LANCELOT OF THE LAKE (Robert Bresson, 1974)

Robert Bresson’s Arthurian Lancelot du Lac, from Chrétien de Troyes, was meant to follow immediately Diary of a Country Priest (1950); by the time Bresson realized his dream project nearly a quarter-century later, his work had passed from black and white into color—color, here, rich, mysterious, hauntingly beautiful.      Still, this isn’t a period film in […]

THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY (Julian Schnabel, 2007)

Strenuously overdirected (to cover a want of imagination and humanity), Julian Schnabel’s La scaphandre et le papillon surveys the reality and fantasies/dreams of an actual person, Jean-Dominique Bauby, editor of the fashion magazine Elle, whose 1995 massive stroke left him in “locked-in syndrome.” Only his left eyelid survived paralysis, and it is with this that […]

LIFE AS A FATAL SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED DISEASE (Krzysztof Zanussi, 2000)

Order means a continuous battle with chaos. Writer-director Krzysztof Zanussi’s grave, mysterious Zycie jako smiertelna choroba przenoszona droga plciowa revolves around Dr. Tomasz Berg (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, tremendously moving), who is dying of lung cancer, casting him in double roles: doctor, patient; observer, one who experiences; nonbeliever (“ . . . grace has bypassed me”), yet […]

ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST (Milos Forman, 1975)

Behavioral comedy, his forte, is suffocated by nastiness and sentimental antics in Milos Forman’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, a simplistic melodrama based on Ken Kesey’s novel by way of Dale Wasserman’s play. Its mawkish antiestablishmentarianism is passé now, and its misogynism remains strident and reprehensible. Forman manipulated audiences toward an expression of their […]