THE FORTY-FIRST (Grigori Chukhrai, 1956)

Boris Lavrenyev’s novella Sorok pervyy had been filmed as a silent, from the author’s own script, by Yakov Protazanov in 1927. Now came Grigori Chukhrai’s immensely popular version nearly three decades later—with sound, and in color.      In the “turbulent, beautiful” early days of the Revolution, a Red Army sniper escorts a captured White Army officer […]

ROMÁNTICO (Mark Becker, 2005)

A wonderful documentary that takes its spirit from its human focus, Mexican mariachi musician Carmelo Muñiz Sanchez, and adds haunting imagery to his thoughtful, engrossing life story, which he has waited his entire life to tell, Romántico only seems adrift in its opening movement. The loose-endedness is correlative to Sanchez’s life in the United States. […]

CHINATOWN (Roman Polanski, 1974)

Written by Robert Towne, vaguely inspired by the Richard Nixon/Watergate scandal and about which hangs an elusive aura of the future savage murder of the director’s wife, Chinatown fancifully conjures an instance of municipal corruption in Los Angeles in the late 1930s. Jack Nicholson plays J. J. Gittes, a private detective whose adolescent egotism periodically […]