LA RONDE (Max Ophüls, 1950)

From Arthur Schnitzler’s play Reigen Max Ophüls has created a rueful, wistful meditation on the transience of love, implicitly, life’s transience. It is love’s merry-go-round suited to a waltz—a haunting waltz by Oscar Straus. More: the film itself is a waltz, lovely, lilting, passing, passing into sadness and melancholy: the inevitable end to a waltz. […]

MADAME BOVARY (Jean Renoir, 1933)

One hopes that a film version of Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary will have something of the excitement of the 1856 original, whose realism refreshed the art form of the novel. Jean Renoir’s film is one of his string of 1930s masterpieces. The opening is jaw-droppingly brilliant: the camera—in this instance, Emma Bovary’s soul—turns leftward, revealing […]

LONG LIVE THE WHALE (Mario Ruspoli, Chris Marker, 1972)

In the 2007 English-language update of Mario Ruspoli and Chris Marker’s Vive la baleine, voiceovers compete: the masculine “master,” disseminating facts about whales and whaling, and the feminine “interior voice,” expressing feelings (“Whales, I love you”), questions, surmises, wonder. Marker, who wrote and edited this masterpiece, synopsizes the history of whaling against a backdrop of […]