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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Izgnanie (The Banishment)

Thanks to a dearest friend I had the unbelievably opportunity to see this amazing movie and have to say that definitively I was mesmerized with the second feature film from Andrei Zvyagintsev.

Have to say that this film is exactly the type of art cinema that I enjoy the most as it blends a good story, outstanding cinematography, slow pace that allows you to see and feel everything, superb framing and composition, outstanding performances, and a great director and storyteller that magnificently orchestrates all cinema techniques and delivers an incredibly amazing masterpiece. I definitively prefer films that stimulate viewer’s emotions and here I was feeling everything.

I’ll stop the praise of this movie and tell you about what is about. Like in The Return it tells a story about a family; this time the main character is the father. He takes his family from the city to the countryside, to his birthplace, his father’s old house. One could think that the story will develop into the adaptation process from a dark and somber industrial city to the most breathtaking empty rolling hills and fertile land. But no, it doesn’t go this way, it becomes one of the most interesting human drama revolving around what it is not said, about those things that you keep to yourself in a relationship and how destructive this equivocal silence does always become.

Starring Konstantin Lavronenko as Alex the father (he was also the father in The Return) with an amazing performance that won him the Best Actor award in 2007 Cannes, you cannot miss him taking you into his character emotions, it is just incredibly amazing. Also here we find Swedish Maria Bonnevie playing Eva the tormented wife that cannot show her emotions and when at almost the end she’s allowed to do so, you’ll be devastated.

But since the very first scene with a long shot and fabulous framing the movie will take into a marvelous voyage of outdoor and indoor images that will drive you totally mad. Once scene was absolutely magic for me, when Alex runs into the forest, you see the trees and for a few seconds the camera stops in one tree and you are able to see every detail in that tree, including two small snails! That’s the kind of details you’re able to see in this film. Magical! Then we have the use of light, truly hypnotizing; as the story develops the house indoor takes become darker and darker, things (not people) shadows start to appear until walls are erased by darkness. Outstanding!

I could go on and on praising this movie, but have to stop to share some key data I found. Guess which movie is one of Zvyaguintsev’s favorite? Well these are his words: "The Sacrifice is my favorite film. People often ask me if Tarkovsky was an influence on my filmmaking. If his films did have any influence on me, it was not in a conscious way. I also like Antonioni". Obviously this helps me understand why I’m so captivated by his filmmaking.

Perhaps these comments will also help you to understand more about his filmmaking style: “Andrei Zvyagintsev on the film's relationship to reality: ‘In filmmaking, reality is so present that it is difficult to be detached from it. But you have to succeed in doing so to reach another, higher level of reality. When you are directing a film, you have to create a world, and make the invisible visible, which is an exceedingly complex task’.

Andrei Zvyagintsev on the contrast between the film's formal beauty and its dark subject: "This contrast doesn't trouble me at all. Above all, the film is a recreated reality, almost dreamlike. For me, a dream has to be beautiful, whole, and harmonious’.”

The movie was received with controversial critic’s reviews, some praise it and some dismiss it. So, chances are that when you’re able to see it you’ll either love it like me or will feel unimpressed like others. Still, the movie was an Official Selection in the 2007 Cannes and has already won 2 awards.

In my humble opinion this is a must be seen movie, but I know that is not for all audiences, you have to like serious cinema to be able to enjoy this masterpiece.

Big Enjoy!!!

P.S.: Now I'm very confussed. Even if my real name is Russian, I can hardly understand Russian beyond some basic words; so, I do not know how to spell his last name: Zviagintsev or Zvyaginstev. The only thing I'm sure is that is: Андрей Петрович Звягинцев! I really hate when this happens, as with a Russian name I know what you feel when your name is always misspelled.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Day 2 at #Cannes2017

The first day of the festival is over as well as the beginning of the anniversary celebrations with the formal dinner after the opening ceremony.  By-the-way, in the era of ubiquitous cameras is not surprising to see photos of empty seats! Yes, yesterday was able to see how many rows in the Palais were empty, minutes after the festival was declared open and before the opening film began.

Gee, perhaps a good idea will be to have seat-fillers (like in the Oscars) but in this case with people that actually like the cinema and wish to watch the opening film or maybe there should be some control with the many "celebrities" that walk the red carpet for the photographers and not for the cinema event or in the extreme case, perhaps organizers should avoid hard-proof possibilities and should ban cell phones/cameras! (LOL) (I'm kidding-about cells only)

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Monday, November 06, 2017

30th European Film Awards Nominations

Last Saturday, November 4, at the Seville European Film Festival the nominations for the major categories were announced and my spontaneous reaction when watching live the press conference was that nominees are extraordinary films and Academy members will have a difficult task deciding their votes, as for example in the top category, voting between Cannes Golden Palm, Grand Prix and Jury Award is not easy but then you have to add Berlin Golden Bear and on top a movie by master filmmaker Aki Kaurismäki. Very difficult decision, not easy at all.

But the category that blew my mind is European Actress were you have Juliette Binoche and Isabelle Huppert, then Paula Beer and Alexandra Borbély, and finish with almost newcomer Florence Pugh!  What an eclectic combination of talent!  To be honest, have skipped Lady Macbeth but after BIFA and now this, imagine will have to "unskip" film (lol).

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Saturday, May 07, 2011

64th Festival de Cannes Un Certain Regard Lineup - Update 2

The other film that was announced today and also is part of the Official Selection but in the Un Certain Regard section is by Mohammad Rasoulof, who is also currently subject to legal proceedings in Iran, and tells about a young lawyer in Tehran in search of a visa to leave the country, which is what Rasoulof did during the winter of 2010/2011. The feature film is called Bé Omid é Didar (Good Bye).

--end of update 2--

Today's press release announces that Andrei Zvyagintsev's Elena will close the section and will be screened on Saturday May 21st at the Closing ceremony. Also the complete jury members were announced. All the info is updated below.

