Joshua Oppenheimer – Early Works – A Collection of 12 Films (1995 – 2003)

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Joshua Oppenheimer is one of the world’s most renowned documentary filmmakers. His multi award-winning films The Act of Killing (2012) and The Look of Silence (2014) have challenged and redefined perceptions about the very nature of documentary cinema.

Dušan Makavejev on THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE LOUISIANA PURCHASE.

The Entire History of the Louisiana Purchase is an imaginative and innovative film essay which combines faux and real documentary with lyrical fiction to paint a monstrous yet beautiful portrait of America at the end of the millennium. With unflinching originality, the film meditates humorously on faith, myth, scapegoats, the idea of the alien, the end of the world, and the beginnings of redemption. The film is a playful intellectual travelogue through the abandoned remnants of the Wild West, an ex-frontier turned into a heartland deprived of its promises, gazing at the stars for signposts to a brighter future. The film reminds us that the West may share something more than barbed wire with genocide, and that history can be told through the moving image in startling new ways. Oppenheimer suggests that we may look to cinema to understand the dark secrets at the heart of the American dream. Oppenheimer asks: if we can identify with larger-than-life epics on the silver screen, why can’t we see the larger-than-life history of the United States in the fringe acts of violence (motivated by the most irrational fantasies) which this country nurtures more than any other on our planet? Continue reading

Kasper Collin – I Called Him Morgan (2016)

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On a snowy night in February 1972, celebrated jazz musician Lee Morgan was shot dead by his common-law wife Helen during a gig at a club in New York City. The murder sent shockwaves through the jazz community, and the memory of the event still haunts those who knew the Morgans. This feature documentary by Swedish filmmaker Kasper Collin is a love letter to two unique personalities and the music that brought them together. A film about love, jazz and America. Continue reading

Semyon Aranovich & Aleksandr Sokurov – Altovaya Sonata. Dmitriy Shostakovich AKA Viola Sonata. Dmitriy Shostakovich (1981)

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The life and work of the great Russian composer Dmitriy Shostakovich is presented in this documentary through rare images and audios from many archives, at one time censored by the Soviet government. A brief take on his life, from his transition as an early prodigy to a first rate artist, his celebrated compositions and the final years with a declining health. Continue reading

Paul L. Stein – One Romantic Night (1930)

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Plot: A fairy-tale ball, first kisses, broken hearts, and a beautiful princess wooed by a handsome prince. So much can happen during One Romantic Night! Two great ladies of the screen who could scarcely be more dissimilar – waiflike, vulnerable Lillian Gish (in her Talkie debut), who excelled at heart-wrenching melodrama, and barrel-figured, bulldog-faced Marie Dressler, who excelled at everything – make a marvelous team as a monarchical mother and daughter in a romantic comedy about love and marriage among the crowned heads of Europe. Based on Ferenc Molnar’s play The Swan, the film was remade in 1956 featuring Grace Kelly in Gish’s role, just before she became the real-life Princess Grace of Monaco. From the DVD! Continue reading

Mike Leigh – “Play for Today” Nuts in May (1976)

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A faddishly earthy bourgeois couple travels into the country for a camping and walking holiday, but comes unstuck amongst the great unwashed. After a less-than-promising start, they befriend a trainee P.E. teacher from Cardiff, and all proceeds peacefully. However, when a pair of boisterous Brummies arrives at the campsite, clashing personalities soon see tensions rise to the point of violence, in Leigh’s riotously funny telefilm. Winning performances, instantly quotable dialogue, and potent social satire combine to enormously entertaining effect.

— Iain Stott (An Ozu a Day…) Continue reading