AN AMERICAN IN PARIS (Vincente Minnelli, 1951)

Obnoxious Gene Kelly, who plays the “young” American painter in “too real and too beautiful” Paris, is always something of a chore to endure, and his Oscar-winning choreography is spotty; but I like An American in Paris, Vincente Minnelli’s first Oscar-winning best picture. Its splendid romance and sprightly, artificial Paris glow. And the Gershwin music: […]

ILLUMINATION (Krzysztof Zanussi, 1972)

Writer-director Krzysztof Zanussi’s early Illuminacja is autobiographical. Its protagonist, Franciszek Retman, is a graduate student in physics because he wants to know, he tells the university interviewing board, “things that are certain, unequivocal.” Zanussi himself studied physics at the University of Warsaw. But things changed for him. He proceeded to loftier intellectual ground, studying philosophy […]

THE EDGE OF HEAVEN (Fatih Akin, 2007)

From Germany and Turkey, writer-director Fatih Akin’s Auf der anderen Seite is a powerful, deeply affecting drama about separated and estranged family members and intertwining just-missed family reconciliations, and points of both commonality and misunderstanding between the cultures of both countries, as well as Turkey’s own wobbled identity between Muslim Asian and secular European.      To […]