William Wyler – Ben-Hur (1959)

After a Jewish prince is betrayed and sent into slavery by a Roman friend, he regains his freedom and comes back for revenge. Read More »

Richard Oswald – Wien, du Stadt der Lieder AKA Vienna, City of Song (1930)

Also known as Donauwellen.
No written credit. All titles are spoken like the other Oswald film Dreyfus (1930).

Filmed on location in Vienna, this German operetta was originally titled Wien, Du Stadt Die Lieber [sic]. Popular tenor Max Hansen carries most of the plot (what there is of it), singing his heart out to the delight of such delectable leading ladies as Charlotte Ander, Irene Ambrus and Grete Natzler (who, as Della Lynd, would later co-star with Laurel and Hardy in Swiss Miss). For some reason, it was decided to surround the nominal hero with seven top German comic actors, all of whom mugged and glowered outrageously. The worst offender (and the funniest of the batch) is Paul Graetz, who seemed to be having a great deal of fun letting loose. Evidently City of Songs was quite successful, inasmuch as it remained in distribution well into the late 1930s. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
Note: In this document, this movie was called City of Songs. Read More »

Fernando Arrabal – Viva la muerte AKA Long Live Death (1971)

At the end of the Spanish civil war, Fando, a boy of about ten, tries to make sense of war and his father’s arrest. His mother is religious, sympathetic to the Fascists; his father is accused of being a Red. Fando discovers that his mother may have aided in his father’s arrest. Sometimes we witness Fando imagining explanations for what’s going on; sometimes we see him at play, alone or with his friend Thérèse. Oedipal fantasies and a lad’s natural curiosity about sex and death mix with his search for his mother’s nature and his father’s fate. Will Fando survive the search? Read More »

Damiano Damiani – Perché si uccide un magistrato? AKA How to Kill a Judge (1974)

International superstar Franco Nero (of DJANGO and DIE HARD 2 fame) stars as Giacomo Solaris, a director whose latest film depicts a prominent Sicilian judge as being on the Mafia’s payroll. But when the actual judge is found murdered, Solaris begins his own investigation. Has the Mob found a way to corrupt the nation’s top prosecutors? Should Solaris’ movie bear some responsibility for the killing? Or will a string of brutal assassinations lead to the most shocking conspiracy of all? Read More »

John Carpenter – Escape from New York (1981)

In the future, crime is out of control and New York City’s Manhattan is a maximum security prison. Grabbing a bargaining chip right out of the air, convicts bring down the President’s plane in bad old Gotham. Gruff Snake Plissken, a one-eyed lone warrior new to prison life, is coerced into bringing the President, and his cargo, out of this land of undesirables. Read More »

Jürgen Böttcher – Die Mauer AKA The Wall (1991)

A documentary about the deconstruction of the Berlin Wall which makes no use of vocal commentary but instead focuses on visual elements. From the Potsdamer Platz to the Brandenburg Gate, the camera captures the historic events from all sides and different angles: on the one hand there are news reporters and tourists from all over the world taking pictures, children selling pieces of the wall to passers-by, and people celebrating New Year’s Eve, on the other we see abandoned subway stations and officials with blank looks on their faces. Read More »

Caveh Zahedi – I Am a Sex Addict (2005)

On the eve of his third marriage, Caveh tells the story of how his attraction to prostitutes and his compulsive honesty combined to destroy each of his past relationships. The genre-bending mix of camera address, re-enactment, and home movie footage make for a strikingly funny and original film. Read More »