--end of update--

As announced during this morning press conference here are the nineteen (19) films that will compete in this section.

Opening Film: Restless, Gus Van Sant

아리랑 Arirang, Kim ki-duk, South Korea
Bé Omid é Didar (Good Bye), Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran, 2011
Bonsái, Cristián Jiménez, Chile
북촌방향 Book-chon-bang-hyang (The Day He Arrives) , Sangsoo Hong, South Korea
Halt Auf Freier Strecke, Andreas Dresen, Germany
Hors Satan, Bruno Dumont, France and Belgium
황해 Hwang Hae (Yellow Sea), Hong-jin Na, South Korea
L'Exercice de l'Etat (The Minister), Pierre Schoeller, France
Les Neiges du Kilimandjaro, Robert Guédiguian, France
Loverboy, Cătălin Mitulescu, Romania
(*) Martha Marcy May Marlene, Sean Durkin, USA
Miss Bala, Gerardo Naranjo, Mexico
Охотника Okhotnik (The Hunter), Bakur Bakuradze, Russia
Oslo 31.august (Oslo, August 31st), Joachim Trier, Norway
Skoonheid, Olivier Hermanus, South Africa, France and Germany
Tatsumi, Eric Khoo, Singapore and Japan
Toomelah, Ivan Sen, Australia
(*) Trabalhar Cansa (Hard Labor), Juliana Rojas and Marco Dutra, Brazil
Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where Do We Go Now?), Nadine Labaki, Lebanon and France

Closing Film: Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia (must be seen for me)

(*) First Film, competes for Camera d’Or

President: Emir Kusturica, Director, Serbia
Elodie Bouchez, Actress, France
Peter Bradshaw, Critic, UK (oh! congrats!!!)
Geoffrey Gilmore, CCO Tribeca Enterprises, USA
Daniela Michel, Morelia Film Festival Director, Mexico

To read official press release go here; after April 22nd films will be listed at fest site and will post link.

There are some very interesting films in this selection, most interesting is Kim Ki-duk latest film, looking forward to watch Mitulescu film after his great Whistle movie, Gerardo Naranjo scares me but of course will watch his latest Mexican reality interpretation, loved Reprise so it’s easy to watch Trier’s Oslo movie, very curious about the Chilean movie and of course “dying” to watch Nadine Labaki latest oeuvre but there are more films in the above list that will be must be seen for me. Excellent, I’m excited about this selection.

Watch trailers @MOC

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Three Days to #Cannes2017

Finally today organizers released the names of the jurors in ALL juries! Will stop this post to update main Cannes post will the names. Done.  Please check the jurors as has been a long time since a jury has so many outstanding directors together (!!!) as the short films jury has. Great!

Cannes in Numbers

Even when is not at the official site, let me share some interesting figures from this edition that hope are accurate. After all consideration selected only some that probably have less chance to be wrong, sigh.

-There are 60 films from 36 countries in the Official Selection.  Films were selected from 1,930 entries which is a bit higher than the 1,869 film considered in 2016.  From this total, 19 films are in competition and 18 in the Un Certain Regard competition.

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Thursday, February 21, 2008

Italianetz – Итальянец (The Italian)

A very heartwarming movie about the terrible world of international adoption. Based on a true story the movie tells about the Madam doing business (selling) with an Italian couple and the selected child is very charming Vanya from a Russian orphanage. Vanya is a six years old blond boy that will steal your heart as he decides, instead of going with the rich couple, to look for his birth mother.

This is about my first Russian movie -since I started this blog- that is set in what it looks like current time and it is incredibly touching (no melodrama here) story with a superb performance by young Kolya Spiridonov that plays Vanya.

Hard to believe that is Andrei Kravchuk directorial debut as he does a great movie with a great story and just the necessary words, as when the voyage starts silences and the child expressions predominate. Fantastic!

Some consider this movie in the group of excellent recent Russian films like Andrei Zvyagintsev's "The Return" and Boris Khlebnikov and Aleksei Popogrebsky's "Roads to Koktebel" that have examined the effect of Russia’s woes on its youngest and most vulnerable citizens and have to say that I totally agree.

One of the most loyal readers of this blog mentioned that I have a “thing” with Russian directors named Andrei and well it seems that this reader is absolutely right as this is another Andrei that I will look forward to see his movies.

The movie has many nominations and wins in fests and awards including the Glass Bear –Special Mention and the Deutsches Kinderhilfswerk Grand Prix at the 2005 Berlinale. I believe this movie has a wider audience especially among adults and I strongly suggest you do not miss it, as it is a good movie with an outstanding story that will leave you thinking about this unfortunate business.


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Saturday, May 24, 2014

67th Festival de Cannes Award Winners

In about six hours the red carpet will start followed by the awards ceremony, then the closing tribute to the western or better, the spaghetti western with Quentin Tarantino presenting For a Fistful of Dollars by Sergio Leone.

Nice closing ceremony with great award winners speeches that unfortunately chose to speak in English as the voice-over translation was loud, annoying and couldn't let you hear anything. Sigh. But imagine most will soon appear as clips all over the net. My predictions were as all Cannes predictions a futile exercise but can't deny that with one or two exceptions I approve who won the awards.

We have to realize that this year we have traditional winners but for those that wanted "fresh blood" we also have it and just for reference the youngest director in this edition, Xavier Dolan, tied with the oldest director in this edition, Jean-Luc Godard, but Alice Rohrwacher won the second top award.

So this is the end of the Cannes coverage and the end of the Festival.

À l'année prochaine!

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Возвращение (Vozvrashcheniye) (The Return)

I know that I found another very interesting director this time he is from Russia, his name Andrei Zvyagintsev. This is his first feature film after doing mainly commercials and one episode for a TV series and for a first feature this is an outstanding achievement in storytelling, movie design and composition, as well as fantastic cinematography.

