AFONYA (Georgi Daneliya, 1975)

A Soviet tragicomedy written wonderfully well by Aleksandr Borodyanskiy and directed by Georgi Daneliya at a fast clip, at least in its urban phase, Afonya charts the slippage into regretfulness of an “indifferent,” self-absorbed 42-year-old plumber who drinks excessively, including on the job, and pursues one woman after another, without giving much thought to them. […]

GIORNI DI GLORIA (Giuseppe De Santis, Mario Serandrei, Luchino Visconti, Marcello Pagliero, 1945)

Dense and comprehensive, Days of Glory documents, through archival materials, partisan efforts against both Fascism and the German occupation in Italy, the liberation of northern Italy, and the trials of war criminals such as Pietro Caruso, the Fascist head of the Italian police. A film such as this is cumulative; we get a look at […]

THE MAN WHO LIES (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1968)

Writer-director Alain Robbe-Grillet’s L’homme qui ment—essential viewing, this—begins in a wooded expanse as a youngish man, nicely dressed, pursued by armed soldiers, ducks behind trees to avoid their bullets and, despite the cascades of bullets aimed at him, escapes uninjured: a fantastical (and visually gorgeous) opening that visually translates this man’s propensity for telling whoppers. […]

TIME OF THE GYPSIES (Emir Kusturíca, 1988)

Dazzlingly made by Emir Kusturíca (best director, Cannes), Dom za vešanje (which is in Serbian)—literally, Home for Hanging—is a gripping, engrossing Yugoslavian melodrama about Perhan, who descends into petty crime to pay for his crippled sister’s hospital care and for the house he wants built for himself and his grandmother. It is also a colorful, […]