New Films

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October 10, 2009 09:59  |  3 Comments

havelaar_150x205Max Havelaar | Fons Rademakers, 1976

The film is the work of Fons Rademakers, one of the more prominent directors in the Netherlands. It’s based on a 19th-century novel by Multatuli, the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker, a Dutch civil servant who became his nation’s Harriet Beecher Stowe, fictionalizing his experiences on behalf of justice for the wretched of the Dutch colonized earth in the East Indies. [nytimes.com]


4filmsiosseliani4 Films by Iotar Iosseliani| Otar Iosseliani, 1962-2976

Four films by acclaimed Georgian filmmaker Otar Iosseliani. The director’s contemporary fables of modern life and traditional values have been compared to the classic comedies of French master Jacques Tati. Shrewdly whimsical and filmed with a poetic casualness, Iosseliani’s universe is one of joyous pessimism. Includes April (1962, 45 mins.), Falling Leaves (1968, 90 mins,), There Once Was a Singing Blackbird (1970, 80 mins.), and Pastoral (1976, 90 mins.). In Georgian with English subtitles.


mantherewasA Man There Was & Ingeborg Holm| Victor Sjöström, 1913-1917

Based on an epic poem by Henrik Ibsen, A MAN THERE WAS (Terje Vigen) is commonly cited as the film that launched Sweden’s first golden age of filmmaking. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it tells the story of a fisherman so desperate to obtain food for his starving family that he tries to break through a British blockade, only to find himself at the mercy of extraordinary forces.

Ingeborg Holm This heartbreaking drama traces the desperate journey of a widowed young mother who finds herself at the mercy of an apathetic social system which is all too willing to separate her from her children. The first significant work by Victor Sjöström, Ingeborg Holm establishes the director as an artist eager to test the visual and psychological boundaries of the emerging cinema, while showcasing a powerful central performance by Hilda Borgström (The Phantom Carriage). One admirer of the film was Ingmar Bergman, who asserted, “Ingeborg Holm is still true and gripping.” In an interview, he called it, “One of the most remarkable films ever made ­ 1913!” Of course, Bergman would famously repay his respect for Sjöström by casting him in the lead role in his classic Wild Strawberries.


forgottenancestorsShadows of a Forgotten Ancestors| Sergei Paradjanov, 1964

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a boldly conceived and astonishingly photographed blend of enchanting mythology, hypnotic religious iconography, and pagan magic. And although its unsentimental depiction of the harsh realities of Russian regional history forced visionary director Sergei Pararadjanov (The Color of Pomegranates) into direct conflict with bureaucrats then controlling the Soviet film industry, the film became an international sensation when it was released in 1964.

“There is no devil in church, only among men.” Deep in the Carpathian Mountains of 19th-century Ukraine, love, hate, life, and death among the Hutsul people are as they’ve been since time began. While young Ivan’s mother mourns her husband’s brutal murder, Ivan is drawn to Marichka, the beautiful young daughter of the man who killed his father. But fate tragically decrees that the two lovers will remain apart. Unhappily married to another woman and cursed by a sorcerer in this life, Ivan’s obsession with his lost love lures him ever closer to a reunion with Marichka in death.

PS: We also highly recommend Paradjanov’s other films: Colour of Pomegranates, Ashik Kerib, and Legend of Suram Fortress.


ashesdiamondsAshes & Diamonds| Andrzej Wajda, 1958

On the last day of World War II in a small town somewhere in Poland, Polish exiles of war and the occupying Soviet forces confront the beginning of a new day and a new Poland. In this incendiary environment we find Home Army soldier Maciek Chelmicki, who has been ordered to assassinate an incoming commissar. But a mistake stalls his progress and leads him to Krystyna, a beautiful barmaid who gives him a glimpse of what his life could be. Gorgeously photographed and brilliantly performed, Ashes and Diamonds masterfully interweaves the fate of a nation with that of one man, resulting in one of the most important Polish films of all time.


