LE TROU (Jacques Becker, 1959)

While in his twenties Jacques Becker began as an assistant to Jean Renoir, working on, among others, the (brilliant) Communist film La vie est à nous (1936) and the most famous P.O.W. and prison-escape film ever made, La grande illusion (1937). In the mid-1930s he also began directing his own short films; in the following […]

BY THE LAW (Lev Kuleshov, 1926)

To assert its modernity and to propagandize, the revolutionary Soviet Union seized upon the medium of film as its special artistic territory. Thus Soviet cinema came to dominate the decade with superior examples of the summit of film art, the black-and-white silent film. The result: an explosion of energy and genius that filmmaking would not […]

EVIL (Mikael Håfström, 2003)

No one who has seen the marvelously satirical, cautionary If . . . . (1968), the first installment of Lindsay Anderson’s Mick Travis trilogy, will have much use for the pitiful shenanigans of Evil (Ondskan), a glum Swedish boys’ posh boarding school melodrama set in the 1950s. Were it not for Peter Weir’s Dead Poets […]

WHALE RIDER (Niki Caro, 2002)

A lovely, somewhat sentimental Maori fable, Whale Rider, from New Zealand, is based on the novel by Witi Ihimaera. Since Niki Caro, who wrote and directed the film, isn’t Maori herself, the Maori source helps shore up the film’s authenticity. Like too many movies taken from novels, though, Caro’s is badly in need of compression; […]