DIVA
1981, Rialto Pictures, 123 min, France, Dir: Jean-Jacques Beineix

Director Jean-Jacques Beineix scored a bull’s-eye internationally at arthouse box offices with his debut film, a deftly constructed soufflé of a suspense thriller with a comic, tongue-in-cheek tone. Postman and opera fanatic Jules (Frederic Andrei) surreptitiously records his idol, diva Cynthia (Wilhemenia Wiggins Fernandez), and is so overcome by her performance that he steals her costume from her dressing room, which causes a scandal. Later, while on his rounds, he encounters two thugs beating up a woman and is the unwitting recipient of a blackmail tape that the victim sneaks into his letter bag. Soon the chase is on, with not only the hoods (including Dominic Pinon) but also Taiwanese music bootleggers hoping to steal his opera cassette. Before things come to a head, Jules befriends singer Cynthia and is aided in his escape from danger by a teenage Vietnamese street girl and a sophisticated mystery man (Richard Bohringer). "…One of the best thrillers of recent years but, more than that, it is a brilliant film, a visual extravaganza that announces the considerable gifts of its young director, Jean-Jacques Beineix…Filled with so many small character touches, so many perfectly observed intimacies, so many visual inventions, from the sly to the grand, that the thriller plot is just a bonus… Pauline Kael has compared Beineix to Orson Welles and, as Welles so often did, he has made a movie that is a feast to look at, regardless of its subject." – Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times


BOB LE FLAMBEUR
1956, Rialto Pictures, 98 min, France, Dir: Jean-Pierre Melville

Inspired by John Huston’s THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, Melville’s classic film is less a true noir than (in the director’s words) “a comedy of manners” - a romantic meditation on Montmartre, faithless women, old pros and casinos waiting to be knocked over. Suffused with an overwhelming sense of nostalgia, BOB was “a letter to a Paris which no longer existed.”


RAN
1985, Rialto Pictures, 160 min, Japan, Dir: Akira Kurosawa

In Akira Kurosawa's epic and existential samurai/Noh theater rendition of Shakespeare's "King Lear," a once-merciless and bloodthirsty Lord Hidetora (Tatsuya Nakadai) leaves his kingdom to his three sons. As Hidetora attempts to enjoy retirement in his twilight years, he is dropped into a nightmarish hell when filial squabbling and betrayal erupts. In Japanese with English subtitles.


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