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The Servant [DVD] (1963)
The Servant [DVD] (1963)
Dvd ~ Dirk Bogarde

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Intriguing and dramatic chamber-piece...", 14 Jan 2012
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This review is from: The Servant [DVD] (1963) (DVD)
Sixteenth feature film by American director Joseph Losey (1909-1984), an adaptation of a novel from 1948 by British novelist and playwright Robin Maugham (1916-1981), which was written by screenwriter and playwright Harold Pinter (1930-2008), tells the story about Tony, a young and wealthy man who hires a man named Hugo Barrett to work for him as a servant at his house in London. Even though his girlfriend Susan acts with pointed prejudice towards Tony`s newly hired servant and questions his character, Tony ignores this and continues his trusting friendship with the charming Hugo Barrett.

This brilliantly written and directed British production, a character-driven, dialog-driven and rigorously structured study of character which portrays a fierce power struggle between a man from the upper-class and a man from the working-class, is a tense, intriguing and dramatic chamber-piece and a poignantly atmospheric Film-noir from the early 1960s with a underlining jazzy score by English Jazz composer John Dankworth (1927-2010). The noticeable black-and-white cinematography by British cinematographer Douglas Slocombe, the sarcastic humor, the pivotal use of light, the quick-witted dialog and the stellar acting performances by James Fox as the shallow and gullible Tony, Dirk Bogarde as the dutiful and articulate Hugo Barrett, Sarah Miles as the enigmatic and seductive Vera and Wendy Craig as Tony`s loving and suspicious girlfriend Susan are crucial aspects which characterizes this interior thriller about the darkest sides of human nature.

This BAFTA Award-winning film from the British New Wave is an internal psychological drama with an efficient shifting pace and artful milieu depictions which provides a detailed examination of the British class system. An ardent, acute and captivating masterpiece from the director who was blacklisted by Hollywood during the McCarthy Era in the 1950s for supposedly having attachments with the Communist party and exiled to England where he made most of his films.


A Blonde in Love [DVD]
A Blonde in Love [DVD]
Dvd ~ Hana BrejchovŠ
Price: £8.67

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Efficient bittersweet atmosphere...", 12 Jan 2012
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This review is from: A Blonde in Love [DVD] (DVD)
Czech-American screenwriter, professor and director Milos Forman`s second feature film which was shot in 1964, entirely on location in Zruc nad Sázavou and written by Ivan Passar, Jaroslav Papousek and Milos Forman, tells the story about a young working-class woman named Andula who lives in a small town called Zruc in Czechoslovakia where the local men is outnumbered by the local female population. Andula is engaged with her boyfriend Tondo, but when she attends a social gathering with her friends Marie and Jana she meets a pianist named Milda and gets involved in a new romance.

This slow-paced romantic comedy from the mid-1960s is a brilliantly written and directed social satire which portrays a young woman`s non-conformist love life in a very low-keyed manner while making a sharp critique of notions of democracy during a period when the Czech government was still being ruled by a Communist regime. Slightly sad and charmingly humorous, this dialog-driven and condensed study of character from the Czechoslovak New Wave has a gifted cast primarily consisting of non-professional actors.

The efficient bittersweet atmosphere which sets the tone and which is reinforced by the fine black-and-white cinematography by Milos Forman`s frequent collaborator, Czech cinematographer Miroslav Ondríscek and the jazzy score by Czech composer Evzen Illín. Milos Forman`s vividly narrated film gained an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe nomination for Best Foreign Language film in 1967, was nominated for the Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival in 1965 and is emphasized by Czech actress Hana Brejchová`s memorable and understated acting performance in her debut role as the charming Andula who is looking for love.


