BOATS OUT OF WATERMELON RINDS (Ahmet Uluçay, 2004)

It has been compared to Nuovo cinema Paradiso (Giuseppe Tornatore, 1988), but Karpuz kabuğundan gemiler yapmak, from Turkey, is far, far superior. Set in the 1960s in the Anatolian village of Tepecik, this autobiographical first feature by writer-director Ahmet Uluçay centers on two young teenaged boys who dream of becoming film directors. At the moment, […]

A NOUS LA LIBERTE (René Clair, 1932)

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose . . . — Kris Kristofferson Chaplin’s inspiration for Modern Times (1936), René Clair’s À nous la liberté satirically considers the nature of true happiness.      Louis and Emile, prison inmates, escape. What do they do with their freedom? Louis works hard, eventually becoming the owner of […]

THE WITMAN BOYS (János Szász, 1997)

János Szász’s Woyzeck (1994) is brilliant; but how good a filmmaker would Hungary’s Szász prove to be without the Büchner to work with? Answer: damn good. Evidence: Witman fiúk.      At the turn of the century, two bourgeois schoolboys, János and Ernö Witman, lose their father. They more or less also lose their mother, who either […]

CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON (Ang Lee, 2000)

His Sense and Sensibility (1995) crackled with such emotional excitement some of us mistakenly concluded that Taiwan’s Ang Lee could direct. Since then, his papier-mâché Wo hu cang long, for all its martial-arts spectacle, has proven otherwise. Plainly, the earlier wonderful film owed more to Jane Austin, Emma Thomson’s script and the performances of his […]

THE WHITE SHIP (Roberto Rossellini, 1941)

The raising of a naval ship’s three guns, along with similar flashes of militaristic rhetoric, recalls Battleship Potemkin (1925)—an odd thing, one would think, for a Fascist film to do. Things get stranger, for this Eisensteinian opening is immediately undercut by a warm-hearted, very funny scene among sailors composing letters to female pen-pals, the humanity […]