classic world cinema Articles
Genre: Neo-Noir Crime Thriller
Director: Jean-Pierre Melville
Starring: Alain Delon, François Périer, Nathalie Delon, Cathy Rosier, Jacques LeroyIn Brief: Jean-Pierre Melville's elegantly stylish, yet icy neo-noir thriller, Le Samouraï, holds up pretty nicely after 46 years, but it probably hasn't the same impact today that it originally did. Though it helped to set the standard for future neo-noirs, the film is curiously distinctive in many instances — especially in the casting of the striking Alain Delon as its hitman star. Fascinating but largely expressionless, Delon keeps the movie slightly at arm's length, which may be the idea.
Director: Fritz Lang
Starring: Peter Lorre, Otto Wernicke, Theodor Loos, Ellen WidmannIn Brief: Fritz Lang's first talkie, M, not only introduced the great filmmaker to sound, but introduced the world to the remarkable Peter Lorre. For both, the film is rightly famous, but there's more to admire in this exceptional work than just its historic significance. Both the film's story — involving the police and the criminal underworld searching for a serial child murderer — and the manner in which Lang presents the material still pack a punch more than 80 years later.
Director: Lindsay Anderson (O Lucky Man!)
Starring: Malcolm McDowell, David Wood, Richard Warwick, Christine NoonanIn Brief: Lindsay Anderson's landmark film If.... shook up world cinema, made a star of fairly obscure TV actor Malcolm McDowell and set Anderson on the road to creating his famous trilogy (If...., O Lucky Man!, Britannia Hospital). That's a pretty impressive accomplishment, but his tale of the resentment at an English boys school — for Anderson, a microcosm of British society — turning into open revolt captured the imagination as few films had done. It remains a powerful and disturbing film to this day.
Genre: Biographical Drama
Director: Jane Campion (Bright Star)
Starring: Kerry Fox, Alexia Keogh, Karen Fergusson, Iris Churn, Kevin J. WilsonIn Brief: A long, fairly leisurely paced biographical drama is drawn from the autobiography of New Zealand writer Janet Frame — a woman whose withdrawn shyness caused her to be misdiagnosed with schizophrenia and confined in a mental hospital. Told in three parts, the film examines her story with the kind of insight and humanity associated with Campion, and offers rewards for viewers who can tap into the approach and pace.
Genre: Psychological Horror
Director: David Mun
Starring: Rachel Marie Lewis, Christian Oliver, Marietta March, Jordan RhodesIn Brief: This year's feature film winner of the Twin Rivers Media Festival marks the first time a horror movie has taken the prize. But David Mun's House of Good and Evil isn't your typical horror film. Rather, this is psychological horror about a couple trying to get their lives — and marriage — back on track in the wake of a tragedy by moving into an isolated old house in the country. What happens there isn't at all what they expect. Not everything in the films works — it goes on too long and it cheats a bit — but it's a well-acted, good-looking film that plays up atmosphere more than shocks.
Director: Jacques Tati
Starring: Jacques Tati, Maria Kimberly, Marcel Fraval, Honoré Bostel, François MaisongrosseIn Brief: Jacques Tati's final theatrical film — and the swan song for his Monsieur Hulot character — is a strange affair in that Tati the performer takes a definite backseat to Tati the director. The results are a mixed bag, but a likable one. The plot is nothing more than having M. Hulot transport his fantasticated "camping car" from Paris to a car show in Amsterdam— and though Hulot is rarely the cause of the trouble this time, things do not go smoothly. Rarely hysterically funny, the film is instead mostly pleasantly goofy.
Genre: Political Comedy Drama
Director: Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin
Starring: Yves Montand, Jane Fonda, Vittorio Caprioli, Elizabeth Chauvin, Castel CastiIn Brief: Jean-Luc Godard's Tout Va Bien may be the single best representation of the filmmaker's work in that it's brilliant, stupid, fascinating, boring, compelling and infuriating at the same time. That strikes me as a perfect summation of the many faces of Godard packed into one movie. What the film is about is hard to say. It's partly about making a film, partly about the malaise following the riots of 1968, partly an examination of the relationship of the world's most uninteresting characters. It's also probably about other things, but you might have to be Godard to say what.
Director: Nicolas Roeg (Don't Look Now)
Starring: Jenny Agutter, Luc Roeg, David Gulpill, John Meillon, Robert McDarraIn Brief: Cinematographer-turned-filmmaker Nicolas Roeg's first solo film, Walkabout — the story of a pair of orphaned children lost in the Australian outback with only a young Aborigine on "walkabout" to aid them — holds up remarkably well more than 40 years later. It's a strange, quasi-mystical film that tantalizes the viewer with suggestion more than outright statement and wisely refuses to reveal all its mysteries.
Genre: Sci-Fi Horror
Director: Ishirô Honda (The H-Man)
Starring: Akira Takarada, Momoko Kôchi, Akihiko Hirata, Takashi Shimura, Fuyuki MurakamiIn Brief: Well, the big boy is back -- proving that you can't keep the mightiest of all monsters down. It's only been about three months since our pal Gojira -- or Godzilla as he came to be known over here -- was in town to stomp and blast his way through Tokyo. World Cinema, realizes you can't have enough kaiju — especially in this first one, here seen in its original Japanese version. There were countless sequels and imitations, but no subsequent film got anywhere near the darkly grim tone of this one.
Genre: Drama Horror
Director: Marco Bellocchio (Vincere)
Starring: Lou Castel, Paola Pitagora, Marino Mase, Liliana Gerace, Jeannie McNeil, Pier Luigi TroglioIn Brief: Marco Bellocchio's Fists in the Pocket — an intimate look at the inner workings of a dysfunctional, decadent middle-class family — is something of an oddity. It's definitely not Italian neo-realism. It kind of feels like an offshoot of the French New Wave, but it's that by way of something in the nature of one of those black-and-white Hammer psychological horror movies. And while the film is definitely a commentary on the Italian middle class, it really is a horror movie at heart.
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