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Jean-Dominique Bauby is the high-flying editor of French Elle and father of two, who was renowned for his sense of humor and style, his joie de vivre and amorous energy, when, in an instant, his world was plunged into the depths of catastrophe.
Faced with a harrowing predicament, Jean-Dominique will use enormous courage and determination but, most of all, his soaring imagination to escape from his trap. Tapping into the limitlessness of his memories, fantasies, wit and wishes, he finds a way to race through experiences of wonder and grief, sex and love, fatherhood and childhood, faith and questioning, ecstasy and absurdity – and touches the very essence of what it is to be human.
Along the way he is buoyed by a quintet of remarkable women: Céline, the mother of his children who remains devoted to him despite his betrayal; Inés, the girlfriend who still haunts him; Henriette and Marie, who give Jean-Dominique the power to re-connect with the world and his loved ones; and Claude, who becomes his ravishing literary assistant.
In French with English subtitles.
Whilst on holiday with her family, seventeen year old Isabelle experiences her first intimate relationship with an attractive young man named Felix. A few days later, and for no apparent reason, Isabelle casts him aside and cuts off all contact with him, behaving as if their encounter never happened.
When she returns home to Paris, Isabelle begins a dangerous new career; she sets up a profile on an escort website and lies about her age in order to make appointments with older, wealthy clients in chic, expensive hotel rooms. On the one hand she is a cool professional, catering to the whims of the various men she encounters; on the other she is maintaining the illusion of being a regular school student for her parents and friends.
Her double life spirals out of control, however, when the unthinkable happens with one of her regular clients and she is forced to deal with the consequences of what she has been doing.
Pier Paolo Pasolini's screen adaptation of the Greek tragedy stars opera diva Maria Callas in her only film role. Medea (Callas), daughter of a king, falls in love with Jason (Giuseppe Gentile) and helps him steal the Golden Fleece. She becomes Jason's wife and queen, but when he decides to leave her she wreaks a horrible revenge, murdering her own children.
Set among the upper classes in turn-of-the-millennium Milan, I Am Love opens with a formal lunch party in which ailing patriarch Edoardo Sr celebrates his birthday by passing the family business over to his son Tancredi and grandson Edoardo Jr.
Tensions soon begin to show beneath the smooth, controlled veneer of the Recchi family as Tancredi's wife, Russian-born Emma, succumbs to the inelegant forces of passion and unconditional love.
(Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Costume Design)
Dramatic, pseudo-documentary reconstruction of the rise of the nationalist movement in Algiers between 1954 and 1957, the crushing defeat it faced at the hands of the French, and its resurgence three years later. Highly influential both in terms of style and content, and originally banned in France for fear of its potential to incite civil unrest, Gillo Pontecorvo's film was one of the benchmarks of 1960s political radicalism.
The story of a man diagnosed with stomach cancer, Kurosawa's film is a serious contemplation of the nature of existence and the question of how we find meaning in our lives.
Opening with a shot of an x-ray, showing the main character's stomach, Ikiru tells the tale of a dedicated, downtrodden civil servant who, diagnosed with a fatal cancer, learns to change his dull, unfulfilled existence, and suddenly discovers a zest for life.
Plunging first into self-pity, then a bout of hedonistic pleasure-seeking on the frenetic streets of post-war Tokyo, Watanabe - the film's hero - finally finds satisfaction through building a children's playground.
Beautifully played by Takashi Shimura (who starred in 21 of Kurosawa's films), Ikiru is an intensely lyrical and moving film, and was one of Kurosawa's own favourites.
In black & white.
Set in beautiful 14th century Sweden, the film tells a sombre, powerful fable of peasant parents whose daughter, a young virgin, is brutally raped and murdered by swineherds after her half sister has invoked a pagan curse.
By a bizarre twist of fate, the murderers ask for food and shelter from the dead girl's parents, who, upon discovering the truth about their erstwhile lodgers, exact a chilling revenge.
