LE SAMOURAI (Jean-Pierre Melville, 1967)

Alain Delon claimed his most melancholy role, and a brutal one, as hitman Jef Costello in Jean-Pierre Melville’s electrifying Le samouraï. Jef doesn’t make mistakes; his careful arrangement of details, including alibis, makes him arrest-proof. But his murder of a nightclub owner generates unaccustomed eyewitnesses, one of whom, the club singer, got a good look. […]

THE BOSS OF IT ALL (Lars von Trier, 2006)

Denmark’s Lars von Trier is contemporary cinema’s imp of the perverse. Inspired by Pirandello and Brecht, his Direktøren for det hele takes aim at theatrical acting and big business. By targeting each through the other, this dazzlingly clever comedy suggests that capitalism is a charade, a soulless, convoluted performance.      Ravn owns and runs an information […]

DON QUIXOTE (G. W. Pabst, 1933)

One approaches with some trepidation any one of the fifteen or so film versions of Don Quixote, the very early seventeenth-century Spanish novel by Cervantes, in full, Miguel de Cervantes y Saavedra. Brilliantly philosophical and richly colored, the book, despite a simple plot, is considered by many the single greatest novel ever written. My own […]

MISS JULIE (Alf Sjöberg, 1950)

August Strindberg’s great 1888 Miss Julie is transformed into a powerful, visually ravishing black-and-white film by director Alf Sjöberg and cinematographer Göran Strindberg, the Swedish playwright’s grandson.      Strindberg’s theme is vibrant: the psychological burden affecting individuals because of classism, the deep division between aristocracy and the working poor, between master, or mistress, and servant.      It […]