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Tuesday, Feb 28, 2012

Late last year, Nuon Chea, better known as Brother Number 2, was charged with war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide, in a UN-based court in Phnom Penh. On the second day, the prosecution played a clip from a documentary, Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin’s Enemies of the People.


The film uses multiple interviews with Nuon Chea, conducted over years, to tell the story of the Khmer Rouge from a distinctly, agonizingly personal perspective. Sambath begins by remembering his father’s murder. “They arrested him and took him to the rice field. They killed him by thrashing by knives,” Sambath says. “He did not die immediate. He very, very suffer. My brother, he watch.” Now a senior reporter with the Phnom Penh Post, Sambath has spent years seeking answers to the question that has shaped his life: “Why the killing happened.” His film includes interviews with several killers, now living un-special lives in villages, as well as Nuon Chea. As these interview subjects sift through memories, they sound variously true and delusional, fragmented and self-serving, working their way to confessions in roundabout ways. You can’t know whether this is a function of fading memories, confusion or deliberate obfuscation. “Frankly,” one says, laughing weakly, “Without the wine, we wouldn’t dare kill people.” At the same time, the film’s compositions insist on the layers of storytelling, showing multiple frames within frames, arranged in camera lenses and mirrors, doorways and monitors. The effect is complex, brilliant, and devastating.


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Thursday, Dec 8, 2011
by PopMatters Staff
Enter for your chance to win a copy of Michael Jackson: The Life of an Icon on Blu-ray along with a Blu-ray disc home theater system (prize pack valued at $375)!

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ENTER THE CONTEST HERE


 


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Tuesday, Sep 20, 2011

The Chile of Patricio Guzmán’s childhood is long gone, a collective history he’s explored in other films. But Nostalgia for the Light (Nostalgia de la luz), now available on DVD from Icarus Films, looks at that history in brilliant new ways, articulating two searches for the past. One is a pursuit of scientific knowledge, the evidence to support theories of how life began and what might be coming for the planet earth; it’s conducted by astronomers via the world’s largest optical telescope (called the European Extremely Large Telescope, or E-ELT) located in Chile’s Atacama desert. The other, ongoing since 1990, is undertaken by the relatives of victims of August Pinochet’s dictatorship: they seek remains and stories, knowledge of how their loved ones died. Both searches, the film points out, involve bodies, material and celestial, and both are endless. As the documentary draws parallels, it also points out the elusiveness of understanding. The past is ineluctably the present, bodies of all kinds exist in cycles, as the astronomer Valentina Rodríguez explains. At the same time, past and present, she is also the daughter of two of the disappeared. “What happened to my parents and their absence takes on another dimension” when she studies the stars, she says. “It takes on another meaning and frees me a little from this great suffering, as I feel nothing really comes to an end.” 


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Thursday, Sep 8, 2011
100 Essential Directors celebrates directors of distinct vision, who have honed their respective crafts, who have brought something new and exciting to the medium, and who continue to push the boundaries of the form.

140. That’s how many movies are attributed to John Ford over his 50 years in Hollywood. It’s an absurd number, almost impossible to imagine. How does one compare a filmmaker who was prolific to this extreme to someone as stingily unproductive as Terrence Malick? Indeed, and this is the most amazing part, even though most of us has never seen even half of these films (many are lost), what we are left with are at least a few dozen unassailable masterpieces. For a man who was tireless, obviously overworked, tied to a studio system which had him churning out picture after picture at breakneck speed for decades, John Ford managed to compile an unparalleled list of unqualified successes.


Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.


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Friday, Sep 2, 2011
by Jose Solís Mayén
100 Essential Directors celebrates directors of distinct vision, who have honed their respective crafts, who have brought something new and exciting to the medium, and who continue to push the boundaries of the form.

A master of image, form and story, Federico Fellini’s career could very well serve as a representation of cinema’s evolution. From his early work as a cartoonist and screenwriter, to his eventual worldwide recognition as one of the masters of the medium, he wasn’t afraid of experimentation. During the 1940s he attempted to make films that adjusted to the postwar reality that was pushing European cinema into a style that recalled nonfiction filmmaking. After works like Variety Lights (1950) and his contribution as a writer to the seminal Rome, Open City (1945), but Fellini found his voice when he made La Strada. The film starred his wife Giulietta Massina as Gelsomina, a simple minded woman who joins a traveling circus act led by the savage Zampanó (Anthony Quinn).


Read the rest of the entry within our 100 Essential Directors series.


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