Moonrise: Dark of the Moon
In his uncharacteristic final masterpiece, the great Hollywood melodramatist Frank Borzage approaches the shadowy violence of film noir with his unique brand of romanticism.
The Lodger: A Story of the London Fog: The First True Hitchcock Movie
After nearly a decade of honing his craft, Alfred Hitchcock firmly established his reputation with this silent thriller.
Charulata: “Calm Without, Fire Within”
Satyajit Ray’s delicate masterpiece about forbidden love in the late nineteenth century is lovingly adapted from a novella by the great Rabindranath Tagore.
The Ballad of Narayama: Abandonment
Keisuke Kinoshita’s most experimental film is a resplendent, kabuki-inspired, folk-derived drama about mortality.
Shallow Grave: A Film Called Cruel
Tasteful British cinema got a refreshing dose of amorality with Danny Boyle’s stylish and violent tale of greed and paranoia.
The Music Room: Distant Music
In May 1956, an Indian film was screened at the Cannes Film Festival. It wasn’t well attended. The Indian delegation had done little to promote it, arranging only a single midnight screening that clashed with a party in honor of Akira Kurosawa. In …
Au revoir les enfants: Childhood’s End
“Do you realize,” muses the twelve-year-old Julien Quentin, rapt in the solipsism of early adolescence, “that there’ll never be another January 17, 1944? Never again? . . . I’m the only one in this school who thinks about death. It’s i…
A Time of Honor:
Seven Samurai and Sixteenth-Century Japan
There’s an old Chinese curse that runs, “May you live in interesting times.” And sixteenth-century Japan was certainly an interesting time from a dramatic point of view—which is undoubtedly why Akira Kurosawa chose it as Seven Samurai’s …
Night Train to Munich: A Last Laugh
“Wittily written and spare as a coded message . . . The year’s most perilous ride . . . , we wouldn’t exchange it for a season’s commutation ticket on most of the similar vehicles running out of Hollywood.” So wrote Theodore Strauss in t…
The Human Condition: The Prisoner
“It’s not my fault that I’m Japanese . . . yet it’s my worst crime that I am!” The words are those of Kaji, hero of The Human Condition, but in their anguish and existential despair, they also speak for the film’s director, Masaki Kobayas…
Kind Hearts and Coronets:
Ealing’s Shadow Side
Kind Hearts and Coronets (1949) is an Ealing comedy in name only. True, it’s undeniably a comedy and was made by (though largely not at) Ealing. But in virtually every other respect, it deviates startlingly from the commonly accepted stereotype. Ea…
Touchez pas au grisbi: A Neglected Master
Jacques Becker may well be the most seriously underestimated director in the history of French cinema. Even in his own lifetime, he suffered disparaging comments. Wrote Jacques Demeure about Touchez pas au grisbi in a 1957 Positif article: “Here we…
Casque d’or: Tenderness and Violence
Along with Touchez pas au grisbi and Le Trou, Casque d’or is now widely recognized as the summit of Jacques Becker’s achievement as a filmmaker, a distillation of everything that’s most personal and central to his vision. All the more surprisin…