Claude Lanzmann – Tsahal (1994)

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new york times review (january 1995)

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If “Tsahal,” opening today at the Walter Reade Theater, initially seems to admire that toughness unquestioningly, it eventually grows into a thoughtful exegesis of a troubling, complex subject. This film provoked a tear-gas bombing at a Paris movie theater last November, but it isn’t inflammatory on its own merits. Mr. Lanzmann, whose background in philosophy shapes his film making in palpable ways, is more pensive than judgmental. He seeks the essence of Israel’s embattled existence during “46 years of perpetual alarm.” Slowly, doggedly, he arrives at a profound understanding of it by the time “Tsahal” is over.
Continue reading Claude Lanzmann – Tsahal (1994)

R. Maslyn Williams – Mike and Stefani (1952)

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Fascinating artifact from the period of peak European migration into Australia, which can be instructively set alongside the films of Giorgio Mangiamele (one of whose films seems a direct response to Mike & Stefani) and films like Popov’s fascinating “Australia, Australia”. Continue reading R. Maslyn Williams – Mike and Stefani (1952)

Dolorès Grassian – Le futur aux trousses AKA 1=2? (1975)

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the AMG clerk wrote :
“The desire that many people have to live life with another more glamorous identity is the focus of this French satire. The head programmer at a computer data firm comes up with a scheme which enables subscribers, for a fee, to have an alternate identity.” Continue reading Dolorès Grassian – Le futur aux trousses AKA 1=2? (1975)

Pier Paolo Pasolini & Giovanni Guareschi – La Rabbia (1963)

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La Rabbia employs documentary footage (from the 1950’s) and accompanying commentary to attempt to answer the existential question, Why are our lives characterized by discontent, anguish, and fear? The film is in two completely separate parts, and the directors of these respective sections, left-wing Pier Paolo Pasolini and conservative Giovanni Guareschi, offer the viewer contrasting analyses of and prescriptions for modern society. Part I, by Pasolini, is a denunciation of the offenses of Western culture, particularly those against colonized Africa. It is at the same time a chronicle of the liberation and independence of the former African colonies, portraying these peoples as the new protagonists of the world stage, holding up Marxism as their “salvation,” and suggesting that their “innocent ferocity” will be the new religion of the era. Guareschi’s part, by contrast, constitutes a defense of Western civilization and a word of hope, couched in traditional Christian terms, for man’s future. Continue reading Pier Paolo Pasolini & Giovanni Guareschi – La Rabbia (1963)

Haskell Wexler – Medium Cool (1969)

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It’s 1968, and the whole world is watching. With the U.S. in social upheaval, famed cinematographer Haskell Wexler decided to make a film about what the hell was going on. Medium Cool, his debut feature, plunges us into the moment. With its mix of fictional storytelling and documentary technique, this depiction of the working world and romantic life of a television cameraman (Robert Forster) is a visceral cinematic snapshot of the era, climaxing with an extended sequence shot right in the middle of the riots surrounding the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. An inventive commentary on the pleasures and dangers of wielding a camera, Medium Cool is as prescient a political film as Hollywood has ever produced. Continue reading Haskell Wexler – Medium Cool (1969)

Artavazd Pelechian – Vremena goda aka Seasons of the Year (1975)

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The history of the Armenian nation from a Marxist point of view.
Illustrated by Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”.

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Artavazd Pelechian’s Seasons of the Year (1975), a film-essay about the contradiction
and the harmony between man and nature, was the the 2nd and the last collaboration
with Vartanov, who had directed Autumn Pastoral (1971) from Peleshian’s screenplay.
In the Seasons of the Year (1975), for the first time, Artavazd Pelechian did not use any
archival footage likely due to the exquisite cinematography by Vartanov. Peleshian’s
Seasons of the Year (1975) is one of the 3 most important documentary films made in
Armenia, along with Sergei Parajanov’s Hakop Hovnatanian (1967) and Vartanov’s
Paradjanov: The Last Spring (1992). Continue reading Artavazd Pelechian – Vremena goda aka Seasons of the Year (1975)