Drama

Ken Russell – Mahler (1974)

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Director Ken Russell made a number of biographical films of composers’ lives including The Music Lovers, (about Tchaikovsky) and Lisztomania. Russell embellished the other films with certain characteristic flourishes, which include a focus on the composers’ sexual obsessions, poetically telling anachronisms, and scenes which show Richard Wagner in a bad light. The story of Mahler is recounted in a much less complex and flamboyant manner and is a relatively reverent study of the life and work of Austrian composer Gustav Mahler, here played by Robert Powell. The film tackles the touchy dilemma of Mahler’s Jewishness in the anti-Semitic atmosphere of 19th-century Vienna. He converts to Christianity, which has no effect on his brilliant musical output but which eats away at his physical and mental well-being. Gustav Mahler (1860-1911) was a conductor and composer of the late Romantic era and specialized in huge symphonic works. Though his works were performed widely during his lifetime, they were less and less-often played until Leonard Bernstein’s active campaign on their behalf brought him renewed recognition as a composer of the first rank, every bit the peer of Brahms or Stravinsky. Read More »

Ousmane Sembene – Mandabi AKA The Money Order (1968)

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A money order from a relative in Paris throws the life of a Senegalese family man out of order. He deals with corruption, greed, problematic family members, the locals and the changing from his traditional way of living to a more modern one.

From Time Out:

A political film criticising the type of bureaucracy that has arisen in post-colonial Senegal. A money order is sent to an unemployed, illiterate relative by a hard-working lad seeking his fortune in Paris. But all attempts to cash the money order are frustrated: the man’s illiteracy and ignorance of finance allow him to be exploited by those with education. The power is in the hands of the clerks and intellectuals, who use their knowledge for private advantage. Although the film can be criticised for the relative gentleness of its attack, Sembene succeeds in pointing up the divisiveness created by the colonial heritage. The French-colonised elite are now busy oppressing and colonising their own people. Shot in Wolof, the local language, the film asserts Senegalese culture against the rapacious way of the West. Not surprisingly it proved popular with the ‘people’, but was ignored by the bourgeois when originally released. Read More »

Harald Braun – Zwischen gestern und morgen AKA Between yesterday and tomorrow (1947)

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A group of people gathers back in the post-war ruins of a luxurious Munich hotel they inhabited at one point or another years before; each trying to cope with the tragic consequences of the war and their own actions.

Quote:
Unexpectedly sensitive movie, structured in a series of flashbacks from different points-of-view, about the destinies of a series of residents of a large hotel in Nazi Germany and immediately after 1945. This is much less romantic than what Hollywood would have produced on the same subject, but the character of Nelly, the Jewish actress who’s had to divorce her stage star non-Jewish husband, is extremely well-drawn and memorable in her dignity and elegance. Well-worth seeing. Why did German cinema vanish soon after this movie was made? What became of good directors like Braun? (imdb) Read More »

Jens Lien – Sønner av Norge (2011)

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It’s 1978 and 14-year-old Nikolas is living an idyllic existence with his young brother and his archetypal, politicized hippie parents, the energetic Magnus (Sven Nordin) and the angelic Lone (Sonja Richter). When Lone is killed in a car accident, Magnus falls into a deep depression. Nikolas has nowhere to turn until his best friend proudly slaps his latest purchase on the turntable: The Sex Pistols’ Never Mind the Bollocks…. (The film was executive produced by former Pistols leader John Lydon, who plays a pivotal role in the movie.) Soon enough, Nikolas finds a new use for safety pins and buys a guitar. The real rub – and much of the comedy – comes when his father partially snaps out of his depression. Instead of disciplining Nikolas, Magnus encourages him. It may be hard to rebel, but it’s even tougher when your father is listening to the same records as you. Lively, entertaining and insightful, Jens Lien’s Sons of Norway is one of the funniest and most charming coming-of-age stories to come out of the Nordic region since Fucking Amal. Read More »

Maïwenn – Polisse (2011)

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The daily grind for the cops of the Police Department’s Juvenile Protection Unit – taking in child molesters, busting underage pickpockets and chewing over relationship issues at lunch; interrogating abusive parents, taking statements from children, confronting the excesses of teen sexuality, enjoying solidarity with colleagues and laughing uncontrollably at the most unthinkable moments. Knowing the worst exists and living with it. How do these cops balance their private lives and the reality they confront every working day? Fred, the group’s hypersensitive wild card, is going to have a hard time facing the scrutiny of Melissa, a photographer on a Ministry of the Interior assignment to document the unit. (~IMDb)
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Aleksandr Sokurov – Faust (2011)

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The film depicts the instincts and schemes of Faust, and the world that gives rise to his ideas.The film is the final part in a series of films where Alexander Sokurov explores the corrupting effects of power. The previous installments are three biographical dramas: about Adolf Hitler in Moloch from 1999, Vladimir Lenin in Taurus from 2001, and the Japanese emperor Hirohito in The Sun from 2005. Read More »

Elsa Colfach – Susanne [+Extras] (1961)

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Whack! What was that you ask, well that was the impact of the Elsa and Kit Colfach’s only feature length film ever – Susanne. A grim tale of youth gone wild that will move you in more than one way. A shocking piece of social realism that finally gets a deluxe treatment it deserves thanks to the guys at KlubSuper8 – back after a way too long hiatus, and it’s a welcome release, because this is one hell of a special trip. Read More »