Still From 'Talking With a Shadow'

Three Blind Owls

Quirky, deranged, and relentlessly cyclical, Sadegh Hedayat’s 1937 novella The Blind Owl has an unusual voice for any work, in any age or place. While it can, at times, feel like a delusional screed, this mysterious piece of prose is amazingly structured, relying on its own set of complex symbols that recur and transpose in an endless continuum. The allure of the book, and the language with which it crumples reality as under layers of plumage, have led to a number of films, whose connections to it range from clear adaptation to the wildly tangential. Read the rest of this entry »

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Spain / 2013 / Galician

Directed by Alberto Gracia

With Alberto Gracia, Oliver Laxe, Pedro Soler

Still from 'The Fifth Gospel of Kaspar Hauser'A horse stomps in place and twitches in its cramped quarters. The mottling of its speckled hair, even the texture of the darkness that fringes it, are rendered in pointillist clouds of gray grain. It flicks its tail by the small window, a confined beast, while up in the moldy rafters, bats dance. Certain animals are free while others are enslaved. But even the horse is allowed to run once in a while. From that stable to a hole to the external world, to finally being on the outside, we feel that we are looking from behind Kaspar Hauser’s eyes, which dart all around, bewildered by the outdoors, unaccustomed to the sunlight. Read the rest of this entry »

Dreams of the City

02/12/2018

Syria / 1984 / Arabic

Directed by Mohamed Malas

With Rafiq Sbei’i, Hicham Khchefati, Yasmine Khlat

Still from 'Dreams of the City'It’s a quiet, residential street in Damascus. It’s 1953. Portraits of general Al-Shishakly, copied to infinity, flutter like bunting flags, strung across the street. Bit by bit the city awakens and businesses open, as loudspeakers blare announcements that everyone should be doing their utmost to observe the nation’s Independence Day. A gang of policemen traipse through the neighborhood bullying anyone who has been slow to put up the Syrian flag in their shop window. “Hang this, or your boss will be hanged instead,” they sneer. In this forced-festive air, a truck arrives carrying a newly-arrived family hitching to the city. They’ve come from a village in the far South of the country. Read the rest of this entry »

Anchoress

02/06/2018

UK / 1993 / English & Latin

Directed by Chris Newby

With Natalie Morse, Christopher Eccleston, Brenda Bertin

Still from 'Anchoress'Even before it has reached its resting place at the local church, Christine spies the statue of the virgin standing upright in a wheat field. The pilgrims transporting it have lain down for a nap. The seventeen-year-old approaches the statue, tenderly removes a covering blanket and kisses its smooth, bulbous forehead. To her it’s a vision – one that changes the light on the dour and impoverished countryside where she lives. In its far-away, somewhat disdainful expression and cold features, spaced to a geometric ideal that deliberately falls short of nature’s clever subtlety, she feels a certain recognition that seems to transcend the statue’s purpose. Read the rest of this entry »