A dim sitcom of the kind Universal turned out by the dozens in the early 50s, distinguished—if that’s the word—by the presence of Ronald Reagan, as a college professor who hopes to prove his theories of child development by bringing up a chimpanzee as a human baby. The film is never quite as bad as […]
The Human Factor
This rigorous, compelling, radically stylized film represents the end point in a line of development that Otto Preminger had been pursuing since the late 60s. The prime qualities of Preminger’s mise-en-scene—logic, dispassion, distance—here reach their apotheosis in a ruthlessly flat, unruffled presentation: a visual and narrative style carefully designed only to express its own inexpressiveness. […]
Michael Caine stars as Carter, a London hood returning to his home in Newcastle to clear up some family unpleasantness in this 1971 feature. Directed by Michael Hodges (whose later collaboration with Caine, Pulp, proved to be much more satisfactory), with a flair for the wry evocation of genre conventions. Harold Pinter appears as a […]
Broadway Danny Rose
PG • 1 hour 24 min
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 […]
East of Eden
PG • 1 hour 58 min • 1955
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 […]
Claude Chabrol’s humor and irony aren’t much in evidence in this 1968 work, his first “art film” after five years of genre work. The title (less racy in translation—“The Does”) refers to Stephane Audran and Jacqueline Sassard, two women living out an enigmatic relationship in the south of France. Sex enters with the appearance of […]
Never Give a Sucker an Even Break
1 hour 11 min
The Subjective Factor
A 1981 film by Berlin-based feminist Helke Sander (The All-Around Reduced Personality), centered on a middle-aged artist who begins to question and analyze the influence of men in her life. Sander will be present for the screening.
Romancing the Stone
Director Robert Zemeckis displays such dazzling cinematic know-how that it’s genuinely depressing when this 1984 film falls off into the usual self-ridicule. It sometimes seems that the main task of filmmakers in the 80s was to placate the smart-asses in the audience; Zemeckis wins them over through a plot (romance novelist stumbles into an adventure […]
Romeo and Juliet
Franco Zeffirelli’s athletic production of Shakespeare’s love story stars Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting, with Michael York as Tybalt. Garish and goopy—a kind of West Side Story reworked into its original form—with narration by Laurence Olivier (1968).
Jeanne Moreau is the director, star, and, more or less, subject of this story about an actress and her circle of friends, all trying to cope with the problems of celebrity, feminism, and romance. Despite a murky narrative, it’s an interesting exercise in egoism (Moreau’s main influence seems to be Jerry Lewis), while for a […]
Glen or Glenda?
Ever since screenwriter David Newman wrote it up for a Film Comment article on his “Guilty Pleasures,” this grungy exploitation film from 1953 has been a staple of the underground screening circuits. The director, Edward D. Wood, was himself a transvestite (he boasted of wearing women’s underwear throughout his hitch in World War II), and […]
Bertrand Tavernier’s 1977 film plays off the traditions of the French Popular Front cinema of the 30s; it’s a simply told, optimistic story of a group of high-rise tenants who come together to fight an exploitative landlord. Michel Piccoli plays Bernard, a film director who seems to have made many of Tavernier’s own films; he […]