YES (Sally Potter, 2004)

The two main characters of writer-director Sally Potter’s rapturous, humane, powerful Yes take their names from the interracial, extramarital couple in Hiroshima, mon amour (1959). She (Joan Allen, wonderful, desireable, Potter-vulnerable) is a scientist, Belfast-born, a resettled U.S. citizen and now a Londoner married unhappily to a politician. He, a Muslim, was a surgeon in […]

THE FIVE HEARTBEATS (Robert Townsend, 1991)

I have seen many a bad musical film, but the absolute worst is a slop of corn mush titled The Five Heartbeats, a sudsy saga tracking through the years a harmonizing group of African-American youngsters with a Motown sound and delirious ambitions. The group, of course, has its squabbles, including ones involving sexual competitiveness and […]

THE PROMISE (Margarethe von Trotta, 1995)

One of my favorite German filmmakers is Margarethe von Trotta, whose art is fresh, lucid, graceful, incisive, politically probing. Sheer Madness (1982) and Rosa Luxemburg (1985) are great, complex works, and Sisters; or the Balance of Happiness (1979) and Marianne and Julianne (1981) aren’t far behind. (Since the mid-1990s, von Trotta’s work, done for German […]