With a screenplay by Vladimir Moiseyenko and Aleksandr Novototsky the movie tells the story of two young teenagers boys that live with her mother and grandmother because their father abandon them 12 years ago. One day the father returns and the life of the children will be changed forever after they go on a road trip with their father.

This is a very strong drama that does not relay in many dialogues but in actors expressions and some abrupt emotions. When you have seen so many Hollywood movies you cannot help but start to think that this movie is sort of a psychological thriller that give you clues to “guess” what’s happening, what comes next and how it would end. But even if the thriller effect is there, this is no thriller nor has anything to do with Hollywood. It’s totally the opposite.

Beautiful cinematography with fantastic scenes of remote Russian wilderness and a objective and subjective camera that superbly frame scenes, with some handheld camera scenes that produce the necessary effect at the exact moment. Marvelous.

Excellent performance by kid actor Ivan Dobronravov that plays Ivan the younger brother, to me he totally steals the movie and makes it absolutely all about him. But Vladimir Garin (older brother) and Konstantin Lavronenko (the father) also give very good performances.

This director’s first feature film has 28 wins and 11 nominations in awards and festivals around the world. Incredible! Among the wins we find the Golden Lion, the Best First Film Award, the Luigi de Laurentis Award, the SIGNIS Award and the Sergio Trasatti Award at the 2003 Venice Film Festival, wow! Also won the Golden Leopard at 2003 Locarno, the European Discovery award at 2003 European Film Awards, Best Foreign Film at 2004 César Awards, was the official Russian submission for the 2004 Oscar’s and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at 2004 Golden Globes. The honors that this movie received are as amazing as the movie itself.

Now I have to see Zvyagintsev’s latest film Izgnanie. Not for all audiences you have to like at least great European movies. This is quite an unforgettable experience in cinematic terms.


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Saturday, May 21, 2011

64th Festival de Cannes Un Certain Regard Award Winners

I’m starting post with info from twitter that’s just pouring, but will not publish until awards are posted at the official site; still I’m getting info from the official festival twitter feed.

Here are the winners that Emir Kusturica and his jury selected for this year.

Un Certain Regard Prize (tie):
아리랑 Arirang, Kim ki-duk, South Korea
Halt Auf Freier Strecke (Stopped on Track), Andreas Dresen, Germany

Jury Prize: Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia

Best Director: Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar (Good Bye)

FIPRESCI Award: L'Exercice de l'Etat (The Minister), Pierre Schoeller, France

To read official press release please go here.Very pleased with winners as almost all -except one- are films that I have to watch and definitively will watch.

The Un Certain Regard Award Winners and the Jury

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Saturday, December 13, 2014

27th European Film Awards Winners

 In less than 30 minutes the live stream of the awards will began and in about an hour the awards ceremony will start. I'll be updating this post as soon as winners are announced, so if you wish to learn them fast refresh post often.

Unfortunately there is no way to embed stream but if you wish to watch ceremony go here.

Was thinking that this award needs more credibility as most of the "big stars" that were nominated are NOT there. Wonder if they learn who wins before the show so they HAVE TO attend (at least!) or not attend (which if done is really bad for show). I have seen my share of European TV, from musical magazine to awards and yes, the format is quite different from the ones used in America. I use to enjoy the EFA's ceremony because it was very elegant, very European and didn't try to be funny or an American award show. 2014 brings a TV show that is not that much entertaining as yes I do miss Anke and this is so boring that I'm writing instead of watching show. Sigh. Wish they could go back to the more elegant style of show.

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Monday, December 11, 2017

20th British Independent Film Awards Winners

Last night was the awards ceremony with Lady Macbeth wining five awards including Best Actress for Florence Pugh, God's Own Country follows with four awards including Best British Film, The Death of Stalin also with four awards and most interesting, I Am Not a Witch wins 3 awards but remarkable is that film director, Rungano Nyoni wins Best Director and Best Debut Director, an achievement that happens not often, last time was in 2007 with Anton Corbijn for Control.

Thanks to BIFA's 2017 nominations became interested in watching Lady Macbeth, a film that I had decided will skip.  I'm grateful to BIFA as was going to skip one of the most outstanding films from 2017, a film with great performances, great tech specs, but, most of all, a great director that could transform a well-known tale into storytelling anew. The end-result is a mesmerizing film, impossible to take off your eyes from the screen from the very first frame until the last one.  All honors here are well-deserved and know film will collect more in the current awards season.

As film is doing so-well with American critics, it's worth noting that Get Out got the BIFA for Best International Independent Film which could mean a place in the BAFTA's.

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Sunday, May 22, 2011

64th Festival de Cannes Award Winners

With a “Blue Screen of Death” in the middle of the broadcast I watched the live Cannes 2011 ceremony (yay!), I’m so glad to have a fast, lean, clean machine that starts again FAST! Ceremony was fast, which is very welcomed by everyone. So, here are ALL the Cannes 2011 winners.

Main Competition

Palme d’Or: The Tree of Life, Terrence Malick, USA

Grand Prix (tie): Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Le Gamin au Vélo (Boy with a Bike), Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne, Belgium, France and Italy

Jury Prize:Polisse, Maïwenn, France

Best Director: Nicolas Winding Refn for Drive, USA
Best Screenplay:Joseph Cedar for Hearat Shulayim (Footnote), Israel

Best Actress: Kirsten Dunst in Melancholia, Lars Von Trier, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany and Italy
Best Actor: Jean Dujardin in The Artist, Michel Hazanavicius, France

Honorary Palm d’Or: Bernardo Bertolucci and Jean-Paul Belmondo

Camera d’Or: Las Acacias, Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina and Spain (from La Semaine de la Critique)

Short Films
Palme d’Or: Cross (Cross-Country), Maryna Vroda, France and Ukraine
Special Mention: Badpakje 46 (Swimsuit 46), Wannes Destoop, Belgium