Alice Et Martin [DVD]
Alice Et Martin [DVD]
Dvd ~ Juliette Binoche
Price: £7.51

4.0 out of 5 stars "An intriguing mystery...", 4 Jan 2012
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This review is from: Alice Et Martin [DVD] (DVD)
French screenwriter and director Andrè Tèchinè`s thirteenth feature film which he co-wrote with French screenwriter Gilles Taurand and French screenwriter and director Olivier Assayas, premiered at the 43rd Valladolid International Film Festival in 1998. It tells the story about 20-year-old Martin who disappeared without notice after his father passed away. Several weeks later he shows up at his half-brother Benjamin`s apartment in Paris where he meets Benjamin`s partner Alice who is a violinist. Alice invites Martin to stay with them, which he does, and everything works out fine between the three, but when Martin gets a job as a model he falls in love with Alice.

This fast-paced character-driven and dialog-driven psychological drama which was shot in France and Spain and produced by Alain Sarde, is a brilliantly directed romantic thriller by post-New Wave filmmaker Andrè Tèchinè with a shifting atmosphere, a parallel narrative that increases the pace and compelling milieu depictions which are emphasized by French cinematographer Caroline Champetier`s notable cinematography. This plot-twisting French-Spanish co-production has a great score by French composer Philippe Sarde which features music from amongst others Jeff Buckley (1966-1997) and commendable acting performances by French actress Juliette Binoche, French actor, screenwriter and director Mathieu Amalric and French actor Alexis Loret. An intriguing mystery and an internal study of character from the late 1990s focusing on themes like coming-of-age, family relations, guilt, love and redemption.


Family Life [DVD]
Family Life [DVD]
Dvd ~ Sandy Ratcliff
Price: £8.87

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Has heart, substance and relevance...", 27 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Family Life [DVD] (DVD)
British social realist director Ken Loach`s third feature film, an adaptation of the television play "In Two Minds" (1967) which was written by David Mercer (1928-1980) and directed by Ken Loach, was shot on location in Britain, and tells the story about 19-year-old Janice who has been brought up in a very strict working-class family. She lives with her mother and father who thinks she is irresponsible because she often changes jobs. Janice doesn`t do what her parents want her to do and she stands up to them, so they decide that she is sick, talks her into having an abortion because they don`t think she is fit to be a mother, sends her to a psychiatrist and eventually to a mental health institution.

Acutely directed and with a straightforward narrative, this slow-paced and dialog-driven British independent film about social alienation and family relations touches the theme of Schizophrenia, and portrays a quiet study of character with a pointedly understated performance by Sandy Ratcliffe in her debut feature film role as a young woman who`s way towards independence and self respect is obstructed by her parents, who are more interested in giving her directions and criticism rather than giving her the encouragement she needs to live her own life. This compassionate, realistic and quasi-documentary social drama from the early 1970s, captures the failure in communication, the generational differences and the involuntary surrender of a 19-year-old woman who is being oppressed by her caretakers.

Ken Loach has a take on depicting stories about individuals who are misconceived and wrongfully treated by society, and his gentle and attentive approach is commendable. As his second feature film "Kes" (1969), "Family Life" has heart, substance and relevance, and is a fine introduction to the works of one of Britain`s greatest directors.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2012 7:17 PM BST


Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1963]
Muriel, ou le Temps d'un retour [Masters of Cinema] [DVD] [1963]
Dvd ~ Delphine Seyrig
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £6.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Enchantingly atmospheric and cryptic chamber piece...", 15 Dec 2011
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French avant-garde and former French New Wave director Alain Resnais` third feature film which succeeded his highly acclaimed first feature film "Hiroshima Mon Amour" (1959) and "Last Year at Marienbad" (1961), was written for the screen by French poet Jean Cayrol (1911-2005) and tells the story about a middle-aged antique dealer named Hèlène Aughain who lives in her inner-city apartment in the provincial port-town of Boulogne-sur-Mer with her restless and secretive stepson Bernard who is haunted by a woman from his past named Muriel. Their lives changes when Hèlène is visited by her old lover Alphonse Noyard who has brought along a young woman named Francoise.

