William A. Seiter – Little Church Around the Corner (1923)

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The Little Church Around the Corner is important as the first major financial success for the fledgling Warner Bros. studios. Kenneth Harlan plays a mining-town clergyman who falls in love with his benefactor’s daughter. He is about to settle into a life of cozy complacency when a group of miners come to his doorstep, asking that the minister plead to the owners for better living conditions. To prove himself to be “one” with the miners, Harlan moves into their shanty community. This causes a rift with his sweetheart’s father, who happens to be one of the owners. A cave-in, an angry mob and a supposed miracle are part and parcel of this 1923 adaptation of the war-horse Marion Russell play, which is directed with a sure, subtle hand by William A. Seiter. ~ Hal Erickson Continue reading

Fernando Fernán Gómez – El Extraño viaje AKA Strange Voyage (1964)

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Plot (From the DVD jacket):
In a small town close to the capital lives a family with three siblings: the serious and dominating Ignacia and her timid and withdrawn brother and sister, Paquita and Venancio. The monotonous life of the town is only shattered on Saturdays, when a band from Madrid comes to play their songs for the weekend dance. One stormy Saturday, Paquita and Venancio, frightened by noises, enter their sister’s room. There they think they see a mysterious fourth person. But their sister Ignacia denies it..
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W.S. Van Dyke – The Thin Man (1934)

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Comedy-mystery featuring Nick and Nora Charles: a former detective and his rich, playful wife. They solve a murder case mostly for the fun of it. Young Dorothy Wynant approaches amateur sleuth Nick Charles when her inventor father appears to be a major suspect in a murder case. In fact, Dorothy is so worried about her father’s guilt that she tries to convince Nick that she did it. Nick’s wife Nora wants him on the case so that she can experience some of the excitement herself. However, Nick is reluctant to get involved until he sees that police Lt. Guild is coming to the wrong conclusions. Nick decides that the best way to clear up the case is to invite all the suspects to dinner with Lt. Guild and see what happens..
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Chantal Akerman – Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles (1976)

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In the unnerving silence of a sparsely furnished kitchen in Brussels, a poised, anonymous middle-aged woman (Delphine Seyrig) – identified only through the title of the film as Jeanne Dielman – completes her food preparation, places the contents into a large cooking pot on the stove, reaches for a match, lights the burner, and with chronological precision, finishes replacing the matchbox from its original location as the doorbell rings, switching the lights off as she leaves the room. The scene then cuts to an unusually framed shot of a truncated Jeanne at the entrance of the apartment as she accepts a hat and coat from an unidentified guest (Henri Storck) before retreating, out of view, into a bedroom at the end of the hallway. Moments later, the obscured image is reconnected to a familiar referential framing of the darkened hallway as the unknown guest re-emerges from the room and prepares to leave, handing Jeanne a pre-arranged sum of money before confirming their next appointment for the following week. She deposits the money in a soup tureen in the dining room, then returns to the kitchen to attend to the boiling pot, before tidying the bedroom and meticulously bathing and changing clothes after the encounter. And so Jeanne’s monotonous daily ritual unfolds through the tedium of household chores, impersonal sexual transactions, trivial errands, and alienated conversations with her son, Sylvain (Jan Decorte), revealing the silent anguish of disconnection and systematic erosion of the human soul. Continue reading

Isaac Julien – BaadAsssss Cinema: A Bold Look at ’70s Blaxploitation Films (2002)

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from rottentomatoes
“Produced by the Independent Film Channel (IFC), this documentary by filmmaker Isaac Julien takes a look at blaxploitation films, and the huge cult following that has built up around them. Interviews with some of the original actors and directors of the genre are featured, including Richard Roundtree, Pam Grier and Melvin Van Peebles; Latter day fan Quentin Tarantino also offers his opinions. The explosive mixture of incredible fashions, hairstyles, comedy, sex, action and music contained in these films has won millions of fans all over the globe, find out why in BAASASSSSS CINEMA!” Continue reading

Michel Deville – Le Dossier 51 (1978) (DVD)

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Comments

A long time ago, I went to see Michel Deville’s Le Dossier 51 knowing absolutely nothing about it. About 5 minutes in, I realized I had made a terrible mistake, and I started to plan my exit from the middle seat where I was trapped. 5 minutes later, I had become intrigued enough by the weird experiment I was watching to be distracted from that plan. About 100 minutes after that, as the lights came up, I was convinced I had just seen a masterpiece, a film that should be mentioned in the same breath as The Conversation and Blow Out. Continue reading