LE CHAT (Pierre Granier-Deferre, 1971)

Julien and Clémence Bouin live at the end of what had once been a pretty street in Courbevoie, a Paris suburb. The retired couple, a former typesetter and an acrobat, hardly speak to each other, eat separate meals, sleep in separate beds; Clémence wonders whether it is her pronounced limp, the result of a circus […]

THE CONFESSION (Costa-Gavras, 1970)

Tauter, more humane and engrossing than his Oscar-winning Z (1969), Costa-Gavras’s L’aveu derives from a firsthand published account of the 1952 Czechoslovak show trials, ordered by Soviet premier Stalin, that aimed to purge the Czechoslovak Communist Party of undesirables on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage. One defendant was Party-loyal Artur London, vice-minister of foreign […]

DEATH IN THE GARDEN (Luis Buñuel, 1956)

In Luis Buñuel’s keenly evocative La mort en ce jardin, the “garden” suggesting the God-given paradise that Adam and Eve corrupted is, in reality, the atheistic jungle to which a group from a South American mining village take to escape the military police, which have the state in their grip. During the flight, late into […]

ROOM AT THE TOP (Jack Clayton, 1958)

Although mainstream, Room at the Top, from John Braine’s first novel, owes something to the British Free Cinema movement and itself launched the “kitchen-sink” genre. It was deemed most radical for divesting British cinema of its traditional sexual reticence; but what astounds me is its employment of a bomb-blasted northern slum as a metaphor for […]