NIIWAM (Clarence Thomas Delgado, 1988)

Based on a 1987 novel by Ousmane Sembène, Clarence Thomas Delgado’s Niiwam—don’t ask me what that means; I don’t know Wolof, and I haven’t come across an English translation of the title—is worthy of “the father of African cinema” himself. At least the masterful first half is; after that, this film from Senegal falls apart […]

BYE BYE, RED RIDING HOOD (Márta Mészáros, 1989)

Charles Perrault’s seventeenth-century “Little Red Riding Hood” has informed films as diverse (and as powerful!) as Jean-Luc Godard’s Le mépris (Contempt, 1963), Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973) and Agnieszka Holland’s Olivier, Olivier (1991). From Hungary and Canada, Márta Mészáros’s Piroska és a farkas, or Bye bye Chaperon Rouge, is more interesting than affecting, however. […]

MOTHER (Mikio Naruse, 1952)

Kinuyo Tanaka claims her warmest, most universal role, as Masako Fukuhara, the hardworking middle-aged matriarch of Mikio Naruse’s moving family chronicle Okaasan, written by Yôko Mizuki. Her extended family, which includes a young nephew as her widowed sister tries to find her financial footing in postwar Japan, seems in perpetual flux: Masako’s older son, Susumu, […]