Monthly Archives: March 2014

Le Petit Soldat (1960)

Back in the Bush years, when there were still contentious debates about torture and water boarding, I went to an anti-war demonstration in Washington near the Capitol. A crowd had gathered around a group of people in orange jump suits. They had a long wooden plank, a towel, and a big plastic container of water. […]

A Generation (1954)

A Generation was the second feature length film of the Polish director Andrzej Wajda. Unlike Jean-Pierre Melville’s Army of Shadows, which is a polished masterpiece of world-historical significance, A Generation is an apprentice work. It’s an ideologically confused jumble of messages wrapped up in a film that, while showing flashes of brilliance, often strains credibility, […]

Happy-Go-Lucky (2008)

Why do you go to see a particular movie, or a particular series of movies? Is it the actor, or is it the director? I will often make an effort to familiarize myself with an “auteur’s” body of work. Back in 2011, I worked my way through almost all of John Ford’s films. I watched […]

Attack (1956)

If Robert Aldrich’s loosely fictionalized account of the Battle of the Bulge is less well-known than it should be, then it owes part of its obscurity to his deeply cynical views about the United States Army’s officer corps. That many of the rank and file soldiers almost certainly believed right along with Aldrich that they […]

Stalingrad (2013)

Before an American goes to see Stalingrad, there are a few things he should understand. The Battle of Stalingrad was, by far, the most important battle of the Second World War. The invasion of Normandy, Midway, and the Battle of Britain were all side shows. At Stalingrad, 850,000 Germans were killed, missing or wounded. 1,120,000 […]

A Serious Man (2009)

A Serious Man, the Coen brothers exploration of their Jewish roots, opens in a snow covered shtetl in Eastern Europe. An unnamed man returns to his wife and tells her that an old acquaintance named Traitle Groshkover helped him get home through the blizzard. He’s invited him in for some soup. The wife is horrified. […]

Frances Ha (2012)

Frances Ha is Inside Llewyn Davis with a cuter star and a happy ending. Frances, played by writer Greta Gerwig, may not have a cat, but she’s a struggling artist in New York City. After accidentally dumping her boyfriend with a Freudian slip — He wants to move in together. She doesn’t. — and after […]

Love Streams (1984)

I have a pretty simple metric to judge how much I like a film. How many screen shots do I take? How does it look frame by frame. Do I think the actors have interesting faces? Do I like the film’s lighting? Does it have one or more particularly striking images that work as still […]

Stoker (2013)

Stoker, Park Chan-wook’s loose remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt is one of those movies you’ll either love or hate. If you’re looking for Hitchcock’s straightforward mystery tale, and clean, spare black and white aesthetic, you’ll probably find it a pretentious, confusing mess. If you keep in mind that Stoker is not a […]

The Grand Illusion (1937)

Grand Illusion is the kind of film that you can watch once every year from your teens into your old age, and find new meaning with each viewing. The first time I saw Renoir’s masterpiece was on a TV set in a college history class. The restored print had not even been found. It was […]