THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (William Dieterle, 1939)

It contains the set-piece wherein, swinging on a rope, Quasimodo saves Esmeralda, the gypsy girl with whom he is smitten, who has been framed for a capital crime and is about to be executed, and delivers her to church sanctuary, causing the people of Paris to send up unbridled cheers: with director William Dieterle’s cunning […]

AGNES’S BEACHES (Agnès Varda, 2008)

Although a notch below her Vagabond (1985) and Les glaneurs et la glaneuse (2000), Belgian-born Agnès Varda’s farewell film, the autobiographical documentary Les plages d’Agnès, is her most deeply affecting piece. Throughout watching it, I was either in tears or close to tears. It isn’t too much to say that Agnès (pronounced on-YES), along with […]

PROTECTOR (Marek Najbrt, 2009)

Marriage is a complicated thing; add to it the tumult of history and you have material so potentially rich as to cry out for the kind of rigor, formal beauty, and close, penetrating attention it receives in Protektor, from the Czech Republic and Germany. Beautifully written by Robert Geisler, Benjamin Tuček and Marek Najbrt, and […]

THE SONG OF SPARROWS (Majid Majidi, 2008)

Avaze Gonjeshk-ha is, by far, Majid Majidi’s finest achievement to date (best director, Fajr). The protagonist is Karim (Mohammad Amir Naji, best actor, Berlin, Asia-Pacific), who loses his job after one of the birds gets loose at the ostrich ranch where he works because he left the corral to retrieve daughter Haniyeh’s hearing aid, which […]