Shûe Matsubayashi & Hugo Grimaldi – Hawai Middowei daikaikûsen: Taiheiyô no arashi AKA Storm Over the Pacific AKA I Bombed Pearl Harbor (1960)

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Synopsis:
On December 1, 1941, a Japanese fleet of 30 warships sails for Hawaii; when diplomatic negotiations in Washington fail, the task force commander, Adm. Isoroku Yamaguchi, receives orders to attack Pearl Harbor. Following the devastating aerial assault on December 7, flight navigator Koji Kitami returns to Japan and Keiko, his childhood sweetheart. Although deeply in love with the young woman, Koji fears that marriage will make him less worthy as a naval officer. During the next few months, he participates in many successful raids on U. S. and British ships and planes, but during the battle at Midway he becomes less certain of the invincibility of the Japanese fleet. While he is aboard the carrier Hiryu , the vessel is attacked by U. S. dive bombers and badly damaged. Officers order the ship abandoned, but rather than leave it as a prize of war, a Japanese destroyer is given instructions to sink the carrier. As the Hiryu goes down, Koji and others give a final salute.
— TCM.com Continue reading

Ben Rivers – There Is a Happy Land Further Awaay (2015)

A hesitant female voice reads a poem by Henri Michaux, recounting a life lived in a distant land, full of faltering and mistakes. Island imagery of active volcanoes, underwater WW2 debris, children playing, and wrecked boats transform into intangible digital recollections of the island, made on the opposite side of the world. Images of the eroded land merge with eroding film, a lone figure on a boat drifts at sea. Continue reading

Raoul Ruiz – El realismo socialista AKA Socialist Realism (1973)

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Quote:
A people’s court dictates that a laborer kept some tools for himself and thus deserves derision. “But, can’t we improve?” he asks, without blushing, at the moment they decide his expulsion. The story of the laborer that becomes more and more conservative runs along with another one about a conservative publicist who thinks he can foresee a solution by embracing the revolutionary cause; and what relates both reverse paths is Raúl Ruiz’s systemic pleasure for paradoxes. El realismo socialista is not a politic film but a film about politics, rough and uncomfortable in its will to demolish mythologies at the time they were being generated. These 70s Ruiz is showing are not only not glorious, but he’s also guessing they never will be, almost prophesizing the end of that (fake) utopia, all in this film that works as a parallel story to the great Palomita blanca. Oscillating between documentary record and fiction –the concept key reveals itself, or closes the film’s door, towards the end–, and with a notorious use of improvisation, Ruiz seems to confirm what he once said: “The problem with an iron script is that it gets rusty”. Continue reading

Michael Mann – The Jericho Mile (1979)

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by Hal Erickson
Director Michael Mann co-wrote the teleplay for The Jericho Mile with Patrick J. Nolan. Peter Strauss stars as “Rain” Murphy, serving a life sentence in Folsom Prison for first-degree murder. To break up the boredom of prison life, Murphy begins running laps around the prison recreation track. Prison officials take notice when Murphy runs a mile in less than four minutes. They lobby to enter Murphy into the Olympics, an act of largesse that not only pulls Murphy out of his misanthropy but also helps to unify his racially divided fellow prisoners. Originally telecast March 18, 1979, The Jericho Mile was filmed on location at Folsom Prison, with several inmates playing small roles–and talking the talk of prisoners, never mind the TV censors. Continue reading

Frank Perry – Diary of a Mad Housewife (1970)

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Review by Michael Costello

Frank Perry’s bleak study of the lot of a beleaguered Manhattan housewife features three excellent performances. Carrie Snodgress stars as the wife of a lawyer (Richard Benjamin) whose unbearable status-anxiety drives her into the arms of an equally neurotic emotional sadist (Frank Langella). Made during the nascent days of the women’s movement, the film is a strident and simplistic take on the woman-as-victim, yet in some scenes captures the miserable details of this woman’s life with such precision and vividness, that it still has residual power. Benjamin’s overbearing lawyer is memorable as one of the most irritating characters ever to appear onscreen, and in his insane hunger for social status, he’s something of a precursor to American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Snodgress is so brilliantly effective in her Academy Award-nominated performance, that it becomes painful to watch what amounts to the torture of her passive, emotionally abused housewife. As a narcissistic womanizer with an amazingly well-modulated voice, Langella is also exceptional, and his subsequent 15 minutes as a sex symbol speaks volumes about how differently women saw themselves at the time. While the film’s failure to examine these characters in greater depth, and the director’s lack of vision ultimately leaves one unsatisfied, it remains a provocative work which undoubtedly still speaks to the plight of many women. Continue reading

Louis Delluc – Fièvre (1921)

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Synopsis:
Louis Delluc was one of the most important silent pioneers in France and probably one of the first persons in that country who thought of the cinema as an Art. He was part of group called the “French Impressionist School” ( which also included Epstein, Abel Gance, Marcel L’Herbier and Germaine Dulac ) and was himself one of the first and most influential French film critics. Unfortunately Louis Delluc had a short career dying very young at the age of 33 from tuberculosis, denying the French and the rest of the whole world, his mastery of film and future accomplishments. Continue reading