Category Archives: Film

“BRAD PAISLEY: LIVE AMPLIFIED WORLD TOUR LIVE FROM WVU— The Elite Singer of Country Music

“Brad Paisley: Life Amplified World Tour: Live From WVU”

The Elite Singer of Country Music

Amos Lassen

Brad Paisley gives a concert in front of over 30,000 people at West Virginia University in front of a hometown crowd and which 20 cameras recorded. Directed by award-winning director Daniel E Catullo III, Brad plays and sings for two hours as rain came down. The concert includes all of Paisley’s hits and a very special version of the John Denver song “Country Roads,” which has become an anthem for the university. Songs included in the show are: “Crushin’ It”, “American Saturday Night”, “Water”, “Online”, “Perfect Storm”, “Celebrity”, “Letter to Me”, “This is Country Music”, “Mama Tried”, “I’m Still a Guy”, “She’s Everything”, “Mountain Music”, “Ticks”, “Country Nation”, “Old Alabama”, “Then”, “Beat This Summer”, “Remind Me”, “Country Roads”, “Southern Comfort Zone”, “Mud on the Tires” and “Alcohol”.

Brad Paisley is always working to find new ways to make his set little tighter and to bring audience closer to the show. His jam sessions go just the perfect lengths to pull you in to his artistry. This concert shows us why Paisley is one of country music’s elite acts.

His Life Amplified World Tour: Live From WVU CD/DVD combo pack shows how important his live performances are to his success. We see how he commands the stage and has hit after hit. He is energetic and he loves what he does.

Personally, I am not a fan of country music but I am a fan of Paisley because of his professionalism. He is a master of both the electric Telecaster guitar and the acoustic guitar.

This concert was recorded in September 2016 in a large field next to the football stadium at West Virginia University, the night before a big football gamer – Paisley sings for a crowd of 20,000 students, and fans for 90 minutes.

“LEFTOVERS”— Compelling and Stunning

“Leftovers”

Compelling and Stunning

Amos Lassen

Tofiq Rzayev’s short film “Leftovers” is set in the Turkish mountains as two plain clothes police officers (Ismail Mermer and Erhan Sancar) take a man (Gokberk Kozan) to a crime scene to identify the body of a young girl. We see that the backseat passenger is highly upset and since we have no background we can only wonder if he is being taken to his own execution. We, however learn that he is to identify the body of someone who is believed to be a family member. He, however, does not know that and his fear becomes so powerful that the policemen must stop the car to let him out. This is significant in that police officers are trained to deal with grief but could not handle the torment that the man exhibits and they are shaken by it. As we watch so are we affected by his anguish.

We learn that our passenger had days earlier notified the police that his eight-year-old sister was missing and now a body has been found at a picnic area in the mountains.

Emotions take over the individual and the police pull over as the man climbs out of the car and his stomach heaves. As viewers we are shaken just as he is and we see one of the policemen go over to him and tries to give him a bit of comfort while the other talks to their commissioner on the phone. That policeman gets some bad news (which I am not about to share here) and we see the same reaction from all three of the men and our hearts break a bit.

I cannot remember when I was so affected by a film before and even more interesting is that this is a short film. The camera continues to show the faces of the three characters and I am sure that if they could see us, we would all have the same look of loss on our faces. Quite simply, this is a gorgeous film.

“WE JUST WANT TO PLAY”— A Rugby Team Like No Other

“WE JUST WANT TO PLAY”

A Rugby Team Like No Other

Amos Lassen

The Ruckland University Men’s Rugby team consists of not what we would call regular Rugby players. Even though they have had success on the field, the school’s athlete tic director has earmarked the team’s winnings for his own plans. The players know this and now must find a way to stop from getting rid of their program and ruining any chance they might have of winning the championship. While they might be a bunch of fun-loving guys, they realize that the time has come to become serious and understand that they are more than a team, they have become a family. Sure, they might be stoners but they do not want Dickerman (Timothy J. Cox), Ruckland’s athletic director to take the money for the team and instead use it for the golf team that his son (Andrew Gill) happens to be the captain of. Glen (Lars Lee) , the captain of the Rugby team decides to find a way to save his team.

