European Cinema

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Episode 95 – Tom Tykwer



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His name is Tom Tykwer (“tik-ver”), and you might not know it, but you already know who he is. If you only saw five foreign films back in the 90s, it’s quite likely that one of them was Run Lola Run, his second feature, a hyper-stylized, tripartite romp filled with bright colors, rapid-fire action and a surprisingly light touch. Its accessibility made it a breakout success, cementing the German filmmaker as a force to be reckoned with on the international stage. He defied expectation by following up the short, sharp Lola with the long, meditative The Princess and the Warrior (both of which starred Franka Potente.) Those two films – as well as his 1997 breakout, Winter Sleepers – form a loose trilogy based around the concept of “blind chance.” If that sounds like a Kieslowskian concept, then perhaps it’s appropriate the Tykwer’s fourth film was Heaven, which was meant to be the first installment in a trilogy of films based around Dante’s conceptions of the afterlife to be directed by the Polish master himself. Tykwer went even more ambitious after that, creating an extremely divisive (and expensive) adaptation of Patric Suskin’s cult novel Perfume. This week, however, he took his first leap into the realm of full-blown Hollywood filmmaking with the suspense thriller The International, starring Clive Owen and Naomi Watts. How does he fare when he doesn’t get to include any montages? You’ll find out on this episode of Sound on Sight.

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Episode 79 – European Cinema

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In episode 79 we will review the film Hunger starring Michael Fassbender as Bobby Sands, of the Provisional Irish Republican Army who led the 1981 Irish hunger strike and participated in the no wash protest (led by Brendan “The Dark” Hughes) in which Republican prisoners tried to win political status. It dramatises events in the Maze prison in the six weeks prior to Sands’ death.

In the second half of the show we will discuss Gomorrah the 2008 hyperlink crime film directed by Matteo Garrone, based on the book by Roberto Saviano.

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Episode 77 – A Short podcast about Kieslowski

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Way back in Episode 28, we discussed Krzystzof Kieslowski’s seminal Three Colors trilogy with our resident European film expert, Eduardo Lucatero, and promised to return to discuss the revered Polish master’s earlier work. Well it’s taken forever, but we finally got our act together to discuss A Short Film About Love, A Short Film About Killing, and his most challenging film, The Double Life of Veronique. Rick had to sit this one out, but joining Simon is returning guest Eduardo and friend of the show Jaimee Lee-Baggley.

Episode 61: Directors Lucas Moodysson & Peter Sollett

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Director Peter Sollett hasn’t been kicking around too long, but he’s already made a splash in two distinctly different realms: first, as an indie darling with his coming-of-age dramedy Raising Victor Vargas, and now returning with the seeming heir to Juno’s hipster-comedy throne, Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. (He even remembered to drag Michael Cera along.) We’ll discuss both films at length, as well as taking a quick sojourn to Sweden – where Ricky D recently spent a good chunk of his vacation – to look at two films by acclaimed director Lukas Moodyson.

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Episode 41 – Crossing Heaven Head On (The Fatih Atkin special)

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Born in Germany as the son of Turkish parents, the 30-year-old director is a child of globalization: like the musician Manu Chao, he samples and remixes elements from a diversity of cultures, material easily available to his generation for the first time. «We grew up with the video recorder – and my great role models were not from Europe. Neo-Realism or Film Noir, that didn’t come until later. In the beginning I was really keen on American cinema: love, violence, action, simply good stories! And making films enabled him to approach his own roots and arrive at the insight that tradition need not mean just raking in the ashes: «I was lucky, I had the opportunity to work in Turkey and to get to know the country in that way. We German-Turks are like aliens for those over there in Turkey. So we have to keep on going over there and examining our own history. We can learn a lot and then make it into something new.


Episode 40 – Hollywood blacklists

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One of the most defiantly visible survivors of the Hollywood Blacklist was American director Jules Dassin. Following high school in the Bronx and drama school in Europe, Dassin made his stage debut at age 25 with the Yiddish Theatre in New York.
In Hollywood, Dassin worked his way up to a directorial spot at MGM’s short subjects unit, where he handled a brilliant 20-minute adaptation of Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart (1941). This led to a promotion to features like Nazi Agent (1942), Reunion in France (1942) and The Canterville Ghost (1944). From MGM, Dassin went to work for producer Mark Hellinger at Universal Studios, where he turned out two full-blooded crime classics: Brute Force (1947) and The Naked City (1948). Unfortunately, the late 1940s were difficult times for anyone with even the slightest leftist political leanings. After being identified as a communist by director Ed Dmytryk during a House Un-American Activities Committee hearing, Dassin found himself completely shut out by Hollywood.
The last 1950s film which Dassin directed for a major studio was 20th Century-Fox’s Night and the City, which was shot in London. Then he moved to France, where he helmed one of the most influential “crime caper” movies ever made, Rififi (1954). So uccessful was this melodrama that it spawned numerous rip-offs (Rififi in Tokyo was one of the most blatant) and parodies, including Dassin’s own Topkapi (1964). Operating in Greece by 1959, Dassin directed his second wife Melina Mercouri in Never On Sunday (1960), a robust comedy about a joyous prostitute; Mercouri’s performance was superb enough for viewers to forgive Dassin’s own lackluster performance as a stuffy American moralist. Permitted back in the U.S.-studio system in the mid-1960s, Dassin directed Uptight (1968), a black-oriented remake of The Informer which proved beyond doubt that Dassin’s alleged “communistic” tendencies were just a bit old hat. Not many of Jules Dassin’s later, more personal films (notably an indictment of the Greek junta leaders, The Rehearsal [1974]) were seen in America, but the director’s reputation, so idiotically maligned in the early 1950s, had been completely restored so far as Hollywood was concerned–even though the man himself chose to shun the U.S. for self-imposed Swiss xile.

Episode 28 (B) Color Me Kieslowki

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Tune in to our first special on director Krzysztov Kieslsowski. We will take a look at his Blue, White and REd trilogy

Kieslowski’s personal quotes:

“If I have a goal, then it is to escape from this literalism. I’ll never achieve it; in the same way that I’ll never manage to describe what really dwells within my hero, although I keep on trying.””I can identify with what Bergman says about life, about what he says about love. I identify more or less with his attitude towards the world… towards men and women and what we do in everyday life… forgetting about what is most important.””Andrei Tarkovsky was one of the greatest directors of recent years. He’s dead, like most of them. That is, most of them are dead or have stopped making films. Or else, somewhere along the line, they’ve irretrievably lost something, some individual sort of imagination, intelligence, or way of narrating a story. Tarkovsky was certainly one of those who hadn’t lost this.”

Episode 24 – Funny Games

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“A feature film is twenty-four lies per second.” — Michael Haneke, Cannes (2005)

He is best known for his bleak and disturbing style. His films often document problems and failures in modern society.

This week we feature Director Michael Haneke and review his films Funny Games, Benny’s Video, the 7th Continent, Le Pianist and Cache.

Also a look at Crazy love, the winner of the best documentary at this year’s Independent Spirit Awards and a review on the first must see of 2008, In Bruges!





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