• What Is a Woman?

    What Is a Woman?

    Crikey, what a world we live in, kids! This bunch "identify" as Left and think those who "identify" as Right are insane, and that bunch "identify" as Right and think those who "identify" as Left are insane. I say you're both bonkers, primarily because you both spend the greater portion of your waking hours in that cesspool of lunacy and poisonous stupidity called the internet. Turn off your little phones and laptops now and then. Stop watching TV ("That other…

  • Eyes, the Sea and a Ball

    Eyes, the Sea and a Ball

    ★★★½

    The "Rocky" of Japanese children's amateur volleyball movies. A friendly sort of flick like only the Japanese can do (just as they have their own peculiar brand of porno-sadism), a nice one for a lazy afternoon.

  • The Miraculous Life of Teresa of Lisieux

    The Miraculous Life of Teresa of Lisieux

    ★★★

    Not the first director I would choose for a work of this nature, Duvivier. That said, the script isn't much help, and it's a hopeless task to explain sainthood cinematographically. In its favor: the lead actress is clearly dedicated, and the scenes of convent initiation, while some might object to their length - they take up most of the middle part of the film - have a documentary interest.

  • The Power of the Dog

    The Power of the Dog

    ★½

    Campion is one of those directors who are skilled at creating a certain atmosphere (Lynch, Tarantino, Ferrara, and Tier are others who spring to mind), but whose films are all more or less silly. This dog is rather more than less. Though set in a La-La Land called "Montana, 1925" the movie is calculated to impress those who subscribe to fashionable 21st century sentiments. The lady is driven to insanity by "toxic masculinity"; the toxic male himself has a deep dark secret (no prize for guessing what it is); and one of the main characters is a petulant "millennial."

  • The Last Word

    The Last Word

    ★★★

    Were I feeling kind I would classify this as an interesting failure. But nothing really works here. This is one of those "impressionistic" things that might captivate some because it has a certain atmosphere, but which only shows me that the filmmakers have failed to adequately think things through.

    It's all very vague. During fascist days in Bulgaria (I only know this because I read a write-up, for if Nazis or years are mentioned in the film I missed it)…

  • Her Right

    Her Right

    ★★★

    Impossible for me to rate any of these Soviet propaganda flicks highly. Here the Uzbek women are encouraged to throw off their barbarous superstitions for the great freedom to... build wheelbarrows in a factory. Yet this one's fairly likeable as far as these things go, it's good-looking, and has the sense to wrap up the whole business in a tolerable 51 mins.

  • The Playboy of the Western World

    The Playboy of the Western World

    ★★½

    Would be a good Exhibit A in Bresson's case against filming plays, especially with actors from the theater. Good play, but it doesn't work as a film at all.

  • Mansfield Park

    Mansfield Park

    ★★

    Pity the feminist scholars: must have a hard time making their case for nearly every woman novelist prior to the 20th century, and with some ("Mrs. Humphrey Ward," president of the Women's National Anti-Suffrage League, say, or "Ouida," author of a cranky essay that asks "What is there to be said in favour of female suffrage?" and concludes that not much at all is to be said in favor of it) they don't even bother to try. How uneasy they…

  • The New Babylon

    The New Babylon

    ★★★

    On the stylistic plane: terrific (though hysterical, as so many of these Soviet silents are). But then we come to the Achilles' heel of Soviet pics prior to the late '50s. The moustache-twirling rich villains. The tough, soulful, saintly workers. And that's terrifically dull. Style is no substitute for substance.

  • The Sins of Love

    The Sins of Love

    ★★★★

    Takes awhile to warm up: at first seems to be a standard actress's-jealous-older-husband (jealous of the Romeo who can't keep away from his Juliet) with director and cast going through the motions. But when Josef Rovenský is finally allowed to let loose in his Emil Jannings rôle the movie improves significantly. Gaston Jacquet does a good Adolphe Menjou impression as well.

  • A Piece of Sky

    A Piece of Sky

    ★★★★½

    A handsome, beautifully-acted, big-hearted film about the punishment meted out to a nonconformist in early 20th-century Armenia. Any parallels that could be drawn to Armenia in 1980 were, of course, unintented by the filmmakers.

  • Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

    Bad Luck Banging or Loony Porn

    This will never do. Bucharest life and our absurd Coronatimes are ripe for satire, but this isn't it: the sledgehammer to the skull approach. The angry hyperactive teenager approach. Yawn!