Henry Koster – Das häßliche Mädchen AKA The Ugly Girl (1933)

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“Das hässliche Mädchen” (The ugly girl) of the title is young Lotte (Dolly Haas), who is hired as a secretary by an insurance company precisely for her supposed ugliness, as the director (Otto Wallburg) hopes to avoid amorous affairs in his company this way. But as these things go, not only does one of his employees, Fritz (Max Hansen), fall for her, but unsurprisngly the ugly duckling soon transforms into a lovely lady. Fritz realises a little too late that he’s in love with Lotte, however, and meanwhile establishes an affair with the company director’s girlfriend. And obviously, this leads to all sorts of problems and funny situations… Continue reading

Roberto Rossellini – Viaggio in Italia AKA Journey to Italy [+ Extras] (1954)

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Among the most influential films of the postwar era, Roberto Rossellini’s Journey to Italy (Viaggio in Italia) charts the declining marriage of a couple from England (Ingrid Bergman and George Sanders) on a trip in the countryside near Naples. More than just the anatomy of a relationship, Rossellini’s masterpiece is a heartrending work of emotion and spirituality. Considered a predecessor to the existentialist works of Michelangelo Antonioni and hailed as a groundbreaking modernist work by the legendary film journal Cahiers du cinéma, Journey to Italy is a breathtaking cinematic benchmark. Continue reading

Marguerite Duras – Les Enfants aka The Children (1984)

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A sort of philosophical comedy written and directed by Marguerite Duras (with Jean Mascolo and Jean-Marc Turine), starring Axel Bogousslavsky, Daniel Gélin, Tatiana Moukhine, Martine Chevallier, André Dussollier and Pierre Arditi. Continue reading

Marshall Neilan – The Little Princess (1917)

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Synopsis:Captain Richard Carewe, a wealthy British officer stationed in India, sends his daughter Sara to Miss Minchin’s school in London to be educated. Dubbed “the Little Princess,” because of her father’s vast wealth, Sara soon plunges to the position of scullery maid when news arrives of the captain’s death and the loss of her fortune. Mistreated by Miss Minchin, Sara comforts fellow slavey Becky with fairy stories. John Carrisford, an old friend of the captain’s, comes to live in the house next door. Unaware that Sara is there, Carrisford sympathizes with the lonely waifs and decides to provide them with a merry Christmas. Carrisford and his servant Ram Dass set a sumptuous feast for the girls in the attic, and Sara and Becky are about to dig in when Miss Minchin enters and punishes them. Carrisford interferes, and it develops that Crewe’s alleged worthless investment has become successful, and Sara is again an heiress. Carrisford takes charge of Sara and Becky and all ends happily. Continue reading

Tai Katô – Mabuta no haha AKA The Mother He Never Knew (1962)

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The protagonist Chujiro, who possesses many attractive qualities, is a victim of unkind circumstances: his mother abandoned him as a child, so he had no choice but to live outside society. Even so, he grows up determined to reunite with her. Worried that she might be living in misery, he saves his money to help, only to find that she has married into wealth and social position and has no intention of seeing her outcast Yakuza son… Continue reading

Haolun Shu – No. 89 Shimen Road [+Extra] (2010)

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In the late 1980’s Shanghai, a 16 year-old boy, Xiaoli, comes of age surrounded by his neighbors and grandfather. His best friend is a girl named Lanmi, a couple years older than him. But Lanmi slowly drifts away from him, lured by the new opportunities which come as China opens up to foreign goods and businessmen. At the same time, the 1989 events force Xiaoli to grow up and to let go of his teenage dreams. A film that poignantly depicts the struggle of a country confronted with a new order. It is also a personal and touching view of a world that no longer exist. Continue reading

Alfred Hitchcock – Mr. & Mrs. Smith (1941)

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Mr. and Mrs. Smith represented a change of pace for director Alfred Hitchcock. Out of his 50+ films, this one was his only comedy. Sure, The Master of Suspense usually added humorous touches to all of his films, but Mr. and Mrs. Smith was his only out and out farce.

The plot revolves around the Smiths, an otherwise happily married couple (Carole Lombard and Robert Montgomery) who have a shocking conversation over breakfast in which Mr. Smith reveals that if he had to do it all over again, he wouldn’t get married. This sends Mrs. Smith into a huff and she starts PMSing on him. Then the Smiths learn through some contrivance that their marriage isn’t legal and after Mr. Smith doesn’t propose right away, Mrs. Smith goes into a snit and starts seeing other people. From there, the couple vie for each other’s affections by making the other one jealous until they finally realize they’re still in love. Continue reading