Georges Méliès – L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle (1899)

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Although Georges Méliès’ The Conjuror (L’ Impressionniste fin de siècle) was was one of his earliest movies, it’s also an excellently realized example of Méliès’ basic style of cinematic magic.

The Conjuror revisits a scene that Méliès had explored before, and is basically a cinematic adaptation of the traditional magic trick “making the assistant disappear”. Méliès first presented this scene in his 1896 film The Vanishing Lady, which used simple camera stop-substitution to achieve the affect (no motion involved, and no in-camera dissolve). Méliès revisited the idea in his 1898 film The Magician, which made further use of the substitution effect, which by that time was only one of many effects that Méliès was using in his films. Continue reading

Jirí Weiss – Ninety Degrees in the Shade (1965)

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synopsis

The Anglo-Czech coproduction 90 Degrees in the Shade stars British actress Anne Heywood as a grocery clerk embroiled in an affair with manager James Booth. Though she knows that Booth is good for nothing, she remains with him because of the intensity of their physical relationship. Company auditors Rudolf Hrusinsky and Donald Wolfit make life miserable for Heywood, who cannot bring herself to reveal the fact that Booth has been stealing from the store. Her subsequent suicide humanizes the strictly-business auditors, but the unrepentant Booth merely shrugs and casts about for another willing young woman. The title is a succinct assessment of the film’s sex scenes, which were as hot as it was possible to get in a mainstream movie of the 1960s. Continue reading

Bertrand Tavernier – In the Electric Mist (2009)

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Quote:
A detective tracking a serial killer who preys on young women finds his investigation complicated by a glamorous Hollywood starlet and a ruthless crime kingpin in director Bertrand Tavernier’s adaptation of the James Lee Burke novel In the Electric Mist with Confederate Dead. Continue reading

Bo Widerberg – Kärlek 65 aka Love 65 (1965)

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Foreword: Love 65 shares common elements from director Michelangelo Antonioni, Federico Fellini and Jean-Luc Godard. Especially Fellini’s “8½” and Godards “Contempt” (both from 1963) which also deals with filmmakers, shares a striking resemblance to Love 65.

Synopsis: The movie is entirely built upon Keve, a successful movie director. He has a conveniently located cabin in the Kåseberga area on Österlen in Skåne, a beautiful wife, Ann-Marie, and daughter, Nina. All things considered, he should be happy but instead he feels unharmonical, lonely and disoriented. As every other summer he has invited his friends to a small party. Inger and Kent, a young couple in the divoce process are also there. During the preparations for the party, Keve leaves the cabin and walks about in the nearby village. He finds a poster which announces a lecture being held this day. He knows the lecturer Björn briefly and decides to go listen to what he has to say. At this very lecture he finds Björns wife Evabritt who makes a profound impression on Keve… Continue reading

Frank Tuttle – Men Are Like That (1930)

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Previously filmed in 1926 the George Kelly stage comedy The Show-Off was remade in
1930 as Men Are Like That. Broadway star Hal Skelly steps into the role of chronic braggart
Aubrey Piper, incapable of either telling the truth or shutting up. Insinuating himself into the
home of his wife Amy’s (Doris Hill) family, Aubrey does his best to impress his in-laws with
tall tales about his business acumen and his grandiose financial transactions. Even after
he’s been exposed as a fraud and saved from ruin and disgrace by Amy, Aubrey continues
to run off at the mouth — and even throws in a few songs and dances for good measure.
Despite a witty script by Joseph L. Mankiewicz, Men Are Like That is sabotaged by the
calculatedly obnoxious Hal Skelly, who never did develop into a satisfying screen
personality. The property was refilmed under its original title The Show Off by Spencer
Tracy in 1934, and by Red Skelton in 1948. Continue reading

Alain Resnais – Nuit et brouillard AKA Night and Fog (1955)

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Ten years after the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, filmmaker Alain Resnais documented the abandoned grounds of Auschwitz. One of the first cinematic reflections on the horrors of the Holocaust, Night and Fog (Nuit et brouillard) contrasts the stillness of the abandoned camps’ quiet, empty buildings with haunting wartime footage. With Night and Fog, Resnais investigates the cyclical nature of man’s violence toward man and presents the unsettling suggestion that such horrors could come again. Continue reading

Nelson Pereira dos Santos – Vidas Secas aka Barren Lives [+Extras] (1963)

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Filmed with a strong sense of compassion for the impoverished and an underlying hatred for the injustice which forces them into the lives they must live, this is one of the first works from Brazil’s Cinema Novo. A poor Brazilian family struggle to earn a living when they take a job overseeing the livestock of a wealthy rancher. They move into an abandoned house, and their fortunes begin to take an upward turn. The father is duped into a card game with a crooked local policeman. The ranch hand protests, and a fight ensues that results in his beating by the cop. Despite being the victim of injustice, the man believes there should be some semblance of law and order and makes no protest about the incident. A severe drought has the man moving on from the ranch with his family to earn their living elsewhere. Continue reading