HUMANITY (Bruno Dumont, 1999)

Bruno Dumont’s Humanity (L’humanité) is one of the great films having to do with crime detection and, for me, the greatest film from France since Robert Bresson’s L’argent (Money). It’s good to mention Dumont and Bresson in the same breath, since Dumont, as his The Life of Jesus (1997) has already shown, borrows his style […]

HAMLET (Kenneth Branagh, 1996)

Curiously flat and unfocused, lacking even a discernible theme, Kenneth Branagh’s sumptuous, 242-minute film of Shakespeare’s brilliant tragedy Hamlet must rely on the director-star’s energetic acting to enforce a semblance of unity. The result doesn’t electrify, as does the 1948 Oscar-winner that Laurence Olivier directed and starred in, nor does it achieve the beauty of […]

XALA (Ousmane Sembène, 1975)

Senegal, in coastal western Africa, had been settled by France, Portugal and Great Britain when the French took possession of it in 1840. According to my Information Please Almanac: “In 1946, together with other parts of French West Africa, Senegal became part of the French Union. On June 20, 1960, it became an independent republic […]

SPETTERS (Paul Verhoeven, 1980)

My taste doesn’t run to films by Paul Verhoeven. The very few I’ve seen—in all, three now—seem shallow to me. (This includes his much-admired Soldier of Orange, in 1978.) Before addressing the Dutch filmmaker’s Spetters, which turned up accompanying a film I had asked someone to tape for me off of cable TV (Robert Altman’s […]