PAST EUPHORIA POST EUROPA  Fabio Sgroi  (Versione Italiana)

Film, Video, Photo and Documentary    Editors' Picks

Interviews, Films, Trailers, Docs and Shorts 


"The world reveals itself to those who travel on foot." 


                                             — Werner Herzog


"My eternal plan is alwys to make a film that a Chinese lady from the countryside can understand without subtitles." 


                                                   — Aki Kaurismäki

“I'm lucky enough to be able to make films and so I don't need a psychiatrist. I can sort out my fears and all those things with my work. That's an enormous privilege. That's the privilege of all artists, to be able to sort out their unhappiness and their neuroses in order to create something.” 

                                                                        ― Michael Haneke

"Film as dream, Film as Music. No art passes our conscience in the way film does, and goes directly to our feelings, deep down into the dark rooms of our souls." 


                                                 — Ingmar Bergman

"Hollywood cinema remains profoundly conservative, profoundly stupid, and often painful. About one out of every ten films is okay, meaning a little bit better than the average.” 


                                                               — Agnes Varda

"I've lost all my money on these films. They are not commercial. But I'm glad to lose it this way. To have for a souvenir of my life pictures like 'Umberto D.' and 'The Bicycle Thief.'"                                                                                                                

                                                          — Vittorio De Sica

Natela Grigalashvili  Georgian ABC book 

All photographs ©2017 by Natela Grigalashvili   All rights reserved

Not that it's an ineffective documentary, but one gets the feeling while watching that it's Zizek, and Zizek alone, that makes the film worthwhile. Only at the end, when a melodramatic piano piece rolls over the credits, does one get the sense that Astra Taylor has played it safe: she might have added a supportive  structure, even at the risk of appearing contrived. Zizek the protagonist would have provided whatever texture was needed as an erratic counterweight, by virtue of him simply being himself, that is, in order to derail any excessive structure with spontaneous ideas. 


Long ago, I had had trouble with Zizek the man and some of the things he had said (for example, in order to arrive at one's atheism, one must pass through a necessary interaction  with Christian symbols first), which I originally misunderstood as gimmicks in his public lectures and forums. I was wrong. Not only is he profoundly interesting, but quite charming, and certainly funny, not least of all as a unique person, let alone a philosophical thinker, in these times that are barren of original thought, and chock full of paralyzing political correctness—which allows for his famous twitchy-ness to serve as a desperately needed countervailing force.   James B. Williamson ©2017

Passage   Fabio Sgroi                          

Žižek!   Astra Taylor  (Complete)

"Not since the work of Josef Koudelka has this part of the world been rendered so intuitively and mysteriously. As the decisions and ramifications of realpolitik come bearing down on the lives of everyday people in Eastern Europe, the poetic reality of life is ignored; however, it flourishes for those like Fabio Sgroi who are brave enough to look into its shadows."


                          —  James Williamson (from 'Passage')

"A remarkable film, not only because it creates a world made up of omens and myths, rituals and allegories, as well as perceptions that are beyond surreal (mainly because they are rooted so deeply in the reality of astonishing land- and seascapes and are firmly in sync with these remote people's experiences), but also because unlike any other film I can think of, it creates a world unto itself, one that is dreamlike, mesmerizing, and which did not require me to suspend disbelief. One of the enjoyable aspects of the film was not quite knowing what era or location—beyond it being somewhere in Iran—the film was set in. Small physical clues suggested that it was set in the present, but almost everything else that swirled within the overall arc of the story and visuals seemed ancient, distant, otherworldly, although somehow you knew that wasn't the case. The allegories are supposed to have a political dimension which I'll have to read about because, for me, the film and its various stories within stories stood on their own, self-contained, whole within their own internal logic, and are as real and unforgettable as the tangible weight of certain dreams one carries throughout one's life."

James B. Williamson ©2018

The White Meadows    Mohammad Rasoulof   (Complete)

Luis Buñuel   On 'Un Chien Andalou'   

John Walter's documentary, from 2008, on the making of 'Mother Courage and Her Children,' starring Kevin Kline and Meryl Streep (which was performed at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park in 2006), gives US audiences a rare look into the depths of their own unexplored "shadow" (in Jungian terms) by way of Brechtian theater; Brecht's multilayered characters, his acknowledgement of "fatal virtue" in an era when nice, safe forms of part-time rebellion on the streets of US cities seek to "fight" (whatever that means) the demagogic identities within the arenas of the "identity politics" they crave, resulting in a meaningless reduction of their real concerns into "boutique issues." John Pilger, in a recent Counterpunch article, titled: 'The Issue Is Not Trump, It's Us,' wrote: "In 2016 alone Obama dropped 26,171 bombs. That is 72 bombs every day.  He bombed the poorest people on earth, in Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Pakistan." Something to consider whenever we convince ourselves that fascism only arrived in 2017. ©2017 by James Barron Williamson 