Glen tries get Ray (Trevor Williams), his roommate and a sex-crazed guy and the rest of the team to come up with a plan. As they think about what to do, Glen’s girlfriend, Whitney (Alexandra Bartley), walks because what is doing on is having a toll on her studies. Finally there is an idea and that is to compete in an event that the University sponsors—

the academic and athletic decathlon competition and they can then use the prize money to get them to the championship game. You can imagine what ensues and the team must then come before the University advisory board that makes the ultimate decision as to whether or not the rugby team will remain as part of the University.

 

The film is a project in which university students (like the students in the movie but saner) have worked very hard on. It was written by Frank de Rosa and directed by James Cappadoro. It is by no means perfect but we sense its sincerity and almost feel the hard work that went into it. The students who made this film are amateurs and it shows. When the team is disappointed so are the viewers. When we see what coach Dickerman has up his sleeve, we become cheerleaders for the Rugby team. This is a credit to the performance of Timothy J. Cox, a man we love to hate (when he is playing a role like this). He arranges for the Ruckland University rugby team by their school’s Athletic director.

I think the major problem with the film is cast is so unprofessional and I have the feeling that if the actors had been allowed to improvise their parts, they would have been so much more effective. I suddenly realize that I am speaking like a college prof here and not like a viewer of the film who is watching it for fun. (See what happens when one’s career becomes his life? I am being a bit too cruel over a short film that I enjoyed but after having taught at the university level for so long, this just finds its way out of me).

The script is well written and perhaps the skeleton on which the film comes to life and provides a satisfying twist at the end. Cappadoro might be off to a rocky start but remember that this is a student project. I have a feeing that we will be hearing more and more about him in the future.

“JUDY COLLINS: A LOVE LETTER TO STEPHEN SONDHEIM”— A True Love Letter

“A Love Letter To Stephen Sondheim”

A True Love Letter

Amos Lassen

Judy Collins takes us into Stephen Sondheim’s remarkable music in this filmed version of a concert she performed throughout 2016. She not only sings but also tells stories of Broadway with her personal anecdotes. 

It was back in 1974 when Collins recorded her first Sondheim song, “Send in the Clowns” in her album Judith and she won a Grammy and the top ten slot in Billboard twice in a decade. It was a great success and brought her to sing the rest of Sondheim’s greatest songs. This is the result. These include scenes and melodies from “Little Night Music,” “Sweeney Todd,” “Sundays in the Park with George,” “Company,” “Merrily We Roll Along” and “Into the Woods.”

All orchestrations are by Jonathan Tunick, who has been orchestrating Stephen Sondheim’s musicals for decades. Collins is joined on the program by the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Glen Cortese. Collins says she has been in love with Sondheim’s music ever since she first sang “Send in the Clowns”. She heard the song for the first time when a friend sent her the album of “A Little Night Music” and insisted that she listen to “Clowns”. Collins had no idea what “A Little Night Music” was and played “Send in the Clowns.” The rest is history.

Singing Sondheim is challenging and we see here that Collins has honed her craft to give us a fantastic collection of some of the best of the Broadway composer/lyricist. Today at 77, Judy Collins still looks like our “sweet Judy blue eyes” and her voice is still crystal clear. Her narration between the songs is filled with humor and knowledge of the songs she sings.

“Green Finch and Linnet Bird” from Sweeney Todd and “No One is Alone” from Into the Woods were  graceful, “The Road You Didn’t Take” from Follies was bitter, yet strident in the face of immense adversity, while “Anyone Can Whistle” from the show of the same name and “Move On” from Sunday in the Park with George were filled with a tinge of nostalgia. And of course she sings “Send in the Clowns” filled with wonderful emotion and is perfect. You do not want to miss this special treat performed by a voice and a person who is a national treasure.

