Yang Zhang – Kang rinpoche AKA Paths of the Soul (2015)

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Docu-drama follows the journey of a group of Tibetans on a pilgrimage to Lasa, the holy capital of Tibet. The journey covers 1,200 km on foot, in a continuous repetition of prostrating one’s self on the ground. Over 10 months, we see the simplicity of human relationships and the nature of family, suffering, and resolve. Continue reading

Yves Pelletier – Les Aimants AKA Love and Magnets (2004)

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Montreal Mirror wrote:

People tend to be cynical and derisive towards romantic comedies. Personally, I’m a softie and seeing people fall in love on screen always touches me. Then again, I’m aware that most entries in the rom-com genre are derivative and idiotic. But once in a blue moon, you find one that’s surprisingly original and intelligent. Les Aimants is such a film.

After five years abroad, Julie (Isabelle Blais) comes back to Montreal and crashes with her sister Jeanne (Sylvie Moreau), a woman who lies as she breathes. Jeanne is engaged to Noël (David Savard), a workaholic who’s never home, so they communicate through messages they leave on the refrigerator. When Jeanne leaves for a week of adultery with theremin virtuoso Manu (Emmanuel Bilodeau), she asks Julie to cover up for her by responding to Noël’s fridge notes. But Julie decides to get “positive revenge” on her seemingly heartless sister by making the messages she leaves more romantic… Continue reading

Mitchell Leisen – Song of Surrender (1949)

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Plot
Though her acting range was limited, Wanda Hendrix was cute as all get out, and this cuteness is pretty much all that’s required from her in Song of Surrender. The film is set in a small town of the early 1900s. Hendrix is cast as Abigail Hunt, the young bride of fiftyish museum curator Elisha Hunt (Claude Rains). Their connubial bliss is threatened when attorney Bruce Eldridge (Macdonald Carey) falls in love with Abigail, and she with him. When her neighbors discover her indiscretions, Abigail is driven from town. It is only during a near-tragedy that Abigail realizes that her true place is with her aging husband. Still, the script manages to wangle a happy ending for everyone concerned. Of interest in Song of Surrender is the utilization within the plotline of several vintage Enrico Caruso recordings. Continue reading

Dharmasena Pathiraja – Soldadu Unnahe AKA Old Soldier (1981)

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Though veteran director Dharmasena Pathiraja was noted for his leftist leanings, he said that the Marxists were “out of touch with the realties of the people, their material conditions, power, and even their powerlessness.” In his 1981 drama, Soldadu Unnahe, Pathiraja depicts the realities of four friends: a soldier, a prostitute, a pimp and an alcoholic who take refuge under a Nuga tree from the loud, warlike celebration of Sri Lankan independence. The fireworks and planes overhead give the soldier of the title flashbacks, reminding him of his experiences in World War II at the end of the British Raj. What have these four unfortunates gained from independence, and what is their future? Chosen the best film of the decade 1980-1990 by the Catholic International Cinema Organization. Awards/Festivals: Sri Lankan Presidential Awards for Best Film and Best Director; Eighth Indian International Film Festival; 16th Singapore International Film Festival 2003; Jeonju International Film Festival 2009. Continue reading

Peter Davis – Hearts and Minds (1974)

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Academy Award for Best Documentary (1975).

“We weren’t on the wrong side. We were the wrong side.”

A courageous and startling film, Peter Davis’s landmark documentary Hearts and Minds unflinchingly confronts the United States’ involvement in Vietnam. Using a wealth of sources—from interviews to newsreels to documentary footage of the conflict at home and abroad—Davis constructs a powerfully affecting portrait of the disastrous effects of war. Explosive, persuasive, and shocking, Hearts and Minds is an overwhelming emotional experience and the controversial winner of the 1974 Academy Award for Best Documentary. Continue reading

Anton Vidokle – Immortality and Resurrection for All! (2017)

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Today the Russian philosophy known as Cosmism has been largely forgotten. Its utopian tenets – combining Western Enlightenment with Eastern philosophy, Russian Orthodox traditions with Marxism – inspired many key Soviet thinkers until they fell victim to Stalinist repression. In his three-part film project, artist Anton Vidokle probes Cosmism’s influence on the twentieth century and suggests its relevance to the present day. In Part One he returns to the foundations of Cosmist thought (This Is Cosmos, 2014). Part Two explores the links between cosmology and politics (The Communist Revolution Was Caused By The Sun, 2015) and Part Three restages the museum as a site of resurrection, a central Cosmist idea (Immortality and Resurrection for All!, 2017). Continue reading