Ferdinand Khittl – Die Parallelstrasse AKA The Parallel Street (1962)

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Die Parallelstraße is one of the most mysterious pioneer films of the New German Cinema. It was produced by GBF, a production company for innovative industrial and promotional films and received awards in inter national film festivals. French critic Robert Benayoun called it “a philosophical thriller, a western of meditation which compensates for a whole year of inevitable manifestations of stupidity,” Jacques Rivette put it on his list of the most important films of 1968. The DVD presents for the very first time this “unjustly forgotten masterpiece of the New German Cinema” (Martin Brady) as well as several rare shorts by Ferdinand Khittl (1924-1976) which show his talent for innovative film experiments. Read More »

Salvatore Mereu – Bellas mariposas (2012)

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Review:
Italian writer-director Salvatore Mereu’s drama of Sardinian childhood adapts a short story by local author Sergio Atzeni.

There are films that gently invite the viewer into their world, and there are others which yank us in throat first. Salvatore Mereu’s Bellas Mariposas, a twelve-year-old’s precocious journal of one long summer day in her run-down Sardinian neighborhood, is a fine example of the latter. Writer-director Mereu, ably following up 2008’s well-received Sonetaula with another snapshot of life on his native island, accumulates detail and atmosphere to a claustrophobic degree, audaciously deploying direct-to-camera address to make the viewer more confidant than spectator.

Immersively evocative and grittily atmospheric, this is distinctive auteur fare whose hard-knock verisimilitude recalls more violent recent predecessors like Matteo Garrone’s widely-admired Gomorrah (2008) and Matteo Botrugno & Daniele Coluccini’s lesser-known Et In Terra Pax (2010). Somewhat overlooked when premiering in a Venice sidebar, Mereu’s “free” adaptation of an unfinished tale by influential Sardinian author Sergio Atzeni unfortunately faces an uphill battle to find room even at mainland Italian arthouses. Edgy festivals and those with a particular interest in young people’s issues should nevertheless definitely give it a try. Read More »

John W. Shadow – Microscopic Liquid Subway to Oblivion (1970)

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Undeniably one of the strangest drug-related movies ever made (not to mention the title itself!). Dr Fink is a quite ruthless and cynic college professor. One of his students, is addicted to heroin. The professor invites him to his villa along with his wife to spend the weekend. The psychedelic, surreal and sleazy situations that take place have to be seen! One of the rarest, weirdest and most obscure Italian exploitation films of all time. Read More »

Rebecca Zlotowski – Grand Central (2013)

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Synopsis
Gary, an unskilled young man, lands a job as a decontamination sub-contractor at a nuclear power plant in the lower valley of the Rhone. Inducted into the workforce by supervisor Gilles and veteran Toni, Gary discovers that radiation contamination is not just a risk factor but an everyday hazard. At the same time, he begins an illicit affair with Karole, the fiancée of Toni.
IMDb.com
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Peter Greenaway – Goltzius and the Pelican Company (2012)

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Set in the year 1590, the story follows Hendrick Goltzius (Ramsey Nasr) and his crew of writers, workers and performers as they arrive in Colmar at the palace of a rich and powerful margrave (Abraham), who the engraver hopes will finance a printing press he can use to publish illustrated versions of the Old Testament and the works of Ovid. In order to seal the deal, Goltzius needs to titillate the nobleman and his court with live renditions of what he refers to as the ?Six Sexual Taboos,? beginning with Adam and Eve?s original sin and covering such transgressions as incest (via the Genesis passages on Lot and his daughters), prostitution (through the tale of Samson and Delilah) and necrophilia (in the story of St. John the Baptiste and Salome). Read More »

Sang-soo Hong – U ri Sunhi aka Our Sunhi (2013)

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Sunhi (Jung Yu-Mi) graduated from college, majoring in film. In order to ask about a recommendation letter from Professor Choi (Kim Sang-Jung) to study in the US, she visits her university after a long time. Sunhi expects Professor Choi to give her a good recommendation letter because he likes her. She also meets two other men she knew: Moon-Soo (Lee Sun-Kyun), who just became a film director, and Jae-Hak (Jung Jae-Young), who is a well established film director. Read More »

Paco R. Baños – Ali (2012)

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In a role reversal that is challenging for any young adult, Ali has become a caretaker to her mother’s delicate mental health. While her mother’s mood alternates between boyfriend-induced happiness to solitary depression, Ali is left to rebelliously carve her own place in the world. Scarred by the past, she chainsmokes, refuses to learn to drive, and is terrified of falling in love. Ali spends her days working in a supermarket and the rest of her time off on misadventures with her friend. But when she meets Julio, her tough veneer starts to crack and she may have to amend her strict rules of non-engagement. Nadia de Santiago gives a star-making performance as Ali, a multi-layered young woman who has been forced to grow up too quick yet is holding on desperately to her youth. The world that writer-director Paco R. Baños has designed for her is delightfully quirky, giving her a true sense of charisma that affords her buoyancy to float above her challenging situation. Baños’ debut feature is an assured debut that breathes life into the coming-of-age genre, stylistically painting in lush primary colors but finding the more complicated colors mixing beneath the surface. Read More »