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The Machine Age

Shyam Benegal’s Indian film is an update of the Mahabhatata, transposing the story of two warring families to the newly industrialized India of the 1950s. The Puranchads and the Khubchands are the owners of opposing industrial empires, linked by blood and divided by competition for the same markets. With Sashi Kapoor

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Francisca

Portuguese director Manoel de Oliveira made this amazing film in 1981, at the age of 72; as powerful as it is stark, it suggests a blending of the modernist, minimalist techniques of Jean-Marie Straub with the elusive spiritual subject matter of Max Ophuls. In 19th-century Portugal, a rising young novelist falls in love with the […]

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Making Love

The gay theme was placed at the center of the publicity for this Arthur Hiller film, but in the movie it’s off to one side—it occupies, in fact, the same structural position that fatal disease did in Hiller’s Love Story. The film is about the breakdown of a beautiful relationship caused by forces beyond anyone’s […]

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1900

Great moments stud Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1976 Marxist epic, but the end result is ambiguous. Robert De Niro is a landowner, Gerard Depardieu is a peasant; they share a birthday and most of the history of the 20th century—the fall of feudalism, the rise of fascism, and two world wars. In the film’s four-hour version, at […]

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The Angel Levine

Touching, funny tale of a maverick jive-talking black angel named Levine (Harry Belafonte) who tries to redeem himself with the higher powers by helping a poor, moaning Jew named Mishkin (Zero Mostel). Jan Kadar directed this 1970 fable.

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A Little Romance

A genuine charmer by George Roy Hill, a director best known for such ersatz charmers as Butch Cassidy and The Sting. His crowd-pleasing instincts have been subsumed by a bracing technical assurance here; the contrivances are still there, but they’re presented with a smooth and rare professionalism. The plot of this self-styled trifle recalls one […]

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The Ascent

India’s land reform policies are attacked in a 1982 feature by Shyam Benegal, which follows four intertwined stories of peasants forced from their farms despite the government’s guarantees of protection. The central figure is a sharecropper who takes his case to court; his experiences turn him into a political activist.

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A Very Natural Thing

One of the first gay films to gain an above-ground release (1973). As the title suggests, Christopher Larkin’s feature is heavy on positive, healthy images—lots of romping in the surf and that kind of thing. It’s more than a little dated now (and its R rating remains a total mystery), but this was a stage […]

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Destry Rides Again

The most famous of the many adaptations of Max Brand’s story of a shy sheriff who tries to tame a wide-open town without using his guns (1939). The material makes no demands on the talents of James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, but they enter gamely into the farcical tone set by director George Marshall. Singing […]

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Doomed Love

Andrew Horn’s independent feature uses distorted, Caligari-like sets and a score by Evan Lurie of the Lounge Lizards to tell the tale of a suicidal English professor who falls madly in love with his psychiatrist’s nurse. Horn aims for an operatic expansion of the modest material, attempting to fuse camp detachment and melodramatic grandeur (1983).

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Oliver!

Carol Reed’s careful if passionless adaptation of the musical was mounted handsomely enough to win the best-picture Oscar back in 1969. In retrospect, it seems emblematic of the triviality Reed descended to in the last years of his career. The Third Man it’s not. With Mark Lester, Oliver Reed, and Ron Moody. 153 min.