On Film

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Teorema: Just a Boy
Teorema: Just a Boy

Pier Paolo Pasolini’s seemingly irreconcilable allegiances to Marx, Freud, and Jesus Christ come to the fore in this radical provocation, which marks the midway point of the polymathic artist’s filmmaking career.

By James Quandt

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Roma, or the Art of Making Ruins
Roma, or the Art of Making Ruins

Alfonso Cuarón’s vivid re-creation of his childhood memories holds up a mirror to the social instability that roiled his hometown in the 1970s.

By Valeria Luiselli

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The Layers of Roma
The Layers of Roma

In a polarized and violent world, Alfonso Cuarón’s masterpiece offers a pure message of human solidarity that transcends class and race. But its story is also firmly rooted in the historical specificity of 1970s Mexico City.

By Enrique Krauze

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Fail Safe: Very Little Left of the World
Fail Safe: Very Little Left of the World

Sidney Lumet brought his vivid sense of the messiness of human experience to this stark nuclear thriller, which centers on a series of earth-shattering decisions made in quiet rooms.

By Bilge Ebiri

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All About My Mother: Matriarchal Society
All About My Mother: Matriarchal Society

Of the many odes to motherhood in Pedro Almodóvar’s filmography, this Oscar-winning hit is the most exquisite exploration of maternal love’s all-consuming power.

By Emma Wilson

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Le petit soldat: The Awful Truth
Le petit soldat: The Awful Truth

One of the lesser-known films in Godard’s extraordinary run of 1960s masterpieces, this severe, angular thriller was the director’s first foray into the political territory that would prove so essential to his later work.

By Nicholas Elliott

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Holiday: Play Mates
Holiday: Play Mates

With the chemistry they perfected in their third collaboration, Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant proved they were a match made in screwball heaven.

By Dana Stevens

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Old Joy: Northwest Passages
Old Joy: Northwest Passages

Twelve years after her debut film, Kelly Reichardt returned with this breakout feature, an exploration of the softer side of American masculinity that the director has called her version of a “New Age western.”

By Ed Halter

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The Sound of Yesterday’s Future: Notes on the Until the End of the World Soundtrack
The Sound of Yesterday’s Future: Notes on the Until the End of the World Soundtrack

When he set out to make his dream project, Wim Wenders enlisted several of his favorite musical acts—including bands like U2 and Depeche Mode—to contribute to the film’s soundtrack.

By Ignatiy Vishnevetsky

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Until the End of the World: The End of the Road
Until the End of the World: The End of the Road

Wim Wenders’ string of successes in the eighties freed him to mount one of the most ambitious productions in European film history, an epic he characterized as “the ultimate road movie.”

By Bilge Ebiri

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The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious
The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious

Often credited with inciting full enforcement of the Hays Code, this harrowing melodrama is one of the few Faulkner adaptations that successfully evokes the writer’s distinctive ambience and unsettling contradictions.

By Geoffrey O’Brien

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All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage
All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage

Full of booze, bons mots, and backstabbing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s impeccably crafted showbiz drama is the rare movie where—as its star, Bette Davis, once put it—“it all came out right.”

By Terrence Rafferty

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Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars
Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars

Perhaps the quintessential woman’s film of its era, this saga of self-discovery captures Bette Davis at the height of her reign at Warner Bros.

By Patricia White

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Cold War: You’re My Only Home
Cold War: You’re My Only Home

Two lovers cross boundaries both personal and national in this ambitious, zigzagging love story, one of the most romantic films of this century.

By Stephanie Zacharek

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Betty Blue: The Look of Love
Betty Blue: The Look of Love

Underneath its brilliantly colored, highly stylized surfaces, this key work of 1980s French cinema is a heartrending portrait of a woman struggling to both inhabit and reject traditionally feminine roles.

By ​Chelsea Phillips-Carr

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The Daytrippers: Alone, Together
The Daytrippers: Alone, Together

A scrappy comedy made on the cheap, Greg Mottola’s feature debut finds hilarity and heartbreak in the tale of one Long Island family’s Manhattan odyssey.

By Emily Nussbaum

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Matewan: All We Got in Common
Matewan: All We Got in Common

In one of his most resonant works of political filmmaking, John Sayles painstakingly brings to life an important and volatile chapter in American labor history.

By A. S. Hamrah

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Reign of Destruction
Reign of Destruction

Over its six and a half decades as a pop-culture icon, Godzilla has had many faces: a symbol of the nuclear age, a children’s movie superhero, and the engine behind a major international entertainment franchise.

By Steve Ryfle

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When We Were Kings: Ready to Fight
When We Were Kings: Ready to Fight

Drawn from a treasure trove of footage, this Oscar-winning documentary explores a watershed moment for one of the world’s greatest athletes—an international spectacle that revealed the complexities of black identity.

By ​Kelefa Sanneh

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Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”
Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”

Decades before the witch became a staple of horror cinema, Benjamin Christensen used this gothic figure to explore the oppression of women in different historical periods.

By Chloé Germaine Buckley

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Häxan: The Real Unreal
Häxan: The Real Unreal

Integrating fact, fiction, objective reality, hallucination, and different levels of representation, this silent masterpiece invented what decades later would be known as the essay film.

By Chris Fujiwara

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The Circus: The Tramp in the Mirror
The Circus: The Tramp in the Mirror

During a tumultuous time in his life, Charlie Chaplin captured his own identity crisis with this deeply introspective comedy, which explores the fine line between success and failure.

By ​Pamela Hutchinson

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Local Hero: Our Man in Ferness
Local Hero: Our Man in Ferness

Decades before climate change became a mainstream topic of conversation, Bill Forsyth’s beloved comedy asked fundamental questions about humankind’s willingness to conserve the natural world.

By Jonathan Murray

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Cluny Brown: The Joys of Plumbing
Cluny Brown: The Joys of Plumbing

In his final completed film, Ernst Lubitsch created one of his most effervescent heroines, a nonconformist with a lust for life and a yearning for freedom.

By Siri Hustvedt

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