Close Up

3 - 31 March 2008: Essential Cinema V


Army in the Shadows
Jean-Pierre Melville
1969 | 145 min | B/W | Digital  

Jean-Pierre Melville's gripping adaptation of Joseph Kessel's novel has been praised as one of the greatest and the most authentic film portrayals of the French Resistance. Set between the Autumn of 1942 and February 1943, the film follows the story of a band of Resistance fighters living under German-controlled France. As the war continues, the grip of the occupying force tightens and friendships, trust and loyalty give way to secrecy, suspicion and loss. A tense, atmospheric tour de force featuring powerful performances from Simone Signoret, Lino Ventura and Jean-Pierre Cassel.

Ivan’s Childhood
Andrei Tarkovsky
1962 | 96 min | B/W | Digital  

Andrei Tarkovsky's debut feature Ivan's Childhood is an extraordinarily moving view of war and revenge. 12-year old Ivan is determined to avenge his family's death at the hands of the Nazis, and he joins a Russian partisan regiment as a scout. The wonderful monochrome photography depicts Ivan's war in a series of memorable sequences: from the opening shots of him creeping through a dead and submerged forest; the flashback to happier days by the seashore; his devastated home village, to the final sequences in the paper-strewn ruins of Berlin in 1945.  

Andrei Rublev
Andrei Tarkovsky
1966 | 185 min | B/W | Digital  

Immediately suppressed by the Soviets in 1966, Andrei Tarkovsky’s epic masterpiece is a sweeping medieval tale of Russia’s greatest icon painter. Widely regarded as Tarkovsky’s finest film, Andrei Rublev charts the life of the painter through a turbulent period of 15th Century Russian history, which was marked by endless fighting between rival Princes and Tatar invasions.  

Through the Olive Trees
Abbas Kiarostami
1994 | 103 min | B/W | Digital  

Deeply humanistic and capturing the great beauty of the Iranian landscape, Through the Olive Trees is a simple story of forbidden love. When a film crew arrives in an earth-quake-devastated village to shoot a film, Hossein, a young, homeless and illiterate bricklayer, is given a small role and is amazed to find himself cast as the newlywed husband of the girl he adores, the sulky Tehereh.  

Loves of a Blonde
Miloš Forman
1965 | 85 min | B/W | Digital  

With sixteen women to each man, the odds are against Andula in her desperate search for love-that is, until a rakish piano player visits her small factory town and temporarily eases her longings. A tender and humorous look at Andula's journey, from the first pangs of romance to its inevitable disappointments, Loves of a Blonde immediately became a classic of the Czech New Wave and earned Miloš Forman the first of his Academy Award nominations.  

Jean-Luc Godard
1960 | 90 min | B/W | Digital  

With its lack of polish, surplus of attitude, crackling personalities of rising stars Jean-Paul Belmondo and Jean Seberg, and anything-goes crime narrative, Jean-Luc Godard's debut fashioned a simultaneous homage to and critique of the American film genres that influenced and rocked him as a film writer for Cahiers du cinéma. Jazzy, free-form, and sexy, Breathless helped launch the French New Wave and ensured cinema would never be the same.  

Pier Paolo Pasolini
1961 | 120 min | B/W | Digital  

Accattone follows the tragic life of a young pimp in the slums of 1960s Rome. Accattone works very hard at never working. When he loses his prize prostitute, he despairs not for her but for his lost income. Pasolini's brutally realistic first feature, assistant-directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, introduces his preoccupation with the marginalized segments of Italian bourgeois society that would characterize subsequent films like Mamma Roma and Theorem.