earringsmadamedeThe Earrings of Madame de…| Max Ophuls, 1953

French master Max Ophuls’s most cherished work, The Earrings of Madame de . . . is an emotionally profound, cinematographically adventurous tale of false opulence and tragic romance. When the aristocratic woman known only as Madame de (the extraordinary Danielle Darrieux) sells her earrings, unbeknownst to her husband (Charles Boyer), in order to pay personal debts, she sets off a chain reaction, the financial and carnal consequences of which can only end in despair. Ophuls adapts Louise de Vilmorin’s incisive fin de siècle novel with virtuosic camera work so elegant and precise it’s been called the equal to that of Orson Welles.


flavorteariceFlavour of Green Tea Over Rice | Yasujiro Ozu, 1952

Snobbish uptown lady Taeko is bored with her countrybred, taciturn husband Mokichi. She makes up lame lies to steal away with her friends to a hot spring resort, where she publicly dismisses him as “Mr Insensitive”. Their marital discord comes to a head when Taeko discovers that Mokichi was complicit in her niece’s walk-out from her arranged date. She runs off after having a fit over Mokichi’s uncouth eating habits, unaware that he will be posted overseas. But over a bowl of ochazuke, she comes to appreciate his down-to-earth philosophy. [ ozu-san.com ]


The Taking of Power by Louis XIV| Roberto Rossellini, 1966

Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal.


Ten Canoes| Rolf de Heer, 2006

Ten Canoes is a 2006 film notable as the first full-length feature made entirely in an Indigenous Australian language. It was directed by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr and starred Crusoe Kurddal. The title of the film arose from discussions between de Heer and David Gulpilil about a photograph of ten canoeists poling across the Arafura Swamp, taken by anthropologist Donald Thomson in 1936. The film is set in Arnhem Land, in a time before western contact, and tells the story of a warrior Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), who hunts goose eggs while being told another story about another young man who, like Dayindi, coveted his elder brother’s wife. The sequences featuring Dayindi, set shortly before contact with white people, are in black and white, while shots set in the present and in the distant past are in colour. The film is narrated in English by David Gulpilil; all protagonists speak in indigenous dialects of the Yolŋu Matha language group, with subtitles. A narration in Yolŋu Matha is also available.

In the story told to Dayindi: a man (whose own younger brother desires his third and youngest wife), kills a member of neighbouring tribe, whom he believes had kidnapped his second wife the previous year. To prevent all-out war, tribal laws dictate that the offending tribe allow the offender (or the killer) to be speared from a distance by the tribe of the slain man. The offender is allowed to be accompanied by a companion, and he takes his younger brother. Whenever one of the two is hit, the spear-throwers will stop, and justice will have been served. The offender is hit and mortally wounded but survives long enough to return to his camp, where he is tended to by his eldest wife for a period of time. Shortly after he finally succumbs, the elder brother’s kidnapped second wife finds her way back to the camp. She reveals that she had been kidnapped by a different tribe, much farther away and had taken this long to return. She mourns her lost husband, who had attacked the wrong tribe, though now she and the elder wife take his younger brother as their new husband. The younger brother, who was only interested in the youngest of the three wives, now has to care for all of them, much more than he bargained for.

Thanks to Ismail Ilmi for the DVD.


quevivamexicoQue Viva Mexico!| Sergei Eisenstein, 1931/1979

Having revolutionized film editing through such masterworks of montage as Potemkin and Strike, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein emigrated west in hopes of testing the capabilities of the American film industry. Quickly ostracized from Hollywood, Eisenstein, Grigory Alexandrov and photographer Eduard Tisse (at the urging of author Upton Sinclair) wandered south of the border where they began filming a highly stylized documentary on the people and volatile social climate of Mexico. Unfortunately, a lack of funds prohibited the film’s completion and the famed director was unable to edit the film. In 1979, by referring to Eisenstein’s extensive notes and sketches, Alexandrov assembled the most definitive version of the film; as close to Eisenstein’s vision as one is ever likely to see.

