Ki-duk Kim – Arirang (2011)

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Korean filmmaker Kim Ki-duk bares his tortured, inebriated soul in “Arirang,” and it’s not a pretty sight. An experience that can be likened only to being stuck next to a drunk in a bar who keeps reminding you he used to be famous, all his friends are bastards and he now understands the meaning of life, pic might have proved therapeutic to make, but it’s a grind to watch, even for fans of the maverick writer-director’s work. Kim’s rep will inevitably ensure further fest bookings for what is essentially one long whine, but theatrical distribution anywhere looks highly unlikely. Continue reading

Lech Majewski – Prisoner of Rio (1988)

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“Prisoner of Rio is a 1988 drama film directed by Lech Majewski and starring Steven Berkoff, Paul Freeman and Peter Firth. It shows the flight of the Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs to Brazil and the attempts of Scotland Yard detectives to re-capture him.

In 1981, Ronald Biggs was kidnapped by agents from Scotland Yard from his Brazilian hideout for his participation in the 1964 British train robbery. This feature was written by Biggs and director Lech Majewski as a fictionalized account of the authorities trying to bring the colorful crook to justice. Paul Freeman plays Biggs, infamous for his participation in the $5 million heist dubbed “The Great Train Robbery”. Jack McFarland (Steven Berkoff) is the Scotland Yard agent obsessed with apprehending Biggs and placing him on board a British navy ship bound for England. Nudity abounds in the final carnival scene as Biggs stays one step ahead of his captors. Colorful scenes of Rio are the highlight of this feature hampered by a thin script. Continue reading

Frederick Wiseman – Crazy Horse (2011)

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Synopsis
Celebrated documentary director Frederick Wiseman spent ten weeks with his camera exploring one of the most mythic places dedicated to women, ‘CRAZY HORSE’. This legendary Parisian cabaret club, founded in 1951 by Alain Bernardin, has become, over the years the Parisian nightlife ‘must’ for any visitors, ranking alongside the Eiffel tower and the Louvre.

Wiseman’s impeccable eye allows us to enter into this intriguing international temple of the Parisian club world and to discover what makes the CRAZY HORSE tick: elegance, perfectionism and a grueling schedule (with 2 shows a night and 3 on Saturdays, 7 days a week). The film takes us to the final curtain up, and the unveiling of the brand new show. DESIR is created by the greatest French choreographer Philippe DECOUFFLE and is an artistic, modern, humorous and colorful outburst that is the pinnacle of ‘NUDE CHIC’. Continue reading

Göran Olsson – The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)

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The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975

“You’re either part of the solution or part of the problem,” Eldridge Cleaver is often quoted: as documentaries go, “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975″ solves a few common production problems with its origins, drawing on a splendid cache of black-and-white and color 16mm interviews, shot in the United States by Swedish journalists with a seemingly radical bent, and unearthed in 2005. (To paraphrase another figure, this potential revolution was televised, even if only in Scandinavia.) Göran Hugo Olsson’s documentary of fierce, open exchanges with Black Power Movement figures captures the moment’s intensity (and intermittent naiveté) from its subjects, including Stokely Carmichael, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Cleaver and William Kunstler. (The crispness of the long-unseen footage is startling.) Earnest activism and protest meet setbacks, as the historical record already shows. Yet these curious Swedes, gaining the trust of their subjects, captured invaluable, contemporary reflections of a turbulent time, after the early days of the civil rights movement, when filling the streets was thought a way to prompt societal change. Continue reading

Hitoshi Matsumoto – Saya zamurai aka Scabbard Samurai (2010)

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Recently widowed samurai Kanjūrō (Nomi Takaaki) puts down his sword and abandons his master, with nine-year-old daughter Tae (Kumada Sea) in tow. Now wanted for desertion, Kanjūrō is captured by a rival lord (Kunimura Jun), who makes an unusual offer. Kanjūrō will be released if he can bring a grin to the lord’s son (Shimizu Shūma), who hasn’t smiled since his mother’s death. If Kanjūrō can’t succeed within thirty days, he must commit seppuku. With the help of his jailers — and some harsh reinforcement from his daughter — the humorless Kanjūrō devises comically desperate (or desperately comic) methods to save his skin and crack the son’s stony exterior. Though more sentimental than writer/director Matsumoto Hitoshi’s previous films (Big Man Japan, Symbol), Scabbard Samurai is unmistakably in the same spirit, with deadpan absurdism and bizarre stunts recalling the variety shows that made his name.) Continue reading

Glenn Gordon Caron – Wilder Napalm (1993)

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Wilder and Wallace are brothers and pyrokinetics. Ever since childhood they’ve been able to start fires with their minds but following a tragedy in which they accidentally killed a man, the brothers have grown up very differently. Wilder has become a regular 9-5 workaday joe but Wallace performs his feats with a traveling circus. When the circus comes to Wilder’s home town Wallace starts coming on strong to Wilder’s wife, Vida who, ironically, is a slight pyromaniac. Written by Stefan Halldorsson Continue reading