Un Certain Regard

Un Certain Regard Prize (tie): 아리랑 Arirang, Kim ki-duk, South Korea and Halt Auf Freier Strecke (Stopped on Track), Andreas Dresen, Germany
Jury Prize: Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia
Best Director: Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid é Didar (Good Bye), Iran

Quinzaine des Réalisateurs (Directors’ Fortnight)

Label Europa Cinemas: Atmen (Breathing), Karl Markovics, Austria
Art Cinema Award: Les Géants, Bouli Lanners, Belgium, France and Luxembourg
Prix SACD: Les Géants, Bouli Lanners, Belgium, France and Luxembourg
Séance "Coup de coeur": Play, Ruben Östlund, Sweden, France and Denmark
Carrosse d'Or: Jafar Panahi

Semaine de la Critique (Critic's Week)

Feature Films
Grand Prize: Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols, USA
Special Mention of the President: Snowtown by Justin Kurzel, Australia
SACD Prize: Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols, USA
ACID/CCAS Support: Las Acacias, Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina and Spain
OFAJ (Very) Young Critic Award: Las Acacias, Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina and Spain
Grand Rail d’Or: Las Acacias, Pablo Giorgelli, Argentina and Spain

Short Films
Best Short: Blue, Stephan Kang, New Zealand
Special Mention: Alexis Ivanovitch vous êtes mon héros, Guillaume Gouix, France
Discovery Award: Dimanches, Valérie Rosier, Belgium
Petit Rail d’Or: Junior, Julia Ducournau, France


First Prize: Der Brief (The Letter), Doroteya Droumeva, Germany,
Second Prize: Drari, Kamal Lazraq, France
Third Prize: Ya-Gan-Bi-Hang (Fly By Night), Son Tae-gyum, South Korea

To read award winners plus info about each film please go here.

Collateral Awards

Main Competition: Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, France and Germany
Un Certain Regard: L'Exercice de l'Etat (The Minister), Pierre Schoeller, France
Semaine de la Critique: Take Shelter by Jeff Nichols, USA

Ecumenical Jury Award: This Must Be the Place, Paolo Sorrentino, Italy, France and Ireland
Special Mention: Le Havre, Aki Kaurismäki, Finland, France and Germany and Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where Do We Go Now?), Nadine Labaki, Lebanon and France

Prix de la Jeunesse: La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I Live In), Pedro Almodóvar, Spain
Prix du Jeune Regard: Martha Marcy May Marlene, Sean Durkin, USA

Queer Palm: Skoonheid (Beauty), Olivier Hermanus, South Africa, France and Germany (gay interest)

Prix François Chalais: Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where Do We Go Now?), Nadine Labaki, Lebanon and France
Special Mention: Bé Omid é Didar (Good Bye), Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran

Prix France Culture Cinema Award: Céline Sciamma and Alexandre Astruc
MEDIA European Talent Prize: Virág Zomborácz (Hungary) and Hanna Sköld (Sweden)
Chopard Newcomers: Astrid Bergès-Frisbey and Niels Schneider

Palm Dog: Uggy in The Artist
Jury Grand Prix: Laika in Le Havre

Le Festival de Cannes c'est fini ... à l’année prochaine!!!

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

2009 Possible Cannes News

As the Berlinale is coming to an end attention turns to Cannes and speculation about what films will be screened this year start to appear. The final list we will only learn when the fest release it, but from the possible listings I’ve been reading there are some films that no matter if they make Cannes or not they seem to be very interesting and definitively I’m looking forward to watch them. Here are some examples.

Mr. Nobody by Jaco Van Dormael, starring Diane Kruger, Sarah Polley and Rhys Ifans; Sci-fi fantasy. IMDb
Coco and Igor by Jan Kounen, starring Anna Mouglalis; deals with Coco Chanel tempestuous relationship with composer Igor Stravinsky. Twitch
Coco Avant Chanel (Coco Before Chanel), Anne Fontaine, another Coco Chanel story starring Audrey Tautou. IMDb
Vengeance, Johnnie To, starring Johnny Hallyday as a hit man in Hong Kong and Sylvie Testud; thriller. IMDb
Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino. Trailer
Antichrist, Lars Von Trier, starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Defoe. IMDb
Bright Star, Jane Campion, about poet John Keats, played by Ben Whishaw, romance with Fanny Brawne, which was cut short by Keat’s untimely death at age 25. IMDb
Looking for Eric, Ken Loach, about Eric a football fanatic postman whose life is descending in to crisis receives some life coaching from the famously philosophical Eric Cantona. IMDb
Abrazos Rotos (Broken Embraces), Pedro Almodovar, Spain, starring Penelope Cruz, Blanca Portillo, Rossy de Palma; 1950’s noir film. IMDb
Agora, Alejandro Amenabar's historical drama about Egyptian philosopher Hypatia of Alexandria starring Rachel Weisz. IMDb
The Limits of Control, Jim Jarmusch, starring Tilda Swinton, Bill Murray, John Hurt, Gael Garcia Bernal, Hiam Abbass; a Spain-set road movie about the story of a mysterious loner, a stranger in the process of completing a criminal job. IMDb
Tetro, Francis Ford Coppola, about an Italian immigrant family starring Vincent Gallo, Maribel Verdu, Carmen Maura, Klaus Maria Brandauer. IMDb
White Material, Claire Denis, starring Isabelle Huppert. IMDb
L’Affaire Farewell (Farewell), Christian Carion, France, a KGB thriller staring Guillaume Canet, David Soul, Alexandra Maria Lara, Emir Kusturica (!) and Fred Ward as Reagan?? IMDb
This is Love, Matthias Glasner, Germany,about a hard-hitting look at child prostitution in Thailand. IMDb
Soul Kitchen, Fatih Akin, starring Moritz Bleibtreu and Birol Unel, comedy. IMDb
Io Sono Amore (I Am Love), Luca Guadagnino, starring Flavio Parenti and Tilda Swinton. A tragic love story set at the turn of the millennium in Milan. The film follows the fall of the haute bourgeoisie due to the forces of passion and unconditional love. IMDb
Il Grande Sogno (The Great Dream), Michele Placido, starring Elio Germano, Margherita Buy, Laura Morante; about a student revolt in Rome in 1968. IMDb
New York, I Love You that follows its predecessor Paris, Je t’Aime. Randall Balsmeyer as director of transitions and segments by Fatih Akin, Yvan Attal, Allen Hughes, Shunji Iwai, Wen Jiang, Scarlett Johansson (??!!), Shekhar Kapur, Joshua Marston, Mira Nair, Natalie Portman, Brett Ratner, and Andrei Zvyagintsev. IMDb

The year looks brighter with some interesting films to look forward to watch particularly anything and everything by Fatih Akin and Pedro Almodovar!

