OH! WHAT A LOVELY WAR (Richard Attenborough, 1969)

This elephantine, star-studded production, based on Joan Littlewood’s theatrical series of satirical antiwar sketches, was actor Richard Attenborough’s official directorial debut. Despite its best film Golden Globe, Oh! What a Lovely War is sufficiently shallow and obtuse that Littlewood had her name removed from the credits. It is a soulless, insufferable, bloated thing.      A lavish, […]

THE TROJAN WOMEN (Mihalis Kakogiannis, 1971)

Resonating in its own time as an indictment of the ugly, brutal U.S. intervention in Vietnam, The Trojan Women is Greek filmmaker Mihalis Kakogiannis/Michael Cacoyannis’s faithful rendering of Euripedes’ play about the aftermath of the fall of Troy into Greek hands—from the perspective of the ruined city’s women, who are led by Queen Hecuba, now […]

PRICK UP YOUR EARS (Stephen Frears, 1987)

The title of Stephen Frears’s best film, Prick Up Your Ears, can be read in two entirely different ways (one referring to ears, the other to another, specifically male body part), and one of these was considered sufficiently salacious in Ronald Reagan’s reactionary America that the film couldn’t be given mainstream advertisement in many parts […]

ISADORA (Karel Reisz, 1968)

Despite the persistent efforts of choreographer Litz Pisk and herself, Vanessa Redgrave never does convince as a dancer, let alone the goddess of modern dance, Isadora Duncan. Otherwise, Redgrave (best actress, Cannes, National Society of Film Critics) is vivid, indeed vibrant, though at times, with Isadora’s free socialist spirit shoehorned into a broad American accent, […]

EVENING (Lajos Koltai, 2007)

I was so moved by the freshness with which Hungarian filmmaker Lajos Koltai invested Imre Kertész’s Holocaust material in Fateless (Sorstalanság, 2005) that I am saddened by the dreary, hollow, sentimental mess of his second film: Evening, written by Susan Minot, from her novel, and Michael Cunningham. Koltai, of course, has been one of the […]