Transitory Figures: One Scene from Before Sunrise
Romantic love is poignant because it is an infinite feeling that exists in a finite frame. And Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy is the most romantic and profound of love stories because it imbues love with the weight of time. In these three films…
Fox and His Friends: Social Animals
Rainer Werner Fassbinder plays a working-class gay man hoodwinked by his uppity bourgeois lover in this unsparing portrait of queer culture in 1970s West Germany.
Phoenix: Just Be Yourself
In Phoenix, Christian Petzold sets his nuanced melodrama of postwar German-Jewish identity within a starkly realist aesthetic, making newly fascinating use of his enduring interest in the tensions between the real and the artificial.
Eclipse Series 44: Julien Duvivier in the Thirties
Julien Duvivier’s early sound films offer emotionally rich explorations of life in prewar France.
Dressed to Kill: The Power of Two
Brian De Palma magnifies the pleasures and perils of Hitchcock and toys with the viewer’s spectatorship in his sly and scary horror masterpiece.
Eclipse Series 43: Agnès Varda in California
The films Agnès Varda made while living on the West Coast of the United States are some of the most searching and challenging of her stellar career.
Michael’s Turn: Michael Jeter in The Fisher King
The late character actor Michael Jeter had a profound effect on me as a child, but as with so many things, I didn’t realize it until I was an adult. Twenty-five years ago this month, I saw my first Tony Awards broadcast. Amid all the spectacle—os…
Eclipse Series 42: Silent Ozu—Three Crime Dramas
Atypical in style and subject, Yasujiro Ozu’s early crime dramas show a
future master brilliantly experimenting with camera and editing.
Eclipse Series 41: Kinoshita and World War II
The prolific and popular Keisuke Kinoshita made his fascinating first movies at a time of great difficulty and censorship, yet their spirit and brilliance shine through.
Terence Davies: Chronicle of a Carpet
The following is excerpted from the book-length study Terence Davies, out September 8. See the bottom of the post for a clip of the scene it describes. Excerpt copyright 2014 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois and used with perm…
The Woman in Back: Lily Tomlin in Nashville
Today, the idea that comedian-actor-writer Lily Tomlin possesses dramatic versatility is so received that one might not realize how unexpected it was for audiences to see her in a serious role in Robert Altman’s Nashville in 1975. At that point, sh…
Man with a Plan: William Greaves in Symbiopsychotaxiplasm Take One
We don’t often talk about documentaries as featuring performances. But consider the highly performative people at the centers of Grey Gardens, General Idi Amin Dada, and last year’s The Act of Killing, or even the seemingly more modest souls …
The Long Day Closes: In His Own Good Time
Terence Davies beckons the viewer into a private world of moods and sensations with this exquisite childhood reverie.
Eclipse Series 40: Late Ray
Satyajit Ray was ailing when he made them, but these three works from the great filmmaker’s final years show an artist at the height of his powers.
Eclipse Series 39: Early Fassbinder
From the beginning, it was clear that Rainer Werner Fassbinder was destined to shake up German cinema.
The Witch Upstairs: Patsy Kelly in Rosemary’s Baby
In Rosemary’s Baby, one of the first exclamations that Minnie Castevet (Ruth Gordon) makes on hearing the news that her young neighbor Rosemary (Mia Farrow) is expecting a little bundle of joy is “I can’t wait to tell Laura-Louise!” Earlier…
Eclipse Series 38: Kobayashi Against the System
Four of the great Japanese director’s lesser-known, early films show the coming into being of a political artist.
In Time: Emmanuelle Riva in Hiroshima mon amour
Hiroshima mon amour (1959) is a groundbreaking portrait of a world come undone. Even more memorably, thanks to the brilliant precision of Emmanuelle Riva’s performance, it’s a study of a woman unraveling. In this first leading role in an astonish…
Pain and Nourishment: Kirin Kiki in Still Walking
Hirokazu Kore-eda’s Still Walking is an exquisitely lived-in portrayal of family life. It takes place largely over the course of one day, at the home of the aging Yokoyamas, Toshiko (Kirin Kiki) and Kyohei (Yoshio Harada), as they welcome visiting …
Eclipse Series 36: Three Wicked Melodramas from Gainsborough Pictures
British wartime audiences ate up these rule-breaking costume pictures—entertainments for a populace seeking escapism.
Eclipse Series 34: Jean Grémillon During the Occupation
Trained as a musician, Jean Grémillon became one of French cinema’s most lyrical artists. His most beloved films were made during World War II.
Mrs. Malaise: Sigourney Weaver in The Ice Storm
Of all the stultified suburban folks in The Ice Storm, Ang Lee’s diamond-sharp adaptation of Rick Moody’s novel about two Connecticut families in the early seventies, Sigourney Weaver’s Janey Carver might appear the least in need of attention. …