André Antoine – L’Hirondelle et la mésange (1920)


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André Antoine and the Realist Tradition

After its humiliating defeat in the 1870 Franco-Prussian War, France went through a social revolution. Over the next twenty years, many of its long-standing artistic traditions, such as the classical style of Academy painting, would be cast off in favor of new approaches, such as Impressionism. Live theater was one of the few holdovers from the pre-war era — formulaic pieces spoken by actors in dull declamatory style. But change was coming, voiced by the prophet of naturalism, novelist Emile Zola. “A work must be based in the real . . . on nature,” Zola wrote in Naturalism in the Theater. Zola explained that a playwright must observe facts, with no abstract characters or invented fantasies. Rising to meet this challenge, actor, and theater director André Antoine (1858-1943) founded the Theatre Libre, essentially a community theater, dedicated to showing new work by innovative writers. Antoine also staged works by controversial playwrights from outside of France, such as Ibsen and Chekhov. Under Antoine’s guidance, French theater became serious and legitimate. What is less known about Antoine is that he was also a film director, and a vital link in the development of the ‘realist tradition’ that has so enriched world cinema(…) Read More »

Ruy Guerra – Os Cafajestes aka The Unscrupulous Ones (1962)

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A Brazilian masterpiece, fascinating, powerful and still contemporary, waiting to be (re)discovered by the world, 12 October 2006

The first thing you’ll remark when you see “Os Cafajestes” today (if you are lucky enough to find a copy of it) is how surprisingly modern, daring and mesmerizing it still is. The existential drama of 4 characters — two men (low-life scum Jandir, small-time playboy Vavá) and two women (used up Leda, provocative Vilma), who indulge in dangerous, deceitful games that include sex, photos, cars, beaches, drugs and blackmail — is amazingly contemporary in its visual style, boldness and acid criticism of amorality and egotism. That, combined with the virtuoso camera-work by Tony Rabatoni, the blazing summer whiteness of Cabo Frio beaches and dunes, the surprising turns in the plot, the edgy dialog and the non-linear treatment of sound vs image make this an unforgettable film, one of the most impressive directing debuts in the history of cinema (that’s not an overstatement), regrettably little known outside Brazil. Read More »

Claude Jutra – Mon oncle Antoine [+Extras] (1971)

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All Movie.com Plot Synopsis by Hal Erickson

With Mon Oncle Antoine, actor Jean Duceppe established himself as Canada’s principle purveyor of eccentric relatives. Playing the uncle of 15-year-old Jacques Ganon, Duceppe acts as the lad’s confidante through the difficult coming-of-age process. The Canadian backwoods and the mining-town milieu of the 1940s are displayed to excellent nostalgic advantage in this retrospective piece from writer/director Claude Jutra (who also plays a supporting role). Though relatively unknown in the states (and often dismissed as unremarkable by below-the-border critics), Mon Oncle Antoine is regarded as a classic of the Canadian Cinema. The film won an unprecedented eight statuettes at the 1972 Canadian Film Institute Awards, including best picture and best director.
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Shinya Tsukamoto – Bullet Ballet (1998)

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Carrying a gun

If there were awards for great titles then Bullet Ballet would surely be up for a gong or two. At once suggesting both violence and elegance, it sounds like the perfect Hong Kong era John Woo film, an all-action but balletic explosion of slow-motion gunplay that became the director’s trademark. But this isn’t John Woo, this is Shinya Tsukamoto, a director whose deeply personal style is a million miles from Woo’s slickly filmed action works. Tsukamoto’s concerns are far more localised, to the city in which he lives, to his neighbourhood, to his own body, and his cinematic style is far edgier and more dangerous. Which is not to knock Woo in any way, but nowadays when Woo is making the vacuous Paycheck, Tsukamoto is making the extraordinary A Snake of June. He is one of those rare directors who has never sold out and never compromised his vision. Tsukamoto is the very personification of a great outsider film-maker. Read More »

Robert Wiene – Orlacs Hände AKA The Hands of Orlac (1924)

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A world renown pianist loses his hands in a train accident and gets a transplant from a convicted criminal. The hands, of course, take over… or do they? Read More »

Satyajit Ray – Charulata aka The Lonely Wife (1964)

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Calcutta 1879. Bhupati Dutta (Sailen Mukherjee), a wealthy intellectual edits and publishes a political weekly in English called ‘The Sentinel.’ His sensitive and beautiful, young wife Charu (Madhabi Mukherjee) spends her time doing needlework and reading Bengali novels. Sensing her loneliness, Bhupati invites her older brother Umapada and his wife Mandakini to live with them. Umapada becomes the manager of the magazine but Mandakini, a rustic and unlettered woman is no companion for Charu. Bhupati’s cousin Amal (Soumitra Chaterjee) arrives to spend his vacation with Bhupati. At Bhupati’s suggestion, the literary minded Amal helps and encourages Charu with her writing. The two get more and more drawn to each other. Bhupati, busy with the magazine as usual, is unaware of this development… Read More »

Jee-woon Kim – Janghwa, Hongryeon AKA A Tale of Two Sisters [+Extras] (2003)

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Let’s start with my conclusion. This is a wonderful movie. It’s horror, drama and psychological thriller, all brilliantly compiled into a two hours movie. Superb cinematography, intricate plotting, marvelous acting… A Tale Of Two Sisters is extraordinary in every aspect.
Full review: [email protected]
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