Julie Dash – Daughters of the Dust [+Extras] (1991)

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A film of spellbinding visual beauty and brilliant resonant performances, Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust has become a landmark of independent film. With great lyricism, Daughters tells the story of a large African-American family as they prepare to move North at the dawn of the 20th Century. Using this simple tale, the film brings to life the changing values, conflicts and struggles that confront every family as they leave their homeland for the promise of a new and better future. Continue reading

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Hal Hartley – Ned Rifle (2014)

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NED RIFLE is the third and final chapter of Hal Hartley’s tragicomic epic begun with HENRY FOOL (1997, TIFF) and continued with FAY GRIM (2007). At once a saga concerning the Grim family of Queens and how their lives are turned upside down by the arrival of the self-proclaimed genius Henry Fool, the trilogy is also an illustration of America’s grappling with ideas, art, politics, and religion over the course of 20 years. In this swiftly paced and expansive conclusion, Henry and Fay’s son Ned sets out to find and kill his father for destroying his mother’s life. But his aims are frustrated by the troublesome, sexy and hilarious Susan, whose connection to Henry predates even his arrival in the lives of the Grim family. Continue reading

Charles Lamont – Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953)

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They don`t really go to Mars, they go to Venus, but first they go to New Orleans. While working at a missile base, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello inadvertently launch a rocket ship with themselves aboard. After a wild ride around New York City (the Statue of Liberty ducks when the rocket heads her way), Bud and Lou land in the outskirts of New Orleans. The boys are convinced that they`ve reached Mars, and their faith in this supposition is affirmed when they come across several strangely costumed `creatures` (actually revellers at the Mardi Gras). Meanwhile, bank robbers Jack Kruschen and Horace McMahon stow away on A&C`s rocketship. When Bud and Lou return, the crooks force them to make a quick getaway into outer space. After several days of weightlessness, the four space travellers land on Venus, a planet populated by the gorgeous winners of the Miss Universe contest (including Anita Ekberg). Venusian queen Mari Blanchard falls in love with Costello, only to order him and his companions to return to earth when Lou proves to be unfaithful. Reportedly, this bizarre melange of sci-fi and slapstick was based on a story by Charles Beaumont, who received no screen credit (it`s worth noting that Beaumont`s later Queen of Outer Space boasts a remarkably similar plotline). Long considered the team`s worst film, Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (`and about time!` quipped the New York Times` TV-movie reviewer) is rather likeable in its own incoherent way. – All Movie Guide Continue reading

Hal Hartley – Fay Grim (2006)

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Hal Hartley’s dark comedy “Henry Fool” was an indie masterpiece that effectively and accessibly meshed Hartley’s literary influences with his specific minimalist style and some of the most memorable characters of the last decade. Now, Hartley takes the characters he created for that world and launches them into a surprisingly different direction in “Fay Grim,” a worthy follow-up and rare art house sequel.

When we last saw our antiheroes, Simon had won the Nobel Prize for his profane and controversial poetry, Henry had fled murder charges by allegedly going to Stockholm using Simon’s passport, and Fay was left with a young son after Henry had impregnated and married her seven years earlier. The handwritten, multipart opus Henry had been flouting, “The Confessions of Henry Fool,” was largely thought to be a horrible novel, literary excrement perpetuated by a vulgar man with a vivid imagination. Continue reading

Dan Sallitt – The Unspeakable Act (2012)

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Quote:
Set on a quiet tree-lined street in Brooklyn, The Unspeakable Act is an acclaimed, darkly funny film about a young girl’s unusual coming of age. Jackie Kimball is a normal 17-year-old girl – except that for as long as she can remember, she’s been in love with her older brother Matthew. The two siblings rely on each other for friendship and support, but Matthew doesn’t share his sister’s feelings. When Matthew departs for college, Jackie sets out to meet other boys, and for the first time, must contend with life on her own. Continue reading

Naomi Kawase – Futatsume no mado AKA Still the Water (2014)

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From wikipedia:

“Still the Water (2つ目の窓 Futatsume no mado?) is a 2014 Japanese romance film directed by Naomi Kawase. It was selected to compete for the Palme d’Or in the main competition section at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival.[1] It has been selected to be screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[2]

Kawase has described the film as her “masterpiece”, deserving of the Palme d’Or and states: “This is the first time that I have said this about a film. After the Camera d’Or and the Grand Prix, there is nothing I want more than the Palme d’Or. I have my eyes on nothing else.”[3]

The film was taken in the scenic nature of Amami City, Amami Ōshima, in Kagoshima Prefecture, Japan in 2013.[4] The music was produced by Hasiken,[5] a male singer-songwriter from Chichibu, Saitama.” Continue reading

Hiroshi Shimizu – Tokyo no eiyu AKA A Hero of Tokyo (1935)

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“This late silent film is little more than an hour long, and achieves a narrative concentration and emotional intensity which place it among the neglected gems of the Japanese cinema of the 1930s. The story focuses on the widower Nemoto, ostensibly a businessman, who has one son, Kanichi, the hero of the title. Nemoto remarries; his new wife is a widow with a son and daughter of her own. However, Nemoto’s business turns out to be out a shady scam, and he disappears, leaving his wife to raise the three children alone. In order to support the family, she is obliged to become a bar hostess. She conceals this shameful employment from the children, but the truth comes out years later, after her daughter is rejected by her husband’s family when they investigate her background. The film contains powerful performances from Mitsugu Fujii, here making the last of his regular appearances for Shimizu, and Mitsuko Yoshikawa, a specialist in the haha-mono (“mother-film”) genre. Continue reading

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