A blend of the ethnographic, the political, the scenic and the surreal, Qué Viva México! is nothing short of brilliant and remains superior to the legion of films it strongly influenced: Orson Welles’ It’s All True, Allejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and the works of Sergio Leone. With sequences devoted to the Eden-like land of Tehuantepec, the savage majesty of the bullfight, the struggles of the noble peasant and the hypnotic imagery of the Day of the Dead, Qué Viva México! is a vivid tapestry of Mexican life which, thanks to Alexandrov’s careful restoration, takes its rightful place alongside Eisenstein’s other legendary works.


Lorna's SilenceLorna’s Silence| Jean-Luc & Pierre Dardenne, 2008

Lorna, (Arta Dobroshi), a young Albanian woman living in Belgium, has her sights set on opening a snack bar with her boyfriend, Sokol (Alban Ukaj). In order to do so, she becomes an accomplice in a diabolical plan devised by mobster Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione). Fabio has set up a false marriage between Lorna and Claudy (Jérémie Renier) allowing Lorna to get her Belgian citizenship. However, she is then asked to marry a Russian mafioso who’s ready to pay hard cash to also get his hands on those vital Belgian identity papers. Fabio intends to kill Claudy in order to speed up the second marriage. But will Lorna remain silent?


In the Mirror of Maya Deren| Martina Kudlácek, 2002

With IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN, documentary filmmaker Martina Kudlácek has fashioned not only fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking and influential artist, but a pitch-perfect introduction to her strikingly beautiful and poetic body of work. Crowned “Fellini and Bergman wrapped in one gloriously possessed body” by the L.A. Weekly, Maya Deren is arguably the most important and innovative avant-garde filmmaker in the history of American cinema. Using locations from the Hollywood hills to Haiti, Deren made such mesmerizing films as AT LAND, RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME and her masterpiece MESHES OF THE AFTERNOONhavelaar_150x205Max Havelaar | Fons Rademakers, 1976

The film is the work of Fons Rademakers, one of the more prominent directors in the Netherlands. It’s based on a 19th-century novel by Multatuli, the pen name of Eduard Douwes Dekker, a Dutch civil servant who became his nation’s Harriet Beecher Stowe, fictionalizing his experiences on behalf of justice for the wretched of the Dutch colonized earth in the East Indies. [nytimes.com]


4filmsiosseliani4 Films by Iotar Iosseliani| Otar Iosseliani, 1962-2976

Four films by acclaimed Georgian filmmaker Otar Iosseliani. The director’s contemporary fables of modern life and traditional values have been compared to the classic comedies of French master Jacques Tati. Shrewdly whimsical and filmed with a poetic casualness, Iosseliani’s universe is one of joyous pessimism. Includes April (1962, 45 mins.), Falling Leaves (1968, 90 mins,), There Once Was a Singing Blackbird (1970, 80 mins.), and Pastoral (1976, 90 mins.). In Georgian with English subtitles.


mantherewasA Man There Was & Ingeborg Holm| Victor Sjöström, 1913-1917

Based on an epic poem by Henrik Ibsen, A MAN THERE WAS (Terje Vigen) is commonly cited as the film that launched Sweden’s first golden age of filmmaking. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, it tells the story of a fisherman so desperate to obtain food for his starving family that he tries to break through a British blockade, only to find himself at the mercy of extraordinary forces.

Ingeborg Holm This heartbreaking drama traces the desperate journey of a widowed young mother who finds herself at the mercy of an apathetic social system which is all too willing to separate her from her children. The first significant work by Victor Sjöström, Ingeborg Holm establishes the director as an artist eager to test the visual and psychological boundaries of the emerging cinema, while showcasing a powerful central performance by Hilda Borgström (The Phantom Carriage). One admirer of the film was Ingmar Bergman, who asserted, “Ingeborg Holm is still true and gripping.” In an interview, he called it, “One of the most remarkable films ever made ­ 1913!” Of course, Bergman would famously repay his respect for Sjöström by casting him in the lead role in his classic Wild Strawberries.


forgottenancestorsShadows of a Forgotten Ancestors| Sergei Paradjanov, 1964

Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors is a boldly conceived and astonishingly photographed blend of enchanting mythology, hypnotic religious iconography, and pagan magic. And although its unsentimental depiction of the harsh realities of Russian regional history forced visionary director Sergei Pararadjanov (The Color of Pomegranates) into direct conflict with bureaucrats then controlling the Soviet film industry, the film became an international sensation when it was released in 1964.