Masterfully directed by one of the greatest directors in cinema history, this character-driven and dialog-driven mystery, a metaphysical drama with rigorously composed visuals and sounds, about memories of love and war, where the past and the present is intertwined and where time dissolves, is a detailed and realistic portrayal of everyday life in a urban French town, a character in itself, where things much like the central characters are incomplete. Like Jean-Luc Godard`s "Le Petit Soldat" (1960), Alain Resnais` film pointedly deals with themes of the Algerian War of Independence which had ended the year before "Muriel, or the Time of a Return" was released.

The efficient use of cinematic devices and the creatively fragmented narrative is pivotal in this stringently structured and acutely written story, which is an enchantingly atmospheric and cryptic chamber piece with memorable acting performances. Like some of the greatest films made by directors Alfred Hitchcock (1899-1980) and Luis Buñuel (1900-1983), this symbolic, metaphorical and distinctly stylistic early nineteen sixties French-Italian co-production gradually decodes the consciousness of it`s characters. A truly engaging and elusive depiction of the human psyche which was awarded with the Volpi Cup for Best Actress - Delphine Seyrig (1932-1990) at the 24th Venice Film Festival in 1963.


Petites Coupures [DVD] [2003]
Petites Coupures [DVD] [2003]
Dvd ~ Daniel Auteuil

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Stylish, humorous and somewhat romantic neo-noir...", 13 Dec 2011
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French film critic, writer and director Pascal Bonitzer`s third feature film which he also wrote the screenplay for, tells the story about journalist Bruno who is having doubts about his communists believes and who no longer knows if it is his wife or his young lover he really loves. After having received a call from his uncle who is fighting for re-election as the mayor of a small-town in Grenoble, Bruno decides to help him, but on his way he gets stuck in a dark forest. In search for someone that can help him, he encounters a secretive woman named Beatrice.

This visually compelling and character-driven road-movie, a poignantly atmospheric mystery drama, which is an intriguingly written story about a middle-aged man`s entwining love life, is strengthened by a fine music score and good acting performances, especially from Daniel Auteuil and Kristin Scott Thomas. Ludivine Sagnier and Emmanuelle Devos are also good in minor parts. A stylish, humorous and somewhat romantic neo-noir from Jacques Rivette`s frequent collaborator, which was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2003.


Proof [DVD]
Proof [DVD]
Dvd ~ Russell Crowe
Price: £9.47

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Love triangle with great emotional depth...", 9 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Proof [DVD] (DVD)
Australian writer and director Jocelyn Moorhouse`s directorial debut which was honored with six Australian Film Institute Awards in 1991 and the Golden Camera at the 44th Cannes Film Festival in 1991, tells the story about 32-year-old Martin who lives a very quiet life in a suburb with his dog Bill. Martin has been blind since the day he was born, something that has given him severe trust issues and motivated him to take photographs which he uses to reassure himself and to have proof that the things he senses are the same as what other people see. One day he encounters Andy, a young kitchen hand who takes an interest in him. Andy`s genuine kindness appeals to Martin and for the first time in his life, Martin asks another person to describe his photos for him. Martin and Andy`s friendship is beginning to evolve, but when Martin`s long time housekeeper Celia who is in love with him learns that she is no longer Martin`s sole confidant, she becomes jealous.

This mysteriously atmospheric study of character, an outstanding feature film debut which was compassionately written and directed by Jocelyn Moorhouse and shot in Melbourne, has an efficient score by former Australian band Not Drowning, Waving and is a dialog-driven love triangle with great emotional depth which gives an insightful depiction of blindness. Captivating acting performances by Australian actors Hugo Weaving, Russell Crowe and Australian actress Genevieve Picot and commendable and essential use of visuals by amongst others cinematographer Martin McGrath and Jocelyn Moorhouse underlines this Australian independent film which is an engaging, perceptive and humorous psychological drama about trust, friendship and love.


