Haile Gerima – Sankofa (1993)

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From the New York Times review:
“In “Sankofa,” a contemporary African-American woman travels back in time and experiences slavery. Haile Gerima’s poetic and precisely detailed film takes its audience into its heroine’s life and mind as her moral sense is challenged and changed. No viewer can avoid the discomforting questions the film so eloquently raises.

The opening sequences, set and filmed in Ghana, are alternately seductive and off-putting. Among drums and chants, a voice invokes ancestral ghosts. “Spirit of the dead, rise up,” the voice says, “and claim your story.” The film’s title is a West African term meaning to reclaim the past in order to go forward, and “Sankofa” stumbles only in its depiction of the present. Continue reading

Francesco Rosi – I Magliari (1959)

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Description:
Mario is in Hannover to work as a miner but after loosing his job he decides to go back to Italy. When Totonno steals his passport to avoid the police and later on he offers him a new job as “magliaro” (cloth seller), Mario changes his mind and decides to follow Totonno to Hamburg. In Hamburg, Totonno and his friends have to sell Mayer’s cloth but they meet with the hostility of a Polish gang and Mario falls in love with Paula Mayer. Continue reading

Arthur J. Bressan Jr – Buddies (1985)

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The elusive first film about that “new” disease of the 80s, AIDS.
Quote:
Gay-porn-director-turned-indie-film-maker Arthur Bressan (who also made ABUSE) deals directly with the subject of the disease by having David, a young typesetter (David Schachter) undertake volunteer work as a ‘buddy’ to visit AIDS patients in a New York hospital. His assignment is Robert (Geoff Edholm), who’s down and nearly out for the count, but still passionate about the politics behind the disease. Although David is currently processing a book about the illness from all points of view – medical, religious, etc – he finds there’s more to learn first-hand about attitude.? Continue reading

D.W. Griffith – Lady of the Pavements (1929)

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Art Cinema Corporation production; distributed by United Artists Corporation. / Produced by Joseph M. Schenck. Screenplay by Sam Taylor, with dialogue by George Scarborough, from the short story “La Paiva” by Karl Gustav Vollmoeller. Set design by William Cameron Menzies. Costume design by Alice O’Neill. Theme song “Where Is the Song of Songs for Me?” by Irving Berlin. Cinematography by Karl Struss. Assistant cameraman, G.W. Bitzer. Intertitles by Gerrit Lloyd. Edited by James Smith. Music arrangement by Hugo Riesenfeld. Presented by Joseph M. Schenck. / © 4 February 1929 [LP79]. Premiered 22 January 1929 at the United Artists Theatre in Los Angeles, California. General release, 16 February 1929. / Standard 35mm spherical 1.37:1 format. Movietone sound-on-film sound system. / A silent version of the film was also released in eight reels at 7495 feet. / Silent film, with talking sequences, synchronized music and sound effects. Continue reading

Jacques de Baroncelli – La Duchesse de Langeais AKA Wicked Duchess (1942)

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IMDb’s Benoît A. Racine:

The novella this film was based on was written by Balzac in the 1830s as part of a group of novels detailing the adventures of a secret society of 13 men (“Les Treize”), of whom Armand is a member. This slightly sinister society was bent on acquiring power at all cost and by all means. It can be understood that Armand’s forceful quest to conquer Antoinette is part of that fascistic scheme. Armand is a general who was ennobled by Napoleon for his military exploits whereas Antoinette is an “Ancien Régime” aristocrat, like the French Queen she was named after. Continue reading

Eriprando Visconti – La Orca (1976)

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IMDb review:

Kidnapping movies were really big in the 1970’s, especially after several high-profile cases like Patty Hearst. The Italian exploitation industry is notorious for taking its cues from the US movies, but that may not have been the case here since there was even a bigger kidnapping problem in Italy (eventually leading to the kidnap and murder of a former prime minister by the notorious Red Brigades). The kidnappers in this movie though are pretty low-rent types, barely connected to the Mafia. Their victim is a very spoiled, but perhaps not especially rich, teenage girl (Rena Neihaus) whose parents seem unable–or perhaps unwilling–to get her back (she hints at an incestuous relationship with her stepfather which might have been explored in the sequel to this “Oedipus Orca”). In this movie the youngest, most handsome kidnapper (Michele Placido) falls for the girl in kind of a reverse Stockholm syndrome, with tragic results for at least one of them. The end of movie, strangely enough, is kind of reminiscent of “Last Tango in Paris” but with nowhere near the dramatic gravitas Continue reading

Francesco Rosi – Il momento della verità AKA The Moment of Truth [+Extras] (1965)

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Reviews
… The Moment Of Truth is a visceral plunge into the life of a famous torero; played by real-life bullfighting legend Miguel Mateo, known as Miguelín. Charting his rise and fall with a single-minded focus on the bloody business at hand, the film is at once gritty and operatic, placing the viewer right in the thick of the ring’s action, as close to death as possible. Like all of the great Italian truth seeker’s films, this is not just an electrifying drama but also a profound and moving inquiry into a violent world – and it’s perhaps the greatest bullfighting movie ever made.
Not so much a film about the narrative; director Francesco Rosi plunges us headlong into the ritual of it all. Rosi known for his efforts in telling truthful and occasionally controversial stories in a cinema verite style puts us right down in the pit for all the violence and reverence that the sport of bullfighting entails. There’s no CGI or special effects or even a guy in a bull suit, if some gets trampled, they get trampled and the violence is on display for full effect. Continue reading