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BRIGANDS: CHAPTER VII
This crazy, satirical epic humorously portrays several eras in European history. Though the costumes and regimes change, the film suggests, the human motives of lust and greed remain the same. Jumping back and forth in time, the film condemns its characters to an eternity of irony. In one section, a medieval king named Vano, who has a penchant for exotic torture techniques, executes his wife for being unfaithful. Seamlessly the film flashes forward to the early 1930s, with another Vano, played by the same actor, portraying a low-down thief who suddenly seizes power. Intercut with all of this is the story of a contemporary Vano, a hapless drunk who wanders across the underworlds of Europe. This extraordinary film expresses rage against the dark side of human nature that keeps despots in power, despite the upheavals of history, but it does so with a delightfully comic edge. (FYI, there are no chapters 1-6). In Georgian and French with English subtitles. Otar Iosseliani---France/Georgia---1996---129 mins.
CODE NAME RUBY
A search for the source of mystical knowledge is at the heart of this controversial feature from Czech New Wave veteran Jan Nemec (
Diamonds of the Night
). The film combines documentary, archival footage, and fiction into an elliptical narrative in which two young lovers in Prague–an ancient seat of alchemy–follow the trail of the fabled philosopher’s stone. History and future blend as Nemec, through brilliant montage sequences and fanciful leaps of the imagination, posits crucial questions about the legacy of the past and how it influences the individual’s personal freedom and responsibility. Jan Nemec’s second film,
A Report on the Party and the Guests
, was “banned forever” after the Soviet invasion of Prague in 1968. He was not permitted to work and barred from leaving Czechoslovakia until 1974. After his release, Nemec spent almost two decades abroad before the Velvet Revolution in 1989, when he returned to his homeland made this stunning work of meta-fiction. In Czech with English subtitles.
Jan Nemec---Czech Republic---1997---80 mins.
DARK SIDE OF THE HEART
From the director of
Man Facing Southeast
comes this parable about a narcissistic poet in search of the perfect woman. Claiming he will not "tolerate a woman who cannot fly," young Oliverio rejects potential lovers. When he meets a prostitute named Ana who can actually fly, she prefers to keep their relationship a business arrangement. Tormented and lovelorn, Oliverio must face the consequences of pursuing his dream. An original work of magical realism by Argentina's talented Subiela. With Dario Grandineti, Sandra Ballesteros and Nacha Guevara. "Intoxicatingly lush and sensual" (
Los Angeles Times
). In Spanish with English subtitles. Eliseo Subiela---Argentina/Canada---1992---127 mins.
DON'T DIE WITHOUT TELLING ME WHERE YOU'RE GOING
Don't Die Without Telling Me Where You Are Going
is a magical, time-shifting romance about the power of love and the movies from Argentine director Eliseo Subiela (
Dark Side of the Heart
). Dario Grandinetti (
Talk to Her
) stars as Leopoldo, a lonely film projectionist who invents a machine that can record his dreams. The machine reveals Leopoldo to be the reincarnation of one of the inventors of cinema, and it also records the image of a woman from the past with whom he falls deeply in love. In Spanish with English subtitles.
Eliseo Subiela---Argentina---1995---130 mins.
ELECTRA, MY LOVE
In an awesome leap of imagination, Miklos Jancso, one of the world's great filmmakers, relocates the classic myth of
to a desolate Hungarian plain. Here, the nail-biting drama plays out against the rituals of naked girls and galloping horsemen. The film is shot as a visual epic, with elaborate camera moves that are Jancso's famous signature. When Electra takes off in a red helicopter, the story catapults into the future, in a masterstroke that leaves the audience breathless. "A masterpiece" (
). In Hungarian with English subtitles.
Miklos Jancso---Hungary---1974---71 mins.