Absolutely Great News!!!

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009


Very interesting film by Götz Spielmann with a crime/drama/unconventional thriller story told at a very slow pace and with an introduction of characters that lasts almost half the movie that makes you uneasy as you know that “nothing” is happening but you get the feeling that “soon” will happen. When eventually happens the movie totally changes and from an urban setting goes to a rural setting with absolutely beautiful sets, great silences, slow pace and two men devastated by guilt.

But what I found to be truly remarkable is the outstanding use of light, with many amazing outdoor and indoor takes that really distract you from whatever is happening as you have to stop your mind to contemplate the compositions with shadows, dark in the background and warm light in the foreground. Very Beautiful!

Basically tells the story of two men, one an ex-con, Alex, and other a policeman, Robert, that cross their paths and their lives take a turn into feeling deep guilt; but nothing is simple in here and as a matter of fact I find that more than an emotional story this is a very cerebral story. As Spielmann says in an interview “the films explores more deeply the secret behind life”, so you can imagine that definitively it is not a traditional crime/drama/thriller at all.

One of the most beautiful scenes of the movie is when the opening credits are rolling and it’s really shocking that from that amazing peaceful scene the story moves to an awful urban setting in a brothel with some sex scenes that made me feel uneasy. But I believe is due to the contrast of the promise of the opening scene and the rawness that follows –even when now I think that I should have known because the opening scene ends with a stone thrown into the pond and the reflection is totally disturbed. So, if you decide to watch this movie be prepared to a brothel raw story during almost half the movie.

As you can imagine by now the movie has extraordinary cinematography that just because of it, watching becomes a true pleasure; but performances are also quite good, especially Johannes Krisch that plays Alex and tech specs are definitively well above average.

I believe that this is a very art house European movie and honestly I’m pleased that the Academy has it in the shortlist, as suggests that perhaps now the Academy members in the new voting process are definitively younger than their predecessors. The movie was premiered at the 2008 Berlinale where won the CICAE Award, the Label Europa Cinemas Award, and the Femina-Film-Prize for production design. Since then has been collecting honors in the 08 Toronto fest, 2008 Telluride fest, 2008 Motovun fest, and other awards and festivals. Most important is to remember that is Austria’s official submission to the Oscars and today we learned that is in the shortlist.

As a reference to some of my loyal readers, this movie has visuals and a style that recalls the work of Russian directors like Andrei Zvyagintsev and his amazing Izgnanie. I do recommend this movie to those that enjoy European art cinema.


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Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 Cannes (Probable) Selection

With ONLY 14 days to the Paris press conference at which the Cannes official selection will be announced and because all the fuzz and buzz about the possible contenders decided to do a list here (especially for my photographer friend) with some of the movies that most likely could end up being part of the Selection either In or Out of competition.

From France
Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud’s Poulet aux Prunes (Chicken with Plums), France and Germany (wow! Must be seen, of course)
Christophe Honore’s Les bien-aimés (The Beloved), France (Ludivine Sagnier, Catherine Denueve, Louis Garrel… must be seen!)
Mia Hanse Løve’s Un Amour de Jeunesse (Goodbye First Love), France and Germany
Dominik Moll’s The Monk, Spain and France (Vincent Cassel, Sergi Lopez, hmm, yes must be seen)
Bruno Dumont’s Hors Satan (aka L’Empire), France
Mathieu Kassovitz’s L'Ordre et la Morale (Rebellion), France
Pierre Schoeller’s L'exercice de l'État (The Excersice of State), France

From Europe/Asia
Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, Denmark, Sweden, France, Germany and Italy (of course must be seen)
Dardene Bros Le Gamin au vélo (The Kid With a Bike), Belgium, France and Italy (with Cecile de France, must be seen)
Nanni Moretti’s Habemus Papam (We Have a Pope), Italy and France (yes will watch)
Paolo Sorrentino This Must Be the Place, Italy, France and Ireland (with Sean Penn??? Hmm, will watch)
Aki Kaurismäki’s Le Havre, Finland, France and Germany (of course must be seen)
Ruben Östlund’s Play, Sweden (of course must be seen)
Ulrich Seidl’s Paradies, Germany, France and Austria
Chantal Akerman’s La folie Almayer (Almayer’s Folly), France and Belgium (interesting)
Radu Mihaileanu’s La Source des Femmes (The Source), Belgium, Italy and France
Lynne Ramsay’s We Need to Talk About Kevin, UK
Yorgos Lanthimos Alps, Greece (I know didn’t liked Dogtooth, but of course will watch his next)
Andrei Zvyagintsev’s Elena, Russia (wonder if will be ready but OF COURSE is must be seen for me)
Alexandr Sokurov’s Faust, Russia (the fourth and last film about corruption, of course: must be seen)
Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s Bir Zamanlar Anadolu (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Turkey (must be seen for me)
Brillante Mendoza’s Captured, France and Philippines (What??? With Isabelle Huppert!!! Must be seen)
Eric Khoo’s Tatsumi, Singapore and Japan (Very interesting animation)
Nadine Labaki’s Wo Hallah La Wen? (Where Do We Go Now?), Lebanon (release date May 2011, hmm that’s Cannes, isn’t? of course, must be seen for me – follow up to Caramel…)

From the Americas
Carlos Reygadas’s Post Tenebras Lux (After Dark), Mexico and France (“Dying” to watch, but wonder if will be ready for Cannes…)
Juan Solanas’s Upside Down, Canada and France (very interesting posters… lol!)
Gus Van Sant’s Restless, USA (will watch)
Terrence Malick Tree of Life, USA (will watch)

Some still consider that Almodovar’s La Piel Que Habito (The Skin I live In) could make it, but release date is set for September 2, 2011 in Spain, so who knows if will make it to Cannes. Of course is must be seen for me and yes, “dying” to watch it. If you feel like reading about film and Cannes check article here available only in Spanish; says that film is NOT ready for Cannes.

