THE PORNOGRAPHER (Bertrand Bonello, 2001)

Jacques Laurent, who elevated “the genre” (embarrassed, he himself winces at that categorization), is making his first pornographic film in more than fifteen years. Times and audiences have changed. On-set, Jacques’s young producer tells him he is “too old” when Jacques doesn’t even look up at the soullessly raunchy scene that is being shot. Jacques […]

FURY (Fritz Lang, 1936)

Consider the premise of Fritz Lang’s god-awful Fury, a Hollywood joke when compared to the masterpieces that Lang made in Germany (Destiny, 1921, both parts of Die Nibelungen, 1924, M, 1931)—perhaps because, like M, this preposterous and fanciful melodrama is grounded in actuality: in California in 1933, the killing by jail-storming vigilantes of two kidnappers […]

NIGHT TRAIN (Jerzy Kawalerowicz, 1959)

With Pociąg, written by Jerzy Lutowski and Jerzy Kawalerowicz, and resourcefully directed by Kawalerowicz, the opening shot encapsulates a major theme. Held for the duration of the opening credits, it is an overhead long-shot of humanity in motion, each individual separate, with a shadow attached. Indeed, Georges Sadoul has attributed “ultimate separateness” to the characters […]

CLAUDIA (Edmund Goulding, 1943)

In the role she originated on Broadway in Rose Franken’s play, Dorothy McGuire is wonderful as Claudia, David Naughton’s child bride in rural Connecticut, in London-born Edmund Goulding’s Claudia, a much better film than many realize. Leon Shamroy’s black-and-white photography, dark and dim, is an intricate mosaic of shadows so that Goulding can suggest the […]

THE WEDDING DIRECTOR (Marco Bellocchio, 2007)

Franco Elica (Sergio Castellitto, perfect) is a fiftysomething filmmaker who augments his income by videographing weddings. At one such wedding, he is supposed to shoot the scene in “the Visconti style”—“like Il Gattopardo,” a member of the groom’s party chimes in. But wait: Does this really happen at all? Marco Bellocchio’s Il regista di matrimoni […]