On Film

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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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Hour of the Wolf and From the Life of the Marionettes: The Strength of Surrender

Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

Hour of the Wolf and From the Life of the Marionettes: The Strength of Surrender

Separated by more than a decade in Ingmar Bergman’s filmography, these two formally masterful dramas uncover the ugliness of male aggression and brutality.

By Sarinah Masukor

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Shampoo: First as Farce
Shampoo: First as Farce

Seen as a light-hearted farce upon its release, this star-studded comedy by Hal Ashby stands as one of Hollywood’s most prescient portraits of post-Watergate politics.


By Frank Rich

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Crisis and A Ship to India: Bergman in the Making

Ingmar Bergman’s Cinema

Crisis and A Ship to India: Bergman in the Making

Two early works by Ingmar Bergman show the Swedish master grappling with the conventions of melodrama, which would go on to influence his later explorations of spiritual torment.

By Christine Smallwood

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Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day: The Utopia Channel
Eight Hours Don’t Make a Day: The Utopia Channel

In a world vulnerable to authoritarianism, Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s television epic stands as an example of how an artist can speak to a broad audience about revolutionary politics.

By Moira Weigel

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A Raisin in the Sun: Resistance and Joy
A Raisin in the Sun: Resistance and Joy

This faithful screen adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s legendary play explores a wide range of perspectives on working-class black life, and over the years has inspired reactions just as diverse.

By Sarita Cannon

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My Man Godfrey: The Right Kind of People
My Man Godfrey: The Right Kind of People

Once called “the great directorial genius of Hollywood” by Carole Lombard, Gregory La Cava struck comedy gold with this mix of madcap high jinks, irresistible romance, and social commentary.

By Farran Smith Nehme

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The Tree of Life: Let the Wind Speak
The Tree of Life: Let the Wind Speak

The imitation of nature becomes a devotional act in Terrence Malick’s cinema, which reaches sublime heights in this exploration of childhood, memory, and grief.

By Kent Jones

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Cold Water: Dancing on the Ruins
Cold Water: Dancing on the Ruins

Fueled by the rebellious sounds of rock and roll, Olivier Assayas’s long-unavailable breakthrough film is a remarkably unsentimental journey through the memories of youth.

By Girish Shambu

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Memories of Underdevelopment: Imaging History
Memories of Underdevelopment: Imaging History

Tomás Gutiérrez Alea brought cinema to the center of Cuban society with this richly ambiguous portrait of postrevolutionary Havana.

Smithereens: Breakfast at the Peppermint Lounge
Smithereens: Breakfast at the Peppermint Lounge

A haven for punks and drifters, 1980s downtown New York is captured in all its grit and romance in Susan Seidelman’s Palme d’Or–nominated debut feature.

By Rebecca Bengal

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