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, […]

LINE OF DEMARCATION (Claude Chabrol, 1966)

The Germans have already invaded France. In the winter of 1941, in a village in the Jura Mountains, the Loue River divides Free France and Occupied France. The bleak grayness of Jean Rabier’s immaculate black-and-white cinematography in writer-director Claude Chabrol’s La ligne de démarcation expresses the sadness of the French people, and the defeatism of […]

UNE VIE (Alexandre Astruc, 1958)

I haven’t read Maupassant’s Une vie, but Alexandre Astruc’s film adaptation of it, provocatively retitled End of Desire in the U.S., is an exquisite though exceedingly strange fusion of Brontë (either Emily or Charlotte) and the gathering nouvelle vague in French cinema. Perhaps “fusion” is the wrong word, for the Gothic and contemporary (that is, […]