Oh ! Soo-Jung/Virgin Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors (South
Korea /2000) Sang-Soo Hong ***
Black and white. multiple possible outcomes of a meeting between a young beautiful director assistant, and a producer, friend of this director. a love trio, in a daily life nutshell, pondering about the meaning of the couple.
Oligarkh - Tycoon (France/Germany/Russia/2002) Pavel Lungin
very well warped up low budget mafia chronicle spanning over the Perestroïka era. a handful of crooks who end up ruling an empire of corruption competing with the Kremlin. Spying, betrayal, lust of luxery in a backward storytelling.
One Week (1920/Buster Keaton/Cline/USA) Short +++/PRO
The genius of Keaton who everything himself even his own stunts. Extraordinary mise-en-scene of body motion on screen, with a great sense of flow and editing. The set design of this deconstructed house is full of surrealist details.
Opening Night (1978/Cassavetes)
Gena Rowlands gives a fantastic performance in Cassavetes' best film. very close to Persona in so many ways and especialy within my interpretation of this theme. this is the best movie about the life on stage, an old couple of lead actors fight in the theatre and in real life, the play they are playing is the expression of their conflicts, their illusions and their despair. it's about jalousy, about unfaithfulness, about aging and the destruction of love in the mind. the stage life becomes realer and therapeutic than life itself. without spoiling anything, the death of a fan catalyze the fears building up in the schyzophrenic life of an actress confronting her multiple roles.
An alcoholic stage comedian struggles with her doppleganger who is both her fan and her most vicious critic. Her cab runs over a young girl right outside the theatre, since then her doppleganger appears under the figures of this girl to impersonate her darkest doubts and sins, slapping back in her face as she reviews over a tiresome career of roles and men. There is some kind of an agreed monologue encompassing the exchange between young and aging woman, as Myrtle talks to herself. She starts to organise her life around the ghost, pushing away her friends. Meanwhile the play she acts in reveals with intensity a more insightful meaning. The theatre stage, front and back, stands for the arena, where the mind, inside out, enacts conflicting issues, repressed fears and denied regrets.
Orphans of the Storm (1921/Griffith/USA) +
Based on a true story: Robespierre saved 2 orphans sisters who came to Paris during the pre-revolution build up. One of them is blind, the other is kidnapped by a fiesty aristocrat. Meanwhile Danton and Robespierre give lectures in the street to raise the people against the monarchy.
Osama (2003/Siddiq Barmak/Afghanistan/ND/Japan) ++/pro
Ok Osama is a "small film"... but it's the very first Afghan film. I didn't consider it as a documentary. The performance of this little non-actress is amazing! Every scene she's in is beautiful! Didn't you like the scenes with her mother and grandmother, with the shop owner, her sneaky moves through the streets... Only the lighting and photography is admirable. I'd concede the episode in the taliban school might be a little inferior at times.
She was spotted on the street, where she begged for food. Keep in mind the accomplishments (artistic and technic as well as ethic) of making such a film under such conditions, with non-professionals, on a hot religious/political topic that didn't settle down yet. I agree there are some issues in the narration (I believe I only gave it a pro), especially at the end, but overall the level of quality is far superior to what we could expect from a country wounded by constant wars and moral tyrany. This film could have been a more "realist" tearjerker to strike the sentimental/guilt chord for westerners, instead the whole story evoques a certain ability to distanciate from the hard reality through poetry. The idea to use the allegory of the gender identity change is a powerful allegory to paint the (muslim) afghan society.
Obviously underachieved compared to Samira Makhmalbaf's At Five in the Afternoon but much deeper in my opinion.