ZERO DARK THIRTY (Kathryn Bigelow, 2012)

Solemn, fierce and combustible, Zero Dark Thirty, about the C.I.A.’s search to kill al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, is one heck of a thriller. It is a simple revenge plot—bin Laden masterminded the 9/11 and other terrorist attacks—crossed with the Erin Brockovich-thing where a headstrong woman prevails over all the male jerks in the universe. […]

GIORNI DI GLORIA (Giuseppe De Santis, Mario Serandrei, Luchino Visconti, Marcello Pagliero, 1945)

Dense and comprehensive, Days of Glory documents, through archival materials, partisan efforts against both Fascism and the German occupation in Italy, the liberation of northern Italy, and the trials of war criminals such as Pietro Caruso, the Fascist head of the Italian police. A film such as this is cumulative; we get a look at […]

THE MAN WHO LIES (Alain Robbe-Grillet, 1968)

Writer-director Alain Robbe-Grillet’s L’homme qui ment—essential viewing, this—begins in a wooded expanse as a youngish man, nicely dressed, pursued by armed soldiers, ducks behind trees to avoid their bullets and, despite the cascades of bullets aimed at him, escapes uninjured: a fantastical (and visually gorgeous) opening that visually translates this man’s propensity for telling whoppers. […]

TIME OF THE GYPSIES (Emir Kusturíca, 1988)

Dazzlingly made by Emir Kusturíca (best director, Cannes), Dom za vešanje (which is in Serbian)—literally, Home for Hanging—is a gripping, engrossing Yugoslavian melodrama about Perhan, who descends into petty crime to pay for his crippled sister’s hospital care and for the house he wants built for himself and his grandmother. It is also a colorful, […]