Dragon Inn (Lóng Mén Kè Zhàn, 1967)

Director/Screenwriter: King Hu By Roderick Heath King Hu was born Hu Jinquan in Beijing in 1932. Scion of a prominent and prosperous family, Hu nonetheless was borne along with a generation displaced by war and political upheaval, and washed up in Hong Kong when still a teenager in 1949. After working for a decade in …

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I Walked With a Zombie (1943)

Director: Jacques Tourneur By Roderick Heath The success of Cat People (1942) took many by surprise. The film’s producer was Val Lewton, a sometime journalist and novelist, and nephew to the once-exalted screen idol Alla Nazimova. Lewton had gained a reputation in Hollywood working as assistant to David Selznick. When the time came for Lewton …

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Pool of London (1951)

Director: Basil Dearden By Roderick Heath Basil Dearden remains an underappreciated figure of British cinema, although he made some of the most fondly-remembered hits it saw from the mid-1940s to the 1960s. Perhaps he’s neglected precisely because of that, as he was one of those establishment figures loathed by the young guns of the various …

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Black Panther (2018)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Ryan Coogler By Roderick Heath The hype for Black Panther was rather daunting, to say the least. If you wanted to buy into Disney-Marvel’s carefully cultivated marketing hullabaloo and attendant word of social media mouth, you might reasonably expect Black Panther to singlehandedly reshape western history and count as a major act of social …

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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 …

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

Paisan (Paisa’, 1946) / Germany, Year Zero (Germania Anno Zero, 1948)

Director/Coscreenwriter: Roberto Rossellini By Roderick Heath Out of ashes, creation. The Italian neorealist film movement was in large part a pragmatic solution to shortages of film stock, actors, and other paraphernalia of a movie industry that had been gutted by war, invasion, and the collapse of a regime. This unlikely renaissance was propelled purely by …

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The Tiger of Eschnapur (Der Tiger von Eschnapur, 1959) / The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal, 1959)

Director: Fritz Lang By Roderick Heath Fritz Lang returned to make films in Germany after a quarter-century’s absence, after the box office failure of Beyond a Reasonable Doubt (1956) finally brought down the curtain on his Hollywood career. Lang had arrived in America as a feted figure wielding great prestige, but he subsisted in marginally …

Continue reading The Tiger of Eschnapur (Der Tiger von Eschnapur, 1959) / The Indian Tomb (Das Indische Grabmal, 1959)