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Features Four Frames

Satire as social criticism: Nagisa Oshima’s Three Resurrected Drunkards

Three Resurrected Drunkards (Kaette kita yopparai, 1968) starts with a long sequence showing three young men enjoying themselves on a deserted sandy beach one sunny day. Their haircuts and clothes indicate that they belong to the beat generation, and their beige jackets are reminiscent of those worn by The Beatles for their concert at Shea […]

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Features Four Frames Lost Classics

War as absurdity: Kihachi Okamoto’s Desperado Outpost

Desperado Outpost (Dokuritsu gurentai, Japan, 1959) starts with shots of a man on horseback in a landscape reminiscent of a Western. This hero is Japanese, and the action is set in the wide-open spaces of the Manchurian steppe in the summer of 1945 near the end of the Sino-Japanese War. Okamoto’s approach to the war […]

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Features Thousand Words

Thousand Words: Inner Torments and Social Disease (The Quiet Duel, 1949)

In the long opening sequence of Akira Kurosawa’s The Quiet Duel (Shizukanaru kettō), which takes place in 1944 in one of the Southeast Asian countries occupied by the Japanese, a man in a white coat is talking to another man who, dozing, leans against the wall behind them. The second man, his face hidden behind […]

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Features Lost Classics Reviews

Lost Classic: Ulysses’ Gaze (Theo Angelopoulos, 1995)

As with the main character in Homer’s Odyssey, from whom Ulysses’ Gaze (1997) gets its name, Theo Angelopoulos’ sadly forgotten 1995 film follows another tragic figure on his journey home. A filmmaker named ‘A’ (believed to stand for Angelopoulos) tells a story of how he once took a photograph of a landscape, only for the […]

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Features Screengems

Screengem: General Mireau’s Sofa in Paths of Glory (Stanley Kubrick, 1957)

The most oft-discussed visual aspect of Stanley Kubrick’s morally exasperating anti-war polemic Paths Of Glory is the stunning camerawork that accompanies the early sequences in the beleaguered French army trenches. However, one of the most memorable and infuriating moments surrounds the deployment of a piece of furniture. Following the inevitable failure of the suicide mission […]

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Brilliant Failures Features Reviews

Brilliant Failure: Freedom Fighters (Vicente Aranda, 1996)

Vicente Aranda (who died last year) was part of the avant-garde Barcelona School of filmmakers in the 1960s and became best known for entwining explicit sexuality with explorations of murky pasts. Although Freedom Fighters’ Spanish Civil War setting satisfies the latter of those directorial motifs, Aranda’s habitually fleshy depictions of carnal desire and twisted sexual jealousy […]

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Features Screengems

Screengem: The tin of sweets in Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, 1988)

Childhood sweets are happy memories. They’re treats from loving parents, for being good, for being loved. It’s wartime in Grave of the Fireflies, but a tin of sweets cherished by a little girl is an image that transcends culture and time. That the sweets are later replaced by her ashes remains one of cinema’s cruellest, […]

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Features Lost Classics Reviews

Lost Classic: Overlord (Stuart Cooper, 1975)

Stuart Cooper’s dream-like interweaving of stunning archival footage with the fictional narrative of the training of a new recruit, Tom Beddows (Brian Stirner), won the Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival in 1975, but Overlord (the codename for the D-Day landings) seemingly received little attention until Criterion recently issued it on Blu-ray. The film […]