Sunday, October 21, 2012

Blackthorn (2011) directed by Mateo Gil

Blackthorn one-sheet (2011) - (Sam Shepard)

Blackthorn (2011) directed by Mateo Gil

This is one of the greatest western movies. Butch Cassidy (Sam Shepard) is on the run in Bolivia under the false name Sam Blackthorn, with a bandit companion (Eduardo Noriega) named Engineer Eduardo Apodaca.

They are spending the night in an abandoned mission and James is telling Eduardo about his past.

James: See one day I woke up and found myself alone. Seemed like everybody I knew was either dead or in jail. They thought I was dead too so I just did what any good dead person would do. I went off and raised me some horses--20 years! That was a big change. Quiet times. You see, I'm too long in the tooth to go off and be what I used to be, just an ordinary old bandit.

Eduardo: You should have become a rancher. You'd be rich now instead of being here with me.

James: Rich? I've been my own man. There's nothin' richer than that!

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Downtown Girls بنات وسط البلد (dir: Mohamed Khan) (2005) Egyptian one-sheet

Downtown Girls (2005) - (dir: Mohamed Khan) Egyptian one-sheet

Plot summary: Yasmin (Menna Shalabi) and Jumana (Hend Sabri) were friends who worked in shops in downtown Cairo. Yasmin worked for a hairdresser and Jumana worked in a dress shop. They both lived in simple social circumstances. One day they met two boys on the metro, Samir (Khaled Abol Naga) who worked as a cook in a hotel and Othman (Mohamed Nagati) who worked at a telephone company. The relationship developed slowly. At first, in one of several incidents in which she told lies, Yasmin told the boys her name was Jumana and her friend's name was Yasmin, but the relationship continued and the boys thought they could get the girls easily. Samir introduced his girl (Yasmin) to his father and the father was comfortable with this relationship, but Jumana did not like Othman's narrow-mindedness and told him she did not want to get married. The friendship continued between the two girls even though Yasmin married Samir and had a son with him. The film's title song is performed by Riko as an event at a recording studio. Cast: Khaled Abol Naga, Hend Sabri, Menna Shalabi, Mohamed Nagati, Ahmed Bedir, Manal Afifi, Ahmed Rateb, Kamal Abdel Aziz, Magda El-Khatib, Riko, directed by Mohamed Khan, written by Wassam Soliman

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Dreams of Hind and Camilia [أحلام هند وكاميليا] [ahlam hind we kamilia] (1989) - (Ahmed Zaki)

Dreams of Hind and Camelia (1989) - (Ahmed Zaki) Egyptian one-sheet

This poster was designed and printed by the award-winning Egyptian poster designer Hassan Mazhar Gasour for the 1989 Mohamed Khan film Dreams of Hind and Camilia based on story and screenplay by Mohamed Khan and starring Ahmed Zaki as Aid. As with many films by great directors, the magic of this film is in the visual detail that gives life to the story. The combination of director Mohamed Khan and the work of the late Ahmed Zaki and his two co-stars Naglaa Fathy and Aida Reyad are potent and engaging in this film, in ways not conveyed by the outline of the story. Plot Summary: Hind [Aida Reyad] was a pretty and honorable young widow who worked in homes as a maid. Her dreams were taken up with the search for the right man who would rescue her from her miserable life. She met Aid [Ahmed Zaki], a charming swindler who loved her for the moment and got her involved in many problems and difficulties because of his deviant character. He was put in prison and left a foetus in her belly without marrying her. Camilia [Naglaa Fathy] was a divorced beauty who also worked as a maid. She helped her unemployed brother, his wife and their children in return for them allowing her to live in their apartment. Camilia constantly resented her miserable situation and kept hoping to improve her life. She married a greedy old man who forced her to steal. Camilia mediated between Hind and Aid so they would marry. Hind had a beautiful child that she named Ahlam [dreams]. Aid stole some money but was arrested and imprisoned. Hind and Camilia stumbled upon the money Aid had stolen and hidden. They took Ahlam on a taxi trip to Alexandria to fulfill some of their small dreams. The taxi driver and his assistant drugged them and robbed them. When they woke up where the driver had left them beside the ocean they had lost everything, but Ahlam was still standing nearby on the beach.

Cast: Ahmed Zaki, Naglaa Fathy, Aida Reyad, Mohsen Nasr, Hassan El Adl, Mohamed Kamel and Mohga Abdel Rahman.

Bronze Award at the Valencia Film Fest in 1988. Best Direction from Egyptian Film Society Festival in 1989. Best Film from the Catholic Film Centre in Cairo in 1989. Screened at the Tashkent, Carthage, Bahrain, Nantes and Tetouan Film Festivals, between 1989 and 1995, named one of the 100 landmarks of Egyptian film in 2007 by the Bibliothecha Alexandarina.

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Fares of the City [fares al-medina] (1992)

Fares of the City [fares al-medina] (1992) - (Mahmoud Hemida) Egyptian film poster

Plot Summary: This film by director Mohamed Khan is set in Cairo in the year 1988. The filming was done in 32 days beginning 26 May 1990. It narrates a complex tale about the life of Fares (Mahmoud Hemida) who is a prosperous and somewhat conniving mid-level businessman dealing in currency, automobiles and real estate. His wealth comes from currency trading and the running of a number of large commercial projects. The main line of this multi-threaded plot is a conflict between Fares and another slightly more properous businessman and drug merchant Ahmed Al-Wezzan (Abdel Aziz Makhyoun). As the film begins Fares worries how he will raise the five million pounds he needs to pay a debt to Ahmed and he ends up selling everything to manage it, but in the end it is Fares who triumphs in a series of tense and sometimes violent encounters.

