The Iranian film A Separation, written and directed by Asghar Farhadi, seems to me the best film of 2011. It is one of the Academy Award nominees for Best Foreign Picture, but by any sense of justice in any nation (let alone the self-assessed greatest in the world) it would have been nominated for Best Picture before anything else. The ways in which the characters in A Separation struggle for truth and honor, while yielding sometimes to compromise and falsehood, is not foreign to us. Few other films made last year give such a striking sense of, “Look—isn’t this life?
David Thomson on Films: A Requiem to an Unjustly Forgotten Filmmaker
February 02, 2012
In a recent article published in Sight & Sound just days after the death of Theo Angelopoulos, the director is quoted: “The only place I really feel at home is in a car next to a driver. I don’t drive myself, but I find the simple act of passing through landscapes very moving. The way I look at the world on my various travels is what essentially defines my filmmaking.” Sometimes artists die in what might be incidents from their own work.
TNR Film Classics: American Silent Film (July 1, 1978)
January 27, 2012
If sensation-gorged sound movie audiences think about silent films at all, it is in that narrow category bounded by the ridiculous on one side and the grotesque on the other.
The Ambiguous Future of 3D Movies
January 24, 2012
It was in 1985 that the German film director Wim Wenders first saw the Pina Bausch dance company. He later admitted that he had had to be dragged to the event by a girlfriend. Though a lover of many types of music, Wenders was one of those who believed he simply didn’t get ballet or modern dance. But after a few moments of the performance, he was on the edge of his seat, so moved he was crying. He felt his life had been altered. Pina Bausch had been born in Dusseldorf in 1940 (that made her five years older than Wenders).
TNR Film Classics: ‘The Great Gatsby’ (April 13, 1974)
January 21, 2012
When I saw the 1949 film of The Great Gatsby, the only other person in the screening room was Edmund Wilson(whom I didn’t know). Afterward, as he left, a smiling Paramount publicity man asked him how he had liked the picture. “Not very much, I’m afraid,” said Wilson,and kept walking to the elevator.
Why Lisbeth Salander Beats Margaret Thatcher
January 17, 2012
In The Iron Lady, a figure named Margaret Thatcher orders the sinking of the Argentinean battleship, the Belgrano. She “wins” the war of the Falkland Islands, just as she had won leadership of the Conservative party in Great Britain and had become the nation’s first female prime minister. As such, she imposed austerity cuts; she beat down the trade union movement; she gutted many parts of her country, especially the manufacturing north; and she restored a version of prosperity in the financial services industry that was lifted on the wave of the Internet.
TNR Film Classics: ‘The Age of Innocence’ (October 18, 1993)
January 13, 2012
The basic trouble with Martin Scorsese’s The Age of Innocence (Columbia) is Edith Wharton’s novel. Looking back fifty years in 1920, Wharton conceived a tale of love versus honor set in New York high society of that past era, and she embodied it in a full-dress novel. But her material would have served only as a short story, at most a novella, for Tolstoy or Chekhov. What helps to sustain Wharton’s more extended treatment is the attractive prose in which she wraps her narrative.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: A Search, a Research
January 11, 2012
Once Upon a Time in Anatolia House of Pleasures Nuri Bilge Ceylan, of Turkey, is an exceptional writer-director, deeply serious and with the gifts to be so. The two earlier films of his that I have seen, Distant and Climates, though immediately engaging in their characters and stories, soon showed that Ceylan was using them as a means of depicting the society in which they took place—modern Turkey. Essentially he wanted us to breathe the air his people breathed. Ceylan is also a talented actor: he played the leading role in Climates with distinction. But he does not appear in his new film.
On Thursday January 5th, I was trying to read the Seth Schiesel column on the front of the Arts section of the New York Times. After a few paragraphs, it said, “Continued on Page 5,” and my fingers made the natural leafing gestures to get me to five (no matter that I am used to Schiesel having large and merited front-page display). But “page 5” turned out to be “C3B” and a full-page ad for The Descendants.
TNR Film Classics: ‘All About Eve’ (November 6, 1950)
January 06, 2012
Once a year, Hollywood relaxes the lollypop diet on which it sustains a large but jaded public, and serves up one dish of acidulous sophistication. Or to be more precise, about once a year Joseph Mankiewicz at Twentieth Century-Fox does this under the indulgent eye of Darryl F. Zanuck. The last chef’s special was Letter to Three Wives; the new one is All About Eve, the bitchiest fabrication since Mrs. Luce’s The Women. It is not true, as you may have heard, that All About Eve is a great picture and proof that Hollywood has grown up overnight.