RYNA (Ruxandra Zenide, 2005)

Ryna, directed by Ruxandra Zenide from an original screenplay by Zenide and Marek Epstein, is, I believe, the first Romanian film I’ve seen.      It’s something of a disappointment in that the first half seems to promise something of the (brilliant) order of Bresson’s Mouchette, but then plot takes over and the film devolves into antiquated […]

COLLATERAL (Michael Mann, 2004)

Michael Mann has never made a really good movie, but well nigh his worst is a piece of heart-pounding entertainment called Collateral, which was written—barely—by Stuart Beattie. Mann’s interest, plainly, lies in whipping up excitement; there is nothing more to this vicious, violent film than that.      The plot is ridiculous: Vincent, a sociopath visiting Los […]

ADELHEID (František Vláčil, 1969)

Adelheid may lack the flights of black-and-white brilliance that their barbaric medievalism accommodates, but František Vláčil’s first color film is superior to his Markéta Lazarová (1966) and Valley of the Bees (1967). It probes how war’s aftermath warps lives by the psychological and moral toll that war continues to take. Peace, it turns out, is […]

DOGVILLE (Lars von Trier, 2003)

The abuses of Iraqi prisoners by military and nonmilitary personnel at Abu Ghraib prison, we are learning as I write, were not isolated incidences but broadly typical of American behavior as occupationists or plain bullies both in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who knows where else. Understandably, those who have been charged are pleading “the German […]


An American classic, John Ford’s My Darling Clementine is one of the few westerns cherished by both camps: those who rightly regard the Western as the richest and most important of all Hollywood genres; those who (for whatever foolish or pathological reasons) don’t like westerns. Although it did little more than break-even business, the film […]