TROUBLE IN PARADISE (Ernst Lubitsch, 1932)

“Beginnings are always difficult.” Think of Venice as a modern Eden—except that Ernst Lubitsch sullies the image of gleaming canals at night by showing the collection of garbage by gondola. The garbage collector, a jolly sort, sings an aria—to distract himself from the stench.      In Trouble in Paradise, master thief Gaston Monesque falls for Lily […]

NINOTCHKA (Ernst Lubitsch, 1939)

Greta Garbo proves herself a wondrous comedienne as Nina Yakushova Ivanov, nicknamed Ninotchka, a no-nonsense Soviet emissary sent to Paris to sell former tsarist Grand Duchess Swana’s jewels to alleviate Soviet financial duress. Swana, living in Paris, wants back her jewels—for themselves, but also in a psychological attempt to reverse history. Meanwhile, Ninotchka has fallen […]

DEV (Govind Nihalani, 2004)

Born in Karachi, in what was British India and is now Pakistan, Govind Nihalani has directed and cinematographed Dev, a tremendous, sweeping, heart-walloping melodrama about India’s Hindu-Muslim riots, which (contrary to what a good many reviews declare) were still going on in India at the time of the film and after, although India’s government suppressed […]

THE CITY AND THE DOGS (Francisco J. Lombardi, 1985)

Written by José Watanabe and directed by Francisco J. Lombardi (best director, San Sebastián), the Peruvian film La ciudad y los perros is based on Mario Vargas Llosa’s novel, whose Faulknerian presentation, sophisticated and complex, has been replaced by a simplified, linear procedure. The book’s multiple subjective narrations suggest three things at least: Peru’s fractured […]