“ANTARCTICA: ICE AND SKY”— Global Warming

Antarctica: Ice & Sky (“La glace et le ciel”)

Global Warming

Amos Lassen

“Antarctica: Ice and Sky” is a visually gorgeous look at Antarctica illustrates climate change, explains glaciology as we see nature’s graceful balance and the dangers it faces by focusing on the extraordinary life of Claude Lorius, 82, glaciologist and veteran explorer, whose history of polar expeditions and climate research has yielded predictions that are evidentially true. You might remember Directed by Luc who you may remember from his beautiful “March of the Penguins”.

This newer documentary begins with his first mission to Antarctica and shows men fighting their way through snowstorms and permanent ice at freezing temperatures, using only unsophisticated equipment. They spent four weeks in the cabin of a snow truck at -18° C and finally reached the polar station, where Lorius and two others would stay for a year, surviving without any privacy, through camaraderie and solidarity and they never allowed themselves to have bad moods.

Lorius has set out on 22 polar missions and he has remarked that on some of them “-25°C without wind felt like a heat wave”. He invented new ways of analyzing ice cores and captured air pockets from up to 400,000 years ago as he reconstructed the history of the world’s climate and ultimately man’s fatal impact on it. Lorius and his team are able to identify atomic detonations thousands of kilometers away via radioactive particles that traveled through the high atmosphere. “The signature of humanity in this vast wilderness”.

We are all aware that environmental issues are very much in the news at the moment. Even with objections from a small minority of self-interested parties, the case for global warming is now widely accepted by scientists and the general public alike. The first person to prove the correlation between man-made CO2 and the increase in average worldwide temperature was Claude Lorius. While this is clearly an environmental film. it feels more of an ode to the spirit of exploration and adventure. Lorius narrates his own story with poetic beauty and shares a wealth of archive footage from several of his expeditions.

Director Jacquet wonderfully captures the breathtaking beauty of polar terrain. Not only is this a beautifully made documentary, it also shows how luck, hard work and determination can achieve great things. The film is contemplative memoir, a call to action and an epic tale where science and adventure meet.

 

STRAND RELEASING 2016 LINE UP AS OF DECEMBER 15, 2016

strand

STRAND RELEASING 2016 LINE UP AS OF DECEMBER 15, 2016

 

STAYING VERTICAL (Comedy/Drama) Directed by Alain Guiraudie (Stranger by the Lake). Filmmaker Leo is searching for the wolf in the south of France. During a scouting excursion he is seduced by Marie, a free-spirited and dynamic shepherdess. Nine months later she gives birth to their child. Suffering from post-natal depression and with no faith in Leo, who comes and goes as he pleases, Marie abandons both of them. Leo finds himself alone, with a baby to care for. Through a series of unexpected and unusual encounters, and struggling to find inspiration for his next film, Leo will do whatever it takes to stay standing. Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival. Opens in New York on January, 20, 2017 at the IFC Center and Film Society of Lincoln Center. Opens in Los Angeles on January 27, 2017 at Ahrya Fine Arts Theatre by Laemmle.

 

LOVESONG (Drama) Directed by So Yong Kim. Starring Jena Malone, Riley Keough, Brooklyn Decker and Rosanna Arquette. Neglected by her husband, Sarah embarks on an impromptu road trip with her young daughter and her best friend, Mindy. Along the way, the dynamic between the two friends intensifies before circumstances force them apart. Years later, Sarah attempts to rebuild their intimate connection in the days before Mindy’s wedding. Official Selection: Sundance Film Festival. Opens in New York on February 17, 2017 at the Village East Cinemas. Opens in Los Angeles on March 3, 2017

 

SUNTAN (Comedy/Drama/Romance) Directed by Argyris Papadimitropoulos. The doctor of a tiny Greek island, middle-aged Kostis spends a dreary winter alone, feeling like life have passed him by. With the arrival of summer, the island turns into a thriving, wild vacation spot with nude beaches and crazy parties. Kostis meets the young and beautiful, Anna, who he instantly falls for, and before long is spending nearly all of his time getting drunk and partying hard in an effort to impress her. What starts as a rediscovery of long-lost youth slowly turns into an obsession. Suntan celebrates the beauty and strength of the youthful body, while simultaneously embracing its inevitable decay. Official Selection: International Film Festival Rotterdam, South by Southwest Film Festival. Opening March 2017.

