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Jacques de Baroncelli – La Duchesse de Langeais AKA Wicked Duchess (1942)

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IMDb’s Benoît A. Racine:

The novella this film was based on was written by Balzac in the 1830s as part of a group of novels detailing the adventures of a secret society of 13 men (“Les Treize”), of whom Armand is a member. This slightly sinister society was bent on acquiring power at all cost and by all means. It can be understood that Armand’s forceful quest to conquer Antoinette is part of that fascistic scheme. Armand is a general who was ennobled by Napoleon for his military exploits whereas Antoinette is an “Ancien Régime” aristocrat, like the French Queen she was named after. Continue reading

Gustaf Edgren – Valborgsmassoafton AKA Walpurgis Night (1935)

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Synopsis:

‘Lena Bergstrom works in an office and is unhappily in love with her boss, Johan Borg. She decides to quit. Borg’s wife won’t have any children, and when she becomes pregnant she has an illegal abortion. For some reason, Lena’s father believes that it is Lena who has had an abortion.’
– Mattias Thuresson (IMDb) Continue reading

Yôji Yamada – Otôto AKA About Her Brother (2010)

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Quote:
Ginko (Yoshinaga Sayuri) seems to be living the good life: She’s the respectable owner of a neighborhood drug store in Tokyo, and her daughter Kaharu (Aoi Yu) is about to get married to a doctor. However, Koharu’s wedding day also brings homes Ginko’s younger brother Tetsuro (Tsurube Shofukutei), a failed actor and a hard drinker who shows up causing trouble. Having covered for him all her life, Ginko is ready to disown her burdensome younger brother, but some things are easier said than done… Continue reading

Andres Veiel – Wer wenn nicht wir AKA If Not Us, Who? (2011)

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West Germany in the early 1960s. The country is quiet – for the time being. Bernward Vesper takes up his studies in Tübingen where he is attending Walter Jens’ seminar on rhetoric. Bernward wants to be a writer and spends his nights bashing the keys of a typewriter. At the same time he is keen to defend his father, the poet Will Vesper who was celebrated by the Nazis as a proponent of their ‘Blood and Soil’ ideology. The land where Bernward lives is being suffocated by its past. The war has only been over for fifteen years, old Nazis are back in positions of power, and nobody is prepared to talk about war crimes; the Republic is standing to attention. One day Bernward meets Gudrun Ensslin and her friend Dörte. Before long, the three friends are living together in a ménage à trois. But their three-way relation- ship doesn’t last long. It soon transpires that Gudrun and Bernward are twin souls. Continue reading

Metin Erksan – Yilanlarin öcü AKA Revenge of the Snakes (1962)

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Imdb:
An early realist classic from Turkey
15 December 2004 | by Tilly Gokbudak (Roanoke, Va.)

This is one of several Turkish films I have chosen to examine for a college thesis on Turkish cinema. I found a copy of it by chance from a CD store in the Aksaray part of Istanbul, the last time I was in Turkey. This is quite a film. The Revenge of the Snakes is a definitive precursor to the films of Yilmaz Guney, Zeki Okten, Ali Ozgenturk, and Serif Goren. It is a simple tale of a young couple and their little boy trying to live a suitable life in a small Anatolian village. This is a multi-layered film in which the antagonists include the mother in law, the new neighbors- with whom there is a serious land dispute, the town chiefs, and government officials who are oblivious to the needs and concerns of the average person. The snake is a symbol for the incoming troubles that will haunt the couple. The lead actor Fikret Hakan and the whole cast is brilliant. If you like Turkish films, this is one to see. It is perhaps as relevant to Turkish cinema as Rosellini’s “Open City” is to Italian cinema. Continue reading

David Lean – Oliver Twist (1948)

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Expressionistic noir photography suffuses David Lean’s Oliver Twist with a nightmarish quality, fitting its bleak, industrial setting. In Dickens’ classic tale, an orphan wends his way from cruel apprenticeship to den of thieves in search of a true home. Here Alec Guinness is the quintessential Fagin, his controversial performance fully restored in Criterion’s new digital transfer.

Links:
Criterion
All Movie Guide Continue reading

Alfred Zeisler – Alimony (1949)

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Small town girl Kitty Traves comes to New York with the idea of getting rich fast. Beginning as a ‘model’ she then becomes a divorce co-respondent in hotel room frame-ups. When her songwriting boyfriend, Dan Barker, runs out of songs and money, she send him back to his loyal, true-blue fiancée, Linda Waring. She moves on to marry a wealth industrialist, with divorce and alimony her only goal.
(from IMDB) Continue reading