Jean-Loup Hubert – Après la guerre AKA The War Is Over (1989)

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Synopsis
The conflict in question is World War II; even though hostilities have all but ceased, the Germans and the French are not precisely reconciled. German soldier Richard Bohringer, absent without leave, is befriended by a couple of pre-teen boys. Despite the fact that they seem to have found a lasting peace, the adult world doesn’t see things the boys’ way… Continue reading

Stanley Kubrick – Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)

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Quote:
In 1964, with the Cuban Missile Crisis fresh in viewers’ minds, the Cold War at its frostiest, and the hydrogen bomb relatively new and frightening, Stanley Kubrick dared to make a film about what could happen if the wrong person pushed the wrong button — and played the situation for laughs.

Dr. Strangelove’s jet-black satire (from a script by director Stanley Kubrick, Peter George, and Terry Southern) and a host of superb comic performances (including three from Peter Sellers) have kept the film fresh and entertaining, even as its issues have become (slightly) less timely. Loaded with thermonuclear weapons, a U.S. bomber piloted by Maj. T.J. “King” Kong (Slim Pickens) is on a routine flight pattern near the Soviet Union when they receive orders to commence Wing Attack Plan R, best summarized by Maj. Kong as “Nuclear combat! Toe to toe with the Russkies!” On the ground at Burpleson Air Force Base, Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake (Peter Sellers) notices nothing on the news about America being at war. Continue reading

Jean-Luc Godard – Prières pour Refusniks (2004)

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Summary:
Jean-Luc Godard address two cinematographic letters to young Israeli soldiers who were convicted after refusing to intervene in the occupied territories

Background context:

Quote:
Refusal to serve in the IDF is a social phenomenon in Israel in which citizens refuse to serve in the Israel Defense Forces or disobey orders on the grounds of pacifism, antimilitarism, religious philosophy or political disagreement with Israeli policy such as the occupation of the Palestinian territories.

Conscientious objectors in Israel are known as sarvanim which is sometimes translated as “refuseniks”, or mishtamtim (evaders, dodgers) – wikipedia Continue reading

Fernando de Fuentes – Vámonos con Pancho Villa! AKA Let’s Go With Pancho Villa [+extra] (1936)

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Synopsis:
Six hearty fellows in the tiny hamlet of San Pablo decide to join the revolutionary army of Pancho Villa. The Federales have already put a price on the head of young Miguel Ángel del Toro (Ramón Vallarino), and the others rush to join up under the unofficial leadership of Don Tiburcio Maya (Antonio R. Frausto), a farmer who leaves behind a wife and two small children. They boast that they are known as ‘The Lions’ when they meet Francisco ‘Pancho’ Villa (Domingo Soler); he makes them lieutenants and encourages them to live up to their claim. The six fight fiercely, lead assaults and pull off major coups like riding right up to an enemy machine gun and dragging it off with a lasso. This crazy do-or-die spirit results in a slow attrition of their numbers. The surviving three are promoted to Major but Don Tiburcio begins to feel that they’ve contributed enough to the slaughter, even if the devil-may-care jokester Melitón Botello (Manuel Tamés) feels compelled to tampt fate through stupid tests of manhood. The Revolution uses up good men, with little reward but empty glory.
— Glenn Erickson. Continue reading

Janus Metz Pedersen – Armadillo (2010)

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Storyline:
In February 2009 a group of Danish soldiers accompanied by documentary filmmaker Janus Metz arrived at Armadillo, an army base in the southern Afghan province of Helmand. Metz and cameraman Lars Skree spent six months following the lives of young soldiers situated less than a kilometer away from Taliban positions. The outcome of their work is a gripping and highly authentic war drama that was justly awarded the Grand Prix de la Semaine de la Critique at this year’s Cannes film festival. But it also provoked furious debate in Denmark concerning the controversial behavior of certain Danish soldiers during a shootout with Taliban fighters. The filmmakers repeatedly risked their lives shooting this tense, brilliantly edited, and visually sophisticated probe into the psychology of young men in the midst of a senseless war whose victims are primarily local villagers. Yet more disturbing than scenes in which Taliban bullets whiz past their cameras is the footage of the young soldiers as each tries, in his own way, to come to terms with putting his life constantly on the line Continue reading

Ján Kadár & Elmar Klos – Obchod na korze AKA The Shop on Main Street (1965)

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Synopsis:
In 1942, in a small town in Czechoslovakia, the poor carpenter Tony Brtko is assigned “Aryanizator” of a small shop on the main street by his fascist brother-in-law Mark Kolkotsky. His greedy wife Evelyn is seduced with the promise of fortune, but Tony finds that the store owned by the deaf and senile seventy year-old widow Rozalie Lautmann is bankrupted and the old lady is financially supported by the Jewish community that promises a salary to him to help her. Tony befriends Ms, Lautmann and helps her in the store and repairs her furniture, and lures his wife with his salary. When the Jews are expelled from the town by the fascist, Tony decides to help the old lady. Continue reading