Song from the Second Floor - Kitchen Scene

Sånger från andra våningen - Songs from the Second Floor (2000) dir. Roy Andersson Songs from the Second Floor brings us back to the turn of the century and anxiety over the apocalypse. Our fear at the time, seen better in retrospect, wasn't that the apocalypse was about to happen. Rather, our fear was that [...]
The Umbrellas of Cherbourg

The Umbrellas of Cherbourg (1964) dir. Jacques Demy I saw The Umbrellas of Cherbourg last June, in just enough time to spoil La La Land. I've learned I'm not the only one to have had the same experience - my father knew exactly how Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone's relationship was going to progress and [...]

Woman in the Dunes (1964) dir.Hiroshi Teshigahara The form of Woman in the Dunes is horror, but its soul is a family tragedy. A middle-aged man finds himself trapped in an ever-collapsing home. His wife adores him, and he may love her too, but they cannot help but fight. His heart, even in the blissful [...]

I've seen two Bollywood films during the past few weeks that really stood out – not only for their engaging quality, but also for the ways they each promoted Indian nationalism. I've been reading about the growing sense of national identity in that country during this century. I found that each promoted nationalism for India [...]

Harakiri aka Seppuku (1962) dir. Masaki Kobayashi Post-War Japan was a period of intense adjustment, as the society reacted both to the sudden influence of American culture and the horrors of Imperial Japan. In Late Spring, Ozu found a way to move Japan into the new world while still honoring traditional values. Kobayashi's later film, [...]

Audition (2000) - dir. Takashi Miike I love horror films with a slow, patient build. Audition is the best at this I've ever seen. It follows the same basic pattern as Hitchcock's The Birds. The first 90 minutes of a film with a 115-minute running time plays like an elegiac romance. Aoyama is a lonely [...]

The Cranes are Flying (1957) - dir. Mikhail Kalatozov The Cranes are Flying is a Soviet film released a little more than a decade after the end of The Great Patriotic War, and four years after the death of Joseph Stalin. It was only well after Stalin's death, under the protection of Khrushchev's thaw, that director [...]

Beau travail (1999) dir. Claire Denis Beau travail is (loosely) adapted from Herman Melville's Billy Budd, and takes its score from the 1951 opera also based on the novel. Denis takes us away from the world of 19th Century seafaring, and stages the action in a late 20th Century North African outpost of the French Legion. The sand [...]
Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill Jr.

The star of a film comedian waxes and wanes more rapidly than that of any other. Actors who seem like comic genius can - in the space of only 5-10 years - deplete their reserves of gags and jokes. Novelty matters in comedy, and when we grow too used to a style, it becomes not [...]

Paris, Texas (1984) dir. Wim Wenders The color scheme introduced in the beginning of the film is magnificent. It uses the harsh browns and blues as Lawrence of Arabia, but adds a bold red to give it a surreal, almost pop look. The palette is bold enough to call our conscious attention to it. We [...]