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Comedy

Yakov Protazanov – Chiny i lyudi AKA Ranks and People (1929)

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From his early silent works, the great Russian film director, Herr Yakov Protazanov, made literary adaptations from equally great Russian writers, as is the case with “Chiny I Lyudi” ( Ranks And People ) (1929) in which three short stories by Chekhov, “Anna On The Neck”, “Death Of A Petty Official” and “Chameleon” were assembled for the silent screen.
“Anna On The Neck” tells the story the young and beautiful Anna (Mariya Strelkova ) who has just married an old but rich civil servant. Anna thinks her marriage will rescue her father and her two brothers from a miserable life of poverty. Anna becomes disenchanted fast when her rich husband turns out to be an avaricious and severe man. Anna’s sad life changes when she attends a posh ball and every man there, including the mayor, is charmed by her. Anna’s husband hopes to get business advantages through this but Anna is thinking of revenge. Read More »

Jirí Menzel – Postriziny AKA Cutting It Short (1981)

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Short Cut is a comedy revealed more in the acting and witty dialogue than in the simple premise of the story itself: how the Czech writer Bohumil Hrabal was born. Actually, the story is, in many ways, the writer’s conception. The setting is a small town where Hrabal’s father Francine (Jiri Schmitzer) is in charge of a large brewery. Both the blessing and bane of his life is his gorgeous wife Marja (Magda Vasaryova). Blessing, because she is not only beautiful but resourceful and intelligent and lively, bane because every other man would like to get to know her better. Marja saves the day more than once, and the couple are happy in their life together. When Francine’s brother arrives for a visit, an attraction starts to develop between Marja and her brother-in-law that may have upset the marriage, were it not for a fortuitous accident. Marja sprains her ankle and her husband is “forced” to take care of her – alone. Soon after, the town gets their first radio and life takes a permanent turn for a faster lane. Marja cuts her long, blonde tresses and dons a short skirt which mortifies her husband, until he learns they are going to have a baby. It is 1916 and Hrabal is on the way. The comedy will one day continue as he goes from gestation to adulthood and discovers his writing talents at the age of 48. Coupled with the Czech director Jiri Menzel, Hrabal’s comedic writing finds a kindred cinematic spirit. This film won a Jury Prize at the 1981 Venice Film Festival. Read More »

Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky – Papirosnitsa ot Mosselproma aka The cigarette girl of Mosselprom [+Extras] (1924)

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Review
Though many casual film fans are of the opinion that the Russian silent cinema began and ended with Montage and Propaganda, several charming romantic comedies and dramas emanated from the Soviet film industry of the 1920s. The Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom tells the tale of a young man who falls in love with the title character (Yulia Solnsteva). She becomes a famous film star, and herself falls in love–not with the hero, but with her cameraman. No one ever gets what he or she truly wants in the story, though they continue to pursue their lost dreams to the bitter end. Revelling in The Unexpected throughout, Cigarette Girl of Mosselprom is capped by an adroit surprise ending. (Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide)
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Charles Chaplin – City Lights (1931)

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The Tramp meets a poor blind girl selling flowers on the streets and falls in love with her. The blind girl mistakes him for a millionaire. Since he wants to help her and doesn’t want to disappoint her, he keeps up the charade. He befriends a drunk millionaire, works small jobs like street sweeping, and enters a boxing contest, all to raise money for an operation to restore her sight.

CHAPLIN HILARIOUS IN HIS ‘CITY LIGHTS’; Tramp’s Antics in Non-Dialogue Film Bring Roars of Laughter at Cohan Theatre. TAKES FLING AT “TALKIES” Pathos Is Mingled With Mirth in a Production of Admirable Artistry.

Charlie Chaplin, master of screen mirth and pathos, presented at the George M. Cohan last night before a brilliant gathering his long-awaited non-dialogue picture, “City Lights,” and proved so far as he is concerned the eloquence of silence. Many of the spectators either rocking in their seats with mirth, mumbling as their sides ached, “Oh, dear, oh, dear,” or they were stilled with sighs and furtive tears. And during a closing episode, when the Little Tramp sees through the window of a flower shop the girl who has recovered her sight through his persistence, one woman could not restrain a cry. Read More »

Larry Clark – Wassup Rockers (2005)

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Photographer and filmmaker Larry Clark offers another look at the inner workings of urban youth culture in this comedy drama. Jonathan (Jonathan Velasquez) is a teenaged El Salvadorian refugee living in a primarily Mexican-American and African-American neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. Jonathan and a handful of fellow Salvadorian émigrés who are his best friends stand out like sore thumbs on the block, due less to their national origin than because they’ve rejected the hip-hop music and fashion around them in favor of old-school punk, as favored by the Ramones and latter-day Latino bands such as Suicidal Tendencies. Jonathan and his pals Kiko (Francisco Pedrasa), Eddie (Eddie Velasquez), Porky (Usvaldo Panameno), and Spermball (Milton Velasquez) have a group of their own, and Jonathan, a sweet but streetwise kid who has a way with the girls, is the lead singer. Like all good punk rockers, Jonathan and his bandmates are seriously into skateboarding, and one day they hop several busses and make a pilgrimage to a legendary skate spot in Beverly Hills. If the kids felt like outsiders in South Central, they soon discover they’re unwelcome outcasts in the moneyed L.A. suburbs; before long they’re on the run from cops as well as Anglo skaters, and even Jonathan’s chance assignation with a neighborhood sexpot leads to no small share of drama. Wassup Rockers received its world premiere at the 2005 Toronto Film Festival. Read More »

Werner Herzog – Auch Zwerge haben klein angefangen AKA Even Dwarfs Started Small (1970)

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Synopsis:
The inhabitants of an institution in a remote country rebel against their keepers. Their acts of rebellion are by turns humorous, boring and alarming. An allegory on the problematic nature of fully liberating the human spirit, as both commendable and disturbing elements of our nature come forward. The film shows how justifiable revolt may be empowering, but may also turn to chaos and depravity. The allegory is developed in part by the fact that the film is cast entirely with dwarfs. Read More »

David Byrne – True Stories (1986)

 

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True Stories is a 1986 American film that spans the genres of musical, art, and comedy, directed by and starring David Byrne of the band Talking Heads. It co-stars John Goodman, Swoosie Kurtz, and Spalding Gray. Byrne has described the film as, “A project with songs based on true stories from tabloid newspapers. It’s like 60 Minutes on acid.”

True Stories was released by Warner Bros. in the United States, Canada, Italy, and Sweden in 1986, with limited release elsewhere the following year. Byrne was given much creative control over the motion picture’s direction, largely due to the mainstream success of Talking Heads’ 1984 concert film, Stop Making Sense. Read More »