FIVE FROM BARSKA STREET (Aleksander Ford, 1953)

Born Mosze Lifszyc in Kiev, hence Ukrainian, Polish filmmaker Aleksander Ford won the directorial prize at Cannes for Piątka z ulicy Barskiej. It is based on the 1952 novel by Kazimierz Koźniewski, who helped Ford adapt it. Ford imbued this color film, ironically, with a fatalistic mood; it is, after all, a film about postwar […]

BURMA VJ (Anders Østergaard, 2008)

From Denmark, Sweden, Norway, the UK, the U.S., Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Spain, Belgium and Canada, Burma VJ: Reporter i et lukket land (Burma Video Journalist*: Reporting from a Closed Country) is pulsating, brilliant, imaginative, humane. Using video cameras and cell phones, it consists almost entirely of clandestinely shot footage of the peaceful 2007 street protests […]

WILD REEDS (André Téchiné, 1994)

André Téchiné’s critically cherished Les roseaux sauvages is slow, patient, quiet—indeed, solemnly repressed—and, on two fronts, meticulously detailed: as a period-piece evoking the early 1960s; and, also, as a rigorous, nuanced portrait of adolescent psychologies.       The rural setting, a boarding school and its lush, leafy grounds (which includes a waterfall/river for skinny-dipping) tries “housing” […]

AUTUMN MOON (Clara Law, 1992)

Written by husband Eddie Ling-Ching Fong, Clara Law’s Qiu yue is a bittersweet comedy about identity, both national and individual, that the experiences of migration, anticipated migration, and being left behind, either transitionally or permanently, wobble, consigning identities to a state of perpetual dislocation and formation. Pui Wai is a 15-year-old girl in Hong Kong […]

BAD GIRL (Frank Borzage, 1931)

Frank Borzage won his second directorial Oscar—the oh-so-sensitive silent melodrama Seventh Heaven (1927) had brought him his first—for Bad Girl, a mistitled slice-of-life Depression drama about a struggling young couple. Dorothy Haley (Sally Eilers, innocuous, although fluent) lives in a tenement with her older brother, who kicks her out into the street ostensibly because she […]

A COUCH IN NEW YORK (Chantal Äkerman, 1996)

Dr. Henry Harriston maintains a posh practice as a psychoanalyst in his spacious Manhattan apartment, but, lately, his heart hasn’t been in it. His “clients” have beseiged his confidence with their life-problems and neuroses, and his morose apartment-mate, Edgar the Dog, has taken to sleeping most of the time as though he, too, were a […]