The Ascent (Larisa Shepitko, 1977). The fourth and final feature from Soviet director Larisa Shepitko is a powerhouse drama set during World War II. After Sotnikov (Boris Plotnikov) and Rybak (Vladimir Gostyukhin) are dispatched from their unit to seek desperately … Continue reading Then Playing — The Ascent; Love Field; Dune
Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser (Charlotte Zwerin, 1988). This documentary was released during that strange stretch when Clint Eastwood admirably leveraged his considerable influence with Warner Bros. to get the studio to make movies about jazz. Eastwood serves as producer … Continue reading Then Playing — Thelonious Monk: Straight, No Chaser; Somewhere; Ladies in Retirement
Krane’s Confectionery (Astrid Henning-Jensen, 1951). Writer-director Astrid Henning-Jensen convincingly conveys the numbing misery of a provincial seamstress (Rønnaug Alten) who’s relied upon and disrespected by nearly everyone in her personal sphere, including her terminally ungrateful teenaged children (Toralv Maurstad and … Continue reading Then Playing — Krane’s Confectionery; Freaky; The Bride Came C.O.D.
Mr. Soul! (Melissa Haizlip, 2018). Like Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson’s more recent Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), this documentary aims to correct the aggressive erasure of triumphant Black culture. Created by Ellis Haizlip, Soul! was … Continue reading Then Playing — Mr. Soul; East Side, West Side; Where’s Poppa?
Lucy in the Sky (Noah Hawley, 2019). I think Noah Hawley has presided over some dandy television in recent years, and it makes sense that he’d bring his squirrely urges for narrative and format tinkering to his feature directorial debut. … Continue reading Then Playing — Lucy in the Sky; Married Before Breakfast; Bill & Ted Face the Music
A Woman Rebels (Mark Sandrich, 1936). This period drama, set predominantly in Victorian-era London, isn’t considered a vital entry in Katharine Hepburn’s filmography, likely because it was part of the string of bombs that almost sunk her Hollywood career right … Continue reading Then Playing — A Woman Rebels; Caged; Rope
Au Revoir, Les Enfants (Louis Malle, 1987). After more than a decade making English-language films, director Louis Malle returned to his homeland for this affecting drama set in a French boarding school during World War II. The autobiographical film, which … Continue reading Then Playing — Au Revoir, Les Enfants; Shithouse; Araya
Plan B (Natalie Morales, 2021). To invoke the movie algebra that feels inescapable in this instance, the second feature directed by Natalie Morales is Never Rarely Sometimes Always put into a polynomial equation with Booksmart to solve for the x … Continue reading Then Playing — Plan B; This Is the Sea; Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World
Blithe Spirit (David Lean, 1945). Adapted from Noël Coward’s 1941 play of the same name, Blithe Spirit is a mere wisp of a movie comedy that generates domestic drama from supernatural falderal. Writer Charles Condomine (Rex Harrison) invites a daffy … Continue reading Then Playing — Blithe Spirit; Layer Cake; Algiers
Pieces of a Woman (Kornél Mundruczó, 2020). Pieces of Woman is meant to be a real gut punch of drama. It depicts the repercussions on a marriage when a home birth ends in tragedy. Martha (Vanessa Kirby) is Martha, a … Continue reading Then Playing — Pieces of a Woman; 9to5: The Story of a Movement; The Witches of the Orient