Stanley Kauffmann

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Out of the Past
March 26, 2008

Heartbeat Detector (New Yorker) Love Songs (IFC) Sputnik Mania (IFC)     The French director Nicolas Klotz proves—not for the first time in film history—that a picture may be a bit of a jumble yet fascinating. Klotz's Heartbeat Detector, written by Elisabeth Perceval from a novel by Francois Emmanuel, begins as an up-to-date story about Simon Kessler, a smart young psychologist employed by the Paris branch of a Franco-German company. His job is to judge job applicants and to keep tabs on the mental status of the staff.

Fame and Blame
February 27, 2008

The Duchess of Langeais -- IFC Summer Palace -- Palm Who is Jacques Rivette? The question would stump many regular filmgoers, but for those who are intemperately close to film history, the name will chime. Born in 1928, Rivette was a leader of the postwar Nouvelle Vague and is still working.

February 13, 2008

Caramel (Roadside Attractions) Woman on the Beach (New Yorker) The Silence Before Bach (Films 59) HOW SADDENING some films can be, no matter what their subjects are. In the 1950s and 1960s, when Spanish films by Saura and Bardem and others arrived here, their strengths were irresistible, but it was impossible to forget the dark contrast between the films and the country from which they came.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: People in Shadows
May 21, 2007

AWAY FROM HERLionsgate FRACTURENew Line WHAT A TREAT it is to watch Sarah Polley’s career flourish. First, her acting. A few months ago she was in The Secret Life of Words,where she created a young woman stilled by gross experience. Now, after directing several shorts, Polley has directed her first feature, Away From Her (in which she does not appear).

Crimes Revisited
April 02, 2007

Sacco and VanzettiFirst Run The Wind That Shakes the BarleyIFC First Take ZodiacParamount On the morning of August 24, 1927, a few weeks before I started high school, I read the headlines in The New York Times announcing the executions of Sacco and Vanzetti. I knew something about their story--newspapers and magazines had been brimming with controversy over it ever since I had been able to read--and my parents and their friends had often discussed it. Whatever the rights and wrongs of the matter, I thought, at least the story is now finished.

Being Watched
February 19, 2007

IN THIS AGE CRAMMED WITH STATISTICS, one tauntingly important item is missing, and always will be. How many people on the face of the earth spend their lives spying—professionally—on other people? The media continually serve up lashings of stuff about secretagents and security personnel. Sometimes it seems that almost half the global population spies on the other half, with a remnant reserved to spy on the spies.

Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Commitments
February 12, 2007

The Situation (Shadow) Mafioso (Rialto) A few months ago, the American documentarian James Longley gave us Iraq in Fragments, which looked under the big news stories to some strands of Iraqi life, less about the war than about living. Now Philip Haas, the American director of such intelligent fiction films as The Music of Chance and Angels and Insects, has made a sort of companion piece to Longley's film, called THE SITUATION. This is the first picture that, fictional though it is, tries to deal with some realities of the Iraq war itself. Familiarly, the first casualty of war is truth: Haas tr

Matters of Fate
January 29, 2007

In the otherwise brilliant opening sequence of Saving Private Ryan, dramatizing the American landings in France on D-day, Steven Spielberg made one small slip. He completely engulfs the viewer in the American assault; but when we are thus immersed, he inserts a brief clip of German machine-gunners firing at the Americans. This complete switch in view cracks our involvement. It takes a few seconds to become American-absorbed again. Knowingly or not, Clint Eastwood has converted the Spielberg slip into a triumph.

Years Past
January 22, 2007

The Good German (Warner Bros.) A war correspondent for The New Republic, in the Berlin of July 1945, gets beaten up four times in pursuit of a story but nonetheless keeps going. That is one way The Good German could be described.

Altering States
November 27, 2006

VOLVER (Sony Pictures Classics) IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS (Typecast Releasing with HBO) It happens to almost every successful director, and it has certainly happened to Pedro Almodóvar: he has entered the Age of the Larynx. In this age, sheer talk--the interview--becomes as much a part of a director's life as anything other than directing itself. Almodóvar interviews flood the press, especially just before a new film appears. He is more supple and funny than most directors can be, but even he can indulge in interview lingo. (From a recent one: "What always attracts me, and it's almost a physical need,