THE CIRCLE (Jafar Panahi, 2000)

I wasn’t the least bit impressed by his White Balloon (1995), which (as far as I’m concerned) doesn’t benefit even from having been written by Abbas Kiarostami, and I was only a little more impressed by The Mirror (1997), also about a child.* (So many Iranian films are about children, I presume, to be “humanistic” […]

EMPORTE-MOI (Léa Pool, 1999)

Emporte-Moi (Set Me Free), by Swiss-born Québecois documentarian and fictional filmmaker Léa Pool, is a very lovely, very sad, emotionally highly complex film about an impoverished, struggling, emotionally chaotic family in 1963 Montréal. The film is likely autobiographical; the central character, Hanna, is thirteen years old—Pool’s age in 1963—and by the end of the film […]

ONIBABA (Kaneto Shindô, 1964)

War—humanity’s disfigurement: this is the theme of Kaneto Shindô’s Onibaba (The Hole), a film that has become a minor classic. Sixteenth-century Japan; civil war. In a small hut by a river, along with her daughter-in-law, a woman awaits her soldier-son’s return. It’s a harsh time. The crops have failed. In order to survive, the two […]