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Christopher Maclaine – The End (1953)

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Description from Beat Cinema
The End is in six numbered sections, each separated by long stretches of darkness during which Maclaine speaks directly to the audience. Each of the sections is a tale of a different person on the last day of his or her life. The characters in the first three sections meet their end either through random acts of violence or suicide (none depicted graphically), after which Maclaine (in dark humor mode) acknowledges that the audience may not yet be identifying with his characters (“These people are all violent!”). The characters in the second half seem to meet their end through a large-scale disaster, unspecified in Maclaine’s narration but undoubtedly the atomic explosion shown at the beginning and end of the film. The two halves of the film are bridged by Maclaine’s narrator, who equates the self-destruction of the first three characters with a complacent world awaiting “the grand suicide of the human race.” The finale of the film is the end of the world as Maclaine imagines it might look, set to the tune of Beethoven’s ninth symphony – presaging Stanley Kubrick, who would also juxtapose an atomic explosion with ironically uplifting music in Dr. Strangelove a decade later. The End is not just a stern warning, but a prophecy of absolute doom – Maclaine seems to have believed the world was ending before his very eyes, and the eyes of his audience. Continue reading

Jem Cohen – Chain (2004)

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“Jem Cohen’s Chain is a hypnotic, highly original piece about what
it’s like to live in the new global corporate landscape.”

Daily Telegraph
“Dreamlike… transforms a mundane world into something strange and
new… formidable power… fierce political intelligence.”

Village Voice

Synopsis:
As regional character disappears and corporate culture homogenizes our surroundings, it’s increasingly hard to tell where you are. In Chain, malls, theme parks, hotels and corporate centers worldwide are joined into one monolithic contemporary “superlandscape” that shapes the lives of two women caught within it. One is a corporate businesswoman set adrift by her corporation while she researches the international theme park industry. The other is a young drifter, living and working illegally on the fringes of a shopping mall. Cohen contrives to turn the entire planet into a stretch of New Jersey commercial property–a universe that feels entirely real yet has the distinct smack of J.G. Ballard otherness. Continue reading

Manuel Pradal – A Crime (2006)

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Quote:
The devastated life of a man haunted by the unsolved murder of his beloved wife is strangely complicated by the mysterious neighbor who loves him from afar in a dark noir thriller directed by Manuel Pradal and starring Norman Reedus, Emmanuelle Béart and Harvey Keitel. Vincent (Reedus)’ wife has suffered a most brutal fate, and these days the once happy New Yorker is but a frozen shell of his former self. Vincent is not a man unloved, however, because although he may currently be unaware of her feelings for him, his neighbor Alice (Béart) knows in her heart that she and Vincent were meant to be together. All that needs to happen to make Vincent recognize her love is for the grieving widower to finally be liberated from his tragic past; and Alice is willing to go to any lengths necessary in order to make this happen. If Vincent was finally to find the man responsible for his wife’s death, he could finally be free to open his heart to Alice. When Alice hails a cab driven by lonely New York soul Roger (Keitel), the gears of the scheming woman’s elaborate plan are slowly set into motion despite the ignorance of both the naïve cabbie, and the somber object of her delusional affections. Continue reading

Barbara Sternberg – Like a Dream That Vanishes (1999)

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“Like a Dream That Vanishes” continues Sternberg’s work in film both thematically and formally: the ephemerality of life echoed in the temporal nature of film, as the stuff of life echoed on the energy, life-force in rhythmic light pulses. (Your life is like a candle burning.) Imageless emulsion is inter-cut with brief shots of natural elements and mise-en-scene of the stages of human life: a little boy runs and falls; teens hang out together at night smoking; sun shines through tree branches; men pace, waiting; flashes of lightning; an elderly man speaks philosophically about miracles. Continue reading

Yermek Shinarbayev – Mest AKA Revenge (1989)

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Quote:
A child is raised in Korea to avenge the death of his father’s first child in this decades-spanning tale of obsession and violence, the third collaboration between director Ermek Shinarbaev and writer Anatoli Kim. A study of everyday evil infused with philosophy and poetry, this haunting allegory was the first Soviet film to look at the Korean diaspora in central Asia, and a founding work of the Kazakh New Wave. Rigorous and complex, Revenge weaves luminous imagery with inventive narrative elements in an unforgettable meditation on the way trauma is passed down through generations. Continue reading

Aleksandr Mitta & Kenji Yoshida – Moskva, lyubov moya AKA Moscow, My Love (1974)

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A Japanese girl came to Moscow to learn the art of dance. The love of a Moscow sculptor, the victory in the final-year students competition brought a lot of happiness to Yuriko. However a sudden disease of blood, result of an atomic bombardment of her town, bursts into her life. Continue reading