MUSLIM (Vladimir Khotinenko, 1995)

A tremendous work whose greatness steadily accumulates, Vladimir Khotinenko’s Muslim (Musulmanin) embraces the complexity of both familial and village life, and places these in an urgent moral context. Its protagonist is Nikolai (“Kolya”) Ivanov, who has returned to his rural home a hero, having spent seven years as a prisoner-of-war in Afghanistan. While in captivity, […]

MOBUTU, KING OF ZAIRE (Thierry Michel, 1999)

The principal attraction of Thierry Michel’s Belgian documentary about the despot born Joseph-Désiré Mobutu, co-written by Lye Mudaba Yoka, Professor of Literature at the University of Kinshasa, is the riveting nature of the man’s story—and its Shakespearean dimensions. Born in the colonized Belgian Congo, Mobutu grew up continually humiliated, and smart. In 1949, he was […]

JAWS (Steven Spielberg, 1975)

Jaws, which inaugurated the “summer blockbuster,” is an enormously popular thriller-adventure that meshes reality and fantasy. The “reality” is a coastal resort town, Amity Island, that’s open for summer business and is determined to remain open for business. The “fantasy” is a primordial sea beast—the “Great White Shark”—that’s snapping at swimmers in the ocean. The […]

TRANS (Julian Goldberger, 1998)

Trans is yet another example of a fine first feature by a well-trained young American film artist. Julian Goldberger has made a couple of features since (A Thousand Guns and The Eulipion Chronicles, 2002 and 2003), which I haven’t seen, but Trans marks him as a promising filmmaker. Shot on 16mm stock, it’s about a […]