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Asghar Farhadi – Jodaeiye Nader az Simin aka A Separation (2011)

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THE GUARDIAN review (contains plot details):

An unhappily married couple break up in this complex, painful, fascinating Iranian drama by writer-director Asghar Farhadi, with explosive results that expose a network of personal and social faultlines. A Separation is a portrait of a fractured relationship and an examination of theocracy, domestic rule and the politics of sex and class – and it reveals a terrible, pervasive sadness that seems to well up through the asphalt and the brickwork. In its depiction of national alienation in Iran, it’s comparable to the work of Jafar Panahi and Mohammad Rasoulof. But there is a distinct western strand. The film shows a middle-class household under siege from an angry outsider; there are semi-unsolved mysteries, angry confrontations and family burdens: an ageing parent and two children from warring camps appearing to make friends. All these things surely show the influence of Michael Haneke’s 2005 film Hidden. Farhadi, like Haneke, takes a scalpel to his bourgeois homeland. Continue reading

Keigo Kimura – Fûten Rôjin nikki aka Diary of a Mad Old Man (1962)

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Quote:

Diary of a Mad Old Man is the journal of Utsugi, a seventy-seven-year-old man of refined tastes who is recovering from a stroke. He discovers that, while his body is decaying, his libido still rages on — unwittingly sparked by the gentle, kindly attentions of his daughter-in-law Satsuko, a chic, flashy dancer with a shady past. Pitiful and ridiculous as he is, Utsugi is without a trace of self-pity, and his diary shines with self-effacing good humor. At once hilarious and of a sadness, Diary of a Mad Old Man is a brilliant depiction of the relationship between eros and the will to live — a film of the tragicomedy of human existence. Continue reading

Christopher Maclaine – The Man Who Invented Gold / Beat / Scotch Hop (1957 – 1959)

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The Man Who Invented Gold. 1957

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The Man Who Invented Gold, very different from The End, is fully as masterful. It focuses on a modern-day alchemist whose zombielike neighbors think of him as “madman” while he aspires to become “goldman.” Again Maclaine narrates, likening the quest to create gold to a quest for the “world of light”; the editing is as disjunctive as in The End but arguably has a much more optimistic meaning, bringing to the forefront the Gnostic longing to escape substance and recover light that underlies parts of The End. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Awdat al ibn al dal AKA The Return of the Prodigal Son (1976)

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In this Andre Gide adaptation, an activist is released after many years in prison and returns home, shaking up established relationships among his family members at the farm governed by his strict father. Demonstrating Chahine’s eclecticism, this is an elegant melodrama, exuberant musical, layered allegory, and profound portrait of personal and political disillusionment. (www.bam.org) Continue reading

Jean-Marc Vallée – Café de Flore (2011)

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From IMDb :

A love story between a man and woman. And between a mother and her son. A mystical and fantastical odyssey on love.

From Toronto International Film Festival official website :

*** This description contains spoilers ***

Jean-Marc Vallée returns to French-language filmmaking with this powerful and unconventional love story that weaves together two disparate narratives to create a tale of emotion and destiny. The stories center on a devoted mother (Vanessa Paradis) of a young boy with Down syndrome in 1969 Paris, and a successful DJ (Kevin Parent) who is going through an emotional divorce in present-day Montreal. Continue reading

Stuart Heisler – Chain Lightning (1950)

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Plot:

Matt Brennan knows how to open eyes to the potential of the experimental jet, the JA-3. He’ll pilot it from Nome over the North Pole to Washington, DC and land it on the Pentagon’s lap. The distance is beyond the JA-3’s tested range. Nor can the craft provide the pressurization needed for flight at 80,000 feet. But Brennan has some modifications in mind. And the courage to put them to the test. Humphrey Bogart plays Brennan in Chain Lightning’s lofty mix of adventure and romance. Eleanor Parker, as a World War II flame who reenters Brennan’s life, fuels the romance. And the adventure takes wing with a story that, like Breaking the Sound Barrier, The McConnell Story and other postwar films, taps into the era’s fascination with jet aviation. Cleared for takeoff. From Warner Brothers! Continue reading