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Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 14

This week I chose films from the 40s, 50s, 60s, 90s, and 00s. Two are from the same director. They take place in Rome and Paris and Berlin and Tokyo and Washington. Several of them are considered to be the greatest films of their genres. There’s comedy, political satire, civil unrest, a hitman double-cross, and what we do for those we love is a recurring theme.

This week’s films are:

 Bicycle Thieves,  Dr. Strangelove,  Lost in Translation,  Run Lola Run,  La Haine,  Le Samourai, and  Umberto D.

Review: Undine

This romantic drama from director Christian Petzold reunties actors Paula Beer (Franz) and Franz Rogowski who starred together in his film Transit a couple of years ago. She plays Undine, a historian in a Berlin museum who lectures select audiences about the city’s urban design. He’s Christoph, a commercial diver who meets her just after she’s been dumped by her current boyfriend (Jacob Matschenz, “Charité”) who she’s told, “If you leave me, I’ll have to kill you.” In a well-known European folk tale, Undine is a water nymph who who becomes human when she falls in love with a man but has to kill him and return to the deep if he is unfaithful to her. In the film, Undine slowly reveals her true self through a beautiful and bittersweet fantasy-tinged love story.

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 13

This week’s picks are heavy on big name directors: Louis Malle, Akira Kurasawa, Volker Schlöndorff, Ingmar Bergman, Billie August, Hal Ashby, and John Huston. Many of these are their first films and one is the director’s final film. And only one is a comedy. They hail from France, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and Hollywood. Most of them were Oscar nominees, and many of them winners.

Except for one they’re from the 70s and 80s.

The films are: Lacombe Lucien, Dersu Uzala, The Tin Drum, Fanny and Alexander, Pelle the Conqueror, Harold and Maude, and The Maltese Falcon. 

 

Arty Chick’s Seven Picks: Week 5

This week’s  picks include a healthy dose of Roman decadence, an obsessive and tragic snoop, a ghostly romance, a grieving mother on the warpath, violent union busting, food to die for, and a woman who’s brutally honest about sleeping her way to the top.  Something for everyone!  One is from Italy, another from Germany. There’s a Korean flick and a Danish one, too. And three of them are Oscar winners.

This week’s picks are:  La Grande Bellezza; The Lives of Others; Truly Madly DeeplyMother Matewan ; Babette’s Feast; Baby Face

Arty Chick’s Seven Flicks: Week 1

What are you streaming this week? When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I started a list on my Facebook page, posting a film I love every day. That list has grown, and is still growing, edging up past 150 films. It is getting a little harder to choose a new film. But I’ve remembered a lot of great movies that I’ve watched over the years and they span all genres and eras. And sometimes one film will remind me of another or an actor that I’d forgotten. I’ve stayed away from the last decade because there are a million “best of” lists that included them. These are films that have stayed with me. Some are obscure, and some no doubt skew to my more “arty” taste. But I am sure you’ll find something to watch that will fill that pandemic hole.  I’ll be posting them in batches of 7 each week, until I have nothing more to say. That could take a while.

 

Review: The Painted Bird

Based on Jerzy Kosiński’s novel, The Painted Bird is a brutal tale of a young nameless boy’s fight to survive on his own during World War II in the wilds of Eastern Europe. He’s beaten and abused wherever he turns, and all he wants to do is find home, though he doesn’t really know where that is. And as he makes his way towards that imagined home, he grows more and more hardened and more like the people he meets, scared and mistrustful of the world at large. Though it takes place during the war, the conflict is distant even if the effects are all around The Boy. While it’s beautifully shot in black and white, it’s also 169 minutes long and essentially a litany of horrors. It’s not a film for the masses.

Quickie review: The Tobacconist

In this coming-of-age story, set mostly in Vienna just as the Nazis are rising, 17-year-old Franz (Simon Morzé) arrives from the countryside to work at a tobacco shop owned by his mother’s old flame Otto Trsnjek (Johannes Krisch). He’s a kind man and takes to Franz immediately, teaching him the ropes of the place. And who should walk through the doors but one of his regular customers, Sigmund Freud (Bruno Ganz, Wings of Desire, Downfall) who also takes to Franz and gives him advice on finding love.

Review: Balloon (Ballon)

Seems like all I’m seeing lately are film based on true stories. In this one, two families living in Cold War East Germany in 1979 plan a daring escape to the West in a homemade hot air balloon with a Stasi officer hot on their tail. It’s one of those films where you’re holding your breath and hoping for the best, since the first scene is of a group of border guards being instructed to shoot to kill. What follows is an entertaining political thriller set in the horrifyingly claustrophobic surveillance state where everyone you meet might be the informer who gets you killed.

Review: Luz

The classic horror film hasn’t entirely disappeared from the cinema landscape, but the current trend it to make more of it than just the easy jump out of your seat shriek-fest. Get Out, Suspria, and Hereditary have shown that there’s an audience for new kinds of horror. And Luz rides in on that wave with a minimalist demonic possession flick that takes place mostly in a police station.

Review: The Invisibles

There are plenty of films about the Jews who lost their lives to the Nazis, but this is the first I’ve seen about those who hid in plain sight in Germany through the war and survived. Part narrative feature and part documentary, The Invisibles tells the stories of four young people who refused to leave Berlin, and through their own smarts and the kindness of others, lived to tell the tale. All four of them in their old age are interviewed throughout the film, and since you know they lived, you also know that no matter how close it comes to them getting caught, they won’t be found out. Nevertheless, it is an audacious story about four exceedingly brave young people.