Posted inFilm

Streamers

Sure it’s searing and intense, but so is a microwave oven. David Rabe’s play, about a barracks room of draftees waiting to be shipped to Vietnam, is a less than honorable piece of theater, relying on physical and psychological violence to keep the audience in a constant state of anxiety and submission; Robert Altman’s film […]

Posted inFilm

Mother

The force of this famous 1926 Russian silent is more mechanical than emotional, centered in the flashy, rhythmic montage techniques of director V.I. Pudovkin rather than in the development of his deliberately stereotypical characters. During the 1905 revolution, a mother (Vera Baranovskaya) hoping to protect her communist son (Nikolai Batalov) reveals the cache of arms […]

Posted inFilm

Madame Bovary

Flaubert’s tale, rendered in a seldom-seen 1934 film by Jean Renoir. Eric Rohmer noted that the theatricality of the style is required by the self-conscious theatricality of the characters, particularly that of Bovary herself, the greatest self-dramatizer of literature. But Rohmer’s ingeniousness doesn’t quite explain away the general stiffness—deliberate, presumably, because it is so uncharacteristic […]

Posted inFilm

Kameradschaft

G.W. Pabst’s 1931 film recasts an actual incident—a mine disaster on the Franco-German border in 1906—into a parable on international relations; the “little people” transcend their political differences in helping each other. It may be naive and sentimental, but Pabst’s filming packs a punch—the action is well-nigh irresistible. The pessimistic ending, in which the boundaries […]