International

The lyrical and spare storytelling that Makhmalbaf applied in Gabbeh (MIFF 1996) is utilised again to tell another personal story, this time it is the director's own, told from two differ­ent points of view. Blending the present with the past, and fusing reality and remembrances with recreations, Makhmalbaf and an ex-policeman come to a better understanding of a real life inci­dent they were both ... Read more
Kevin Spacey's (Usual Suspects, Seven) shatter­ing directorial debut. Albino Alligator takes the familiar frame of a heist gone wrong/hostage drama and hangs upon it astonishing perfor­mances from the entire cast, innumerable plot twists and a dazzling visual style. In the grand tradition of Dog Day Afternoon and The Taking of Pelham One Two Three, Dova (Matt Dillon), Milo (Gary Sinise) and Law (W... Read more
The fall of Communism in Eastern Europe did not only affect countries. The ordinary human lives that were shattered should not be forgotten. In a decaying Latvia with appalling economic conditions and corruption, Juris can see only one way of giving his son the future he does not see for himself. And that involves the kind of sacrifice that can only come from love - he must give his son away to an... Read more
Anjelica Huston's splendid directorial debut is a harrowing examination of child abuse and backwoods ciose-mindedness in South Car­olina. 'Bone' Boatwright lives with the stigma of illegitimacy and began life the hard way. Her mother, Anney, is nearly killed in a car accident while in labour with Bone and en route to the hospital. Bone's doting stepfather is killed not long after; thus precipitati... Read more
Self-appointed 'militant surrealist' Jan Svankmajer describes his most recent film as a 'grotesque black comedy'. This latest work from the Czech director combines his signature Surrealist preoccupations - the uncanny, the unconscious, the power of the found object - with a concerted exploration of desire. The eccentric cast of conspirators in this combina­tion of live-action and puppet animation ... Read more
Courting Courtney is Paul Tarantino's (no rela­tion) first project, his previous experience in film coming from his job in the marketing department of Walt Disney Studios and the classes he attended (without enrolling) at USC. ... This good-natured comedy looks at the humour and pitfalis of dating in the 90s. Nick, a young film director, sets out to make a docu­mentary about his friend Courtney's ... Read more
Mexico 1949; Coral Fabre, a buxom, sensual, young nurse and mother, meets Nico who uses his looks to take advantage of women. Coral, immediately attracted to him, abandons her children and delves into his shady past to discover that he had murdered his wife. Putting this sensitive information to use, Coral makes sure Nico understands that they are now "bound for life." ... Using pathos and dark hu... Read more
Terry, is a buttoned-down and uptight loner who has been feeling suicidal since the sup­posed death of his wife. His lonely past-times involve binoculars and his neighbours' open win­dows - continuing life in such a fashion is look­ing like a pretty grim prospect. Chance, and his voyeuristic tendencies, put Terry in contact with the wild Nick, a rambunctious boho type with an equally dour outlook ... Read more
In the tiny Mexican mountain village of Yohualichan, the majordomo who presided over the annual Colloquium has died. Conse­quently the resident Indians have not held the holy play, dedicated to Saint Michael but grounded in indigenous rites, for several years. The majordomo's son Olegario regards this as a spiritual misdemeanour and the source of the village's misfortunes, which include failing cr... Read more
Esteban Sapir's Fine Powder is a film with its own distinctive aesthetic. It gently oscil­lates between objects and image, seen from the perspective of a confused Jewish boy growing up in Argentina. ... Apart from video games, there is little to inspire Tomas in his industrial neighbourhood of Villa Linch. He dreams of adventures in the far north of Argentina, free from the strictures of family li... Read more
Courageous and unflinching, Deepa Mehta's engrossing study of a lesbian affair inter­weaves sexual repression, pressure-cooker desire, crumbling patriarchy and cultural transfor­mation in contemporary India. The tugging away of traditional structures reflects social changes and the tension of modernism occurring across the sub-continent. ... Radha, the driving force behind husband Ashok's New Delh... Read more
Tupac Shakur's screen epitaph, completed prior to the rapper, and alleged gangster, being gunned down in Vegas late last year. Grid-lock'd is a skewed (drug) buddy film following the ludicrous misadventures of a pair of junkies who resolve to kick their habit as a New Year's reso­lution. Stretch (Tim Roth in a goofy turn) and Spoon (Shakur) are spooked into rehab, when their fellow band-member, Co... Read more
Hard Core Logo is the top draw Canadian punk rock band, that is, if it was a real group. Director Bruce McDonald is only too familiar with mixing truth and outrageous fiction in order to craft his usually hilarious, often irrev­erent, always brilliant films. What his Roadkill did to serial killers and Highway 61 to the rambling road movie, Hard Core Logo does to the music concert/tour film. ... Af... Read more
Olivier Assayas made his name with serious, emotionally weighty works such as L'eau Froide (MIFF 95). With Irma Vep Assayas lightens the mood, proving to also be a skilled director of comedy. After meeting Maggie Cheung, one of Hong Kong's most popular actors, Assayas insisted on constructing a film for and around her. Cheung plays herself, arriving in Paris to recreate the jewel thief Irma Vep in... Read more
David Arquette gives an emotionally charged performance as the frenzied yet deter­mined, perpetually moving street hustler in Scott Silver's Johns. The film details a day in the (low) life of Arquette and pal in prostitution, Lukas Haas, a seven week veteran of the flesh trade. Johns will invite comparisons to Midnight Cowboy - a compliment Silver would surely welcome - in its downbeat portrayal o... Read more
Molly Parker gives an enigmatic perfor­mance as Sandra Larson, the central char­acter in this compelling tale of perverse eroticism set in an anonymous Canadian town. The fiim charts the progression of Sandra's childhood preoccupation with dead animals into a full-blown and thoroughly adult predilection for human corpses. Her idiosyncratic sexual pro­clivities are given full rein in her work as an... Read more
In the backwaters of Brazil, the small town of Sertao has been neglected by the government, despite its drought-ravaged landscape. An old woman, Maria, a reincarnation of the Virgin Mary, or possibly even Jesus, leads a small num­ber of holy women through the suffering of the Sertanejos, inflicted by the Dragon (the oppres­sor of the poor). Along the way she meets Antero, an old man working the la... Read more
One of the more accomplished of the recent crop of low budget, independent US films. This deadpan comedy features two feckless losers, Jerry and Christy, as its main characters. Their lives suddenly become much more exciting when Jerry, through a time honoured plot device, unwittingly winds up with a huge quanti­ty of stolen cocaine. It is the ensuing complica­tions that kick the plot into high ge... Read more
Winner of a clutch of international awards, Lea is a film that subverts its own grim premise. Lea witnesses her father murder her mother. Struck dumb by the shock, she is transferred to an adoptive home. When she is 21, a German, Strehlo, bids for her hand in marriage; she reminds him of his late wife. Lea is taken from Slovakia to Strehlow's house at the edge of the Bavarian forest. She withdraws... Read more
In his new film, Chris Marker continues to explore the ways in which new technologies can inform our comprehension of traumatic his­torical events. Like his earlier film Sans Solei,. Level Five meditates on aspects of the Japanese psyche, focusing particularly on the nation's collec­tive amnesia concerning WWII. A French woman, Laura, grieving over the death of her lover attempts to finish writing... Read more
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