LOLO (Francisco Athié, 1992)

A fine first feature, Lolo is a trenchant film about impoverished life in an urban slum. In its circling dance of shifting official responsibility for a neighborhood murder, played to the grind of a sardonic hurdy-gurdy, filmmaker Francisco Athié startlingly captures crisscrossing variations on hopeless human existence. Rarely has a film shown how dire poverty, […]

THRONE OF BLOOD (Akira Kurosawa, 1957)

Retitled Throne of Blood in the U.S., Akira Kurosawa’s Kumonosu jo—Cobweb Castle—transcribes Macbeth to medieval Japan. Kurosawa, as with what remains of his (hypnotic) film of Dostoievski’s The Idiot (1951), dispenses with the original’s language and takes aim at the soul of the text. At the same time, his vision attests to specifically Japanese concerns. […]

TOKYO TWILIGHT (Yasujiro Ozu, 1957)

Yet another one of Yasujiro Ozu’s masterpieces, Tokyo Twilight (Tokyo boshoku) demonstrates the disintegration of family as a structuring and supportive social unit in postwar Japan. It turns Ozu’s exceptionally poignant Late Spring (Banshun, 1949) on its head, suggesting the embittered aftermath of the kind of hopeful marriage with which the earlier film ends, and […]

JAPÓN (Carlos Reygadas, 2002)

Among the most extraordinary feature film debuts, Japón (Japan) announces the arrival of a major talent: Mexico’s Carlos Reygadas, who has written and directed this enormously powerful and heartbreaking film. Reygadas, who is very young (31, when he made Japón), can be forgiven the occasional artiness and cruelty to animals (no special effects here), and, […]