When the story begins Fares is quarrelling with his wife Dalal (Soad Nasr) about their son (Abdel Aziz al-Qarantili). He had separated from Dalal to live with her son Bakr (Farid Naguib Sorur), a university student, and with his new lover. This is the beginning of another plot line in which the son is kidnapped by Ahmed's gang, disappears, eventually becomes addicted to drugs and is then found using them and beaten up by Fares in a public bathroom.

In a moment of despair, after having lost everything to Ahmed Fares hits an ederly pedestrian with his car and then takes him to a big hospital to treat him at his own expense. Although Fares does not know this at first, this old man makes a habit of throwing himself in front of fancy automobiles so he can live comfortably for a while in a big hospital. Fares and the old opportunist find a bond of some kind and eventually become drinking buddies, replicating in a superfical way the false identities of father and son, an idea the elderly man had first broached to Fares while he was checking his "victim" into a hospital.

Soon after they establish this new bond of trust the old man confesses to Fares with startling honesty his habitual strategy of becoming a fake victim in traffic accidents to get periods of free hospital room and board for himself. He recounts his specific encounter with Fares in detail, and explains how he had sized him up and intentionaly set out to dupe him. Fares accepts this with equanimity and they remain friends. In this moment of candor with the old man, Fares also tells the nurse in attendance Hoda (Lucy) the story of their contrived relationship, makes a date to meet her and begins a relationship with her.

This film is full of freeway footage in and around Cairo by cinematographer Kamal Abdel Aziz, with frequent insertion of original cuts from old Om Kolsum performances to illustrate the fondness Fares has for her music and sometimes to accentuate points in the story line with her lyrics.

The film's performers are Mahmoud Hemida, Aida Riad, Soad Nasr, Abdel Aziz Makhyoun, Hassan Hosny, Ahmed Bedir, Lucy, Osman Abdel Moneim, Mohamed Metwalli, Atia Oweysi, Lotfi Labieb, Khaled El Sawy, Mahmoud Al-Lawzi, Abdel Aziz al-Qarantili and Farid Naguib Sorur.

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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Into Great Silence

Into Great Silence (2005) - (dir:Philip Gröning")

Almost three hours of lyrical footage of monks at the Grand Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps, with no talking. It is not all silence. You hear the sound of things like pages turning when they are reading, shoes on the floor when they walk, utensils hitting pots and pans in the kitchen, rain falling, a monk calling cats at feeding time, and so forth; filmed in 2005 by Philip Gröning during a six-month stay in the monks' quarters.

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Friday, October 12, 2012

Rustler's Rhapsody (1985)

Rustler's Rhapsody (1985) - (Tom Berenger)

Sela Ward with her horse "Wildfire"

Rustler's Rhapsody is a hypothetical movie about a silver screen cowboy. It is a movie the narrator (also Rex O'Herlihan's sidekick) imagines as a 1985 update of the old 1940s cowboy matinee films. The narrator believes if those films were still being made they would be more realistic. He tells us that in a modern film the bad guys wouldn't be such cowards, and Rex wouldn't be so damned perfect all the time! Of course the film is in color, not black and white, and in this more realistic scenario, the hero Rex knows he is playing out a script. Because of that, he knows what will happen! None of the other characters knows, because they're just people in a movie and they don't travel all over the West the way Rex does. When Rex travels from town to town, he rides his wonder horse Wildfire, and he also has a mule with him for hauling his wardrobe wagon. This wagon has a finely crafted cabinet inside with places for four guitars, about 10 different shirts, a stack of spare hats and a drawer for his knives, which he uses to cut pieces from some kind of intoxicating root he always takes along. When Rex arrives in Oakwood Estates, as always when he arrives in a western town he immediately gets into a conflict with the local bad guys. However, the evil power-mad cattle baron (Andy Griffith as colonel Ticonderoga) realizes he is operating under a set of silver screen cowboy rules, one of which is that the bad guys can never win. To solve this problem, he decides to find another good guy (who also rides around in the desert with a wardrobe wagon) to fight Rex. That is where the jaded and confident Rex encounters a first: Something that has never happened before! What will happen when he has to fight another good guy?

As Rustler's Rhapsody begins, Rex sings his theme song "I Ride Alone" to his horse Wildfire and mule as they stand listening beside his wardrobe wagon.

Patrick Wayne and Tom Berenger face off as the two good guys in Rustler's Rhapsody. They know the good guy always wins in B westerns, but which one? They agree that the "most-good good guy" will win. Then Patrick Wayne (as Bob Barber) explains to Berenger (as Rex O'Herlihan the singing cowboy) that one of the requirements for being a good guy is that he has to be a confident heterosexual. From Rex's expression Bob realizes Rex is a virgin and says "well don't worry, I'm not gonna hurt you, I'm just gonna shoot the guns out of your hands." Rex says "I'd rather you shoot me in the heart!" Bob replies "You know I can't do that!" Rex then says "I can't fight you today," leaves and is met immediately in the street by a disgusted crowd throwing things at him and calling him a coward and a pervert.

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