This cruel and sensational medieval allegory, made all the more powerful for the luminous, hauling black and white photography and Bergman's meticulous direction, was later to be re-made by horror director Wes Craven as Last House on the Left.
In black & white.
A handsome, enigmatic stranger arrives at a bourgeois household in Milan and successively seduces each family member, not forgetting the maid. Then, as abruptly and mysteriously as he arrived, he departs, leaving the members of the household to make what sense they can of their lives in the void of his absence.
In this cool, richly complex and provocative political allegory, director Pasolini uses his schematic plot to explore family dynamics, the intersection of class and sex, and the nature of different sexualities. After winning a prize at the Venice Film Festival, Theorem was subsequently banned on an obscenity charge, but Pasolini later won an acquittal on the grounds of the films 'high artistic value'.
Theorem is visually ravishing, with superb performances from its international cast and a brilliantly eclectic soundtrack featuring music by composers ranging from Mozart and Morricone.
An impressionable and vulnerable Arab man gets thrust into a hellish prison, and ironically discovers greater opportunities for success than he ever possessed outside of the bars, in this violent melodrama from emerging French master filmmaker Jacques Audiard.
Tahar Rahim stars as Malik El Djebena, a petty criminal incarcerated for six years. Once inside and subjected to all of the standard brutalities that most prisoners endure, he is quickly educated in the "ways" of the prison, an institution torn violently between gangs of Corsicans and Arabs.
The head Corsican thug, César Luciani, offers Malik an ultimatum: either he rubs out an Arab inmate named Reyeb, or he himself dies. Not only does Malik succeed with the hit, he earns the begrudging respect of the other prisoners, and -- after securing several days' release for good behavior -- uses off-time to forge a deeper and more multi-layered network of criminal ties than he ever dreamed possible.
But as his own power and confidence grow, they threaten to outstrip Cesar's own insistence on submission and obedience at all costs.
In French with English subtitles.
This powerful drama earned director Martin Scorsese an Academy Award Nomination for Best Achievement in Directing in 1989, as well as Golden Globe Nominations for Barbara Hershey (Best Actress) and Peter Gabriel (Best Score).
Based on the novel by Nikos Kazantzakis and starring Willem Dafoe, The Last Temptation of Christ is a visually breathtaking accomplishment.
Swedish director Roy Andersson explores the 'grandeur of existence', in this award-winning film consisting of fifty surreal short sketches, each filmed in one take. Filming the actors in a variety of unconventional settings with tragicomic themes, Andersson explores the humanity and common threads that link their everyday lives with empathy and charm. A visually distinctive film, its characters include a disgruntled psychiatrist, a junior school teacher with emotional issues, a heart broken groupie, and a business consultant having a bad-hair day.
Triple bill of movies from the cult French directors Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro. In 'Delicatessen' (1990), in a burnt-out city on the verge of collapse, a canny butcher (Jean-Claude Dreyfus) employs various young handymen, kills them, and then sells them as meat. When ex-circus performer Louison (Dominique Pinon) arrives looking for work, it seems that his head will be the next on the block. But Louison falls in love with Julie (Marie-Laure Dougnac), the butcher's daughter, and together they join forces with an underground vegetarian group who plan to bring an end to the butcher's cruel regime. 'The City of Lost Children' (1995) is set on a futuristic oil rig, where a man, Krank (Daniel Emilfork), has aged prematurely because he has lost the ability to dream. To reverse the ageing process he kidnaps children from the local harbour town so that he can steal their dreams. Finally, 'The Bunker of the Last Gunshots' (1981) is a short film about a group of soldiers living in a bleak futuristic world.
A woman who lives a double life finds that being a successful romantic novelist does not necessarily bring happiness. Her husband does not love her, her best friend seems distracted and her mother and sister are too busy bickering to notice that anything is wrong. She stops writing and finds solace in the bottle but finds an unlikely rescuer putting her on a collision course to a new emotional entanglement.
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