It’s long been understood that Stanley Kubrick’s oeuvre tells stories of violence. But what often gets lost is that Kubrick’s focus is not on violence in general, but on violence that is particularly male in nature. Take Dr. Strangelove as an example: In the twisted logic of the film, violence feeds on itself, begetting more [...]

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 [...]

Ordet aka The Word (1955) - dir. Carl Theodor Dreyer Carl Theodor Dreyer's final scene in The Word centers around the resurrection of Inger from her casket. The scene leaves us with a scene of awe, wonder, and hope for life after death. The Word's style ensures that the miracle is both narratively sound and [...]

Imitation of Life (1959) dir. Douglas Sirk Imitation of Life could almost be a parody of everything Americans find embarrassing about our social attitudes in the 1950's. The woman who chooses a career over marriage finds herself empty and her family falling apart. The teenage girl listening to records finds herself seduced into a life [...]

A Man Escaped or: The Wind Bloweth Where It Listeth (1956) dir. Robert Bresson A Man Escaped is "based on a true story" - in this case the memoirs of French prisoner of war André Devigny.  An opening title tells us 7,000 people died at the Montluc prison at the hands of the Nazis during World War [...]

Throne of Blood (1957) dir. Akira Kurosawa Throne of Blood is director Akira Kurosawa's adaptation of Shakespeare's MacBeth.  He makes the bard's tale Japan's own, replacing Scottish warlords with armies of Japanese Samurai.  Yuwen Hsiung is one of many who have written about the ways Kurosawa integrated traditions with Japanese Noh theater into his telling of one of the [...]

Les maîtres fous (1955) dir. Jean Rouch Chronique d'un été (1961) dir. Jean Rouch & Edgar Morin If a documentary is supposed to be true to life, what does this mean for the documentarian? The problem is especially acute for ethnographic fillmmakers, trying to capture a culture. But the filmmaker's simple presence changes the life [...]
The River

The River (1951) dir. Jean Renoir The River was the first color film for both director Jean Renoir, nephew and cinematographer Claude Renoir, and for assistant Satyajit Ray.  As Scorsese notes in his introduction to the Criterion DVD, the Renoir reputation for distinct contrast comes through in the technicolor; Jean had the garden lawn painted because it "wasn't [...]
The Wrong Man

The Wrong Man (1956) dir. Alfred Hitchcock On January 14, 1953, Christopher Emannuel Balestrero was arrested for a crime he did not commit.  In 1956, Alfred Hitchcock made a film about it. For this movie, Hitchcock toned down his usual style in favor of a documentary feel.  His fidelity to the actual facts of the case [...]
Vivre sa vie

Vivre sa vie (1962) dir. Jean-Luc Godard Pather Panchali (1955) dir. Satyajit Ray Those who aspire at post-postmodernism generally see themselves as rejecting the irony of postmodernism in favor of genuine feeling.  Stuckism and the New Sincerity are sold as anecdotes to the supposed coldness of modern and postmodern art. But I'm starting to think [...]