Ferzan Ozpetek – Mine vaganti AKA Loose Cannons (2010)

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Plot:
Tommaso (Riccardo Scamarcio, Eden Is West) has a comfortable life in Rome as an aspiring writer and a steady relationship with his boyfriend Marco—a life he has kept secret from his family. So when he’s called back to his hometown of Lecce in Italy’s deep south to help run the family pasta business, he decides to finally reveal his homosexuality to his conservative family and hopefully get out of his business obligations in the process. But when his plans are thwarted by his brother, Tommaso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid. Read More »

Jean-Jacques Beineix – Diva (1981)

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Modern noir meets high opera in the French suspense flick Diva. Delivery boy Jules has an opera obsession. He spends his small disposable income on sophisticated sound equipment and manages to bootleg a live performance of his favorite diva, Cynthia Hawkins (played by real-life opera singer Wilhelmina Wiggins Fernandez). But Jules is spotted making the recording by shady investors who want the tape. As if that weren’t enough, a second cassette, filled with enough evidence to topple an international drug and prostitution ring, makes its way into Jules’s mailbag. Writer-director Jean-Jacques Beineix does a terrific job of adapting Delacorta’s pulpy novel for the screen, keeping all the excitement while adding a layer of depth. A movie to make even a dedicated opera hater appreciate a perfectly sung aria, Diva has enormous loft apartments, thugs galore, gorgeous visuals, and a corker of a chase scene. Watch it–and watch your back. —Ali Davis Read More »

Teppei Yamaguchi – Kurama Tengu [+Extras] (1928)

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Quote:
In the past, screenings of silent films in Japan were extremely lively events that featured various sounds. Katsudo benshi, or motion picture narrators delivered passionate and eloquent narrations. Live music accompanied their performance. The period drama films in particular featured a new performance format that combined music played on Western and Japanese instruments, a collaboration impossible in a normal concert. The music of trumpets and violins blended with the sounds of shamisen and Japanese drums. In the climax scene, when our hero, the righteous samurai Kurama Tengu, rushed in on his horse to fight the Shinsengumi, the audience erupted in applause. Between sets, children selling rice crackers and other delicacies crisscrossed the theater shouting “Senbei, caramels” at the top of their lungs. In the Kurama Tengu series, the plot revolved around the adventures of the brave samurai Kurama Tengu and his loyal friend, the boy Sugisaku, so crowds of enthusiastic children loudly applauded the feats of their heroes. Read More »

Gualtiero Jacopetti & Franco Prosperi & Paolo Cavara – Mondo Cane 1 (1962)

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Mondo Cane literally translates into English as ‘dogs world’ which is an apt title for this film, the own that spawned the so-called ‘mondo’ genre of shockumentary filmmaking.

What it claims to be, essentially, is a series of loosely knit incidents of a bizarre and unusual nature, masterfully edited into a structured documentary film with some narration thrown over top of it to attempt to place it into a social context or some sort.

What it is in reality is a sort of hybrid between a legitimate study of the strange world we live in, and the most crass of exploitation films. Littered with quite a bit of human brutality, very gratuitous animal violence, and what could be very easily construed as racist overtones, Mondo Cane is, even now over forty years after the fact, still a shocking film. Yes, time has aged portions of it better than others and some scenes, such as a group of senior citizen tourists learning the history of the Hawaiian Hula dance, are actually kind of mundane, there are still enough bizarre and grisly scenes contained herein to make it an interesting film and a historically important one at that. Read More »

Jay Rosenblatt – The Smell of Burning Ants (1994)

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Winner of 23 Awards

“…a profoundly disturbing and imaginative work.”
–Kevin Thomas, Los Angeles Times

The Smell of Burning Ants is a haunting documentary on the pains of growing up male. It explores the inner and outer cruelties that boys perpetrate and endure. The film provokes the viewer to reflect on how our society can deprive boys of wholeness.

Through formative events of a boy’s life, we come to understand the ways in which men can become emotionally disconnected and alienated from their feminine side. The common dismissal that “boys will be boys” evolves into the chilling realization that boys frequently become angry, destructive and emotionally disabled men. The Smell of Burning Ants illustrates how boys are socialized by fear, power and shame. The film is a catalyst for discussion and an opportunity to begin the process of healing the wounds of childhood. Read More »

Mauritz Stiller – Herr Arnes pengar aka Sir Arne’s Treasure (1919)

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Quote:
In the sixteenth century, the Swedish king availed himself of mercenaries from other nations to wage his wars, however, rumors of mutiny and insurrection made him banish and imprison a force of Scottish soldiers. Having escaped prison, three such mercenaries find themselves adrift in the icy wasteland of the severe Swedish winter. Half mad from starvation and drink, they commit a senseless and utterly bestial crime. Although they initially manage to evade justice, no ship is able to carry them away through the frozen waters and back to Scotland. They remain stranded on the coast of Sweden, waiting for Spring to arrive, knowing not that destiny’s nimble hands are weaving its web around them with every passing day. Read More »

Charlotte Sachs Bostrup – Familien Gregersen AKA Lost Generation (2004)

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An adaptation of Christian Kampmann’s four novels about the two decades from 1954 to 1974 as experienced by the five sons and daughters of the Gregersen family. Read More »