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Ted Bourne & Mary Robertson & Banks Tarver – Trumped: Inside the Greatest Political Upset of All Time (2017)

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In a behind-the-scenes look at the biggest political upset in recent history, Mark Halperin, John Heilemann and Mark McKinnon offer unprecedented access and never-before-seen footage of candidate Trump, from the primaries through the debates to the dawning realization that the controversial businessman will become the 45th President of the United States. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Les enfants du paradis aka Children Of Paradise [+Commentary] (1945)

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Synopsis
©Hal Erickson
Even in 1945, Marcel Carné’s Children of Paradise was regarded as an old-fashioned film. Set in the Parisian theatrical world of the 1840s, Jacques Prévert’s screenplay concerns four men in love with the mysterious Garance (Arletty). Each loves Garance in his own fashion, but only the intentions of sensitive mime-actor Deburau (Jean-Louis Barrault) are entirely honorable; as a result, it is he who suffers most, hurdling one obstacle after another in pursuit of an evidently unattainable goal. In the stylized fashion of 19th-century French drama, many grand passions are spent during the film’s totally absorbing 195 minutes. Amazingly, the film was produced over a two-year period in virtual secrecy, without the knowledge of the Nazis then occupying France, who would surely have arrested several of the cast and production staff members (including Prévert) for their activities in the Resistance. Children of Paradise has gone on to become one of the great romantic classics of international cinema. Continue reading

Cédric Klapisch – L’Auberge espagnole AKA The Spanish Apartment (2002)

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A new housemate, Isabel, a lesbian, teaches Xavier about the moves and touches that most appeal to women and he tries them out on Anne-Sophie, the neurologist’s wife who eagerly submits to his advances. The film, however, has a larger theme: learning to discover our true self, not the one parents or teachers expect us to be. The experience allows Xavier to get in touch with his own creative energies and reminds him of his childhood longing to become a writer. While L’Auberge Espanole never explores any character in much depth and the camera tricks can become tiresome, it has intelligence, fun, and exuberance and, with Barcelona scintillating in the background, rekindles the time when life was an adventure of discovery. Continue reading

Hal Ashby – The Landlord (1970)

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Quote:
At the age of twenty-nine, Elgar Enders “runs away” from home. This running away consists of buying a building in a black ghetto in the Park Slope section of Brooklyn. Initially his intention is to evict the black tenants and convert it into a posh flat. But Elgar is not one to be bound by yesterday’s urges, and soon he has other thoughts on his mind. He’s grown fond of the black tenants and particularly of Fanny, the wife of a black radical; he’s maybe fallen in love with Lanie, a mulatto girl; he’s lost interest in redecorating his home. Joyce, his mother has not relinquished this interest and in one of the film’s most hilarious sequences gives her Master Charge card to Marge, a black tenant and appoints her decorator. Continue reading

Wes Craven – The Hills Have Eyes (1977)

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Quote:
Sandwiched between his notorious saga of rape, revenge, and realist horror, Last House on the Left (1972), and his franchise-initiating fairytale of supernatural serial killing, A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Wes Craven’s The Hills Have Eyes tends to get lost in critical discussion of America’s reigning horror auteur. This may be truer today than ever, considering Craven’s meteoric rise to mainstream respectability after the staggering box office success of his Scream trilogy (1996, 1997, 2000), for which he was ‘rewarded’ with the opportunity to direct a Miramax melodrama (Music of the Heart, 1999). A relentless chronicle of violence against and within the bourgeois family unit, Hills usually occupies the role of Craven’s ‘cult classic’ – celebrated by the director’s hardcore fans, appreciated for its low-budget aesthetic, generating semi-ironic readings which praise its archetypal allusions as well as its exploitation movie themes. Continue reading

Marcel Carné – Les portes de la nuit AKA Gates of the Night (1946)

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S y n o p s i s:
February 1945. In the Paris metro, manual worker Jean Diego is accosted by a tramp, who introduces himself as Fate and lets slip the tragic future that awaits him. According to Fate, Diego is destined to meet a beautiful young woman he once encountered in the past. Sure enough, within a few hours, Diego runs into Malou, the woman he has long dreamed of. Malou is grateful for Diego’s company, particularly as she has just walked out on her husband Georges, a man for whom she is ill-suited. Ignoring a warning from the tramp that he is heading for an unpleasant death, Malou’s cruel brother Guy sets out to stir up trouble for his own amusement. Having told Georges that his wife has fallen for another man, Guy hands him his gun. The trap is sprung and the outcome is just as the tramp predicted… Continue reading

Tatsumi Kumashiro – Akasen tamanoi: Nukeraremasu AKA Street of Joy (1974)

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It’s the evening before the day all brothels must be shut-down, according to the new law, in 1958. At the Kofukuya’s (literally, the house that sells happiness), five prostitutes decide to celebrate the day. Erotism, drama, and comedy mix as each hour, and a different event passes, in which all the women’s stories come to the surface. (IMDb)

With humor and tenderness, this film explores the lives of four Japanese prostitutes in the time just before that lifestyle was outlawed in 1958. All four take some pride in their work, though one of them responds to aging with a suicide gesture. ~ Clarke Fountain, Rovi Continue reading