ADRIFT (Ján Kadár, Elmar Klos, 1969)

From Hungarian novelist Lajos Zilahy’s 1928 Valamit visz a víz (Something Is Adrift in the Water), Ján Kadár and Elmar Klos’s Hrst plná vody had a difficult birth. The 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia interrupted its filming, requiring relocation and re-shooting; the language shifted from Czech to Slovak, retitling it: Touha zvaná Anada—Desire Called Anada. […]

Z (Costa-Gavras, 1969)

From the novel by Vassili Vassilikos, based on the 1963 murder of opposition party deputy Gregorios Lambrakis, a liberal, that led to the military overthrow of democracy in Greece, Z—in ancient Greek, “He lives”—won a plethora of prizes, including the foreign-language Oscar and “best film” from the National Society of Film Critics and New York […]

HUMAN DESIRE (Fritz Lang, 1954)

Flimsy, unconvincing, at times ludicrous version of Zola’s La bête humaine, updated to the present, divested of naturalism and moved to New Jersey. The script is a load of melodramatic clichés, with heavy-handed references to the Korean War to remind us that its author, Alfred Hayes, helped write Rossellini’s magnificent Paisà (1946) about the Second […]

FLOWING (Mikio Naruse, 1956)

Isuzu Yamada gives the performance of a lifetime as Otsuta (best actress, Kinema Junpo, Blue Ribbon, Mainichi Film Concours Awards), who runs a financially struggling, heavily in-debt geisha house in Tokyo, as the custom fades into history, in Mikio Naruse’s Nagareru, based on Aya Koda’s novel. Yamada is highly particular, delicately nuanced, complex, forceful, sad […]