Sansho the Bailiff

Sansho the Bailiff (1954) - dir. Kenji Mizoguchi  Zushiô's father is an anachronistic Lockean, telling his son "Men are created equal. Everyone is entitled to their happiness."  His commitment to Enlightenment ideals doesn't play over well in 11th Century Japan, and his family is exiled.  They don't even last a full day before being kidnapped.  [...]

The idea that the poor are just as sinful as the rich doesn’t seem too revolutionary, until you look at the majority of Western art and literature. Usually we get the Charles Dickens trope. If only the mean rich people were to leave and the poor people were put in charge, things would run more smoothly.
Viridiana in contrast, might have been written by Ayn Rand. It’s about as anti-populist as you can get. Rand however, would have tossed in a Prometheus or two. Buñuel’s Calvinistic misanthropy allows for no heroes.

Land Without Bread

Land Without Bread (1933) - dir. Luis Buñuel Luis Buñuel's 1933 Land Without Bread is a hilarious parody of early ethnographic documentaries.  I'm glad I saw it just a few days after The Song of Ceylon; seeing at least one example of the genre prior to Land Without Bread is recommended. The film features all [...]
Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone

Winter’s Bone avoids the rural-themed art house cliches. The plot moves along briskly – there aren’t the monotonous landscape-indulgent pauses that plagued Frozen River and its ilk. The accents seem unaffected, and the film relies on story and character, so that concerns over “genuineness” are forgotten. It eschews both Hollywood mawkishness and indie over-understatedness.

Sarah Polley in Splice

Splice (2009) – dir. Vincenzo Natali Recommended For: Sci-fi fans, especially those of the particular subject matter at hand (biological engineering) Splice is a movie impossible to recommend well without spoiling it. Simply stating the fact that there are important spoilers is a spoiler in itself. I didn’t read any reviews before seeing the film, […]