On Film

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Death in Venice: Ruinous Infatuation
Death in Venice: Ruinous Infatuation

A master at adapting literary classics for the screen, Luchino Visconti made a bold choice in emphasizing the homoerotic undertones in Thomas Mann’s novella.

By Dennis Lim

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La vérité: Women on Trial
La vérité: Women on Trial

Brigitte Bardot delivers her greatest performance in what would be Henri-Georges Clouzot’s final masterpiece, a stinging indictment of a justice system run by a moralistic patriarchy.

By Ginette Vincendeau

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Shame: Twilight of the Humans
Shame: Twilight of the Humans

In 1968, Ingmar Bergman channeled his anguish over the legacy of World War II and the escalating brutality in Vietnam into the most fiercely political film of his career.

By Michael Sragow

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In the Heat of the Night: The Double Bind
In the Heat of the Night: The Double Bind

Both a landmark film of the civil rights era and a complicated artifact of white liberalism, Norman Jewison’s Oscar-winning crime drama remains a powerful vision of racial tension and intimacy.

By K. Austin Collins

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4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: Late Term
4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days: Late Term

One of the crowning achievements of the New Romanian Cinema, Cristian Mungiu’s Palme d’Or winner combines rigorous realism with breathtaking suspense in its account of women’s oppression during the era of Ceaușescu.

By Ella Taylor

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Mikey and Nicky: Difficult Men
Mikey and Nicky: Difficult Men

In her long-unsung masterpiece, Elaine May takes an unflinching, darkly comic look at the forces of toxic masculinity that play out in an eroding friendship between two mobsters.

By Nathan Rabin

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Notorious: The Same Hunger
Notorious: The Same Hunger

In this pitch-perfect noir romance, Alfred Hitchcock explores what happens when the masks we wear in the world clash with our innermost desires.

24 Frames: The World Made Visible
24 Frames: The World Made Visible

After years of paring his filmmaking down to the bare essentials, Abbas Kiarostami delivered this gorgeous and boldly minimalist meditation on time, movement, and image-making.

By Bilge Ebiri

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Panique: Panic Attack
Panique: Panic Attack

Upon returning to France after a period of self-exile in Hollywood, Julien Duvivier adapted a Georges Simenon novel into this noirish critique of the dangers of mob mentality during wartime.

By James Quandt

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Forty Guns: High-Riding Woman
Forty Guns: High-Riding Woman

Three decades into her iconic career, Barbara Stanwyck delivered her final great film performance in Samuel Fuller’s ribald and fiercely feminist twist on the western.

By Lisa Dombrowski

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A Dry White Season: Justice Against the Law
A Dry White Season: Justice Against the Law

Director Euzhan Palcy put herself at personal risk to make this powerful indictment of racism in South Africa, released at the climax of the anti-apartheid movement.

By Jyoti Mistry

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True Stories: Everybody Has Tones
True Stories: Everybody Has Tones

David Byrne cracked open the profound strangeness of small-town Texas in this wonderfully symphonic film, his sole foray into narrative-feature directing.

By Rebecca Bengal

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Surfaces and Depths

The Magnificent Ambersons

Surfaces and Depths

With The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles created a model of period filmmaking, lightly deploying historical signifiers while focusing on the haunting power of his actors’ faces.

By Luc Sante

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Echoes of Tarkington

The Magnificent Ambersons

Echoes of Tarkington

Unlike his adaptations of Shakespeare and Kafka, Orson Welles’s take on a Pulitzer Prize winner by Booth Tarkington is remarkably faithful to its source.

By Geoffrey O’Brien

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The Voice of Orson Welles

The Magnificent Ambersons

The Voice of Orson Welles

The legendary filmmaker possessed the greatest speaking voice in American cinema, and The Magnificent Ambersons represents the summit of his work as a vocal actor.

By Farran Smith Nehme

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Loving the Ruins; or, Does The Magnificent Ambersons Exist?

The Magnificent Ambersons

Loving the Ruins; or, Does The Magnificent Ambersons Exist?

The holiest of holies for lovers of ruined and neglected cinema, Orson Welles’s 1942 masterpiece haunts us with its voids and absences, which echo its tale of a family’s destruction.

By Jonathan Lethem

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What Is and What Might Have Been

The Magnificent Ambersons

What Is and What Might Have Been

Even as he chronicles the downfall of an American family, Orson Welles brings a sense of buoyancy to this grim saga through his virtuoso storytelling.

By Molly Haskell

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Some Like It Hot: How to Have Fun
Some Like It Hot: How to Have Fun

Billy Wilder proves himself one of cinema’s greatest pleasure seekers in this irresistible confection, a landmark of Hollywood comedy.

By Sam Wasson

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Fanny and Alexander: The Other Side

Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

Fanny and Alexander: The Other Side

This sensuous, sprawling epic, which Ingmar Bergman intended to be his swan song, offers an effortless summing up of the themes—among them family, identity, and mortality—he'd spent a career exploring.

By Molly Haskell

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The Magic Flute and After the Rehearsal: Stages of Life

Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

The Magic Flute and After the Rehearsal: Stages of Life

In two made-for-television productions, a middle-aged Ingmar Bergman blurred the boundaries between screen and stage.

By Alexander Chee

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A Story from Chikamatsu: From a Distance
A Story from Chikamatsu: From a Distance

Turning to theater for inspiration, Kenji Mizoguchi transformed a popular eighteenth-century play into a spiritually charged meditation on forbidden love and societal oppression.

By Haden Guest

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The Touch and The Serpent’s Egg: Foreign Tongues

Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

The Touch and The Serpent’s Egg: Foreign Tongues

Critically maligned upon their release, Ingmar Bergman’s only two English-language films show the master’s artistry at its most restrained and its most convoluted.

By Karan Mahajan

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The Princess Bride: Let Me Sum Up
The Princess Bride: Let Me Sum Up

Ridiculous on the outside but full of truth on the inside, Rob Reiner’s fairy-tale classic is a childhood touchstone for generations of movie lovers.

By Sloane Crosley

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Sisters: Psycho-Thriller, Qu’est-ce Que C’est?
Sisters: Psycho-Thriller, Qu’est-ce Que C’est?

Brian De Palma found his home in the psychological thriller with this chilling tale of murder, which twists genre conventions to investigate the perils of looking and the pitfalls of subjectivity.

By Carrie Rickey

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