JOJO RABBIT
2019, 108 min, Dir: Taika Waititi

Writer-director Taika Waititi (THOR: RAGNAROK, HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE), brings his signature style of humor and pathos to his latest film, JOJO RABBIT, a World War II satire that follows a lonely German boy (Roman Griffin Davis) whose worldview is turned upside down when he discovers his single mother (Scarlett Johansson) is hiding a young Jewish girl (Thomasin McKenzie) in their attic. Aided only by his idiotic imaginary friend, Adolf Hitler (Taika Waititi), Jojo must confront his blind nationalism.


I AM CUBA
SOY CUBA
1964, Milestone Films, 141 min, Cuba/Soviet Union, Dir: Mikhail Kalatozov

Started only a week after the Cuban missile crisis, this film was designed to be Cuba’s answer to both Eisenstein’s POTEMKIN and Godard’s BREATHLESS. But I AM CUBA turned out to be something quite unique - a wildly schizophrenic celebration of Communist iconography, mixing Slavic solemnity with Latin sensuality. The plot, or rather plots, explore the seductive, decadent (and marvelously photogenic) world of Batista’s Cuba - deliriously juxtaposing images of wealthy American tourists with scenes of ramshackle slums. Cinematographer Sergei Urusevsky’s gravity-defying camera glides effortlessly through long, continuous shots, but beyond its bravura technical accomplishments, I AM CUBA succeeds in exploring the innermost feelings of the characters and their often desperate situations.


THE CRANES ARE FLYING
LETYAT ZHURAVLI
1957, Janus Films, 95 min, Soviet Union, Dir: Mikhail Kalatozov

Winner of the Palme d’Or at the 1958 Cannes Film Festival, THE CRANES ARE FLYING is a superbly crafted drama, bolstered by stunning cinematography and impassioned performances. Veronica and Boris are blissfully in love, until the eruption of World War II tears them apart. Boris is sent to the front lines … and then communication stops. Meanwhile, Veronica tries to ward off spiritual numbness while Boris’ draft-dodging cousin makes increasingly forceful overtures.


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