a trick of the light : a place for cinephiles

celinejulie’s WISH LIST FOR JUNE 2008


1.DAYS IN SINTRA (2008, Paula Gaitan, Brazil, documentary, 90 min)


Filmmaker Paula Gaitán was married to Glauber Rocha (1938-1981), a key figure in the Brazilian Cinema Novo movement, which embodied politically engaged filmmaking that resisted colonialism in Latin America. Rocha’s signature films include Barravento (1961), Black God, White Devil (1964), Land in Anguish (1967), and Antonio das Mortes (1969), all remarkably influential films at the time and overdue for revival today. In Days in Sintra, Gaitán creates a deeply moving meditation on memory and time as she chronicles her return from Brazil to Sintra, Portugal, where she lived in exile with her husband and their children before his untimely death. In the form of an experimental narrative, she deftly interweaves Super 8 home movie footage and photographs taken of Rocha in 1981 with beautifully composed, evocative contemporary images of the Portuguese landscape. In this manner, Gaitán both weaves together place, uniting past and present, and highlights remembrance. Long, silent passages are gently overlaid with Gaitán’s own voice meditating on memory, loss, and death, as well as with recordings of Rocha’s voice, articulating his philosophies of life, politics, and filmmaking. Days in Sintra represents Gaitán’s own voyage of discovery, which allows her to bring alive the physical, sensual, and even spiritual essence of her long-deceased companion. On a deeper level, the filmmaker also captures the mournful, atmospheric ether of the Portuguese nation. The proud country that launched the voyages of discovery in the 15th century has found its global position diminished with time, just as Rocha’s fiercely independent, awardwinning filmmaking had faded to a faint memory-until it was justly revived by his companion in this exquisite diary film.

some scene from PAULA GAITIN ‘s FILM

2.FOREVER (2006, Heddy Honigmann, Netherlands, documentary)
William Johnson wrote about this film in FILM QUARTERLY, Spring 2008.


3.A HEBREW LESSON (2006, David Ofek, Israel, 123 min)

4.HELEN (2008, Joe Lawlor + Christine Molloy, UK/Ireland, 79 min)

A girl disappears in the woods. The police arrange a reconstruction of her last known sightings and an 18-year-old student, called Helen (Annie Townsend), is chosen to impersonate her. Shy and unobtrusive, she becomes intrigued by the personality and background of the victim, whose distraught parents emotionally adopt her.

Although this is a whodunit, the crime is never given a name. Helen’s thoughts are used sparingly as a narrative voice-over. “I’ve always wondered what it feels like to have a home to go back to. I mean a proper home.” She has lived the years of her remembered childhood in an orphanage and has never had a boyfriend, never been kissed.

As her character emerges through the alienation of other people’s grief, it is possible to recognise its strength. Deprived and alone, she gains confidence through the persona of a lost teenager whom she has never met.

5.AN ISLAND CALLING (2008, Annie Goldson, Fiji, gay documentary, 75 min)

An Island Calling is a truly “post-colonial” tale that revolves around a brutal double murder of a gay male couple, one of who was a human rights worker, in Fiji in mid-2001. Through exploring the incident’s context, this film reveals deep historical, social and political currents that circulate throughout the Pacific. However, the documentary is, as much, an intimate story of two very different families.

6.LEMON TREE (2008, Eran Riklis, Israel)
“A drama based on the true story of a Palestinian widow who must defend her lemontree field when a new Israeli Defense Minister moves next to her and threatens to have her lemon grove torn down”

Eran Riklis directed THE SYRIAN BRIDE (2004, A+). Both films star Hiam Abbass, whom I like very much.

7.MAGNUS (2007, Kadri Kousaar, Estonia, 86 min)

“Magnus is a sensitive boy from a family where no-one really cares about him. His parents consider that given food and shelter, their children will just grow up on their own. As a child Magnus suffers from a potentially fatal lung disease and he plays bizarre games to cheat death. Ten years later, modern medicine has cured the disease but Magnus’ death wish continues. After his second attempt to take his own life his father’s conscience finally awakens. He tries to convince his son to go on living by sharing his own unorthodox lifestyle. An uneasy and sometimes humorous relationship develops between Magnus and his father, leading to an unexpected conclusion”