Secret Defense [DVD] [1998]
Secret Defense [DVD] [1998]
Dvd ~ Sandrine Bonnaire
Offered by A2Z Entertains
Price: £6.13

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "A rhythmic and distinguished thriller...", 9 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Secret Defense [DVD] [1998] (DVD)
Former French New Wave director and writer Jacques Rivette`s seventeenth feature film, written by himself, his frequent collaborator Pascal Bonitzer and Emmanuelle Cuau, tells the story of medical researcher Sylvie who becomes alarmingly unsettled when her younger brother Paul claims that he can prove that their deceased father was actually killed by his closest colleague named Walser. Puzzled by her brothers questionable discovery she sets out on a private investigation that leads her into a personal odyssey.

Precisely directed and brilliantly structured, this subtle and character-driven neo-noir from one of the greatest auteur filmmakers in cinema history is a rhythmic and distinguished thriller about a woman who has to go on a deep voyage into her own past in order to learn the truth about her family. The long runtime which is a Jacques Rivette hallmark, the efficient editing, the quick-witted dialogue and William Lubtchansky`s atmospheric photography, increases the mystery in this late 1990s small masterpiece which has aspects of drama and theatre, a prominent performance from Sandrine Bonnaire as the female protagonist and a harmonic score. The love for cinema shines in so many of Jacques Rivette`s films, and this is no exception.


Bleak Moments [DVD]
Bleak Moments [DVD]
Dvd ~ Anne Raitt
Price: £9.25

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars "Remarkable display of storytelling ...", 7 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Bleak Moments [DVD] (DVD)
British screenwriter and director Mike Leigh`s feature film debut, a stage play from 1970 turned into a feature film which he wrote, tells the story about a woman named Sylvia who leads a quiet and rather uneventful life in the suburbs of South Norwood, London with her mentally ill sister named Hilda. Both of them seek the company of others, but they are stuck with eachother, and even though Hilda makes an effort to change their situation by inviting men to their home, their reserved and detached personalities makes the development of personal relations difficult for them.

One of the directors who are greatest at fictionalizing real life and depicting the tensions, the uncertainty, the awkward silence and the variable ways human beings communicate within social situations, goes into the heart of minimalistic filmmaking in this acutely directed independent film. "Bleak Moments" definitely has its bleak moments and it is a sharp existentialistic portrayal of everyday life where the monotony, the waiting for something else, the endurance of time and the mercilessness of isolation gets under the skin of people who wants nothing more than companionship.

A subtle study of character, a perceptive chamber piece, a considerate drama and a social comedy, English filmmaker Mike Leigh`s character-driven and narrative-driven directorial debut is a distinctly realistic film with a distinct atmosphere created by fine actors and actresses, where life is the central character which surrounds and inhabits the multifaceted and lovable individuals. The dialog is subtle and witty and in her first feature film role, actress Anne Raitt gives a profound and understated acting performance. A remarkable display of storytelling from one of the great auteur filmmakers.


Monsieur Hire [DVD] [1990]
Monsieur Hire [DVD] [1990]
Dvd ~ Michel Blanc
Price: £7.12

4.0 out of 5 stars "Beautiful drama about a man`s surreal crush...", 6 Dec 2011
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This review is from: Monsieur Hire [DVD] [1990] (DVD)
French screenwriter and director Patrice Leconte`s ninth feature film which he and writer and director Patrick Dewolf adapted from Belgian writer Georges Simenon`s novel "Les Fiancailles de Mr Hire" (1933), tells the story of an unsociable middle-aged man called Monsieur Hire who is perceived as a somewhat weird person by his neighbours and has a secret admiration for a young woman whom he regularly spies on from his urban apartment window.

This subtle, seductive and witty fable about love, obsession, crime and solitude, is an intriguing study of character and a beautiful drama about a man`s surreal crush on a woman. The pivotal music from the always brilliant composer Michael Nyman, the characteristic directing and the endearing acting performances by Michel Blanc and Sandrine Bonnaire is distinct in this late 1980s gem from a great director who usually makes worthwhile films.


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