 

THE TRANSFIGURATION (Drama/Horror) Directed by Michael O’Shea. Queens, New York. 14 year-old Milo (Eric Ruffin) is an outsider. Orphaned, ignored by his schoolmates and bullied by older kids, he takes refuge in the apartment he shares with his older brother. To escape his solitude, he immerses himself in the world of the vampire. Milo hides a dark secret, but a chance encounter with a new neighbor Sophie (Chloe Levine) leads him to develop new feelings. But is this enough to quash his dark urges? Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival, Stockholm International Film Festival. Opening April 2017.

 

LIKE CRAZY (Comedy/Drama) Directed by Paolo Virzi (Human Capital, Hardboiled Egg). Starring Valeria Bruni Tedeschi. Beatrice is a motor-mouthed fantasist, a self-styled billionaire countess who likes to believe she’s on intimate terms with world leaders. Donatella is a tattooed introvert, a fragile young woman locked in her own mystery. They are both patients at the Villa Biondi, a progressive but secure psychiatric clinic. Paolo Virzì’s new film tells the story of the unpredictable and moving friendship that develops between the two women as they flee the mental institution in search of love and happiness in the open-air nuthouse – the world of sane people. Official Selection: Cannes Film Festival – Directors Fortnight. National Opening May 2017..  

 

THE ORNITHOLOGIST (Drama) Directed by João Pedro Rodrigues. Fernando, a solitary ornithologist, is looking for endangered black storks along a remote river in northern Portugal, when he is swept away by the rapids. Rescued by a couple of Chinese pilgrim girls on their way to Santiago de Compostela, he plunges into a dark, eerie forest, trying to get back on track. But as he encounters unexpected and uncanny obstacles and people who put him to the test, Fernando is driven to extreme, transformative actions. Gradually he becomes a different man: inspired, multifaceted, and finally enlightened. Official Selection: Locarno Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival. Opening June 2017

“PROPERTY IS NO LONGER A THEFT”– A Corrupt Society

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“Property Is No Longer a Theft” (“La proprietà non è più un furto”)

A Corrupt Society

Amos Lassen

Italian master Elio Petri brings us a black comedy with “Property is No Longer a Sin”. Total (Flavio Bucci) is a young bank clerk who has been denied a loan by his employer, decides to exact his revenge the local butcher (Ugo Tognazzi), a nasty, violent, greedy man who is also one of the bank’s star customers. He quits his job and spends all of his time tormenting the butcher, stealing his possessions one-by-one, including his mistress (Daria Nicolodi).

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Total is something of a modern day Robin Hood and feels that in order and is so exasperated by the way the society around him behaves that he decides that he must mine rich people’s private property in order to shock them. He enters the dark world of delinquency meeting a professional thief that he manages to blackmail so that he can help him in his misdoings. The story sits somewhere between Marxist idealism and pure delinquency Total some of the money and good times that he sees other having but he understands that it’s impossible.