“There is no devil in church, only among men.” Deep in the Carpathian Mountains of 19th-century Ukraine, love, hate, life, and death among the Hutsul people are as they’ve been since time began. While young Ivan’s mother mourns her husband’s brutal murder, Ivan is drawn to Marichka, the beautiful young daughter of the man who killed his father. But fate tragically decrees that the two lovers will remain apart. Unhappily married to another woman and cursed by a sorcerer in this life, Ivan’s obsession with his lost love lures him ever closer to a reunion with Marichka in death.

PS: We also highly recommend Paradjanov’s other films: Colour of Pomegranates, Ashik Kerib, and Legend of Suram Fortress.


ashesdiamondsAshes & Diamonds| Andrzej Wajda, 1958

On the last day of World War II in a small town somewhere in Poland, Polish exiles of war and the occupying Soviet forces confront the beginning of a new day and a new Poland. In this incendiary environment we find Home Army soldier Maciek Chelmicki, who has been ordered to assassinate an incoming commissar. But a mistake stalls his progress and leads him to Krystyna, a beautiful barmaid who gives him a glimpse of what his life could be. Gorgeously photographed and brilliantly performed, Ashes and Diamonds masterfully interweaves the fate of a nation with that of one man, resulting in one of the most important Polish films of all time.


earringsmadamedeThe Earrings of Madame de…| Max Ophuls, 1953

French master Max Ophuls’s most cherished work, The Earrings of Madame de . . . is an emotionally profound, cinematographically adventurous tale of false opulence and tragic romance. When the aristocratic woman known only as Madame de (the extraordinary Danielle Darrieux) sells her earrings, unbeknownst to her husband (Charles Boyer), in order to pay personal debts, she sets off a chain reaction, the financial and carnal consequences of which can only end in despair. Ophuls adapts Louise de Vilmorin’s incisive fin de siècle novel with virtuosic camera work so elegant and precise it’s been called the equal to that of Orson Welles.


flavorteariceFlavour of Green Tea Over Rice | Yasujiro Ozu, 1952

Snobbish uptown lady Taeko is bored with her countrybred, taciturn husband Mokichi. She makes up lame lies to steal away with her friends to a hot spring resort, where she publicly dismisses him as “Mr Insensitive”. Their marital discord comes to a head when Taeko discovers that Mokichi was complicit in her niece’s walk-out from her arranged date. She runs off after having a fit over Mokichi’s uncouth eating habits, unaware that he will be posted overseas. But over a bowl of ochazuke, she comes to appreciate his down-to-earth philosophy. [ ozu-san.com ]


The Taking of Power by Louis XIV| Roberto Rossellini, 1966

Filmmaking legend Roberto Rossellini brings his passion for realism and unerring eye for the everyday to this portrait of the early years of the reign of France’s “Sun King,” and in the process reinvents the costume drama. The death of chief minister Cardinal Mazarin, the construction of the palace at Versailles, the extravagant meals of the royal court: all are recounted with the same meticulous quotidian detail that Rossellini brought to his contemporary portraits of postwar Italy. The Taking of Power by Louis XIV dares to place a larger-than-life figure at the level of mere mortal.


Ten Canoes| Rolf de Heer, 2006

Ten Canoes is a 2006 film notable as the first full-length feature made entirely in an Indigenous Australian language. It was directed by Rolf de Heer and Peter Djigirr and starred Crusoe Kurddal. The title of the film arose from discussions between de Heer and David Gulpilil about a photograph of ten canoeists poling across the Arafura Swamp, taken by anthropologist Donald Thomson in 1936. The film is set in Arnhem Land, in a time before western contact, and tells the story of a warrior Dayindi (Jamie Gulpilil), who hunts goose eggs while being told another story about another young man who, like Dayindi, coveted his elder brother’s wife. The sequences featuring Dayindi, set shortly before contact with white people, are in black and white, while shots set in the present and in the distant past are in colour. The film is narrated in English by David Gulpilil; all protagonists speak in indigenous dialects of the Yolŋu Matha language group, with subtitles. A narration in Yolŋu Matha is also available.

