D’EST (Chantal Äkerman, 1993)

The most brilliant film from anywhere in the 1990s, D’Est (From the East) is the work of Chantal Äkerman, the world’s greatest Belgian-born filmmaker, the world’s greatest woman filmmaker, and the world’s greatest living Jewish filmmaker. Along with Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami, Äkerman is cinema’s reigning humanist, and for more than thirty years she has been […]

UNDER THE SAND (François Ozon, 2000)

Recently I viewed for the first time The Hours (2002), an excruciating film that, in order to express (according to the filmmaker, Stephen Daldrey) the power of books, had all sorts of characters making decisions and living their lives under the influence of characters in Virginia Woolf’s novel Mrs. Dalloway. Among other things, I thought […]

LAN YU (Stanley Kwan, 2001)

I find myself short of comprehending Lan Yu, especially with regards to recent and current Chinese legal and political practices, as becomes strikingly clear near the end of the film when, viewing it, I literally gasped aloud “Death penalty!” at the revelation that this is what the protagonist, Chen Handong, the head of a trading […]

BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (Jean Cocteau, 1946)

The two most magical films in existence may be Fritz Lang’s Destiny (1921) and Carl Theodor Dreyer’s Vampyr (1931), the first one light-magical, and the second, darkly magical. Both came out of Germany, although Dreyer, one of cinema’s three or four greatest artists, was a Dane; both films fully exploit the almost primitive capacity of […]