Two explosive, shocking, and profound films from Amos Gitai. Set mostly in the West Bank before and during the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon (some scenes were also shot there),
(1982, 83 mins.) explores, as the film states it, "how the occupation manifests itself, and how violence against the Palestinians is legitimized." With its in-your-face interference with soldiers and its unique and profoundly haunting counterpoint of sound and image,
is a daring and brutally on-the-edge film. In
Arena of Murder
(1996, 80 mins.), Gitai investigates the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin three weeks after the event. He travels through the country for several months, filming random encounters to paint a melancholic portrait of a country in turmoil. In Hebrew and Arabic with English subtitles. Amos Gitai---Israel/France---1982, 1996---163 mins.
The feature film debut of talented director Philip Kaufman (
The Right Stuff
), this early example of American independent filmmaking is a fable about an old man with an odd effect on those he encounters. Veteran character actor Lou Gilbert (
) stars alongside Ben Carruthers (
) in a film that makes use of Chicago locations and appearances by notable cultural figures of the city, including author Nelson Algren, Second City founder Del Close, and original cast member Severn Darden. "The best American film I have seen in 20 years" (Jean Renoir).
Philip Kaufman---USA---1964---79 mins.
Considered by many the finest screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s greatest work, Grigori Kozintsev’s HAMLET is a spare, haunting interpretation based on a translation by novelist Boris Pasternak. The malevolence afoot in the state of Denmark is magnificently captured by the foreboding black and white cinematography and the dark, dramatic score by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In addition, acclaimed Russian actors Innokenti Smoktunovsky and Anastasia Vertinskaya offer stellar, award-winning performances. Kozintsev, a peer of Eisenstein’s who worked well into the 1960s, was a master of cinematic technique who finally achieved recognition at the end of his career for his stunning interpretations of Shakespeare.Leading film historian Richard Dyer wrote in the Boston Globe: “Paradoxically, the two most powerful films of Shakespeare plays [HAMLET and KING LEAR] were made not in Great Britain but in the Soviet Union.”
Grigori Kozintsev---Russia---1964---140 mins.
Pirandello's classic play, gorgeously directed by Marco Bellocchio (
Fists in the Pocket
), stars Marcello Mastroianni as the aristocrat who falls off a horse and believes himself to be the medieval French emperor, Henry IV. A fabulous investigation of delusion with a playful musical score by tango legend Astor Piazzola. Also stars Claudia Cardinale. In Italian with English subtitles. Marco Bellocchio---Italy---1984---94 mins.
IT ALL STARTS TODAY
Bertrand Tavernier makes the everyday electric with this compelling portrait of a teacher and administrator struggling to make a difference in a system plagued by institutional paralysis, blinded bureaucracy, and the desperate living conditions of his students' parents. Philippe Torreton is absolutely perfect in the lead role in this powerful, dramatic story of social commitment. "...a film full of life, emotion, anger and hope" (Michael Wilmington,
). In French with English subtitles. Bertrand Tavernier---France---1999---117 mins.
KEEP YOUR RIGHT UP!
With a tip of the hat to Jerry Lewis, Buster Keaton, Jacques Tati, and (for good measure) Dostoyevsky, Jean-Luc Godard wrote, directed, edited and stars in this mind-boggling comedy. The rambling plot involves a hapless filmmaker (Godard) and his attempt to meet a deadline for delivering a film. From there the movie branches out into an abstract, episodic structure. "...engages even as it baffles...The confusion that results, punctuated by glimmerings of understanding, is the point" (A.O. Scott,
The New York Times
). In French with English subtitles.
Jean-Luc Godard---France/Switzerland---1987---82 mins.
KING LEAR (KOZINTSEV)
Hailed as one of the best adaptations of this Shakespearean tragedy, Grigori Kozintsev’s KING LEAR is a striking epic interpretation based on a translation by novelist Boris Pasternak and driven by a stirring score by composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Kozintsev transposed the setting to a sparse landscape of moors and marshes, which provides an eerie backdrop to the bare castles and roaming bands of ragged, destitute wanderers. Thin, frail Yuri Yarvet’s unique interpretation of the title role, in which he focuses on the king’s suffering and pain, was internationally acclaimed. Kozintsev, a peer of Eisenstein’s who worked well into the 1960s, was a master of cinematic technique who finally achieved recognition at the end of his career for his stunning interpretations of Shakespeare. According to film historian Richard Dyer: “Paradoxically, the two most powerful films of Shakespeare plays [Hamlet and King Lear] were made not in Great Britain but in the Soviet Union.” (Boston Globe)
Grigori Kozintsev---Russia---1971---132 mins.