8.THE POPE’S TOILET (2007, Cesar Charlone + Enrique Fernandez, Uruguay)

9.SARI SOLDIERS (2008, Julie Bridgham, Nepal, documentary)
Acquarello wrote about this film here:


Back in 2001, Nepal hit the headlines after the royal family was massacred by the heir to the throne, Crown Prince Dependra, before he turned the gun on himself. With 10 members of the family dead, the crown fell to the sole remaining heir, Prince Gyanendra. But he didn’t just inherit the throne – he also gained a five-year long Maoist insurgency. And as one of the film’s contributors says: “Where there is rebellion there is bound to be sacrifice.”
Gyanendra’s response to the crisis was to crack down on civil liberties, declaring a state of emergency in 2005. Filmed across the resulting three-year period of unrest which shook the country, Julie Bridgham’s admirably even-handed film looks at six women and their efforts to make a difference to the future of Nepal.

Devi’s story is the most heartbreaking. After witnessing her niece being killed by the Royal Nepal Army, she chose to speak out. As a result, the soldiers came back to hunt her down and, finding her out, carted off her 15-year-old daughter instead. Her daughter became one of the thousands of ‘disappeared’ and Devi spent the next three years battling to find out what happened to her. She was helped in her struggle by Mandira – a human rights lawyer, also risking her life to speak out against atrocities being perpetrated in the name of law and order.


10.THING WITH NO NAME (2008, Sarah Friedland, USA/South Africa)


“Thing With No Name, a feature-length documentary, provides an unprecedented, intimate glimpse into the traditional life of a rapidly changing culture. Set in Okhahlamba, South Africa, a stunning, mountainous Zulu area and UNESCO World Heritage Site, the story follows Danisile and Ntombeleni, two women with full-blown AIDS as they attempt to access recently introduced antiretroviral (ARV) treatment through the public sector. Danisile responds well to the medications, with the support of her family and her volunteer nurse. Ntombeleni does not respond as positively, experiencing the delirium and difficult side effects that are a strong source of controversy within the Zulu culture. The universal aspects of motherhood and the struggle to survive are explored through the womens’ lives: Danisile’s strained relationship with her teenage daughter, who secretly fears becoming one of South Africa’s 1.2 million AIDS orphans, and the traditional Zulu ceremonies
that Ntombeleni’s family holds to combat her illness in their own way. Illustrating the bittersweet reality of the situation, through both the miracle of survival and the tragedy of falling victim to an overwhelmed medical system, Thing With No Name reveals the private and public obstacles that have led to an out of control epidemic.”


1.FRAMES (2008, Loren D. Estleman)

I knew about this novel from Peter Nellhaus’ blog:

This is the synopsis from http://www.amazon.com

“Having appeared in 10 short stories in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, self-described film detective Valentino, who works as a film archivist at U.C.L.A., makes his novel-length debut in the engaging first of a new series from Shamus-winner Estleman. Valentino stumbles on the find of a lifetime when he inspects the Oracle, a decaying 1920s movie theater he’s considering purchasing. An abandoned storage room contains reels of film that may be the only surviving prints of Erich von Stroheim’s legendary epic, Greed. The further discovery of a skeleton of unknown vintage in the old building complicates matters. Aided by academic colleagues, Valentino tries to eat his cake and have it, too, by cooperating with the police inquiry into what might be a case of foul play without revealing the existence of the film reels, which he fears might be damaged if seized as evidence. While the lighthearted tone is far removed from the gritty realism of the author’s Amos
Walker series (American Detective, etc.), the versatile Estleman has crafted yet another intelligent page-turner.”

The synopsis of this novel makes me think about

This is a great novel by Theodore Roszak about films.

1.2 MANO (2005, George Felner, Portugal, A+)
This film is about the preservation of classic films.

1.3 The news about the discovery of the complete METROPOLIS



David Claerbout’s videos, especially BORDEUX PIECE (2004, 13-hour long)

This is what Christophe Gallois wrote about Claerbout’s videos in Frieze magazine:

“Taking as point of departure an intrigue of betrayal filmed in a modernist house, Bordeaux Piece (2004) first seems to be a conventionally looped short film. After a few sequences, however, the work slowly discloses its content. Though the narrative repeats itself again and again, each successive sequence occurs under a slightly different atmospheric light. Each shot was repeated about seventy times by the actors over the duration of a day, from sunrise to sunset, before being edited to compose a thirteen-hour long video. Slowly, the real subject matter becomes the changing light. The background comes to be the foreground while the plot of the film, its narrative and the characters, rapidly turn into a mere motif.”


