Garin Nugroho – Opera Jawa aka Requiem from Java [+Extras] (2006)

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Inspired by ‘The Abduction of Sita’ from the ancient Indian and South East-Asian literary classic The Ramayana, OPERA JAWA is a unique musical tale of love, lust and tragedy. Setio and his wife Siti, own a pottery business in a small village ran by Ludiro, a powerful and ruthless businessman. Ludiro, who is in love with Siti, seizes his chance when the couple’s business collapses. He abducts and tries to seduce Siti. The two men fight and inevitably jealousy spills over into violence and tragedy. Continue reading

Naomi Kawase – Sharasojyu aka Shara (2003)

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A film about mourning and its eventual passing. Like in Antonioni’s L’avventura and in Fahrhadi’s About Elly, the unexplained, unresolved disappearance of a central character puts into motion the complex interplay between the public and personal dimension of mourning. Kawase herself plays the mother who, seven years after the disappearance of one of her twins, is heavily pregnant again. This coincides with upsetting news from the authorities. The family and neighbours and friends are plunged once more into the work of mourning. But by means of an extraordinary street festival, a family ceremony of acceptance in which the curse of the disappeared is at last transformed into a benign omen for the coming birth, and the birth of a new family member the trance-like state of collective dissociation is broken. Ultimately, it is not just the disappeared twin who can pass on to the next life in peace, but the entire family. The three core scenes, the festival, the ceremony, and the birth are overwhelmingly effective, in part due to Kawase’s (and her team’s) subtle control, in part due to the impossible admixture of calm and joyous exuberance. If the ending does suggest notions of rebirth, release from the curse of eternal return and memory, it is accomplished, like the entire film, in the absence of dogma. There is no lesson here other than that life ought to be gentle. Continue reading

Takashi Ishii – Hana to hebi aka Flower and Snake (2004)

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Synopsis
In this erotically charged drama, Shizuko (Aya Sugimoto) is a beautiful and talented dancer who feels like her husband no longer cares for her, and has begun to indulge in sexual fantasies of sadomasochistic edge play. When her husband falls deep in debt to a powerful gangster, Shizuko is kidnapped by members of the yakuza and held for ransom until he makes good on what he owes. To prove they mean business, the gangsters force Shizuko to take part in a series of perverse S & M performances, but Shizuko finds that her “punishment” is beginning to reflect the rough treatment of which she’s been dreaming. Hana to Hebi (aka Flower and Snake) was written and directed by Japanese underground auteur Takashi Ishii, adapted from a novel by Oniroku Dan. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide Continue reading

Ephraim Kishon – Ha-Shoter Azulai AKA The Policeman [+extra] (1971)

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Born in Budapest, Hungary, as Ferenc Hoffmann, Ephraim Kishon studied sculpture and painting, and then began publishing humourous essays and writing for the stage. After 1945 he changed his surname from Hoffmann to Kishont. He emigrated to Israel in 1949, where an immigration officer gave him the name Ephraim Kishon.

Acquiring a mastery of Hebrew with remarkable speed, he started a regular satirical column in the easy-Hebrew daily, Omer, after only two years in the country. From 1952, he wrote the column “Had Gadya” in the daily Ma’ariv. Devoted largely to political and social satire but including essays of pure humour, it became one of the most popular columns in the country. His extraordinary inventiveness, both in the use of language and the creation of character, was applied also to the writing of innumerable sketches for theatrical revues.

Azulai is a soft-hearted and incompetent policeman in Jaffa. His superiors want to send him to early retirement, but he would like to stay on the force. The criminals of Jaffa who also don’t want to see him leave try to find a way to help him keep his job.
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Louis Malle – Le feu follet AKA The Fire Within [+Extras] (1963)

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THE FIRE WITHIN: DAY OF THE DEAD
When he shot The Fire Within in the spring of 1963, Louis Malle had already established a strong reputation. Incredibly precocious, he won a Palme d’Or at the age of twenty-four, at the 1956 Cannes Film Festival, for the underwater documentary The Silent World, photographed and codirected with oceanographer Jacques Cousteau. One year later he anticipated the French New Wave with Elevator to the Gallows, scored by Miles Davis and starring a young Jeanne Moreau, who also starred in his next film, The Lovers, which won a Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival in 1958 and created a scandal with its explicit eroticism. His follow-up, an audacious 1960 adaptation of Raymond Queneau’s farcical novel Zazie dans le métro, further proved his fondness for literary sources, and 1962’s Vie privée created a stir by featuring Brigitte Bardot in one of her more complex roles. Continue reading

Camillo Mastrocinque – La banda degli onesti AKA The Band of Honest Men (1956)

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Description: Janitor Antonio Buonocore joins his friend Lo Turco e Cardone, to print some counterfeit bills. When they decide to circulate one counterfeit bill, they are only able to spend the right one, used as a mould for the others. Crime is not for them and so they decide to renounce their plans. Continue reading

Helmut Weiss – Die Feuerzangenbowle (1944)

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Die Feuerzangenbowle (The Fire-Tongs Bowl or The Punch Bowl) is a 1944 movie, directed by Helmut Weiss and is based on the book of the same name. It follows the book closely as author Spoerl also wrote the script for the movie. Both tell the story of a famous writer going undercover as a pupil at a small town secondary school after his friends tell him that he missed out on the best part of growing up by being educated at home. The story in the book takes place during the Weimar Republic in Germany. The movie was produced and released in Germany during the last years of World War II and has been called a “masterpiece of timeless, cheerful escapism.”[1] The movie stars Heinz Rühmann in the role of the student Hans Pfeiffer, which is remarkable as Rühmann was already 42 years old at that time.

From wikipedia Continue reading