See the entire doc on Vimeo at:

Theater of War   John Walter

Patricio Guzmán fearlessly knocks down the blinders that are set up by intellect, reason, and religion in order to forge a path into Chile's distant—and recent—past, one that allows for a poetic and intuitive vision to hold sway. By way of the elements, land, water, and the universe, he draws us into his own contemplation of the existential, political, and personal in order to re-evaluate history in a part of the world that has witnessed more than its fair share of human cruelty.  ©2017 by James B. Williamson

The Pearl Button   Patricio Guzmán​   

The Seasons in Quincy: Four Portraits of John Berger                                      

From the film:


Berger: "We who draw do so, not only to make something observed visible to others, but also to accompany something invisible to its incalculable destination." 


Swinton (reading Berger): "It is this element in drawing that dovetails with the storyteller and thus with the historian, this attention and quest toward incalculable destination."





“Werner Herzog’s vision is breathtaking, though not exactly beautiful, except in the most abstract rendering of this distant, though all too present, dystopian landscape. It’s an apocalyptic vision that every one of us sooner or later confronts in our darkest nightmares. However, this is not just a horrible dream that foreshadows Armageddon. This is mankind’s very real arrogance ignited like a Molotov cocktail hurled across an unspanable moonscape.” ©2017 by James Barron Williamson 

Lessons In Darkness   Werner Herzog  

An Act of Faith: Saving The Apu Trilogy  

The Confessions of Steve McQueen    Nowness     

"The wonderful thing about this feminist anti-war ghost story (and I’m not a lover of the horror genre usually) is how human anxiety and loss manifest themselves from both sides of the script, from within the plot’s interior and beyond, to a point where the characters’ accustomed interactions with their “normal” experience create a nether-region of psychological instability. Do we invoke turmoil by necessity?"  —James B. Williamson ©2017

Under The Shadow   Babak Anvari

Cinema in its purest form, not so much the result of technique as much as a fusion of narrative with an exhumation of life by way of McQueen’s directorial vision. Of course, it feels empty and drained of all meaning; it’s so teeming with unadulterated truth (and compulsion) that the boundary between the voids within us and the flattened depiction of inescapable addiction around us cuts out a painful experience that is likely to never heal—like the removal of a once vital organ.  —James B. Williamson ©2017

Shame   Steve McQueen        

MUBI Synopsis: Alicia feels lost. The memory of war clings to her mind in a terrifying rumble. Thrown off her land by armed conflict, she tries to build a new life at ‘La Sirga’, a rundown boarding house on the shore of a large lagoon high up in the Andes mountain range.

"A well-made and thoughtful film about vulnerability, mystery, loss... it has a seductive and understated quality in which small details and gestures add up to a lot towards the creation of possible meanings. But this film refuses to preach or manipulate, and instead allows the viewer to have a deeply personal interaction with the facts, as well as the looming mysteries and emotions it hints at beyond what is perceived."

©2017 by James B. Williamson

The Towrope (La sirga)   William Vega  2009   


"Field Niggas" Preview   Khalik Allah

"The most political decision you can make is where you direct people's eyes. In other words, what you show people, day in and day out, is political... and the most politically indoctrinating thing you can do to a human being is to show him, every day, that there can be no change."    


                                                    — Wim Wenders

Gabriel Figueroa   Excerpts

Ménilmontant    1926 Avant garde French Silent Film Classic

Roma: Open City   A review by A.O. Scott

"Now why should the cinema follow the forms of theater and painting rather than the methodology of language...?"


                                                   — Sergei Eisenstein

Graciela Iturbide    Photographing Mexico — Art21 Exclusive

Embrace of the Serpent   Trailer

“‘Embrace of the Serpent’ is one of the best films of the new millennium. It is also right on time for the winding-down of globalization. Not simply a story about 19th- and early 20th-century colonialism, it’s the kind of film that delves into the unexpected and deeply personal—but not from the worn-out  “white man’s burden” point-of-view. As the more accessible protagonist, Karamakate, an Amazonian shaman, enters into murky and distressing psychological territory, the story transmogrifies into parable—one that is perfectly timed for personal revelation.”  James B. Williamson ©2017 

"Heartbreaking. Signoret is superb, as are the other actresses. And it's refreshing to see Mastroianni play a less complex character for a change. It's not necessarily easy to pull off. But 'Adua And Her Friends' is definitely an undervalued gem. Once again,"the embedded cruelty of social stigma can only ever be temporarily assuaged by misleading moments of hope." 

© 2017 by James B. Williamson

Adua And Her Friends   Complete    Antonio Pietrangeli   

MUBI Synopsis: An epic tragicomedy from director Lina Wertmüller (Seven Beauties), Love and Anarchy plumbs the depths of fascist Italy from the perspective of a simple farm boy who’s sent to kill Mussolini, but finds comrades in a group of prostitutes.

