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Larry L. Looney (Austin, Texas USA)

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The Naked Island (Masters of Cinema) (1960) [DVD]
The Naked Island (Masters of Cinema) (1960) [DVD]
Dvd ~ Masanori Horimoto
Offered by bestmediagroup
Price: £7.99

27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic restoration, 19 May 2006
Masters of Cinema and Eureka deserve special kudos for this release -- the film looks absolutely wonderful. The lush black and white photography is reporduced gloriously, as is the beautiful soundtrack. The introduction by Alex Cox and the full-length commentary by director Shindo and composer Hayashi are well-done and will deepen the viewers' appreciation and understanding of this masterpiece.

The lack of dialogue and other social-realist stylistic aspects of this film will make it not everyone's cup of tea -- it's certainly not going to hold the attention of action-film buffs -- but the director and cinematographer have done a masterful job in conveying in depth all of the aspects of the lives of the characters. Repeated images echo the rhythms of life, the dogged march of time, the cycles of the seasons and years. All ranges of emotion are portrayed -- joy, sorrow, determination in the face of terrible odds, pain, hard work, rewards, devotion. Alex Cox mentions Bresson in his introduction -- and I can certainly see the parallels with his work.

This film is an essential addition to my library -- I recommend it highly, and I'm grateful to those who have made it available.

The Return [2003] [DVD] [2004]
The Return [2003] [DVD] [2004]
Dvd ~ Vladimir Garin
Offered by nagiry
Price: £5.94

53 of 55 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars from the heart to the soul...?, 11 Mar. 2006
...from the heart of (first-time!) director Andrey Zvyagintsev to the soul of the viewer, that is. This film is nothing short of amazing. The story is moving, believable and deep on both psychological and emotional levels -- the cinematography, writing and pacing are right on target -- and the acting is as close to perfect as either a director OR audience can imagine.
Konstantin Lavronenko plays the long-lost father with just the right mix of strength, mystery and cool understatement -- his character would give many actors an excuse to overplay and draw attention away from the young men portraying the sons, the true centers of the film. The balance he achieves here is a tribute to the care with which he pursues his craft.
The two young actors who play brothers Andrey and Ivan (Vladimir Garin and Ivan Dobronravov, respectively) turn in some of the most believable, moving performances I've ever seen from people their age. The depths of emotion and commitment they give to their roles is extraordinary -- it's a level of quality that is a joy to see in actors of ANY age, but to see it in these who are so young is incredible.
The fact that this is director Zvyagintsev's first feature film tells me that this is indeed a filmmaker to watch -- and I don't think a film of this quality can be written off as 'beginner's luck'. His talent is formidable -- I look forward to seeing more from him.
The story unfolds at just the right pace -- the audience is given no clues as to what will happen next, and is kept is just as much suspense as the characters in the film. The honors this film received at the Venice Film Festival were justified -- I can recommend it without reservation to anyone, whether they favor 'art house' cinema or simply a well-made film telling a compelling story.

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