Ikiru (1952)

AKIRA KUROSAWA Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.  Japan, 1952.  Toho Company.  Screenplay by Akira Kurosawa,  Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni.  Cinematography by Asakazu Nakai.  Produced by Sojiro Motoki.  Music by Fumio Hayasaka.  Production Design by Takashi Matsuyama.  Film Editing by Koichi Iwashita.   A mild-manner civil servant (Takashi Shimura, getting a rare lead role from his frequent collaborator Akira Kurosawa) finds out that he…

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How To Get Ahead In Advertising (1989)

BRUCE ROBINSON Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB.5.  United Kingdom, 1989.  HandMade Films.  Screenplay by Bruce Robinson.  Cinematography by Peter Hannan.  Produced by David Wimbury.  Music by David Dundas, Rick Wentworth.  Production Design by Michael Pickwoad.  Costume Design by Andrea Galer.  Film Editing by Alan Strachan.   Richard E. Grant reunites with his Withnail and I director Bruce Robinson for another outrageous comedy, this time taking…

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The New Land (Nybyggarna)

BBBB.5 (out of 5) The magnificent saga continues in this excellent second film that follows Jan Troell’s The Emigrants.  Having found their promised land in Minnesota at the end of the last chapter, the Nilsson family must now eke out their survival on a barren property from which they eventually yield a successful life: more children follow,…

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The Emigrants (Utvandrarna)

BBBBB (out of 5) Max von Sydow plays a poor Swedish farmer who asks Liv Ullmann to be his wife and she accepts.  They take over his father’s farm, have children and live through good and bad crops, the joys and sorrows of parenting and taking part in their community until the truth of their situation…

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A Special Day (Una Giornata Particolare) (1977)

ETTORE SCOLA Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBBB.5.  Italy/Canada, 1977.  Compagnia Cinematografica Champion, Canafox Films.  Screenplay by Ruggero Maccari, Ettore Scola, collaboration with Maurizio Costanzo.  Cinematography by Pasqualino de Santis.   Produced by Carlo Ponti.  Music by Armando Trovajoli.  Production Design by Luciano Ricceri.  Costume Design by Enrico Sabbatini.  Film Editing by Raimondo Crociani.  Academy Awards 1977.  Cannes Film Festival 1977.  Golden Globe Awards 2017.  Podcast:  My Criterions. It’s May 8,…

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I, Daniel Blake (2016)

KEN LOACH Bil’s rating (out of 5):  BBB.5.  United Kingdom/France/Belgium, 2016.  Sixteen Films, Why Not Productions, Wild Bunch, British Film Institute, BBC Films, Les Films Du Fleuve, France 2 Cinema, Canal+, France Televisions, Le Pacte, Cineart, Cine+, VOO, BeTV.  Screenplay by Paul Laverty.  Cinematography by Robbie Ryan.  Produced by Rebecca O’Brien.  Music by George Fenton.  Production Design by Fergus Clegg, Linda Wilson.  Costume Design by Jo…

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Empire Of Passion (Ai No Borei)

BBBB (out of 5) Nagisa Oshima follows his notoriously explicit In The Realm of The Senses with a tamer but still erotic tale of sex and guilt.  The wife of a dull rickshaw driver falls into the arms of a sexy ruffian and the two become regular lovers, indulging quite passionately in the pleasures of the flesh…

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Il Sorpasso

BBBB (out of 5) Vittorio Gassman plays a braggart on the move who pauses his roadster next to the apartment building of a shy law student (Jean-Louis Trintignant) and asks if he can use his phone.  Immediately taking a liking to the timid young man, Gassman convinces Trintignant to join him as he hits the barren roads…

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Falstaff (Chimes At Midnight)

BBB.5 (out of 5) Orson Welles takes one of Shakespeare’s most beloved characters and combines his appearances in five different plays into one smooth experience, finishing it off with narrative elements read by Ralph Richardson from the writings of Raphael Holinshed. Welles initially wrote it as a play that performed with little success, inspiring the great auteur…

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State Of Siege

BBBB (out of 5) An American official (Yves Montand) is kidnapped by political insurgents in Uruguay, interrogated for what they suspect is his involvement in aiding the government’s suppression of the people through violence and torture. Montand insists that he is simply an employee of the US Agency for International Development and that his appearances…

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Fantastic Planet (La Planete Sauvage)

BBB (out of 5) Curiously animated science-fiction fable that has been a cult favourite since its premiere at the 1973 Cannes Film Festival, where it took a special prize. Execution overcomes plot familiarity as a barely subtle plot about class division takes place on the planet of Ygam, where a race of blue giants called Draags…

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Judex

BBBBB (out of 5) This stylish masterpiece by Georges Franju is adapted from a 1916 film serial by Louis Feuillade, inspiring the filmmaker to include a great deal of silent film technique in its remarkably smooth telling.  A wealthy banker with a shady past is warned that his comeuppance will come at the stroke of…

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