• 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!

  • Donguri and Shinomi

    Donguri and Shinomi

    ★★½

    Sissy city boy learns Japanese military virtues from authoritarian adoptive father in the countryside, climbs a tree all by himself, beats up a kid bigger than he is. Well they all had to do it, make the propaganda films during the war. At least Shimizu's were nice to look at.

  • Atarrabi & Mikelats

    Atarrabi & Mikelats

    ★★★★

    Green's best film since Le pont des Arts.

  • The Irishman

    The Irishman

    ★½

    Scorsese makes a typical Scorsese movie, only slower and longer: psychotics being psychotic once more. Sadistic Imbecile One shoots Sadistic Imbecile Two in the head, some other imbecile beats a fourth to death, and so on: all lovingly shot and with choice pop tunes played over the scene. The fascinating repartee of the characters, as in Raging Bull, Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, Departed, etc (question for self: Why have I seen so many of these?), is pure 12-year-old-boy-with-Tourette-syndrome.…

  • Heathers

    Heathers

    ★½

    Bloody awful.

  • Буба

    Буба

    ★★★★

    I dislike rating incomplete films, and there's clearly much missing here - the film was shelved, the director later sent to Siberia, and what remains of it was only found recently by her daughter. But what we have is an early Soviet "ethnographic film" that stands beside Turksib and Salt for Svanetia. Due to the missing footage, this happily lacks those films' at times excessive propaganda: there's a here-comes-the-wondrous-hydroelectric-dam sequence that surely had more to it that time and the…

  • Bálint Fábián Meets God

    Bálint Fábián Meets God

    ★★★★

    The more I see from this director, the more impressed I am. Not many so consistently mined this ground, the brutal 20th century, so successfully - not even his more celebrated countryman, Jancso. Only Angelopoulos comes immediately to mind, but Angelopoulos, like Jancso, had trouble escaping the rut of his "signature style": victim of his "auteurist" admirers. Fabri was a less rigorous stylist who was never quite discovered by the taste-setters of his time, and so was able to evolve…

  • Quiet Happiness

    Quiet Happiness

    ★★★★

    Quietly excellent.

  • Thus Another Day

    Thus Another Day

    ★★★½

    Kinoshita's one of those authors (in whatever artistic medium) who would have a much higher reputation if he hadn't been so damn productive. The best of his films are rightfully among the greatest of the Japanese classics. But he was in too much of a hurry, and did so much mediocre work, to be considered among the greats himself. This one has some excellent things in it, only it strains with too much material in a short running time. For…