THE JESTER AND THE QUEEN (Věra Chytilová, 1987)

Gorgeous in color and gorgeously lit (the cinematographer is Jan Maliř), Věra Chytilová’s Šašek a královna was written by Bolek Polívka and Chytilová, based on Polívka’s Pirandellian play. Polívka and wife Chantal Poullain-Polívková, who acts brilliantly, repeat their stage roles. Both are paired, back and forth, in two different times that are surreally interconnected. What […]


Widescreen, in rich, gorgeous color, and with even richer characters, Christine Edzard’s six-hour 1987 Little Dorrit is the best film ever made from Charles Dickens—above all, the one most deeply rooted in Victorian social realities. The new double-DVD of this engrossing, moving film is, finally, the home presentation that Edzard’s brilliant film deserves. Included among […]

HENRY V (Laurence Olivier, 1944)

Drawing upon the fifteenth-century paintings of Paolo Ucello and Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein’s film Alexander Nevsky (1938), as well as on the play by William Shakespeare, Laurence Olivier’s Henry V is one of the most radiant, most moving films ever made, and it would remain the director’s highest cinematic attainment. (Reginald Beck, the editor, may have […]

CASSANDRA’S DREAM (Woody Allen, 2007)

Concluding writer-director Woody Allen’s London Trilogy, Cassandra’s Dream is a moral fable that sets our anxiety on the side of murder with sufficient skillful distancing so that we end up looking into a mirror, hopefully disapprovingly. Two working-class brothers and closest friends, Ian and Terry Blaine, desperately need money, one to start life over and […]