LAST IMAGES OF THE SHIPWRECK
Award-winning filmmaker Eliseo Subiela (
The Dark Side of the Heart
) directs this eye-opening, metaphysical film about the force of dreams and imagination. Roberto is an insurance agent whose only solace in life comes from writing, but he's experiencing writer's block. His luck changes when he finds the subject for his novel, a prostitute who uses a dramatic technique, a fake suicide attempt, in order to find customers. "Thoughtful, provocative, and highly original" (
). In Spanish with English subtitles. Eliseo Subiela---Argentina/Portugal/Spain---1985---127 mins.
Andrzej Wajda, the son of a Polish cavalry officer killed in the Second World War by Germans, made this film as a tribute to the heroic horsemen who faced off against German tanks. It follows the trajectory of an off-white horse which passes among various military officials until it breaks a leg and is shot. In Polish with English subtitles. Andrzej Wajda---Poland---1959---89 mins.
PLACE WITHOUT LIMITS, THE
From Arturo Ripstein, perhaps Mexico's most interesting filmmaker, comes this bittersweet dissection of machismo and homophobia in Latin America. La Manuela, a transvestite who lives in a brothel run by his daughter, "emerges as an all-out attack on machismo, suggesting that it can often mask in a man a highly insecure sense of masculinity" (
Los Angeles Times
). In Spanish with optional English subtitles.
Arturo Ripstein---Mexico---1977---110 mins.
PRINCE OF HOMBURG
Marco Bellocchio (
) directs this haunting period piece based on the play by Heinrich von Kleist and starring Andrea Di Stefano (
Before Night Falls
) in the title role. Set in 17th century Germany during the Thirty Years War, Bellocchio tells the tale of the Prince of Homburg, a man torn between his affection for his commander's niece and his duties as a general in the cavalry. In Italian with English subtitles. Marco Bellocchio---Italy---1997---89 mins.
Andrzej Wajda's profound psychological study of a man who accidentally kills a schoolmate in a brawl and is imprisoned. He is released with the onset of World War II, only to be locked up once more, but in the Warsaw Ghetto. Again he escapes and finds himself trapped, this time in a world of non-Jews where the threat of capture is ever-present. This powerful film makes extraordinary use of naturalistic symbols. In Polish with English subtitles. Andrzej Wajda---Poland---1961---119 mins.
WADI 1981-1991/WADI GRAND CANYON 2001
Three interlocking films depicting a group of Arabs and Israelis who nurture a fragile culture of coexistence over a span of twenty years. The films--
Wadi: 1981, Wadi: 1991,
--are set within Wadi Rushmia, a valley in Haifa. Like
A House in Jerusalem
, these films show a microcosm of relations between Israelis and Palestinians, though here things are somewhat more hopeful. We see the pain of displaced Romanian Jews, and of Palestinians forced to live in shambles. But we also see friendships and even love affairs across the social boundaries, as all these people strive in one way or another to establish roots within a constantly changing landscape. In English, Hebrew, Arabic, Russian and other languages with English subtitles.
Amos Gitai---Israel/France---1981-2001---180 mins.
WHOEVER SAYS TRUTH SHALL DIE
A remarkable film on Pier Paolo Pasolini, poet, political personality, aesthetician and director of such important and controversial films as
Gospel According to St. Matthew
. Director Bregstein explores whether Pasolini's murder at age 53 in 1975 was by Pino the Frog, a 17-year-old male prostitute, or an assassination by a group of right-wing fascists. In English and Italian with English subtitles.
Philo Bregstein---Netherlands---1981---60 mins.
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