Reviewer: James Van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): **** 1/2

What was I expecting from this Balkans movie? Something in the way of the infamous A Serbian Film: lots of transgression and sex, adding up to mostly slick/sick exploitation. There is a lot of transgression and sex in The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, the Serbian film from writer/director Mladen Djordjevic, but by the finale of this amazing movie, it has risen so far above mere exploitation that I think the word will no longer cross your mind.

Blog entry 11/12/2012 - 12:29am

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): ** 1/2

Soon after eschewing socialism in the early ‘90s, Albania was one of the first countries to re-form a representative government. However, many Albanians returned to an older form of self-governance: the Kanun.

A set of moral laws dating back at least to the fifteenth century, the Kanun is essentially a ratification of common courtesies and basic principles, transcending political or religious affiliation. One of its more aberrant tenets is the Gjakmarrja, or blood feud.

Blog entry 11/12/2012 - 12:12am

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ***

What's in a name -- or more to the point, in a title? The original French title of Mia Hansen-Løve's third feature (after the OK All Is Forgiven and the much better Father of My Children), Goodbye First Love, is the much simpler Un amour de jeunesse, which translates to "Young Love," or maybe "A Love in Youth." The point of this talented writer/filmmaker's latest movie -- if I am anywhere close to understanding it -- concerns how difficult it is for her heroine, Camille, to actually bid good-bye to this first love. Instead she allows herself to become utterly obsessed with it and its vessel, the hunky young man named Sullivan (Sebastian Urzendowsky), who keeps telling her, by word and deed, to cool it. 

Blog entry 09/25/2012 - 4:31pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M Anderson
Ratings (out of five): **

Fernando Di Leo was a kind of mad genius in the Italian sub-movie industry, starting as a writer for Spaghetti Westerns and moving up to directing a series of astounding crime movies. Raro Video has been slowly unleashing a good many of these in the past couple of years, and many of them are very much worth looking into, especially for exploitation fans. Sadly, Madness (1980) is not one of them.

Forgoing any of the twisty plots and unbelievable action of his earlier films, Madness focuses on a handful of characters and stays mostly in one place. Joe Dallesandro stars as "Joe," an escaped killer who runs around the countryside in a tank top. Apparently, he buried some stolen loot under a fireplace in a country house. 

Blog entry 09/10/2012 - 9:49pm

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Ratings (out of five): ***

Directed by Andrzej Wajda -- a four-time nominee for the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, as well as the maker of the masterpiece Ashes and Diamonds (1958) -- Korczak is a Holocaust picture and a biopic about a real-life Polish hero. Janusz Korczak (played by Wojciech Pszoniak) was a teacher, author, and doctor who took it upon himself to care for 200 orphans during the Nazi occupation of Poland in WWII. As far as I can tell, Korczak never received a release in the United States, other than possible festival dates. Now Kino has graced it with a new DVD and Blu-ray release.

Blog entry 08/21/2012 - 1:45pm

Reviewer: James van Maanen
Ratings (out of five): ** 1/2

Making Plans for Lena is writer/director Christophe Honoré's third film to use Chiara Mastroianni, but it comes nowhere near the level of his earlier Love Songs. I find myself running hot and luke-warm to the work of this filmmaker; his latest is definitely in the latter category. Beautifully filmed in Brittany, the movie -- as well as the Lena character played by Mastroianni -- fairly reeks of entitlement.

Blog entry 07/09/2012 - 5:26pm

 Terayama-Throw-Away-Your-Books-Rally-in-the-StreetsBy Simon P. Augustine

"Your liberation – who is it for?"
       – from Throw Away Your Books, Rally In The Streets

The advent of the internet has changed the landscape for cinema lovers forever,unveiling whole treasure troves, and in some cases entire sub-genres of filmic history that may have heretofore escaped the eyes of even the most ardent critic or cinephile. Within the matrix of video rental services, websites devoted to cinema culture, blogs, etc., there is almost no dark corner of the world’s movie theater that cannot now be explored. A happy example of this phenomenon for me is a recent encounter with a group of bold, visually stunning, intellectually challenging, spiritually and erotically charged films that rival the most daring films of today’s international and independent scene: the cinema which emerged from Japan in the 60’s and 70’s.

Blog entry 06/26/2012 - 7:30pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): SET **** ½
Pearls of the Deep: *** ½ (Shorts: Mr Baltazer’s Death **, The Imposters *** ½, House of Joy **** ½ , The Restaurant The World *** ½ , Romance ****)
Daisies: **** ½
A Report on the Party and Guests: *** ½
Return of the Prodigal Son: *** ½
Capricious Summer: ***
The Joke: **** ½

Eclipse’s latest set ingeniously collects ten films – five shorts and five features – by five directors at the forefront of the retroactively titled “Czech New Wave.” Pretty much every film presented here was eventually banned by the Soviet overlords who micromanaged the Czechoslovakian culture following the Warsaw Pact.

Blog entry 06/25/2012 - 6:12pm

Reviewer: Philip M Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): *** 1/2

There’s a key piece of editing about halfway into The Organizer, Mario Monicelli’s 1963 film about a worker’s strike in late 1800s Turin. A factory worker has travelled to the outskirts of town to bring funds to a family living below poverty conditions. The funds are to show solidarity because the family’s breadwinner has been jailed due to issues stemming from the strike. While making the rounds of the family’s dirt-floored shanty, the factory worker opens a wooden flap, revealing a grinning, barefoot toddler squatting on the ground. The film then cuts to a group of society women preening in their sparkling white gowns during a social function.

Blog entry 04/24/2012 - 5:21pm

Reviewer: Philip Tatler IV
Ratings (out of five): *****

I really don’t want to say a thing about  World on a Wire. I wish you could just take the above five-star rating to heart and watch it, untainted by any sort of preconceived notion other than how awesome it is.

That said, I’ll try my best to describe its awesomeness while tiptoeing around the finer points of the plot.

World on a Wire is a made-for-German-television science fiction film directed by enfant terrible Rainer Werner Fassbinder. The film is set during an approximation of the present in a Euro-metropolis. A technological thinktank – the IKZ – is developing a synthetic reality, known as Simulacron-B. The project’s purpose is to create an algorithm that can predict future occurrences so that trends in business, defense, and government can be anticipated and planned for. Simulacron-B is a resounding success and a few trouble-shooting sessions away from a full launch.

Blog entry 03/22/2012 - 8:30pm

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