Yannis Sakaridis – Wild Duck (2013)

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Synopsis
A bankrupt telecoms engineer, employed by his ex-boss to investigate a phone-hacking operation, gets trapped into paying off either his economic or his moral debts.

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“Wild Duck” is the story of Dimitris, a telecommunications engineer who’s forced to shutter his business after running up a considerable debt with a local loan shark. He and his buddy Nikos, another telecommunications expert working for a big outfit, decide to get to the bottom of a big scandal. Their research leads them to a certain apartment, whose tenant Panagiota becomes the focus of their attention. Dimitris is now facing some major dilemmas and a trip to his hometown will help him clear his head and look at himself under a different light. Continue reading

Youssef Chahine – Iskanderija, kaman oue kaman AKA Alexandria Again and Forever (1989)

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The last film in Youssef Chahine’s autobiographical Alexandria Trilogy stars Chahine himself as his cinematic alter ego, Yehia Mourad, completing his merging of fiction with real life and drama with psychodrama. Opening with Chahine’s triumph at the Berlin Film Festival, where he took home the Silver Bear for Alexandria…Why? (the first film in the trilogy–this is layered stuff), the film explores Yehia’s obsession with his young star, Amir (Amr Abdel-Guelil), while participating in the general strike of 1987. As Yehia fantasizes about the films they would make together (one of them looks like a loony take on Jesus Christ Superstar), he elevates Amir from a kind of adopted son to cinematic messiah. But while caught up in the strike, Yehia becomes enchanted by a former actress, Nadia (Yousra), turned dedicated revolutionary, and he decides to cast her in his next feature. Continue reading

Göran Olsson – Concerning Violence (2014)

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Quote:
A new feature documentary by Göran Hugo Olsson

Concerning Violence is a bold and fresh visual narrative from Africa based on archive material from Swedish documentaries 1966-1987 covering the most daring moments in the struggle for liberation from colonial rule. This powerful footage is combined with text from Frantz Fanon’s landmark book The Wretched of the Earth – written in 1960 and still a major tool for understanding and illuminating the neocolonialism happening today, as well as the unrest and the reactions against it.

“Colonialism is not a thinking machine, nor a body endowed with reasoning faculties. It is violence in its natural state, and it will only yield when confronted with greater violence.” Continue reading

Ernie Gehr – Side/Walk/Shuttle (1991)

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Quote:
The initial inspiration for the film was an outdoor glass elevator and the visual, spatial and gravitational possibilities it presented me with. The work was also informed by an interest in panoramas, the urban landscape, as well as the topography of San Francisco. Finally, the shape and character of the work was tempered by reflections upon a lifetime of displacement, moving from place to place and haunted by recurring memories of other places I once passed through.

“… Gehr gives us an expansive view of the relationship between architecture, city streets and the movement on them, the medium of cinema, and patterns of thought.” – Fred Camper, Chicago Reader, February 17, 1995
Continue reading

Francesco Maselli – Il sospetto AKA The Suspect (1975)

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Quote:
Following his passionate involvement in the 1968 demonstrations (Maselli was one of the supporters of the protest at the 1969 Venice Biennial), he made two explicitly “political” films, Lettera aperta ad un giornale della sera (1970) and Il sospetto di Francesco Maselli (1975). In Lettera ad un giornale della sera, which prompted fierce discussion about the idea of “political commitment” amongst left-wing intellectuals, Maselli played one of the characters, thereby openly involving himself in the debate, together with Nanni Loy and other politically active colleagues and friends.
For this film, Maselli used a style which in many ways was similar to certain paradigms of “cinema-verité”: the film was shot in 16 mm with heavy use of the zoom, the hand-held camera and out-of-sync sound.
Maselli returned to a more relaxed cinematic language and a more concise structure with Il sospetto. Dubbed “one of the best political films of all time”, it was set in the year of the “turning-point” (1934), one of the most important moments in the evolution of the Communist party.
Gian Maria Volonté gave a splendid performance in the role of Emilio, the protagonist, a militant Communist who has emigrated to France, embroiled in an affair so fraught that it turns into a thriller. Continue reading

Tay Garnett – The Fireball (1950)

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Plot: Johnny runs away from Father O’Hara’s orphanage and becomes a roller skating star with the help of Mary Reeves. He becomes involved with women, including Polly, who only love him because he is a champion, not, as with Mary, out of love for him. Then he gets polio. Written by Ed Stephan Continue reading

Guido Brignone – Maciste all’inferno AKA Maciste in Hell (1925)

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Scifilm wrote:
Maciste is tempted by the devil, and ends up trapped in hell when he elects to fight him.

Bartolomeo Pagano played Maciste in the 1914 movie CABIRIA; he must have liked the character; he ended up playing him repeatedly in a variety of movies over the next twenty years. I do wonder about the character’s position in time; CABIRIA took place in ancient Rome, but even if I’m not sure when this movie takes place, it’s certainly a much later period of time; Maciste wears a suit and tie through most of this, and at one point he is tempted with some shots of very modern cities indeed. Nonetheless, the fantasy element is very strong; the scenes in hell are great, with a huge cast of demons and fiends, including a couple of giant demons, a flying dragon, and some great special effects. It’s based at least partially on Dante’s “Inferno”, and it includes both Lucifer, Pluto and Proserpine as characters. I would love to have seen some of the other early Maciste movies just to see what the character’s story was, but this one and CABIRIA are the only ones I know exist for sure. It’s definitely worth a look for people interested in creative visions of hell; the movie apparently served as an inspiration both for Mario Bava and Federico Fellini. Continue reading