No matter if none, some or many of the above films make it to the selection what it’s a fact is that 2011 will bring movies by excellent directors, many of my dearest favorites, so it’s going to be one of those years when the “wait” will be unbearable. Sigh.

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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query andrei Zvyagintsev. Sort by date Show all posts

Thursday, November 24, 2011

5th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Award Winners

Last night (i.e. very early morning for me) the Academy had their award ceremony that you can watch here.  The following are the winners.

Best Feature Film: جدایی نادر از سیمین Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation), Asghar Farhadi, Iran

Jury Grand Prize: Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

Achievement in Directing: Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Turkey
Best Performance by Actress: Nadezha Markina in Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia
Best Peformance by Actor: Wang Baoqiang for Hello! Shu Xian Sheng (Mr. Tree) by Jie Han, China

Best Children’s Feature Film: Buta by Ilgar Najaf, Azerbaijan
Best Animated Feature Film: Madangeul naon amtak (Leafie) by Oh Seonyun, Korea
Best Documentary Feature Film: Jag Var Värd 50 Lamm (I Was Worth 50 Sheep) by Nima Sarvestani, Sweden, Japan and USA

Best Screeplay: Denis Osokin for Ovsyanki (Silent Souls) by Aleksei Fedorchenko, Russia
Achievement in Cinematography Award: Gökhan Tiryaki for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia) by Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey

UNESCO Award: Ivan Sen for Toomelah, Australia
FIAPF Award: Zhang Yimou

To check the announcement go here and to check nominees plus winners in all categories go here.

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Friday, April 20, 2007


To me, this is the mother of all festivals (like the Oscars is the mother of all awards) and I am so joyful to learn that so many new movies are comming soon as next month is Cannes Season. The nominations were announced yesterday and here they are for the main two chapters, plus some special screenings. I will link each movie to an information source for faster information access.

The International Competition

Opening film:
My Blueberry Nights, Romance, Hong Kong/France/China, Wong Kar Wai

4 Luni, 3 Săptămâni şi 2 Zile (4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days), Romania, Cristian Mungiu
Aleksandra (Alexandra), Russia, Alexander Sokurov
Yasamin Kiyisinda - Auf der Anderen Seite (The Edge of Heaven), Germany/Turkey, Fatih Akin
Breath, Drama, South Korea, Kim Ki Duk
Death Proof (Grindhouse segment), USA, Quentin Tarantino
Import/Export, Drama, Austria, Ulrich Seidl
Izgnanie (The Banishment), Drama, Russia/Belgium, Andrei Zvyagintsev
Les Chansons d'Amour, Musical, France, Christophe Honoré
Luz Silenciosa (Silent Light -Stellet Licht), Drama, Mexico/France/Netherlands, Carlos Reygadas
The Man From London, Drama, Hungary/Germany/France/UK , Béla Tarr
Mogari no Mori (The Mourning Forest), Japan, Naomi Kawase
Milyang (Secret Sunshine) Comedy, South Korea, Lee Chang-dong
No Country for Old Men USA ,Joel & Ethan Coen
Paranoid Park, France/USA, Gus Van Sant
Persepolis, English site, Animation/Drama, France/USA ,Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud, 1st Film
Le Scaphandre et le Papillon, Drama, France, Julian Schnabel
Tehilim, Drama, Israel, Raphaël Nadjari
Une Vieille Maîtresse, Drama, France, Catherine Breillat
We Own The Night, Photos, Drama, USA, James Gray
Zavet (Promise me This), Drama, Serbia/France, Emir Kusturica
Zodiac, Thriller, USA, David Fincher

Closing film:
L’age des Tenebres, Comedy, Canada (Out of Competition), Denys Arcand

International Competition Jury
Stephen Frears, British director (president)
Marco Bellocchio, Italian director
Maggie Cheung, Hong Kong actress
Toni Collette, Australian actress
Maria De Medeiros, Portuguese actress
Orhan Pamuk, Turkish novelist
Michel Piccoli, French actor
Sarah Polley, Canadian actress
Abderrahmane Sissako, Mauritanian director


Am ende kommen touristen (And Along Come Tourists), Drama, Germany, Robert Thalheim
L'Avocat de la terreur, France, Barbet Schroeder
El Baño del Papa (The Pope's Toilet), Uruguay, Enrique Fernandez and Cesar Charlone, 1st Film
Bikur Hatizmoret (The Band's Visit), Israel, Eran Kolirin, 1st Film
California Dreamin' (Nesfarsut)(California Dreamin’ (Endless)), Drama, Romania, Cristian Nemescu, 1st Film
La Calle Santa Fe, (Santa Fe Street), Documentary, Chile, Carmen Castillo, 1st Film
Et toi, t'es sur qui?, Romance, France, Lola Doillon, 1st Film
Kuaile Gongchang (Pleasure Factory), Thailand or Singapore, Ekachai Uekrongtham
Magnus, Estonia-UK, Drama, Kadri Kousaar, 1st Film
Mang Shan (Blind Mountain), Drama, China, Li Yang
Mio fratello e figlio unico,(My Brother is an Only Child), Comedy, Italy, Daniele Luchetti
Mister Lonely, USA, Comedy, Harmony Korine
Munyurangabo (Liberation Day), USA, Lee Isaac Chung, 1st Film
Les Pieuvres, Drama, France, Céline Sciamma, 1st Film
Le Reve de la nuit d'avant (Bad Habits), France, Valeria Bruni-Tedeschi
La Soledad (Fragments of Loneliness), Drama, Spain, Jaime Rosales

