STORM CENTER (Daniel Taradash, 1956)

Well, belatedly I’ve seen it: the first Hollywood film to address openly and directly McCarthyism and the postwar reactionary atmosphere engendering hysteria and fear in the U.S.; (as far as I know) the first Hollywood film to use the term “civil liberties”; the first Hollywood film to ask the pertinent question, “What would Thomas Jefferson […]

THE TILLMAN STORY (Amir Bar-Lev, 2010)

The Tillman Story, which won the documentary prize of the San Francisco critics, is another sharp, powerful work by U.S. documentarian Amir Bar-Lev. While it refers specifically to official lies regarding the death of a soldier, a high-profile celebrity, in Afghanistan, and the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld Administration’s and the U.S. military’s subsequent exploitation of his memory to […]

SWEETGRASS (Ilisa Barbash, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, 2009)

Spousal team Lucien Castaing-Taylor and Ilisa Barbash have made an uneven although intermittently very beautiful documentary encapsulating the twilight of the American cowboy—an elegy for the Old West. Actually, Sweetgrass deals with aging sheepherders, not cow herders, in Montana as they direct their 3000-head herd for 150 miles over expansive fields and daunting mountains to […]

IF I WERE THE WHITE MOOR (Ion Popescu-Gopo, 1965)

Ion Popescu-Gopo, Romania’s premier maker of animated films, tried his hand at a live-action feature, and it proved to be a winning hand. De-aş fi Harap Alb is loosely based on a Romanian folk legend—the film’s postmodernism underscores the “loosely”—that achieved a classic retelling by nineteenth-century Moldavian-born author Ion Creangă. The story’s title, “Harap Alb,” […]