Still from 'Ankur'

Three From Benegal’s Middle Period

Among India’s most politically outspoken filmmakers, Shyam Benegal is also one of its most astute and sensitive social critics. From his initial foray into feature-length narratives in 1974, and subsequently throughout his long and storied career, Benegal’s work has presented an unusual mixing of leftist politics with star power and slick production values, all the while disdaining the vapidity and conservativeness of most mainstream cinema in India. The direct, often undeniably indignant messages found in many of his films are always accompanied by a broad humanism that is not the swaddling blanket it could be, but is instead the sweet and uplifting center of his otherwise incendiary tone and often tragic perspectives on real life situations. Read the rest of this entry »

Le Beau Mariage

11/21/2010

France / 1982 / French

Directed by Eric Rohmer

With Béatrice Romand, André Dussollier, Arielle Dombasle

Still from 'Le Beau Mariage'Sabine is about to turn 25, works part-time in an antique store, and spends much of her time commuting between her mother’s house in Le Mans and graduate school in Paris. She has just ended an affair with Simon, an artist who is a bit older than her and a bit more married. On her abrupt exit from his studio, she declares that she herself is going to get married, although she doesn’t know, just yet, to whom. This statement of intent, also doubling as a vague plan of action, is at the heart of Lea Beau Mariage, a film that balances Rohmer’s wistful naïveté with a pitch-perfect rendering of a person’s mid-twenties, an age that Robin Marantz Henig, in the New York Times Magazine, refers to as “a black box,” fraught but ambiguous. At the same time it presents a deft and poignant commentary on how contemporary societies mold women’s identities, expectations, and senses of fulfillment. Read the rest of this entry »

Limite

11/14/2010

Brazil / 1931 / Silent

Directed by Mário Peixoto

With Olga Breno, Raul Schnoor, Tatiana Rey

Still from 'Limite'Limite centers on a tiny life boat adrift in the middle of a shimmering ocean. Its three desolated passengers, two women and one man, are trapped in a daze of sunstroke, malnourishment, and remembrance. Through flashbacks we are taken into each person’s story, exploring the things from which they are running, and because of which they are now cut loose from the land, stuck in the confines of a narrow, floating prison. The images that flicker before the viewer, exquisitely wrought in a loose but quite intimate cohesion, interact with one another by way of association that transcends conventional narrative. Thus when we watch the film, we sense the connection of things rather than decode them fully; the images translate directly to our subconsciouses, absorbed through a visual engagement that is rare to find so completely and appealingly in evidence. Read the rest of this entry »

Still from 'The Sea Wall'

Marguerite Duras From Page to Celluloid

Isolation, loss, and self-denial form a common currency in modernist literature. But there are few instances in which these themes are so intimately related to the structure and essential fabric of one author’s work than in the case of French author Marguerite Duras. A prolific novelist and playwright, Duras gradually became involved in filmmaking after writing the screenplay for Alain Resnais’ first feature, Hiroshima, Mon Amour. In the late 1960’s she started directing films, either adapting her own texts or, at other times, using none at all. Read the rest of this entry »