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This is a well-told tale of corruption and theft. Director Petri looks at inequality in society, the issue of property and at money itself. We see the human part of the rat race and that it is necessary to become more powerful, socially accepted and approved, irrespective of all hidden necessary, immoral ways. The butcher represents the rich and Petri points out that all those people who want to dominate, are unscrupulous and pitiless, as the poor who often are honest ones will never achieve better life conditions, since either they are limited by religious as well as state laws or on breaching overtly all those moral boundaries they are banished from the society. The only way their lives are considered acceptable is for them to obey the rules and submit to rich people who are protected by their wealth and power. We see a bank (the heart of consumerism) compared to the church. To make this allusion even more visible, the bank is full of images depicting the Holy Trinity. Also, just like in the “Holy Church”, in the rat race, which is called here a “religion of property”, there is a certain hierarchy and blasphemies. Total’s setting paper money on fire causes a tantrum to be thrown. (when the clerk Total sets a banknote on fire, the director is disgusted and almost throws a tantrum).

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At times, I felt the plot to be overwhelming and the message of the film is radical. Yet we can overlook these because of how wonderful the film is otherwise. It is filled with ideas and has a brilliant Morricone musical score. The atmosphere is tinged erotically and beautifully encapsulates the political situation of Italy.

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Petri delivers an interesting satire on the thematic level, but it does present a little too caricature and misanthropy.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS:

 

  • 4K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • New subtitle translation
  • Brand-new interview with actor Flavio Bucci
  • Brand-new interview with producer Claudio Mancini
  • Brand-new interview with make-up artist Pierantonio Mecacci
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Nathanael Marsh

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Illustrated collector’s booklet containing new writing on the film by Camilla Zamboni

“STARLESS DREAMS”— Troubled Lives

starless-dreams-poster

“Starless Dreams” (“Royahaye dame sobh”)

Troubled Lives

Amos Lassen

Iranian filmmaker Mehrdad Oskouel’s  new documentary, “Starless Dreams” explores the lives of female inmates in an Iranian juvenile detention facility. All types of inmates are housed together, from a young girl who murdered her abusive, drug-addicted father to an extroverted car thief. The girls live peacefully together and bond over their shared experiences. Aside from their crimes, we see them as regular teenagers.

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The film uses face-to-face interviews and scenes of teenage life to tell its story. We see joy and we see sorrow. Somayeh, one of the inmates says “pain drips from the walls” of the facility. Another inmate named Khatereh shows fresh scabs across her forearm. When director Oskouei asks Khatereh about her hopes and aspirations, she mentions her crippling depression and says that she simply wishes to die. Scenes like this are common and we see how quickly the girls can shift from elation to deep sorrow.

What we hear through the girls’ testimonies is captivating. As they speak in shaky voices, they recall beatings, drug addiction and abusive relatives. We see that for many juvenile offenders, life in prison is a blessing. There is a support system, and it’s safer than the outside world.

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However we understand that that this system sets them up for failure. One worker bitterly remarks that if any of the girls killed themselves after they were freed, it wouldn’t be the prison’s fault. It doesn’t help that most of the film’s subjects lack strong support systems and come from broken families. The girls worry that they’ll end up entangled with drug addiction and crime as some leave to pursue what got them to the center.

The pacing comes from the young inmates are responsible for pacing the film. There are no interviews with the families of the girls or with prison workers in order to keep the message solid. It is surprising to see how quickly the girls bare their souls and open up about the perils of life on the street. They come to share a closeness with Oskouei and address her as “Uncle Mehrdad”. This is rare in films like this.

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The film deals with feminism, class issues and abuse poignantly and authentically and brings about powerful responses. However, it is necessary to understand that this is a specific take on the lives of some misguided Iranian teenage girls. I found it surprising how much the girls are like victimized teens in the Western world and perhaps that was what the director really wanted to show here.

The girls, some of whom have drug-addicted parents who are unwilling to provide support and guidance to their children are then incarcerated in a local rehabilitation detention center. Their crimes ranging from parricide to car theft and many are victims of sexual and physical abuse at the hands of male relatives. Hopelessness leads many of these young girls to a life on the streets, forcing them to sell and abuse drugs. While the atmosphere of the facility is oppressive, director Oskouei captures their innocence with scenes of the inmates playing spin the bottle, Truth or Dare and volleyball. She lets them talk and talk they do. Inmate, 651 tells how she arrived at the facility. She was caught with 651 grams of narcotics on her person, hence her name, 651. She shares a remorseful account of how she beat her mother for not providing her with drug money.

