Shohei Imamura’s brilliant, devastating television documentary In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers in Thailand (Mikikan-hei o otte: Tai-hen) concludes a pair of works begun the previous year with In Search of the Unreturned Soldiers in Malaysia. (Another documentary, Outlaw-Matsu Comes Home, 1973, functions as a coda to the two films.) The second film consists of […]

YEARNING (Mikio Naruse, 1964)

One of Mikio Naruse’s most realistic and piercing works, and one that is intermittently beautifully Ozuvian, Midareru examines the unraveling of a family whose old-fashioned market cannot compete with the new supermarket across the street—an impersonal corporate-owned consumer playground that can offer identical items at a much lower price. Japan’s new killer competitive spirit is […]

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, […]

SÉANCE ON A WET AFTERNOON (Bryan Forbes, 1964)

Kim Stanley (best actress, New York critics, National Board of Review) gives a tremendous performance as unhinging psychic Myra Savage, who impresses a weak-willed, asthmatic spouse, Billy, into a dangerous scheme to bring celebrity to her, one involving kidnapping a schoolgirl whose parents are wealthy, extracting a ransom, and divining at her weekly séance the […]

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD (John Schlesinger, 1967)

Nearly a century after the publication of Thomas Hardy’s novel on which it is based, the “mod” writer and director of Darling (1965), Frederic Raphael and John Schlesinger, respectively, surprised everyone by making the big-budget film version of Far from the Madding Crowd. By this time a pastoral period-piece, the three-hour portrait of rural Victorian […]