Miraz Bezar – Min Dit: The Children of Diyarbakir AKA Before Your Eyes (2009)


An extraordinary performance by a 10-year-old girl anchors “The Children of Diyarbakir,” the debut feature of Miraz Bezar. Set in the predominantly Kurdish city of Diyarbakir, Turkey, the pic takes a straightforward, non-sensationalized approach to the tragic story of a brother and sister orphaned when their parents are assassinated by a secret-services paramilitary officer. Though it shows its first-feature origins, the film has moments, especially toward the end, that so transcend the material as to make the journey doubly worthwhile. A healthy fest life is assured, while Euro arthouse play isn’t out of the question.
Though less inspired, the early scenes do the necessary work of introducing characters and establishing a mood: Gulistan (Senay Orak) and her younger brother, Firat (Muhammed Al), have a normal childhood with their mom (Fahriye Celik) and dad (Alisan Onlu) and new baby brother. Dad is a Kurdish journalist; on their way back from a wedding, the family is stopped by three gunmen, who shoot the parents dead in front of the kids. The brief scene is all the more powerful because Bezar downplays any excess in either the lensing or editing. Read More »

Stanley Kubrick – Flying Padre (1951)


Shortly after Stanley Kubrick had completed his first film for RKO – the short subject Day of the Fight (1951) – the studio offered him a follow-up project for their Screenliner series which specialized in short human-interest documentaries. The subject of their proposal was the Reverend Fred Stadmueller, a priest at Saint Joseph’s Church in Mosquero, New Mexico. Known to his parishioners as the “Flying Padre” because he owned a small, single-engine plane that allowed him to visit his church members who were spread out over a four thousand mile area, Stadmueller was an inspiration to the mostly Spanish-American farmers and ranchers who made up his congregation. Read More »

Stanley Kubrick – 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)


A mind-bending sci-fi symphony, Stanley Kubrick’s landmark 1968 epic pushed the limits of narrative and special effects toward a meditation on technology and humanity.

The first movement of the symphony of 2001 is titled “The Dawn of Man.” After being chased away from a water hole by a group of rival apes, a band of apes is forever changed by the arrival of a stone monolith that seems to spark them to conceive of the use of tools.

The second movement takes place millions of years later, in 2001. A similar monolith has been discovered buried on the moon, and the chairman of the equivalent of NASA is sent in to control the situation.

The third movement is eighteen months later, as a manned ship journeys to Jupiter, where the second monolith is sending a radio signal. This ship is controlled by a cutting-edge HAL 9000 computer, which is capable of thought but also of eluding human control. Read More »

Stanley Kubrick – Eyes Wide Shut [Uncut] (1999)


Synopsis: The final work of legendary director Stanley Kubrick, who died within a week of completing the edit, stars Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman, at the time Hollywood’s most bankable celebrity couple, and was shot on a open-ended schedule (finally totaling over 400 days), with closed sets in London standing in for New York City. Cruise and Kidman play William and Alice Harford, a physician and a gallery manager who are wealthy, successful, and travel in a sophisticated social circle; however, a certain amount of decadence crosses their paths on occasion, and a visit to a formal-dress party leads them into sexual temptation when William is drafted into helping a beautiful girl who has overdosed on drugs while Alice is charmed by a man bent on seduction. While neither William and Alice act on their adulterous impulses, once the issue has been brought into the open, it begins a dangerous season of erotic gamesmanship for the couple, with William in particular openly confronting his desire for new sexual experiences. What didn’t make the final cut of Eyes Wide Shut may have been as fascinating as what finally appeared on screen: Harvey Keitel was replaced almost immediately by Sydney Pollack, while Jennifer Jason Leigh was replaced by Marie Richardson after she had shot all her scenes and left town. -Mark Deming (AMG) Read More »

Leslie Megahey – With Orson Welles: Stories from a Life in Film (1988)

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Probably the best interview with a film director ever.
“This is one of the finest, if not the finest, documentary on Welles’ career. What makes this stand out from the rest is the huge amount of interview footage that shows Welles to be good-natured, open, and incredibly funny. He has lots of great stories about his career (one which involves him attending a party for L.B. Mayer with a rabbit in his pocket – absolutely hilarious) and each one is a joy.

The documentary skips around his career a bit, breaking his career up not chronologically but more by sections of films he directed and films he appeared in. It will make you want to go out and see them all again, and even hunt up the rare ones like “The Immortal Story”.

Also included are good interviews with Charleton Heston, Anthony Perkins, Jeanne Moreau & John Huston. By the way, did you know that Welles turned down a role in “Caligula”? There are more juicy tidbits to be heard.

I don’t believe that this title is available on video in this country (I may be wrong), but it does play from time to time on television. Seek it out! “(imdb) Read More »

Abel Ferrara – Nine Lives of a Wet Pussy (1976)


Nine closely related episodes featuring the erotic escapades of a young New York heiress and the people associated with her.

Wealthy heiress Pauline (Pauline LaMonde) is bored with the “cold detachment” her Husband shows during sex and spends her time in various sexual encounters with other men, and women.

Pauline writes about her experiences to a woman named Gypsy, mysterious opium smoking, Tarot Card dealing ex lover of Pauline’s (who talks directly to the viewer about Pauline and their times together).
As Gypsy reads the letters we see Pauline’s encounters and learn about her history…..

Ferrara seems to have pretty much disowned this movie, his first feature length production, and tends to say that his first real film was “The Driller Killer”. And this is actually a shame as there is nothing wrong at all with his foray into hardcore pornography and in fact the film has many aspects that fans of his work will recognise and appreciate. Read More »

Waldemar Januszczak – The Happy Dictator (2007)

Deep in the heart of Central Asia lies one of the world’s most secretive countries – Turkmenistan. Run by a crazy dictator whose megalomania has spawned a personality cult to rival that of Chairman Mao, this unlikely desert republic has earned itself a grim reputation as “the North Korea of Central Asia.” But since no one is usually allowed in or out, the truth about Turkmenistan is impossible to separate from the rumours and the legends. Until now.

Posing as a tourist who has come to Turkmenistan for a stag weekend, Waldemar Januszczak goes undercover in this bizarre and sinister country to separate the facts from the fiction. And he’s taken his camera with him… Read More »