Night at the Crossroads (La Nuit de Carrefour, 1932) / A Day in the Country (Partie de campagne, 1936)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Jean Renoir By Roderick Heath Sometimes a famous name can be a boost or a burden. Or just a name. As the son of one of the most lauded Impressionist painters, Jean Renoir’s attraction to cinema gave the young art form an aura of matured sophistication, but might well have also lifted a few …

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The Velvet Vampire (1971)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Stephanie Rothman By Roderick Heath At a time when women directors were still excruciatingly thin on the ground even in Hollywood’s least reputable quarters, Stephanie Rothman forged herself an intriguing place in movie history. Rothman had proven herself a stalwart operative for Roger Corman and his low-budget movie factory at AIP during the 1960s. …

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The Immortal Story (Histoire Immortelle; TV, 1968)

Director/Screenwriter/Actor: Orson Welles By Roderick Heath An adaptation of a story by Karen Blixen published under her pseudonym Isak Dinesen, The Immortal Story is also a story of two immortals, Orson Welles and Jeanne Moreau. Welles’ career as a director had long since become a victim of his own clarion work Citizen Kane (1941) and …

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Fellini ∙ Satyricon (1969)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Federico Fellini By Roderick Heath Thanks to the enormous impact of La Dolce Vita (1960) and 8½ (1963), Federico Fellini’s name had been vaulted into the tiny canon of filmmakers whose names were household words. The phrase “Felliniesque” came to spell out a brand of gaudy, sensual, yearning artistry in the same way Hitchcockian …

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How Much Do You Love Me? (Combien tu m’aimes?, 2005)

Director/Screenwriter: Bertrand Blier The White Elephant Blogathon By Roderick Heath Bertrand Blier was for a long time a strong commercial and creative presence in French cinema, thanks to his reputation as a maker of droll, lippy, often outrageous films about that eternal French topic, l’amour. His work evoked prime-era Woody Allen’s fascination for urban manners …

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Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Director: Sam Taylor-Johnson By Roderick Heath Fifty Shades of Grey, a novel by pseudonymous writer E .L. James, has become that rarest of contemporary phenomena—a novel not aimed at children or young adults that is a true pop-cultural totem. It’s also a very old-fashioned kind of hit, the scandalous bestseller everyone snapped up just to …

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The Shanghai Gesture (1941)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Josef von Sternberg By Roderick Heath After the collapse of his partnership with Marlene Dietrich, Josef von Sternberg’s career, which had traced the upper limits of success as a film director, went into near-terminal arrest. The flagrantly sensual, imperious, outrageous expressionist of the silver screen was out of place in the aesthetically and morally …

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Blue Is the Warmest Colour (La Vie d’Adèle Chapitre 1 et 2, 2013)

Director/Screenwriter: Abdellatif Kechiche By Roderick Heath French-Tunisian filmmaker Abdellatif Kechiche specialises in long, leisurely, encompassing behavioral studies of individual humans standing at various crossroads. They are often tilted towards Kechiche’s own understanding of cross-cultural neutral zones and the immigrant experience, whilst also often fluently examining the peculiar rituals and experiences that mark youth’s coming of …

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Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (1970)

Director: Russ Meyer By Roderick Heath Roger Ebert’s death last week at the age of 70 brought on a wealth of lionising appreciations and articles, most of which celebrated the obvious and salient fact that he was a dean of mainstream American film criticism. There was another Ebert, however, a side the renowned critic was …

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