David Thomson on Films: 'White Material'
January 07, 2011
Film-going is a total experience, so, when I went to see Claire Denis’s White Material in San Francisco this week, I had to sit through an advertisement for visiting South Africa and having a marvelous time. I’ve seen the ad before, and it gets increasingly depressing. There is lovely scenery and a complacent couple who can’t wait to get back there to regain the best Thai cooking of their lives and the rapturous experience of seeing elephants come to drink in the evening. Go if you must. I only know that my daughter—a world traveler—says South Africa is the scariest place she’s ever been.
January 06, 2011
In a critically and commercially disappointing year for the film industry, one of the few highlights has been the reception given to The King’s Speech. The movie has been nominated for just about every existing award, and a bevy of Oscar nominations are forthcoming. The period drama is also on its way to financial success. Like Stephen Frears’s film from 2006, The Queen—which won Helen Mirren an Oscar for her eponymous performance—The King’s Speech is a testament to Americans’ continuing fascination with the British Royal Family.
David Thomson on Films: 'The Way Back'
December 28, 2010
It is 1940, somewhere in Soviet-occupied Poland. A Pole is being interrogated; he has been beaten. Then a woman is called in, his wife; some torture has degraded her. She informs on her man; he will be sent to a gulag. The horror is clear, but the feeling is everyday and commonplace.
David Thomson on Films: 'True Grit'
December 24, 2010
Early on in the Coen Brothers’ True Grit, the 14-year-old Mattie Ross has a negotiation with a cunning stupid merchant in the town where her father has just been killed. It concerns money, horses, legal threat, and language, and it is the surest signal of where this lugubrious but charming picture is headed. The merchant, Colonel Stonehill (played by Dakin Matthews), is devious and calculating, and for a moment you may believe his dainty language is a fair approximation of educated gentility in Fort Smith, Arkansas, in the latter half of the nineteenth century.
December 06, 2010
Dennis Lehane has written a piece of feel-good noir. Everyone ends up dead or better than they started off, which is the clean-up that excuses any for
November 30, 2010
Art films and foreign films have had a presence in America for a century, but the two decades after World War II changed the meaning of both “art” and
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Around the World
November 10, 2010
Inspector Bellamy IFC Films Nothing Personal Olive Films White Material IFC Films It is almost as if designed. The last film of Claude Chabrol, who died in September, is such an apt example of his major gifts that it is almost as if he had planned a farewell.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Devotions
October 20, 2010
Vision: From the Life of Hildegard von Bingen Zeitgeist Films Samson & Delilah Indiepix No director has surpassed Margarethe von Trotta in depth of concern for women on the screen. Others, very many, have made all sorts of good films about women, their social situation and history and beings. But von Trotta has an advantage over most of them: she is an exceptionally fine artist. Very few other films about women come close to the von Trotta quality.
Stanley Kauffmann on Films: Worlds of Difference
October 16, 2010
Nuremberg: Its Lesson For Today Schulberg Productions Genius Within: The Inner Life of Glenn Gould Lorber Films Kings of Pastry First Run Features The American government made a documentary about the Nuremberg trial in 1945 - 1946 that was shown in Germany in 1948. It is only lately being shown in the United States. Reasons for the delay are obscure: one surmise is that relations with the Soviet Union quickly cooled and our government didn’t want to push a film that had the Soviets sitting alongside us in a tribunal.
Through The Years
October 11, 2010
The Girl Olive Films Heartbreaker IFC Films A film about a child that is not intended to charm us is brave. The Girl, from Sweden, scorns the idea of charm and bravely concentrates on the life of a nine-year-old simply as a life. (We don’t even learn her name.) We are left at the end with a sense of experience, not some sort of benevolence. She is the daughter of a young couple who live in a pleasant country house. They do a sort of social work and are off to Africa on a mission with their daughter. In fact, the first thing we see is the girl getting a vaccination.