In the story told to Dayindi: a man (whose own younger brother desires his third and youngest wife), kills a member of neighbouring tribe, whom he believes had kidnapped his second wife the previous year. To prevent all-out war, tribal laws dictate that the offending tribe allow the offender (or the killer) to be speared from a distance by the tribe of the slain man. The offender is allowed to be accompanied by a companion, and he takes his younger brother. Whenever one of the two is hit, the spear-throwers will stop, and justice will have been served. The offender is hit and mortally wounded but survives long enough to return to his camp, where he is tended to by his eldest wife for a period of time. Shortly after he finally succumbs, the elder brother’s kidnapped second wife finds her way back to the camp. She reveals that she had been kidnapped by a different tribe, much farther away and had taken this long to return. She mourns her lost husband, who had attacked the wrong tribe, though now she and the elder wife take his younger brother as their new husband. The younger brother, who was only interested in the youngest of the three wives, now has to care for all of them, much more than he bargained for.

Thanks to Ismail Ilmi for the DVD.


quevivamexicoQue Viva Mexico!| Sergei Eisenstein, 1931/1979

Having revolutionized film editing through such masterworks of montage as Potemkin and Strike, Soviet director Sergei Eisenstein emigrated west in hopes of testing the capabilities of the American film industry. Quickly ostracized from Hollywood, Eisenstein, Grigory Alexandrov and photographer Eduard Tisse (at the urging of author Upton Sinclair) wandered south of the border where they began filming a highly stylized documentary on the people and volatile social climate of Mexico. Unfortunately, a lack of funds prohibited the film’s completion and the famed director was unable to edit the film. In 1979, by referring to Eisenstein’s extensive notes and sketches, Alexandrov assembled the most definitive version of the film; as close to Eisenstein’s vision as one is ever likely to see.

A blend of the ethnographic, the political, the scenic and the surreal, Qué Viva México! is nothing short of brilliant and remains superior to the legion of films it strongly influenced: Orson Welles’ It’s All True, Allejandro Jodorowsky’s El Topo and the works of Sergio Leone. With sequences devoted to the Eden-like land of Tehuantepec, the savage majesty of the bullfight, the struggles of the noble peasant and the hypnotic imagery of the Day of the Dead, Qué Viva México! is a vivid tapestry of Mexican life which, thanks to Alexandrov’s careful restoration, takes its rightful place alongside Eisenstein’s other legendary works.


Lorna's SilenceLorna’s Silence| Jean-Luc & Pierre Dardenne, 2008

Lorna, (Arta Dobroshi), a young Albanian woman living in Belgium, has her sights set on opening a snack bar with her boyfriend, Sokol (Alban Ukaj). In order to do so, she becomes an accomplice in a diabolical plan devised by mobster Fabio (Fabrizio Rongione). Fabio has set up a false marriage between Lorna and Claudy (Jérémie Renier) allowing Lorna to get her Belgian citizenship. However, she is then asked to marry a Russian mafioso who’s ready to pay hard cash to also get his hands on those vital Belgian identity papers. Fabio intends to kill Claudy in order to speed up the second marriage. But will Lorna remain silent?


In the Mirror of Maya Deren| Martina Kudlácek, 2002

With IN THE MIRROR OF MAYA DEREN, documentary filmmaker Martina Kudlácek has fashioned not only fascinating portrait of a groundbreaking and influential artist, but a pitch-perfect introduction to her strikingly beautiful and poetic body of work. Crowned “Fellini and Bergman wrapped in one gloriously possessed body” by the L.A. Weekly, Maya Deren is arguably the most important and innovative avant-garde filmmaker in the history of American cinema. Using locations from the Hollywood hills to Haiti, Deren made such mesmerizing films as AT LAND, RITUAL IN TRANSFIGURED TIME and her masterpiece MESHES OF THE AFTERNOON

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