Un Certain Regard Jury
Pascale Ferran, French director (president)
Kent Jones, American writer
Cristi Puiu, Romanian director
Bian Qin
Jasmine Trinca, Italian actress

Out of Competition:
A Mighty Heart, Drama/War,UK, Michael Winterbottom
Ocean’s Thirteen, Thriller, USA, Steven Soderbergh
Sicko, Documentary, USA, Michael Moore,

Midnight Screenings:
Boarding Gate, Thriller,France, Olivier Assayas
Go Go Tales, Comedy, USA, Abel Ferrara
U2 3D, Documentary,USA, Catherine Owens and Mark Pellington

Special Screenings:
11th Hour, Documentary, USA, Leila Conners Petersen and Nadia Conners
He Fengming (Chronicle of a Chinese Woman), Documentary, China, Wang Bing
Retour en Normandie, Documentary, France, Nicolas Philibert
The War, Documentary, USA, Ken Burns, and Lynn Novick

For Shorts and Cinefondation nominations the link is here and check the pdf file.

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Monday, October 10, 2011

5th Annual Asia Pacific Screen Awards Nominations

Today APSA announced the nominations for this year awards, with a total of 37 films from 19 countries and areas. Here are the nominations for some categories. It’s noted that the films with most nominations –four each- are A Separation and Once Upon a Time in Anatolia, as we know both are Iran and Turkey submissions to Oscar plus both are by two of my most favorite directors.

Best Feature Film
Band Baaja Baaraat (Wedding Planners), Maneesh Sharma, India
Bé Omid É Didar (Goodbye), Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran
Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Nuri Bilge Ceylan, Turkey
Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation), Asghar Farhadi, Iran
Rang zidan fei (Let the Bullets Fly), Jiang Wen, China and Hong Kong

Achievement in Directing
Asghar Farhadi for Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation), Iran
Nuri Bilge Ceylan for Bir Zamanlar Anadolu’da (Once Upon a Time in Anatolia), Turkey
Mohammad Rasoulof for Bé Omid É Didar (Goodbye), Iran
Jiang Wen for Rang zidan fei (Let the Bullets Fly), China and Hong Kong
Na Hong-jin for Hwanghae (The Yellow Sea), South Korea

Best Performance by an Actress
Judy Davis in The Eye of the Storm, Fred Schepisi, Australia
Nahed El Sebai in Cairo 678, Mohamed Diab, Egypt
Nadezhda Markina in Elena, Andrei Zvyagintsev, Russia
Shayesteh Irani in Ayenhaye Rooberoo (Facing Mirrors), Negar Azarbayjani, Iran
Leyla Zareh in Bé Omid É Didar (Goodbye), Mohammad Rasoulof, Iran

Best Performance by an Actor
Peyman Moadi in Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (A Separation), Asghar Farhadi, Iran
Wang Baoqiang in Hello! Shu Xian Sheng (Mr Tree), Jie Han, China
Sasson Gabay in Boker Tov Adon Fidelman (Restoration), Yossi Madmoni, Israel
Fa’afiaula Sagote in O le Tulafale (The Orator), Tusi Tamasese,New Zealand and Samoa
Daniel Connors for Toomelah, Ivan Sen, Australia

To check nominees in all categories go press release or here. Award ceremony will be on November 24 at the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia and will be streamed live at the official site here.

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Saturday, May 24, 2014

2014 Cannes Predictions

For entertainment purposes lets review what predictions say, but have to remind you that winners will come from an eclectic filmmakers/actors jury and not from film critics. Nevertheless I gather that the consensus is that this year the Palme d'Or winner is NOT clear, unlike -for example- what happened in 2012 with Amour and in 2013 with La Vie d'Adèle.

According to those that play the guessing game, in 2014 there are five films running towards a "photo finish": a Canadian prodigy, a Russian corruption critic, Belgian brothers, a Turkish husband-and-wife team and a British veteran tipped for glory. If the Palme d'Or goes to any of these films, then most bet the other films will get the other top awards.

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Thursday, December 01, 2011

Autumn Movie Bites #2

Some bites to remind us that I have seen the movies and what I think about them.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes by Rupert Wyatt. USA. I start by saying that have seen the old movies, thus I know story; so my big surprise was to find that I liked the prequel, is a lot better than what I could ever imagined or expected. Loved the new apes, especially the protagonist with an amazingly expressive face that really transmitted feelings, truly fabulous how cinema technology has advanced and how good can be when is well-used. If you haven’t seen it, go ahead and watch if only just to pay attention to the great expression by the protagonist ape. Enjoy!!

What Women Want by Daming Chen. China. I’m crazy about Gong Li and will watch everything with her, but I have no idea why did she accepted to do this remake of the Hollywood movie with the same name. Much less because I did enjoyed original and gee, this remake was really awful and got me feeling embarrassed for Gong Li performance. If you love Gong Li please do not watch this movie. Sigh.

Margin Call by J. C. Chandor. USA. Nice entertaining drama about the financial crisis that seems will be explored from many points of view; this time telling about an investment bank that rushes to dump their positions before everything explodes and pushing fast-forward the crisis. Great cast with the likes of Jeremy Irons, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Paul Bettany, and well, Demi Moore. Movie is starting to collect honors in this award season and yes, is well-deserved as film is a good representative of current American cinema that doesn’t target teenagers and doesn’t use special effects to fill movie duration. Enjoy!

