Here’s the danger with Holocaust dramas: At some point, they run the potential of departing from themes of war, human suffering and triumph in the face of adversity, and tipping into standard horror fare.
About once a year, a
film comes along that I have absolutely no interest in seeing. This
year—and this is only March!—that honor belonged toA Separation. An Iranian family drama in Farsi with subtitles? Pass. How wrong I was.
The annual Academy Awards recognize cinematic achievement on a grand scale, but few films have matched the success of Ben-Hur—chosen best picture of 1959 and winner of 10 other Oscars. It also broke many of the records of its time, including racking up a then colossal production cost of $15 million.
The impoverished masses rage against the wealthy 1 percent as soldiers return from a long-running war and an “outsider” candidate contends with a fickle electorate in Coriolanus, which might have been ripped from the headlines, if William Shakespeare hadn’t written it in the 17th century.
Relaying stargazers’ complaints about city lights, the first half of the documentary film The City Dark risks becoming a platform for a fringe user group, until filmmaker Ian Cheney finally moves from anecdote to evidence, denouncing electric light as a harmful pollutant.
of the pleasures of watching a David Cronenberg film is the guarantee that
something nasty will happen. The violence in his films lurks beneath the
surface, hinted at in the cold, clinical dialogue uttered by his characters.
As Shame presents it, sex addiction prevents the addict from having meaningful contact with another person. All conversations are perfunctory. In fact, all human contact is superficial. All business success is meaningless because everything comes down to this: How will I get laid next? How will that act keep everything at arm’s length? Sounds great, right?
Serge Gainsbourg has no American equivalent. The homely and hard-living French singer-songwriter’s astoundingly wide-ranging output was often overshadowed by his affairs with the world’s most beautiful women and obscene outbursts on talk shows.
Hard on the heels of Hugo, Martin Scorsese’s mash note to Georges Méliès and Harold Lloyd, comes the considerably less expensive—and considerably more charming—The Artist, a black-and-white, nearly wordless return to silent storytelling, made by Frenchmen and filmed in Hollywood. Set at the dawn of the talkies, its tale is as familiar as Singin’ in the Rain and A Star Is Born.
Steven Spielberg’s War Horse is a grand, sweeping, lush and magnificent movie. It’s filmmaking that self-consciously recalls a John Ford epic, such as The Searchers or The Quiet Man. If only it were as good.