Tag Archives: 1980s

Johan van der Keuken – Het oog boven de put AKA The Eye Above the Well (1988)

A poetic depiction of life and ritual in the south Indian state of Kerala. We see how knowledge is passed down from generation to generation: within the family, through the village economy, and especially from teachers to students. Performance footage shows how song, dance, martial arts, and religion constitute the building blocks of a culture. Read More »

Tasos Psarras – Karavan Sarai (1986)

Plot:
Shortly before the end of the Civil War, in 1948, the villages along the border are evacuated to facilitate the National Army’s movements as well as to hamper those of the rebels. A forty-year-old villager, Margaritis (Thymios Karakatsanis), is forced, as are many others, to abandon his home and head for Thessaloniki with his two children. He settles into one of the city buildings, the Caravanserai, which has been designated for just this purpose. Here the refugees live under appalling conditions and resort to unnatural, dishonest behavior and cunning deeds. Margaritis tries not to get involved in all the unspeakable atrocities unfolding before him, at quite some psychological cost. Read More »

Seijun Suzuki – Kazoku no sentaku AKA A Family’s Choice (1983)

A single mother’s ex-husband refuses to pay for their son’s schooling. While working in hospice care, a dying patient offers to kill her ex-husband psychically so their son will collect life insurance. When her ex-husband turns up dead, she becomes the prime suspect. Read More »

Mats Ek & Cullberg Ballet – Giselle (1987)

Not for the staid traditionalist, Matts EK’s ballet turns expectations on their head. The basic story is there; and Adolphe Adam’s unmistakable music guides us through. But there the similarities end.

Set in a more modern era, Albrecht is a city sophisticate to Giselle’s rural innocent. And innocent she is, but far from the shy creature of yore, this Giselle is precocious, almost uninhibited. But there’s no suggestion that this excuses Albrecht’s use and abuse of her. The ‘white’ act is very different, too. Set in a lunatic asylum, the choreography will be earily famiar to anyone who has visited one of those places (or even seen One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest). Read More »

René Manzor – Le passage AKA The Passage (1986)

In one of the oddest personifications of Death found in the cinema or elsewhere, first-time director (Rene Manzor) creates a Grim Reaper with his own control room, replete with high-tech wizardry in this sci-fi drama. Jean Diaz (Alain Delon) is a filmmaker working on an animated feature that would speak out against violence, when he is suddenly killed in an accident. Diaz comes around after death only to face Death personified, who wants to strike a bargain with him. Diaz can return to life if he agrees to make his film according to Death’s plan for the annihilation of the human race. If Diaz does not agree to these terms, then his young son — now in a coma from the accident — will also die. Read More »

Elem Klimov – Idi i smotri AKA Come and See (1985)

Quote:
Ivan Got His Gun. Sam Fuller once declared that the only way for cinema to depict war authentically was to spray the audiences with real bullets, here’s the next best thing. The setting is the Nazi devastation of Belarus, the Exodus and the Apocalypse are the main poles: The 12-year-old protagonist (Alexei Kravchenko) digs up a rifle and eagerly runs to join the partisans in the woods, Elem Klimov proceeds to wipe the smile off the wannabe warrior’s face. Left behind, the boy spends an incongruous idyll with a forest nymph (Olga Mironova), complete with rainbows materializing out of morning rain; a squashed bird’s nest sets the stage for the inferno, which is first glimpsed — casually, mind-scarringly — by the side of a cabin. Bombs and bottles rain from the sky, Klimov’s Steadicam skims supernaturally pale meadows, a full menagerie (stork, cow, lemur, lobster) adds to the surrealism. Read More »

Agnès Varda – Kung-fu master! (1988)

Quote:

Aesthetically, Agnès Varda’s two 1988 features, Jane B. par Agnes V. and Kung-Fu Master!, are diametrically opposed, but they’re linked by the showcase opportunities that they provide actress, singer, and model Jane Birkin. Kung-Fu Master! is, on its surface at least, a straightforward drama, one that concerns a middle-aged single mother, Mary-Jane (Birkin), finding herself smitten by her adolescent daughter’s classmate, Julien (Mathieu Demy). But like any story about this kind of subject matter, the simplicity of the setup belies the moral and emotional quandary it underpins. Even the midlife crisis suggested by Mary-Jane’s infatuation must be viewed within the context of the pressure that society, not internal doubt, places on women who turn 40. Read More »