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Nobody, one of the more vocal inmates, shows Oskouei’s illustrations of a preferred version of herself. She used crayons to sketch images of herself sporting denim pants, a brightly colored shirt and blonde dyed hair and this is worlds apart from the black abaya and hijab that she currently fashions. But when asked if the person she draws can become a reality, she responds that “society is bigger than me” and tells Oskouei she wants peace, quiet, and music. When asked about God, Nobody says that she is not speaking to God right now.

A few girls are runaways but all struggle with how they will be perceived and treated when they return to their homes. Some of the girls know that they will not be welcomed and will have to return to the streets. The film closes on the celebratory evening of Eid Al Fitr, the Islamic New Year. Some of the girls seemed to find a sense of solace in their current situation as they danced in celebration of the new year but also alluding to the possibility of hopefulness to an otherwise sad situation.

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As we watch we hear back-stories of addiction, molestation, and poverty that have destroyed the lives of its young subjects. I understand that the director and her all male crew spent 20 days in the facility on the outskirts of Tehran, talking to the young women who gave them surprising access to their lives and feelings. With their cheap tattoos and missing teeth, their emotions and spontaneity in front of the camera reveal vivid characters. It is certainly important to remember that these girls have known nothing but poverty and exploitation, often in the form of physical and sexual abuse (I know I have said that before) and few have ever shown them kindness and comfort, or anything resembling a normal childhood. This is a heartbreaking documentary of the stories of those who have never been listened to before. Their shattering testimony and their chorus of stolen childhood hits very hard (as it should when we remember that these girls are someone’s children).

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Though Oskouei is never on camera yet he is a guiding force. The girls open about the crimes that landed them in the facility and the domestic circumstances that might account for their actions. There will be no sequel because as a condition of access, Oskouei cannot follow his subjects after they leave. The best he can do is manage photos of them being picked up by their family and driven to fates unknown. But within the parameters of this film, Oskouei’s curiosity and empathy restores some small measure of their innocence and allows them to be seen as children again — children who are bright, playful, enthusiastic and tragically vulnerable. Our character, Nobody, actually emerges as somebody as her cloak of invisibility is peeled away.

“THE STORY OF SIN”— Thrown into Chaos

story-of-sin

“The Story of Sin” (“Dzieje grzechu”)

Thrown Into Chaos

Amos Lassen

Set in nineteenth century Poland, we meet Eva, (Grazyna Dlugolecka), a good Catholic teenage girl and a confession goer. The priest warns of impure thoughts and giving into lust and sin. Eva’s family takes in a lodger named Lukash (Jerzy Zelnick) and he and Eva fall in love. family take in a young man, Lukash, as a lodger and soon they fall in love. Lukash is married but since he is unable to acquire a divorce, he and Eva live in sin. Eva’s family disowns her and when Lukash sets off for Rome, Eva discovers that she is pregnant and when her child is born she drowns it. Eva hears from a Count Szczerbic, who wounded Lukash in a duel that Lukash is in prison in Rome. However, when she tracks him down, she learns that he has been released and deported. Lukash remarries, thinking that Eva has began a relationship with Szczerbic. Then Eva conspires with two conmen to take revenge on Szczerbic because she believes that he is the one responsible for Lukash not being in her life. She poisons him as they make love. Having no other job and unable to find one, Eva returns to Poland and becomes a prostitute but is rescued by a kindly gentleman who offers her work. However, the two conmen return, using her to lure Lukash. As she warns Lukash that the conmen intend to kill him, she is shot dead. So in a nutshell and quite a boring one at that, this is what the film is about.

