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Based off the graphic novel, The Coldest City, Academy Award winner Charlize Theron leads us in the female John Wick, Atomic Blonde. Directed by the co-director of the first John Wick, David Leitch, it is bound to have intense and unbroken phenomenal action choreography. The trailer even has a 30-some second unbroken sequence, reminiscent of The Raid. If a Furiosa Wick doesn’t appeal you enough, how about if I add James McAvoy, Sofia Boutella, and John Goodman… How about now? Espionage action thriller, set in Cold War divided Germany, with a terrific action director and a great cast. I would not even be upset if it’s connected to the John Wick universe.

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The Eve of Ivan Kupalo/Vecher nakanune Ivana Kupala, Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, 1968

“A master of Ukrainian poetic cinema, Yuri Ilyenko gained world-wide acclaim as the cinematographer of Parajanov’s Shadows of Forgotten Ancestors. As a director, he stands proudly in the anti-realist tradition of Dovzhenko: of his nine films, all but one were banned until last year, when A Spring for the Thirsty stunned SFIFF audiences. The Eve of Ivan Kupalo-based on Gogol’s rendering of a Ukrainian folk tale-is probably Ilyenko’s most inspired and experimental work. The opposite of what one expects from a film taken from peasant mythology, it is neither quaint nor corny, and doesn’t depend on broad acting and hearty singing. Suffused with the earthly pantheism of a half-pagan Christianity, Ilyenko’s film celebrates the unbridled passions of a people linked to nature and the rites of the seasons, to animals and the spirits of the forests. The story-a young peasant’s pact with the evil spirit in order to win the hand of a rich man’s daughter-is a simple parable of the evil power of gold over man. The cinematic treatment is dazzlingly complex, a series of astonishing and inventive images-boldly composed in color Cinemascope-married to an equally ambitious sound montage of music and stylized effects.”

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Sergei Parajanov and David Abashidze, “Ashik Kerib” (1988)

In a period of the undefined past, Ashik Kerib is a wandering minstrel, a lute player and singer, who falls for a rich merchant’s daughter, is spurned by the father (minstrels are poor functionaries), and is despatched, to wander for 1001 nights, but not before he’s made the girl promise not to marry till his return. True to Paradjanov’s unique method, the ensuing episodic tale of his meetings, experiences, difficulties and growth are told in a blaze of visually splendid ‘tableaux vivants’ and miraculous images and symbols (doves, swans, pomegranates), intercut with religious iconic works and artefacts, and overlaid with song and poetry. The source is a story by poet Mikhail Lermontov, but the interpretation, though grounded in the world of ethnic cultural references of the Azerbaijani peoples, is free, open, sensual and personal. There are coded messages of the tribulations of the artist here, and also a playful, mischievous comedic tone that allays any feeling of self-absorbtion on the director’s part. 

The New Gulliver - Directed by Aleksandr Ptushko, Soviet Union. The world’s first feature length stop-motion animation film. Released in 1935 to widespread acclaim it earned Ptushko a special prize at the International Cinema Festival in Milan. (image via In Search of Pagan Hollywood). View the film in it’s entirety on YouTube:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9gOLWijUUt8