Franco Zeffirelli – Tea with Mussolini (1999)

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Starring Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, Dame Joan Plowright, Cher, Lily Tomlin, Paolo Seganti.

From IMDB:
Semi-autobiographical tale from the early life of director Franco Zeffirelli looks at the illegitimate son (Charlie Lucas as a child, Baird Wallace as the teen) of an Italian businessman. The boy’s mother has died, and he is raised by an Englishwoman (Joan Plowright) in pre-WWII Fascist Italy. Living to each other in Florence, and presided over by an ambassador’s widow (Maggie Smith), a group of Englishwomen live a sheltered existence which they believe is guaranteed personal protection in a tea reception given by Il Duce. However, as war breaks out, the women are interned. Occasionally in this English colony is a wealthy American (Cher), who visits among her travels and marriages to wealthy older men. She respects the “Scorpioni”, as they are known, and secretly arranges for their stay in a hotel. The ambassador’s widow finds her vulgar and tries to ignore her, but when the United States enters the war, the American too is taken into custody. Only then does she discover that her Italian lover (Paolo Seganti) has tricked her into signing over all her money and modern art collection to him, and is now arranging her execution. This obliges all to join forces. Lily Tomlin also appears as an American archaeologist working at a dig in the city. Read More »

Michael Rowe – Año bisiesto aka Leap Year (2010)

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Winner of the prestigious Camera D’Or prize for Best First Feature at the 2010 Cannes Film
Festival, and one of the most controversial films of the year, LEAP YEAR (Año Bisiesto),
from Mexico, is the outstanding debut feature film of Australian director Michael Rowe, a
character study on loneliness, featuring an extraordinary leading performance by Mónica Del
Carmen (Babel), supported by Gustavo Sánchez Parra (Amores Perros, Man on Fire). Read More »

Mike Hodges – Croupier (1998)

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Quote:
Jack Manfred is the antithesis of a garret-starving artist. He hasn’t a romantic bone in his body. He’s an unpublished novelist, with a cynical view of the world, coming to terms with having an ex-policewoman girlfriend (Gina McKee), who loves the idea of being-with-a-writer, while suffering the depressive side-effects of self-absorption. Right now, he has a cash flow problem.

Directed by Mike (Get Carter) Hodges and written by Paul Mayersberg, this is a first person movie. Clive Owen is Jack. The voice-over commentary covers his thoughts, a technique that can be dangerously indulgent. Not here. Mayersberg’s script has the clarity of an open wound. Read More »

Bernardo Bertolucci – La Luna (1979)

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Variety wrote:
La Luna is a spectacle-sized melodrama filled with a variety of themes – plots and subplots that merge asymmetrically into a melodramatic mold.

The saga is of Jill Clayburgh as Yank lyric star afflicted with professional neuroses, fading pipes, a son on drugs and a close-to-incest mother-son development.

Sudden death of singer’s spouse and decision to resume singing in Italy with son Joe accompanying, moves the scene from Brooklyn Heights to Rome where the mother-son cleft takes over from Verdi appearances. Her battle to break down his detachment and drug habit is the core of the film – with her own career at stake as the voice gives under stress. Read More »

Apichatpong Weerasethakul – Sud sanaeha aka blissfully yours (2002)

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From Time Out Film Guide

Apichatpong’s ’emotional disaster movie’ opens wittily with the longest pre-credits scene ever: a leisurely introduction to the three main characters and the binds that tie them. Min (Oo) is a Burmese illegal immigrant, a strapping lad with a nagging skin problem, in need of a fake ID. His Thai girlfriend Roong (Kanokporn), a factory worker, has hired Orn and her husband to help get it. Orn wants to have another child before she’s too old, but her husband isn’t keen. The credits show up some 45 minutes in, as Min guides Roong to a secluded spot near the Thai-Burmese border where they’ll eat, laze, bathe and eventually make love. By chance Orn has chosen a spot nearby for illicit sex with her lover… Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky & Tonino Guerra – Tempo di viaggio aka Voyage in Time aka Travelling Time (1983)

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Plot Summary :
Tarkovsky’s documentary explores the creation of the screenplay for his penultimate film ‘Nostalgia’. It shows his wide-ranging discussions with his Italian co-writer Tonino Guerra (Antonioni’s regular collaborator) and the hunt for suitable locations that might embody his vision of the film. Read More »

Andrei Tarkovsky – Katok i skripka (Каток и скрипка) AKA The Steamroller and the Violin (1960)

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Katok i Skripka (The Steamroller and the Violin) was the last short Andrei Tarkovsky directed before moving on to his first feature. The film tells a very simply story of friendship between an artistic, sensitive seven-year-old violinist named Sasha and a physical, blue-collar steamroller operator. They befriend each other after Sasha is threatened by some ruffians, spend the day together, and alter each other’s perceptions of life Read More »