OTILIA RAUDA (Dana Rotberg, 2001)

Set in provincial Mexico in the first half of the twentieth century, Dana Rotberg’s Otilia Rauda, from Sergio Galindo’s novel, follows Otilia’s contempt for her police-chief husband, Isidro, and her passionate love for the bandit he is trying to capture, Rubén Lazcano. Otilia’s father compelled her marriage. Isidro’s whoring results in Otilia’s contracting syphilis, which […]

PERSONA NON GRATA (Krzysztof Zanussi, 2004)

The end of the Cold War that the U.S. had launched to the detriment of the world after the Second World War has left the world changed in some ways and intact in others. Writer-director Krzysztof Zanussi’s Persona non grata revolves around Wiktor (Zbigniew Zapasiewicz, superb yet again), Poland’s aging Ambassador to Uruguay, where he […]

EUROPA EUROPA (Agnieszka Holland, 1990)

Agnieszka Holland’s unsentimental Europa Europa, from France and Germany, is based on Salomon Perel’s account of his actual experiences. A Jew, “Sali” eluded German capture before and during the war. Holland’s mother was Catholic; her father, Jewish.      In 1938 Germany, Sali is indulging in a bath just prior to his bar mitzvah—arithmetic sets his age […]

LA ROUE (Abel Gance, 1923)

[C]reation is a great wheel that cannot move without crushing someone. — Victor Hugo Abel Gance’s The Wheel derives from dubious melodramatic material. Its camera opens on train tracks zipping past and proceeds to train wheels in crushing closeup. The train derails, and in the wreck that follows the single mother of baby Norma is […]

THE INTRUDER (Claire Denis, 2004)

Inspired by Jean-Luc Nancy’s novel L’Intrus, Claire Denis’s same-titled film includes two of her most moving moments. One shows Sidney Trebor (Grégoire Colin, wonderful), a young father carrying his infant, Louis, in a sling-harness against his heart. Louis looks up at his father’s face. Slowly the child smiles, and we understand, even though Sidney’s face […]