Scarlet Innocence / Madam Ppang-Deok (2014) Pil-sung Yim, Woo-sung Jung, Esom, So-young Park, Thriller, Romance

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Hak-kyu (Jung) is a university professor who’s gradually losing his eyesight. In a vulnerable state, he begins to fall for an irresistible, insistent young woman (Lee). It turns into a torrid affair, and Hak-kyu throws all caution aside, but when he commits an act that she takes as the worst form of betrayal, her feelings turn. Scarlet Innocence is a contemporary retelling of a classic Korean tale, The Story of Simcheong, which was elevated to timeless art when adapted to the Korean musical storytelling form pansori. But Yim takes radical liberties with the story, changing what was always a father-daughter dynamic into an account of two strangers who first become lovers, then adversaries. Drenched in sex and desperate acts – Jung has scenes here that will shock and excite his fans – this is a twenty-first-century film noir very much in keeping with Yim’s abiding interests. From his first feature Antarctic Journal through Hansel and Gretel and Doomsday Book, Yim has always set his characters free to pursue their obsessions no matter how far it takes them. To watch Jung and Lee turn up the heat as this story progresses is to see just how dangerous a director Yim can be.

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The Boy and the World / O Menino e o Mundo (2013) Alê Abreu, Vinicius Garcia, Marco Aurélio Campos, Lu Horta, Animation, Adventure, Family

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An amazing Brazilian animation that truly exemplifies the power of imagery and music as a combination that has more than enough to portray a powerful and deep message. It shows an adventurous quest that illustrates the issues of the modern world through the eyes of a child. A cautionary tale of globalization, The Boy And The World teaches above all the dangers of the massification of the economy, of the mind, and of the soul.

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Boris Godounov (1989) Andrzej Zulawski, Ruggero Raimondi, Kenneth Riegel, Pavel Slabý, Musical, Drama

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The film is based on the musical recording of the famous opera by Modest Mussorgsky about the tragic events surrounding the ruling of the Russian tsar Boris in the early 17th century. The recording was actually made two years before the filming with the participation of the Washington Symphony Orchestra (conducted by Mstislav Rostropovich) and several opera stars (the part of Marina is sung by Galina Vishnevskaya). Zulawski made the film just as we would be watching the theatrical performance. Then we are going through the sets and, finally, we notice the film crew. The director deliberately filled the picture with a plenty of anachronisms making the implications on the Soviet history and the other dictatorships of the 20th century.

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Journey to the West / Xi you (2014) Ming-liang Tsai, Kang-sheng Lee, Denis Lavant, Art-house, Drama

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In “Journey to the West,” helmer Tsai Ming-liang’s perennial protagonist, Lee Kang-sheng, inches with excruciating slowness through Marseille’s land- and cityscapes in a series of 14 magnificently composed shots. Garbed in a monk’s red robe that makes him immediately discernible within the city’s subdued palette, his barely moving presence turns the frame itself into narrative, with all passing figures in the tableau defined by their reactions to him. Like some ambulatory anachronism, his stillness conjures up an alternate space-time continuum, another dimension slowly unfolding from within the core of urban hubbub. This exquisite gem should glow at fests and museums.

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På en bänk i en park / On a Bench in a Park (1960) Hasse Ekman, Sigge Fürst, Bengt Ekerot, Crime

Pa en bank i en park (Hasse Ekman, 1960)
Sam Persson is released from a mental hospital. He goes to Stockholm to meet a man he hates, theater manager Stig Brender. In Brender’s office they get into a fight and Persson falls down dead. Brender uses his car to get rid of the body in a park. However, the following day he is visited by police inspector Envall, who wants to talk to him. Brender’s lies and strange behavior is no match for some thorough police work.

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Le violon rouge / The Red Violin (1998) François Girard, Carlo Cecchi, Jean-Luc Bideau, Christoph Koncz, Drama, Romance, Mystery

Le violon rouge (Francois Girard, 1998)
Spans 300 years in the life of one famed musical instrument that winds up in present-day Montreal on the auction block. Crafted by the Italian master Bussotti (Cecchi) in 1681, the red violin derives its unusual color from the human blood mixed into the finish. With this legacy, the violin travels to Austria, England, China, and Canada, leaving both beauty and tragedy in its wake.

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