Allan King – A Married Couple (1969)


Unnerving in an altogether different way, A Married Couple, from 1969, ventures into the world of adult showmanship through the conflicted relationship between Billy and Antoinette Edwards. King is given full access to their marriage, and his cameras watch as the suburban façade of happiness and understanding quickly crumbles away to reveal a tense power struggle for control within the modern middle-class household. Simple conversations become scenes of endless bickering, and assumptions about duty, responsibility, and loyalty turn into verbal daggers of resentment, clouding the colorful 1960s interiors with presumptuous hot air. King also finds the comical within the tragic, best on display when Billy walks out in a red Speedo and wool vest, a peacock flexing his feathers for a woman who no longer cares. The final quiet conversation between husband and wife takes a turn toward the absurd, but considering the jockeying that’s proceeded, this final compromise of love makes perfect sense. It’s hard to imagine a fiction film being able to capture this type of potent human dichotomy linking gradual suffering and survival. Continue reading

James Mangold – Heavy (1995)


The life of an overweight, unhappy cook is forever changed after a kind, beautiful college drop-out comes to work as a waitress at he and his mother’s roadside restaurant.

Heavy is not the kind of film to view when you’re looking for something upbeat. It’s too real, and, as a result, potentially too painful. On the way out of the theater, I heard someone remark, “Why did I just sit through that film? I’ve lived that story, and I don’t need to be put through it again!” Mangold captures the nuances of life perfectly, and, by never cheapening his vision through facile resolutions, he fashions a memorable cinematic portrait. Continue reading

Lisandro Alonso – Sin título (Carta para Serra) AKA Untitled (Letter to Serra) (2011)


The original dvdr announce wrote:
This filmic exchange is based on two works that reflect on the way each director films, on the crew and the actors, on the way they see and make cinema. Albert Serra took the characters of Honor de Cavalleria and his regular team of collaborators to follow in the steps of Quixote. Lisandro Alonso returned to La Pampa province to film his work, for which he recalls Misael Saavedra, the lead of his first film, La Libertad. Continue reading

Bill Duke – Deep Cover (1992)


Laurence Fishburne plays no-nonsense LAPD narc Russell Stevens, Jr., who has worked all his life to expunge the memory of his dope-addict father, whom he saw die in a liquor-store robbery. DEA agent Jerry Carver (Charles Martin Smith) orders Stevens to work as an undercover operative on a major case. The cop is to pose as a dealer in order to get the goods on South American drug lord. Stevens is so convincing as a dealer, that he fast works his way up through the ranks and gains the trust of lawyer and narcotics dealer David Jason (Jeff Goldblum) and his sinister associates, all lackeys to the kingpin who is the target of Stevens’ assignment. Through a series of fantastic but credible circumstances, Stevens eliminates the lower echelon, getting closer to his quarry, but in the process he finds himself so deep into the sinister and seductive world of the drug trade that he may never get out. In a surprise move, and just when he is about to bring the ringleader down, the DEA pulls the plug on his assignment, because the top dealer, an influential Latin American politician, may someday be useful to the State Department. allmovie,com Continue reading

Joshua Oppenheimer – The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase (1998)


“In Louisiana Purchase I wanted to examine the whole question of historical memory, the making of history…”
— Joshua Oppenheimer

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase is an imaginative and innovative film essay which combines faux and real documentary with lyrical fiction to paint a monstrous yet beautiful portrait of America at the end of the millennium. With unflinching originality, the film meditates humorously on faith, myth, scapegoats, the idea of the alien, the end of the world, and the beginnings of redemption…. Oppenheimer’s monstrous yet charming ‘history of my country’ is written by a poet, sweet and dark, joyous as the wet rats who save themselves from drowning in the film’s last sequence…. It opens a genre of film as revelatory and intelligent dream, stimulant of social memory, and means for re-examining the relationship between fact and fiction, historical truth and social myth.
– Dusan Makavejev, May 1997 Continue reading

Joshua Oppenheimer & Nish Saran – Hugh (1996)


Hugh is the earliest demonstration of Oppenheimer’s key thesis that hate and extremism are not necessarily disruptive forces – they can be thoroughly bedded into society. The titular subject is an elderly man who makes furniture, teaches children to play the piano and is hailed by his friends as one of the most generous people you’ll ever meet. He also goes into town with his car plastered in sandwich boards and preaches about how homosexuality will destroy civilisation…
Hugh is ten minutes long, but has the complexity and nuance of a feature film, and as a bonus is shot in gorgeous high-contrast black-and-white reminiscent of Marc Singer’s excellent 2000 documentary cult classic Dark Days.
– Graham Williamson 2016 Continue reading