"One of the most perfect films I've ever seen. Uncategorizable—which is the hallmark of every true work of art. And no less in cinema. Heartbreaking, tragicomic, uplifting... with bawdy humor, compassion and, most of all, love. It's always in the the most unlikely situations that humanity refinds, and redefines, itself.    

© 2017 by James B. Williamson

Love and Anarchy   Lina Wertmüller  1973

MUBI Synopsis: Ignacio Carrillo travelled all his life throughout the villages and regions of northern Colombia, playing music on his accordion. As he became older, he got married and settled with his wife in a small town. When she suddenly dies, he decides to make one last journey.

"A great film. Perhaps a bit too restrained, but it's restraint conjures much of its potency. The main characters remain just out of reach, which is where we want them, to just the right degree. Needless to point out, the gorgeous landscapes and cinematography lay the groundwork for so much of the film's character, which unravels more as myth than narrative."   

©2017 by James B. Williamson

The Wind Journeys   Los Viajes Del Viento   Ciro Guerra   2009

Le Quattro Volte    Michelangelo Frammartino

Cristina García Rodero    Transtempo 

Béla Tarr    Transcending The Void 

Robert Frank   au Jeu de Paume

"Like watching a well-written play with profound implications regarding the tragic need to lie or maintain secrets and honor, as well as confront one's responsibilities, intentions, and conscience. Those in the west who quickly reduce the story to an "Iran" problem, fail to see their own societies' flaws and built-in deceptions. Cinema buffs who make easy comparisons to Hitchcock and Antonioni don't see enough."

©2017 by James B. Williamson

About Elly   Agshar Farhadi        

Carandiru is a 2003 Brazilian drama directed by Hector Babenco. It is based on the book Estação Carandiru by Dr. Drauzio Varella, a physician and AIDS specialist, who is portrayed in the film by Luiz Carlos Vasconcelos.


Carandiru tells some of the stories that occurred in Carandiru Penitentiary, which was the biggest prison in Latin America. The story culminates with the 1992 massacre where 111 prisoners were killed, 102 by Police. The film was the last thing for which the prison was used before it was demolished in 2002, one year before the release of the film.


Babenco states that Carandiru is the “most realistic film [he’s] ever made,” presenting a new kind of Brazilian realism inspired by Cinema Novo (not only is it meant to portray different sides of Brazil, but also it was shot on location and used many actual prisoners as actors). Due to this focus on portraying reality and the film’s memoir inspiration, Carandiru can be read as a docudrama or as a testimony from the prisoners.


From Wikipedia:

Carandiru   Trailer  Hector Babenco

MUBI Synopsis: The wealthy Domenico has had a long love affair with Filumena, who he’s been happy to keep as a mistress but nothing more. The problem comes when she grows tired of being kept to the side and hatches a plan to become a bigger part of his life…

"On one level, sure, it's simply a 60s-era rom-com full of great acting, chemistry and cinematography. After all, it's De Sica. On another level, a light but tragic exploration of a misogynistic social structure. On a higher level still, it's transcendent, perhaps even in feminist terms, if one's heart is open, because the heroine survives misery, rejection, shame, despair, and even catharsis, with dignity and honor."  

© 2017 by James B. Williamson

Marriage Italian Style  Vittorio De Sica     

Perhaps not one of Herzog's best, it has its moments, as well as its dedicated followers. Pointlessly slow and empty of background extras toward the beginning, and meaningful supporting cast throughout, it had the overall effect of a weekend film project on a tight budget, despite worthy sets and locations, and despite great acting by Kinski and Adjani (and Roland Topor as Renfield), though the script was much too sparse. It seems Herzog was straining excessively in order to remain faithful to his interpretation of the original, further evidenced by the (intentionally?) poorly-handled editing. Watching the town and its inhabitants break down and die off with the infusion of the plague throughout its streets was the most interesting aspect the film offered though, again, the appearance of extras arrived too late to be as effective as even this aspect might have been. The question of science as the enlightened answer to an outmoded religiosity was handled well and has particular relevance nearly forty years later.    James B. Williamson ©2019

Nosferatu The Vampyre   Trailer  Directed by Werner Herzog

MUBI Synopsis: A portrait of Sabine Bonnaire, a 38-year-old autistic woman, filmed by her sister. Through personal footage filmed over a period of 25 years, it is revealed that Sabine’s growth and many talents were crushed by an inadequate care structure.


This 85-minute directorial debut by acclaimed French actress Sandrine Bonnaire won the International Film Critics Federation Prize at the Cannes Film Festival in 2007.

Her Name Is Sabine   Sandrine Bonnaire

Surire   Bettina Perut   Iván Osnovikoff​