Monthly Archives: August 2014

Le Silence de la mer (1949)

When Jean-Pierre Melville released his first movie, he was 32 years old, a veteran of the French Resistance, and had never had any formal training in film-making. Le Silence de la mer, however, displays the supreme confidence of an artist who knows he has found a story only he can tell. Jean Bruller’s iconic short […]

A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

Why are the Sartres always on the other side? When Colonel Mathieu asked the question in The Battle of Algiers, he overestimated the support the idea of revolution gets from the intellectuals. For every Henry David Thoreau, who passionately defended John Brown, there’s a Margaret Mitchell, who wrote the iconic novel of the United States […]

Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)

If young Mr. Lincoln has been forgotten in favor of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, which was also released in 1939, it might have something to do with the complex, understated quality of its screenplay. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington is a crowd pleasing film about an idealistic young populist going up against a corrupt […]

Hamlet (1948)

That Lawrence Olivier, who was 42-years-old in 1948, wanted to explore Hamlet’s incestuous desire for his mother is obvious when you consider how he cast the 30-year-old Eileen Herlie as Queen Gertrude. You lose track of how many times they kiss each other on the mouth. At some point, probably right after Hamlet kills Polonius […]

Hamlet (1964)

Since the suppression, or even the regulation of language is tyranny, madness is a kind of freedom. A madman can say anything he wants. He can slip the bonds of court etiquette, political correctness, or suburban, middle-class restrictions against “talking about politics or religion,” and speak his mind while other people cower in fear or […]

Henry V (1944) Henry V (1989) El Cid (1961)

“But pardon, and gentles all, The flat unraised spirits that have dared On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth So great an object: can this cockpit hold The vasty fields of France? or may we cram Within this wooden O the very casques That did affright the air at Agincourt?” When Laurence Olivier decided to […]

Under the Skin (2013)

Under the Skin, is part The Man Who Fell to Earth, part Let the Right One In. The story of a beautiful female serial killer who preys on vulnerable working-class men, it’s set in an unnamed Scottish city, and stars Scarlett Johannson and a cast of non-actors. Under the Skin seems to have polarized many […]

Soldier Blue (1970)

Soldier Blue, a loosely fictionalized account of the Sand Creek Massacre, is one of the most violent films ever made. I don’t say this lightly. While I’m not a big fan of “trigger warnings,” this film merits one. Don’t see if it you’re easily traumatized by beheadings, graphic rape scenes, hacked off limbs, or the […]