Agnieszka Holland – The Secret Garden (1993)

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The 1993 remake of The Secret Garden is a beautifully produced rendition of the classic Frances Hodgon Burnett novel about a young girl (Kate Maberly) who discovers an abandoned garden on her uncle’s large Victorian country estate, as well as an invalid cousin she didn’t realize she had. With the help of a local boy, the girl sets out to restore the garden and, once it is blooming again, she discovers it has magical powers. After it has flowered, she brings her cousin to the garden, and he is magically healed. Although this version of The Secret Garden isn’t quite as strong as the original 1949 movie, the story is nevertheless moving in any format and the production is very beautiful to look at. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine @ All Movie Guide Read More »

Michael Kang – The Motel (2005)

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Writer-director Michael Kang makes his feature debut with the coming-of-age comedy, The Motel. Newcomer Jeffrey Chyau stars as Ernest Chin, a chubby 13 year-old Chinese-American boy whose mother (Jade Wu) runs a sleazy motel in upstate New York. The clientele of The Motel are predominantly prostitutes and their johns, which spurs Ernest’s budding sexual curiosity. When he’s not cleaning rooms, eavesdropping on guests, avoiding the local bully, or tormenting his little sister Katie (Alexis Chin), Ernest harbors a crush on Christine (Samantha Futerman), who works at a nearby Chinese restaurant. Ernest has entered a writing contest at school with a story about his unhappy life at The Motel, and won an honorable mention. His scornful mother thinks his writing is a waste of time, and Ernest doesn’t want her to see the story for fear that it will anger her. He’s a social misfit, so he’s intrigued when Sam Kim (Sung Kang of Better Luck Tomorrow), a Korean-American guest who frequently brings home prostitutes, befriends him. Sam takes Ernest under his wing, teaching him to drive and offering him his wisdom regarding women. Of course, Sam turns out to have his own serious issues with the opposite sex, and his advice to Ernest about Christine may not be exactly what the boy needs. Kang won the Asian American International Film Festival screenwriting competition with his script for The Motel in 2001, and the completed film was shown at the festival in 2005. The script was workshopped at the Sundance labs, where filmmaker Miguel Arteta (The Good Girl) signed on as a producer. Read More »

Paul Schrader – The Comfort of Strangers (1990)

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IMDB:
An English couple holiday in Venice to sort out their relationship. There is some friction and distance between them, and we also sense they are being watched. One evening, they lose their way looking for a restaurant, and a stranger invites them to accompany him. He plies them with wine and grotesque stories from his childhood. They leave disoriented, physically ill, and morally repelled. But, next day, when the stranger sees them in the piazza, they accept an invitation to his sumptuous flat. After this visit, the pair find the depth to face questions about each other, only to be drawn back into the mysterious and menacing fantasies of the stranger and his mate. Written by jhailey Read More »

Dejan Zecevic – Cetvrti covek aka The Fourth Man (2007)


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A man awakens from a two-month-long coma. Total amnesia. A bullet fired point blank. He doesn’t remember anything. He’s told that he had a wife and a son. They’ve been killed. He’s revealed his past identity by the Colonel, who insists they are best friends. He’s a Major of the Military Security Agency. An inspector from the State Security Agency appears affirming that he has information on people responsible for the massacre of his family. The Major is discharged from the hospital. He tries to patch together a normal life but is confronted with emptiness and despair. His only chance of discovering his identity and the assassin of his family is to accept the game that the Inspector has set up for him. Read More »

José Ramón Larraz – La Visita del vicio AKA The Coming of Sin (1977)

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“A perverse little number from the erratic but always interesting José Larraz (Vampyres), this rarely seen, low budget blend of exploitation and art is best known to fans of Euro sleaze under its more colourful theatrical release title, Violation of the Bitch. For its first DVD release, Pagan translated the original Spanish title, La visita del vicio (or more literally, Vice’s Arrival), as The Coming of Sin. Under any time, it’s a twisted, often mystifying daydream filled with erotica and surrealism. Beautiful amateur painter Lorna (Patricia Granada) passes her sunny days dabbling with a paintbrush and burying herself in the family library. Life changes dramatically with the arrival of Triana (Lydia Zuaso), a dark-haired girl from a gypsy clan who comes to stay indefinitely and sparks a gradual, torrid relationship with Lorna. However, Triana’s dreams are haunted by images of a naked man (Rafael Machado) on horseback, a premonition which comes true one day while she strolls through the woods surrounding a nearby lake. The mysterious man, who never seems to wear much, attempts to rape Triana, who runs home and tells Lorna about the weird naked guy living with his horse out in the wild near their house. Lorna goes to investigate while Triana’s fantasies continue, including one which finds her naked inside a giant horse about to be… uh, straddled, apparently. Soon the mystery man directly intrudes on their lives, beginning an unholy triangle of lust which culminates in a dark reversal of fortune. Read More »

Camilo Luzuriaga – La tigra AKA The Tigress (1990)

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Three sisters – stereotypically the whore, the saint and the virgin – own a cafe in an isolated area of Ecuador. The Tigress (the whore) has supernatural powers which she will keep as long as her younger sister remains a virgin. The Tigress becomes increasingly “macho” until her sisters forsake her and the local police move in. Read More »

Lambert Hillyer – The Shock (1923)

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This tale of a crook’s reform takes place in the San Francisco of the early 1900s. Predictably, Lon Chaney plays a crook and a misshapen cripple (the type of role almost expected of him at this point in his career). Anne Vincent, better known as “Queen Anne” (Christine Mayo), sends Wilse Dilling (Chaney) to a small town to keep an eye on Mischa Hadley (William Welsh), an embezzling banker who is her lover. Dilling falls in love with Hadley’s daughter, Gertrude (Virginia Valli), and blows up the bank’s safe to destroy incriminating records. The blast, however, leaves Gertrude a cripple, and Dilling uses his savings to restore her to health. Queen Anne, whose greed knows no end, has told Hadley that he will either give her more money or give her his daughter. Ultimately, she has Gertrude kidnapped and taken to a Chinese den. Dilling rescues her and she helps in his regeneration. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake shakes everything up, and Dilling’s reform is complete.~Janiss Garza @allmovie.com Read More »