IMPORT/EXPORT (Ulrich Seidl, 2007)

A former documentarian, Ulrich Seidl “went fictional” in 2001 with Dog Days (Hundstage), bringing documentary attention and an overwhelming bleakness to his new kind of work. Import/Export, also written by Seidl and Veronika Franz, is not my cup of tea—or, in this case, cup of pee. The film is too mannered for its suicidal disposition. […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1920S

1. Called here Maria, there, Renée, Falconetti gives the greatest performance of the decade—in this, the greatest decade of all for film actresses. The occasion, of course, is Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc (1928). Her unadorned face in varied closeup, Falconetti enrobes us in the silence of Jeanne’s destiny, much as […]

THE AMERICAN SOLDIER (Rainer Werner Fassbinder, 1970)

Concluding writer-director Rainer Werner Fassbinder’s early gangster trilogy, Der amerikanische Soldat is a near-masterpiece whose continual reference point is Jean-Luc Godard’s five years-earlier Alphaville. Also in gorgeous black-and-white, Fassbinder’s film creates a noirish landscape; although its Munich necessarily fails to be as romantic as otherworldly Alphaville, a futuristic Paris-and-beyond, it, too, is a place of […]

TEN BEST PERFORMANCES OF THE 1930S

My favorite performance of the decade is noted below in the first position; my nine other favorites are thereafter listed in alphabetical order by the actor’s last name. 1. As Marguerite Gautier, the Lady of the Camellias, Greta Garbo in Camille (George Cukor, 1936) rises to the peak of her captivating beauty and talent, giving […]

TEN BEST FILM PERFORMANCES OF THE 1940S

My favorite performance of the decade occupies the royal first position in the list below; thereafter, the nine other performances are listed alphabetically by last name. 1. Self-directed in Henry V (1944), Laurence Olivier brings devastating irony to these victorious post-battle remarks by King Henry, among the saddest lines that Shakespeare wrote: Let there be […]