THE MILL & THE CROSS (Lech Majewski, 2011

The Spanish Inquisition: In 1564, Flanders is overrun by Spanish soldiers, atop their horses and wearing savagely “red tunics,” running down, brutalizing, “crucifying” Protestants for being “heretics” as a member of the community, painter Pieter Bruegel, plans and orchestrates outdoors one of his masterpieces, Procession on the Way to Calvary, in which the whipped Jesus […]

WHEN THE CAT COMES (Vojtěch Jasný, 1963)

“Once upon a time, it should have happened.” An anti-Nazi resistance fighter and disillusioned Communist, Vojtěch Jasný was, according to Milos Forman, the spiritual father of the Czech New Wave; indeed, his Až přijde kocour is a harbinger of that movement, one of whose greatest works is Jasný’s Všichni dobří rodáci (1968). Až přijde kocour—in […]

THE HORSE OF TURIN (Béla Tarr, Ágnes Hranitzky, 2011)

“Look, imagine this horse, if it was your whole life, your whole livelihood, and if your horse doesn’t work anymore, you die with the horse, because your life is gone and everything is over. These words: allegories, metaphors—it’s none of that. It’s just a simple horse.” — Béla Tarr When dance critic and cinéaste Mindy […]


In the finest scene in Romanian filmmaker Radu Muntean’s depressing, cliché-ridden adultery drama, Marți, după Crăciun, a middle-aged couple come apart, perhaps irrevocably. Having decided to choose mistress over wife, Paul tells Adriana, “I’ve met someone, and we’re in love.” His casual manner salts Adriana’s wound at the point of its infliction. At their kitchen […]

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,” […]

POLICE, ADJECTIVE (Corneliu Porumboiu, 2009)

By the same Romanian writer-director who made 12:08 East of Bucharest (2006), Politist, adjectiv is a police procedural that develops into something considerably more. Indeed, the film proceeds from the start along simultaneous lines, one that’s external, how a young undercover cop goes about his business trailing a kid who is a suspected pot dealer, […]