The Plea

05/30/2010

Soviet Union / 1967 / Georgian

Directed by Tengiz Abuladze

With Tengiz Archvadze, Rusudan Kiknadze, Spartak Bagashvili

Still from 'The Plea'In The Plea, Georgian filmmaker Tengiz Abuladze uses stark cinematography, ranging from light and feathery grays to the almost blinding pitch-blacks of high contrast chiaroscuro, to offer up startling and haunting symbolism based on the ancient traditions of his native country. He situates these images in religious allegories concerning good and evil and how the two are rendered inextricable. With the looming mountains of the Caucasus as its background, the film draws its dialogue from the works of 19th Century poet Vaja-Pshavela, looking introspectively at received notions of justice, oppression, and social conformity. Read the rest of this entry »

Still from 'Heaven in a Garden'

Two Films by Stéphane Breton

Spending a few months every year in a remote valley in the highlands of Papua, French ethnologist Stéphane Breton produced two films about living among the Wodani tribe. After several years of study, he lives in a house that he built, speaks their language, and is very much involved in their lives. Observing them, he begins to understand more about himself, both through the common ground he shares with them and the rifts that seem impossible to overcome. He is considerably more enigmatic to them than they are to him, a stranger coming from a distant place simply to live near them and watch what they do, for totally inexplicable reasons. Read the rest of this entry »

Portugal / 1989 / Portuguese

Directed by João César Monteiro

With João César Monteiro, Manuela de Freitas, Teresa Calado

Still from 'Recollections of the Yellow House'Recollections of the Yellow House is the first in a cycle of films in which Portuguese director César Monteiro stars as his alter-ego, the quietly lecherous João de Deus, who inhabits a tiny, spartan room in the boarding house of the title. As the film opens he speaks poetically of the bedbugs that torment him and the pain in his testicles, over a shot of Lisbon’s harbor. As the camera drifts further out to sea, we are drawn closer into the squalid minutiae and prosaic miseries of his alienated existence. Read the rest of this entry »

U.S.A. / 1949 / English

Directed by Clarence Brown

With Claude Jarman Jr., Juano Hernandez, David Brian

Still from 'Intruder in the Dust'Toward the beginning of Intruder in the Dust, Chick Mallison, a 16-year old boy living in a small Mississippi town, recalls his first meeting, four years earlier, with Lucas Beauchamp, a black man who is now accused of murdering a white man: while hunting rabbits on property that turns out to be Lucas’, Chick stumbles off of a tree trunk bridge and falls to the bottom of an icy creek. When the boy resurfaces, Lucas brings him back to his house, dries and warms him up, and feeds him the only food that he has. Sensing that he has broken an unspoken white-Southern taboo by accepting the hospitality of a black man, Chick decides to compensate for this by offering the man some money in return. When Lucas, frozen-faced, refuses it, Chick, hot with embarrassment and unable to think of an alternative, throws the coins on the ground and orders him to pick them up, to, as he would later put it, “act like a nigger.”

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Tropical Malady

05/02/2010

Thailand / 2004/ Thai

Directed by Apichatpong Weerasethakul

With Banlop Lomnoi, Sakda Kaewbuadee, Huai Dessom

Still from 'Tropical Malady'A narratively restrained and beautifully photographed film, Tropical Malady looks at the romantic relationship that develops between Keng, a soldier in the Thai army, and Tong, a young man from the countryside, who meet in a chance encounter when Keng is traveling with his detachment. Keng accepts an offer to be transferred from the city to a nearby post, and they begin from there. Read the rest of this entry »