THE CARDBOARD VILLAGE (Ermanno Olmi, 2011)

Beautifully written and directed by Italy’s 80-year-old Ermanno Olmi, and gorgeously photographed by his son, Fabio, Il villaggio di cartone is a spare, mysterious, deeply moving parable about a group of “illegal aliens” from Africa who, seeking sanctuary from the police, occupy a defunct church whose 80-year-old priest, despite its deconsecration, refuses to vacate it, […]

WIND FROM THE EAST (Dziga Vertov Group—Jean-Luc Godard, Jean-Pierre Gorin, Gérard Martin, 1969)

Initially creating leisurely rural scenes, both contemporary and “period,” and playing these off a dense, repetitive aural collage of politically-minded voiceovers, Le vent d’est is Jean-Luc Godard’s heartfelt response to the disarray and demoralization of the French Left in the wake of May ’68. Shot in Italy and made by the filmmaking collective to which […]

INFERNO (Henri-Georges Clouzot; Serge Bromberg, Ruxandra Medrea, 1964; 2009)

A heart attack prevented Henri-Georges Clouzot from completing the filming of what some have nevertheless projected as his likely masterpiece, L’enfer, the script to which Clouzot’s widow sold to Claude Chabrol in the 1990s, resulting in Chabrol’s brilliant film with the same title (1994). The material details a man’s waking nightmare as he steadily slips […]

DAMAGE (Louis Malle, 1992)

Two lethally twisted mothers—acted shrilly and theatrically and with scant humanity or insight by always worthless Miranda Richardson and once-charming Leslie Caron—plot the coordinates of intersecting domestic tragedies in Louis Malle’s ridiculous, brain-dead Damage, one of the half-dozen most grotesque movies ever made. David Hare, no less, wrote the damn thing, from the novel by […]

SANAM (Rafi Pitts, 2000)

An elliptical parable with something of the force and beauty of Ford and Fernández’s The Fugitive (1947), but with more political punch, Rafi Pitts’s Sanam, from Iran, proceeds at a solemn pace, through deceptively quiet, seemingly half-submerged emotional territory, to a haunting, incendiary finish. It won for Pitts best film prizes at Paris, Vesoul, Valencia, […]