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The late Polish filmmaker Walerian Borowczyk is considered one of the most influential and acclaimed animators and is also he is a director of soft-core pornographic films with artistic ambitions. Borowczyk’s career changed forever in 1975, when he directed “The Story of Sin” with adult themes and nudity and is based on a novel that was banned by the Catholic church (and filmed twice previously). It is a tale of a woman who suffers for love. Eva tells us that she is ‘a victim of circumstance’, whose love for Lukash, was constantly thwarted by both fate and society and is the cause of her downfall. Borowczyk’s fidelity to the literary tradition is one of the film’s strengths; making Eva’s rise and fall the central feature of the film rather than the more salacious subject matter. The early scenes in ‘The Story of Sin’ between Eva and Lukash are filled with sexual tension. Conversations occur with the focus purely on the eyes though the talk is flirting in nature. Memories blur with real life. The film is also full of satire although at the time it came out, was not picked up on. Eva’s initial piety, dedicated to avoiding sin and impure thoughts, does not seem to be shared by the other members of her family or local society. Whilst she covers ‘sinful’ works of art and books, others cheerfully avoid attending confession. When Eva falls in love with Lukash, she is thrown out by her family as a slut and a whore, despite their own lack of piety. Borowczyk hints at the moral corruption at the heart of this society. Eva is exploited and taken advantage of by everyone she meets and no matter how much she searches for Lukash or attempts to create a life for them both together, society prevents it. Conmen use her body as a means of committing murder; her motives to kill Szczerbic are noble of sorts but the conmen seem purely motivated by greed. Exploited and rejected by all, Eva’s fate is sealed. The satirical elements of Borowczyk’s work are subtle and underrated and obscured by the more sexually frank reputation he has.

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Eva’s life of is thrown into chaos when her parents takes in Lukash as a lodger. Because of their affair and wanting to do the right thing, Lukash goes to Rome to seek a divorce from his estranged wife. Because she cannot live without him, Eva leaves home and falls victim to the infatuations and lusts of criminals. She is quite pretty and curvaceous, but more importantly, she is a realistic and winning person even when she is a prostitute.

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What we see is a restrictive society and the complexities of sin. however, is as obvious and colorful as a vintage snapshot. Turn-of-the-century Czarist-dominated Warsaw was rough on the staunchly Catholic, disenfranchised Polish bourgeois classes. Eva is no exception. She is quickly caught up in the throes of first love with Lukash who is seeking a divorce and thus begins a convoluted, bitter romance indicating that sin isn’t necessarily simple.

Dlugolecka Grazyna;Voit Mieczyslaw;

Dlugolecka Grazyna;Voit Mieczyslaw;

Eroticism, costuming, settings and photography are artistically detailed. The lovers live in ecstasy in cramped village quarters. Lust and murder are made specific in rich, red damask rooms filled finery. Thos is a conventional story of a woman’s life destroyed by love, not unlike “Madame Bovary” or “Anna Kerenina”. The primal drive of love and the beastliness of sinners in Eva’s life make for a complex plot with some seemingly abrupt transitions.

When the film departs from the expected tropes of the period piece, the effect is startling. Eva and Lukasz meet each other with all the expected formality yet just couple of scenes later, Lukash is groping Eva in a public park. They begin writing ardent letters to each other.

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Most scenes in the film are permeated with sexual threat be it from the lascivious artist (another lodger), to the priapic villain who propositions Eva in a village tavern and, when she refuses, improbably pursues her across Europe. If every man lusts after Eva, it is not that she is irresistible: it is that they see Eva, like all women, as nothing more than prey, which they have a god-given right, as men, to use for their pleasure. Even Lukash never seems to be around when she needs him most. There is just one scene in the film where male and female bodies are making love and feeling equally vulnerable and desirable beneath the camera’s gaze. Yet even this image is severely compromised by the fact that Eva is being forced: her partner, completely in love with her, doesn’t realize that another man has orchestrated the encounter against her will. “The Story of Sin” has been subject to critical debate about whether it is art or soft-core pornography. Now you can decide for yourselves.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • 2K restoration from the original film negative
  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) and Standard Definition DVD presentations
  • New subtitle translation
  • New 2K restorations from the original negatives of Borowczyk’s ground-breaking Polish shortshe School
  • New introduction by poster designer Andrzej Klimowski
  • New interview with Story of Sin lead actor Grazyna Dlugolecka
  • New interview featurette on Borowczyk’s career in Poland by Daniel Bird (co-founder Friends of Walerian Borowczyk)
  • New interview featurette on Borowczyk’s innovate use of classical music in his films by writer and filmmaker David Thompson
  • MORE extras to be announced!
  • Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Andrzej Klimowski


FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Fully illustrated collector’s booklet featuring new and archival writing, including an exclusive interview with the producer of Story of Sin, director Stanislaw Rozewicz; a text by art historian and one-time Borowczyk collaborator, Szymon Bojko; and excerpts from Borowczyk’s memoirs presented in English for the first time.

“OLYMPIC PRIDE, AMERICAN PREJUDICE”— 1936 The Olympic Games

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“Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”

1936— The Olympic Games

Amos Lassen

Politics have always been a part of the Olympics and we certainly see that in the games of 1936 when the games were held in Berlin. At that time, Hitler tried to use the games to flatter the Third Reich. The United States sought to thwart him from doing so by having Black athletes as part of this country’s delegation. This is the basic idea of Deborah Riley Draper’s fascinating documentary, “Olympic Pride, American Prejudice”. In 1936, racial politics played a major role, both domestically and abroad. There were efforts by the N.A.A.C.P. and New York Mayor Fiorello H. La Guardia of New York called for a boycott of the Games. Both the hurdler, Tidye Pickett, and the sprinter, Louise Stokes, had already endured prejudice at the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles. Ralph Metcalfe Jr., the son of the 1932 and ’36 Olympian Ralph Metcalfe, says that the attitude that prevailed was, “Let’s get over there and dust those Germans, who think they’re better than us.”

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The 18 black athletes were celebrities at the Games in Berlin and brought home eight gold medals, four alone for the runner Jesse Owens yet they found no celebrity status in the United States. In fact, one of the athletes could only get a job here as a street cleaner. Avery Brundage, the United States Olympic Association president, trusted the Nazis’ vow to include a Jew on their team (they reneged on this) and this country excluded the American Jews that were on the team right before a tack event at which Hitler was present.

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History has forgotten our Black athletes save one. In 1936 America was racially divided and torn between boycotting Hitler’s Olympics or participating in the Third Reich’s grandest affair. The documentary follows 16 men and two women before, during and after their heroic experiences at the Summer Olympic Games in Berlin. These athletes represented a country that considered them second-class citizens and competed in a country that rolled out the red carpet in spite of an undercurrent of Aryan superiority and anti-Semitism.

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The film uses newsreel material, newspaper articles, photographs, personal interviews and never-before-seen footage as well as resources from the personal archival collections of Olympians and organizations in both the U.S. and Germany. We feel the emotions brought about by the subjects and images displayed on the screen. Narrator Blair Underwood, however, shows a range of vocal emotions but I would have preferred that the story seemed came to us without a narrator as he seemed distracting.

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Director Draper tells the story with family members, historians and athletes as talking heads. We realize how much history is not in the history books by watching this. Many things we’re purposely not taught about the achievements of great men & women of color in America.

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I had no idea about the lows and triumphs of those who traveled to Germany to represent the United States and to make history for themselves. There is an interview with an elderly German woman now living in Brooklyn, who was a Jewish track and field star and barred from competition by Hitler. We learn of the controversy surrounding the relay race in which Owens and Metcalf replaced two Jewish athletes at the last minute, and then won a gold medal. The message of the documentary, however, is hopeful and by understanding what happened, we can eliminate prejudice and treat each other with respect in a world of social equality.