The Help by Tate Taylor. USA, India, UAE. No, haven’t read the book and was expecting a not-easy-to-watch American period drama before civil rights were a possibility. To my surprise the story engage me to the point of making me very uncomfortable at moments as many things that are depicted in the movie are still true today between maids and their mistresses from many Latin American countries. Film is well done, so well that does generate emotions in viewers and I’m no exception, but great performances enhance story and movie in general, especially Viola Davis that I’m sure will get an Oscar nomination. Watch movie is entertaining and surely will make you laugh, shred a few tears, make you think a lot, and for some, wonder why no one has written a successful book about Latin America’s maid/mistress relationship. Enjoy!!!

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Wayne Wang. China and USA. Film tells parallel stories between 19th century China and present day Shanghai with tales of two women joined by laotong, a biding vow and contract to be eternal friends and share each other lives communicating with a secret women’s language called nushu beautiful written on the folds between the spines of silken fans. Nice story isn’t? Unfortunately film does not match the greatness of the story and what could have become interesting, thrilling and engaging becomes banal, not interesting and focus less. If you skip movie won’t miss much, but I do suggest you read book by Lisa See. Enjoy.

Melancholia by Lars von Trier. Denmark, Sweden, France and Germany. Lars von Trier has said publicly that this is his most American-like (ie mainstream or commercial) movie ever and you have no idea how right he is as this film definitively is not the regular greatness von Trier imprints in his works. Maybe the cast helps too much to his Americanization, as the first part with Kirsten Dunst character story is really not-engaging and for me, dull. Thing change a bit in the second part when Charlotte Gainsbourg commands the story and the screen but by then you know the end is coming and effectively comes with a bang done more with light than with impact. I suppose that most honors will come because film is not as crude as for example The Antichrist, is a lot more easy to watch and one-dimensionally understandable. Sigh. All right because I really liked second part, let say is Enjoy! (I hope he goes back to do his remarkable movies that so goodly shock us).

The Tree of Life by Terrence Malick. USA. Let me get this out of the way I have seen Malick’s movies and yes there are some I don’t like (The New World) and some nobody liked but I did (Days of Heaven); so many like his latest and surprise, surprise I did not. Just let me share that can’t understand why to reproduce the big-bang for about 20 minutes (more or less) with images that look more belonging to Natgeo, Discovery or any of those cable TV channels than to a “serious” film. I literally forced myself to watch the complete movie, but boy that was really a very hard thing to do and do not suggest anyone to do it. Too hard-to-watch (ie boring) but got the Palm d’Or and praises from everyone, except me. Sigh.

Beginners by Mike Mills. USA. Could you believe I watched this movie because Mélanie Laurent? Lol! It’s an entertaining movie thanks to very good performances by Christopher Plummer and Ewan McGregor as father and son. Film is a drama that tells about a man inability to keep a relationship surely due to what he saw his parents live, especially after her mother dies and his father recuperates the ‘joie de vivre’ when he tells everyone that he’s gay. It’s a complex story with many layers that I got them but somehow didn’t engaged me and watched from a comfortable distance, I was just an spectator of whatever was going on in the screen. Enjoy!!

Attenberg by Athina Rachel Tsangari. Greece. Very crazy movie, so crazy that I love it! But know that is not for everyone not for the story, not for the performances, not for the style and not for the whole that to me feels not hot like Greece but very cold like Finland –somehow film made me think of Aki K. films-. There is nothing lesbian interest in this film as I thought, so watch film only if you like cold-expression-less performances in very complex layered stories. If you dare to watch film I bet you will enjoy it a lot more than you expect, obviously you have to like art/arthouse films too. Enjoy!!!

Le Gamin au Vélo (The Girl with a Bike) by Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne. Belgium, France and Italy. Typical and particular Dardenne brothers visual style, amazing storytelling technique/style, and excellent directorial style that makes something very simple into a true masterpiece that’s a pleasure to watch. Period. Both Cécile De France and Thomas Doret give impeccable performances. A must be seen film for all of us that love the work of great Dardenne brothers. Enjoy!!!

Elena by Andrei Zvyagintsev. Russia. This movie has been killing me since the moment I finished watching and as days went by it has gotten worst. See, my spontaneous reaction when I saw the movie was: it’s an okay movie, Russia now looks/behaves like the rest of us… hmm, not good. Liked the visuals but believed they’re not as good as in Izgnanie or The Return. But since I like this director way beyond what I saw, I replayed movie in my mind and from that moment on movie is killing me. I know there are a lot of symbols and film explores the capitalist dichotomy of poor-rich, have-have not’s, plus the roles nouveaux riches play in their societies and I suppose that in Russia those that have money have not old money, but new money. Then started to read about movie and gee, almost each review, no matter the language, has slightly different story interpretations. I even read what Zvyaginstsev says about story and yes is slightly different. So my conclusion, is that movie story could have as many interpretations as people who see the movie, there is a very easy to understand story essence that deals with what I said above plus the morals of committing murder, but when you see story essence you know there is more and indeed people find more. One thing I’m sure if you enjoy great Russian films, this is must be seen for you. Big Enjoy!!!

جدایی نادر از سیمین Jodaeiye Nader az Simin (Nader and Simin, A Separation) by Asghar Farhadi. Iran. Excellent movie, for me as good as Farhadi previous two films, Fireworks Wednesday and About Elly; but this film has something new as story flawlessly travels several genres and engages us viewers not like spectators but like we are inside the movie and sometimes we side with Simin, then with Nader, the with Razieh, then with the judge, then with no one, then we are completely immersed inside the story and film. Fabulous! Until you see this brilliantly crafted very simple story you have no idea how seeing something so banal and common can become a masterpiece in the hands of a master filmmaker. Chapeau Mr. Farhadi. I don’t doubt that has huge possibilities of winning the Oscar and if so, will be well deserved, especially now that I know Pina is also competing in the documentary category. I strongly recommend this film as must be seen for all everyone that loves great world cinema. BIG ENJOY!!!

There are many more movies, but this is it for today. Cheers!

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