COLOSSAL YOUTH (Pedro Costa, 2006)

Reminiscent of Elem Klimov’s Farewell (1981), Portuguese writer-director Pedro Costa’s Juventude Em Marcha completes his Fountaínhas trilogy. The Cape Verdean shantytown is being demolished, its inhabitants relocated northward to a housing project in a Lisbon suburb. The film begins with the voices of indeterminate people and ends with the sound of an infant’s contentment.      Apparently, […]

BRUTALITY IN STONE (Alexander Kluge, Peter Schamoni, 1961)

Five years earlier than his feature debut, Parting from Yesterday—(Anita G.), which launched one of the most important film movements, the New German Cinema, writer-director Alexander Kluge, with Peter Schamoni, co-directed a 12-minute black-and-white documentary short anticipating the movement-to-come. Brutalität in Stein gathers historical testimony to puncture his nation’s attempt to overlook its recent Nazi […]

YESTERDAY GIRL (Alexander Kluge, 1966)

With parentheses around her name suggesting (in addition to her imprisonment) how bereft of context Anita G., a Jewish East German migrant, is left by the “parting from yesterday” that she is constantly impressed to pursue, writer-director Alexander Kluge’s Abschied von gestern—(Anita G.) launched the New German Cinema, which confronted West Germany’s attempt to deny […]

BONES (Pedro Costa, 1997)

One of the finest American films of the 1940s, Gregory LaCava’s Primrose Path (1940), allows us to see how a shantytown environment draws by degrees the teenaged daughter of an aging prostitute into a facsimile of her mother’s fate; by the time a Hollywood-ending rescues Ellie May (Ginger Rogers, achingly good), our sense of damaged […]

CAT’S PLAY (Károly Makk, 1972)

“Old age is hard to bear, especially when it masquerades as youth.” “Bits of film create a haunting mosaic of existence”: I wrote this about Károly Makk’s great Love (Szerelem, 1971), and the description also applies to his Macskajáték. Both solemn and lightly satirical, this fine, sly Hungarian film—in distracting color that’s no match for […]

PARTNER (Bernardo Bertolucci, 1968)

Combining Marx and Freud, as was his wont in his early days, writer-director Bernardo Bertolucci, along with co-scenarist Gianni Amico, used Dostoievski’s 1846, pre-imprisonment novella The Double: A Petersburg Poem, which they moved to Italy and updated to the pro-Vietcong student-protest present, as a springboard for Il sosia, a dark, often opaque and arty, although […]