Films directed by John Cook

This is what Olaf Moller wrote about John Cook’s films in Cinema Scope magazine:

“To truly understand the Austrian fascination/obsession with this ur-typical Canadian realist-imagine a radically vérité-styled mix of Jean-Pierre Lefebvre and Allan King, with a dash of Straub-one needs to understand the “Realism Complex” of Austrian cinephilia.”

You can buy a book about John Cook here:

E.Tribute wish list

Tribute to Hanns Zischler, who was born in 1947. I love this German actor.

I wish a film festival in Bangkok can show these films starring Hanns Zischler:

(The synopsis of these films are copied from the book WEST GERMAN CINEMA SINCE 1945: A REFERENCE HANDBOOK, written by Richard C. Helt and Marie E. Helt.)

1.THE AUTOGRAPH (1984, Peter Lilienthal, 92 min)

A boxer and a musician arrive at a festival in a Latin American provincial town, where the festival is supposed to disguise the unrest there. The pair soon becomes involved in political and military intrigue. Adapted from a novel by Osvaldo Aorriano, cinematographed by Michael Ballhaus.

2.COLD AS ICE (1981, Carl Schenkel, 87 min)

A young “desperado” type takes on his foes in the Berlin punk scene kamikaze style.

3.DOCTOR FAUSTUS (1982, Franz Seitz, 137 min)

Thomas Mann’s novel about the composer Adrian Leverkuehn, whose life parallels German history. Andre Heller stars.

4.DOMINO (1982, Thomas Brasch, 118 min)

The story of an artistic “identity crisis”. An actress destroys a production and turns her back on her career. Katharina Thalbach stars. Thomas Brasch also directed ANGELS OF IRON (1981, A+++++)

5.GERMANY CAN SOMETIMES BE VERY NICE (1981, Solveig Hoogesteijn, 90 min)

The development of a young woman who, as part of her revolt against her prosperous surroundings, rejects language as a means of communication; only a musician neighbor is able to interest her in life. Cinematographed by Joerg Schmidt-Reitwein. Eva Mattes co-stars.

6.LIGHTHOUSE OF CHAOS (1982, Wolf-Eckart Buehler + Manfred Blank, 118 min)

The biographical story of American actor Sterling Hayden, who became a member of the Communist Party, but later betrayed other members during the McCarthy period.

7.MALEVIL (1980, Christian de Chalonge, 120 min)

A few inhabitants of a small village survive an atomic catastrophe and try to stay alive in an almost totally destroyed world. Music by Gabriel Yared. Michel Serrault, Jacques Dutronc, Jean-Louis Trintignant star.

8.THE PASSIONATE ONES (1981, Thomas Koerfer, 105 min)

A film based on Goethe’s THE SORROWS OF YOUNG WERTHER, using a dialectical method which connects Goethe’s own life to the story.

9.RENDEZVOUS D’ANNA (1978, Chantal Akerman, 100 min)

10.SOMETHING IS BECOMING VISIBLE (1981, Harun Farocki, 114 min)

A couple, who got together during a demonstration against the Vietnam war, hope to continue the struggle, but the woman eventually leaves the man. Bruno Ganz co-stars.

11.SYSTEM WITHOUT SHADOWS (1983, Rudolf Thome, 115 min)

A smooth operator helps a computer expert pull off a sophisticated bank job. Bruno Ganz and Dominique Laffin star.

12.WOMAN IN FLAMES (1983, Robert van Ackeren, 107 min)

A “black humor” type of film, in which a young woman leaves her comfortable existence to become a prostitute and eventually finds herself caught between her “profession” and her love for a male prostitute. Music by Peer Raben. Mathieu Carriere stars.


2 responses

  1. that is very interesting!

    กรกฎาคม 6, 2008 ที่ 12:13 pm

  2. bloonsterific

    Just wanted to tell you all know how much I appreciate your postings guys.
    Found you though google!

    กรกฎาคม 10, 2009 ที่ 11:12 am


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