed in 1974, when upstart Spanish director Jose Ramon Larrez (or Joe as he is called stateside) raised the bar with the ultimate depiction of sex and horror, VAMPYRES. Larrez teamed with producer Brian Smedley-Astin to film their adult vampire epic in England. By the time VAMPYRES was released there, the censors cut out most of the offensive scenes, castrating the power of this artsy exploitation picture. Luckily when the film played the Drive-In circuit in America (as DAUGHTERS OF DRACULA), we got to see what the British audience didn’t–powerful sex trysts and disturbing death scenes. Thanks to Larrez’s scripting and directing skills, VAMPYRES rose to top of its genre. Today, VAMPYRES is a highly regarded classic in Euro horror-circles, and rightly so… Read More »

Penny Woolcock – The Principles of Lust (2003)

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Synopsis:
Crippled by his writer’s block, Paul enters into a new, exciting relationship with risk-taking Billy and super-sexy Juliette. As it becomes increasingly tangled, however, he must choose one of them over the other.

Jamie Russell, bbc.co.uk wrote:
“Likely to cause a stir because of its explicit scenes of orgies and coke snorting, what really separates The Principles Of Lust from the crowd is its edgy, dark atmosphere that combines conventional Hollywood thrillers about sociopaths – eg. Fight Club, Bad Influence – with a distinctly British, rough and ready feel. Read More »

Calum Waddell – 42nd Street Memories: The Rise and Fall of America’s Most Notorious Street (2015)

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Quote:
The story behind the rise and fall of New York`s 42nd Street. The cinemas, the films, the people, the crime and the rebirth of the block as “New 42nd Street“ – this is the document of the world`s most notorious movie strip. Read More »

Alejandro Jodorowsky – The Rainbow Thief (1990)

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SYNOPSIS:
A petty crook, in search of the proverbial pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, hopes to cash in by befriending the heir to a huge fortune.

Production notes:
This was Jodorowsky’s sixth feature-length film, and his first British film. Filming was carried out in Gdansk, Poland. He was frequently threatened by the producers not to change anything in the script, effectively restraining further artistic involvement from his behalf. Jodorowsky has since disowned the movie. It was released in cinemas in London (May 1990), Italy (Il Ladro dell’arcobaleno, 1990), France (Le voleur d’arc-en-ciel, Paris, 1994) and, after, Spain (El ladrón del Arco iris, Cine Doré, Madrid, 2011); but it was never released in American cinemas.This movie, along with his previous Tusk in 1980, mark his most impersonal work, set far apart from his earlier work. It was discussed along with his other films in the documentary La Constellation Jodorowsky (1994). Read More »