Rainer Werner Fassbinder – Fontane Effi Briest (1974)

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Quote:
It’s a non-traditional black and white film based on the 1894 novel by Theodor Fontane. It’s for an audience that is more aware and welcomes something addressed to the intellect, rather than the way the average casual moviegoer sees a film expecting a story handed to him on a silver platter with a beginning, a middle and an end (usually a happy ending). This is not a film for the casual moviegoer or the critic chasing down blockbusters. Director-writer Rainer Werner Fassbinder has said “It’s a film that really only works in the German language.” What makes the film so difficult for an outsider, is that much of Fontane is nuanced only for the German and therefore someone unfamiliar with the finer cultural points or historical facts will have a tough time of it. Fassbinder based the film on the parts of the novel by Theodor Fontane he agreed with (discarding the parts of the book he disagreed with) and did not make it into a topic about a woman as the title would suggest (a debate grew between the film’s star Hanna Schygulla, who wanted to play it as a story about the titular character; thankfully she couldn’t budge Fassbinder off his intended aim to keep it as a societal moral play and as a result we have a film that is full of conviction and as faithful to a book as you can possibly be). Continue reading

Toshio Masuda – Sabita naifu AKA Rusty Knife (1958)

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Synopsis:
Udaka is a new, post-war city where corruption has already taken hold. A persistent district attorney wants to arrest and convict Katsumata, a laughing, self-confident thug. The D.A. gets an anonymous letter about the suicide five years’ before of a city council member. Evidence about the case leads the D.A. to Tachibana, struggling to go straight after involvement with the mob and a prison sentence for killing the man responsible for the rape and suicide of his fiancée. One of Tachibana’s friends is Keiko, the daughter of the dead councilman and the ward of another powerful official. How do these stories connect? Continue reading

Sergei Parajanov – Tini Zabutykh Predkiv AKA Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors (1965)

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Quote:
Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors has often been described as a Carpathian Romeo and Juliet – that is, if Romeo had the tenacity to live after his beloved’s death. Sergei Paradjanov prefaces the tragic tale set in the Carpathian mountains as the land “forgotten by God and men”, and from the austerity of the environment, it is evident that survival comes at a high price. In essence, the story is incidental to the observations of daily peasant life: the Orthodox order of mass, the rites of spring, the rhythm of the sickle cutting the fields. A young man, Ivan (Ivan Nikolaichuk), falls in love with Marichka (Larisa Kadochnikova), the daughter of the man who killed his father. As his mother’s only surviving child, he leaves the village to work as a hired laborer to provide for her. However, before he can return to Marichka, she falls to her death in an attempt to rescue an errant lamb. The story then follows Ivan through his descent into despair, marriage to the sensual Palagna (Tatyana Bestayeva), and Palagna’s inevitable betrayal. Continue reading

Piero Vivarelli – Satanik (1968)

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Synopsis
A withered old hag turns into a beautiful young woman after drinking a youth formula.

Review (thanks to k_t_t2001@ imdb)
A faithful adaptation of the fumetti neri
The level of success of SATANIK as a film is entirely dependant upon the audience viewing it. An audience expecting something along the lines of OPERAZIONE PAURA or CASTLE OF BLOOD will be disappointed. This isn’t a horror film. Even an audience expecting a giallo in the Argento / Fulci tradition is bound to be dissatisfied by the lack of creative violence and relatively mild gore. In 1968 the target audience for this film were the readers of the hugely successful fumetti neri that had already led to popular cinematic spin-offs of DIABOLIK and KRIMINAL. When viewed in this light, SATANIK becomes a much more successful, though no better, film. Continue reading

Terence Young – Bloodline (1979)

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Synopsis:
Sam Roffe, president of a multi-national pharmaceutical corporation, is killed while mountain-climbing. It is first determined to be an accident, but Inspector Max Hormung later deduces that Roffe was murdered. Sam’s daughter Elizabeth assumes control of the company, and while traveling through Europe she immediately becomes a target as well. Continue reading

Pascal Bonitzer – Tout de suite maintenant (2016)

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Nora Sator, a dynamic young thirty-year-old, began her career in high finance.
When she learns that her boss and wife have frequented her father in their youth, she discovers that a mysterious rivalry still opposes them.
Ambitious, Nora quickly gains the confidence of her superiors but maintains complicated relations with her colleague Xavier, unlike her sister Maya who quickly succumbs to her charms …
Between stories of family, heart and professional intrigues, destinies intermingle and the masks fall. Continue reading