The film is based on the events related in Saint Matthew’s Gospel. It begins with the angel Gabriel telling Joseph about the Immaculate Conception and goes on to recreate the Nativity, the flight into Egypt and the Slaughter of the Innocents before moving forward to Christ’s baptism by John the Baptist, Christ’s temptation in the wilderness, the gathering of the disciples, the Sermon on the Mount, John’s execution by King Herod, Christ’s miracles and entry into Jerusalem, Jesus in the temple, the anointing, the Last Supper, Christ’s arrest, Crucifixion and finally the Resurrection.
One of the most important, controversial and divisive figures in post-war Italian culture, Pier Paolo Pasolini was a filmmaker, poet, painter, novelist, cultural theorist and political activist. An agent provocateur par excellence, Pasolini was a committed Communist who was at one point . . . Read More
After his wife leaves him, a photographer has an existential crisis and tries to cope with his cousin’s visit.
A cockerel crows and a Man From The Country traipses through a field covered in deep snow, a small silhouette making its slow, unsteady way across the white. Behind him the thin white tower of a minaret stands out against the greys and browngreens of an Anatolian hillside dotted haphazardly with uninspiring downbeat houses, unfinished building-works and untended stone terraces, a bland landscape of rural conventionality from which this solitary black figure is seeking to put some distance. Dogs bark, sheep bleat and cars can be heard driving by, all unseen as the Man From The Country walks further away from the village until, for a few moments, beneath the lip of an embankment he too disappears, briefly, only to re-emerge first just as a bobbing head of curly black . . . Read More
The events in Burnt by the Sun take place on one summer day in 1936. This day becomes a turning point in the lives of two men, a revolutionary hero, Sergei Kotov and NKVD secret agent Dmitrii (Mitia). By the end of the day, Kotov is arrested and, as a result, loses his prestigious social position and perfect family; Dmitrii commits suicide. The events of the film elucidate the complexities of the early Soviet period and the onset of the Stalinist terror.
In the early 1990s, the Russian film industry underwent a rapid decline, resulting in the fall of film production from 300 films in 1990 to a mere 36 in 1996. This decrease in the number of annually produced films can be explained by a variety of reasons: the collapse of Soviet centralised distribution networks; a flood of low-priced foreign films into the Russian cinema market; the dilapidated condition and outdated equipment . . . Read More
In the sixteenth century, Japan is in a chaotic time of social upheaval and constant military conflict between warlords. Farmers Genjuro and Tobei realise that the pottery they make can sell well at the market in town. Seduced by prospects of wealth and social mobility, they embark on a dangerous trip through war zones, taking their family with them. While Tobei succeeds in becoming a samurai and then, by chance, a commanding officer, his wife Ohama is raped by soldiers and becomes a prostitute. They eventually reunite, reconcile, and go back to the village together. Genjuro is invited to Princess Wakasa’s mansion and becomes her lover. After days of pleasure, he discovers that she is a ghost, escapes her spell, and returns home, where his wife Miyagi and their son welcome him. The next morning it turns out that Miyagi has been murdered by soldiers and yet come back as a ghost. Genjuro promises her spirit to lead a simple life in the . . . Read More
Tsotsi, a gang member living in a township, makes a living mugging and carjacking more affluent people. One day, while hijacking a car, he finds a baby on the back seat and takes him home. Identifying with the baby, he forces a young mother in the township to take care of him. Slowly remembering his own childhood, and his mother who had died from AIDS, he ends up returning the baby to his affluent parents.
A major success in both South Africa and around the world, winner of the 2005 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film, Tsotsi took some risks: it featured no stars, but for the most part young unknown actors, was shot on location in Soweto, and its dialogue is mostly in tsotistaal, a hybrid of languages, such as Afrikaans, Sotho, Zwana and Zulu, spoken in the townships around Johannesburg. At the same time the film sparked much debate and controversy as far as its politics are . . . Read More
A car accident causes the death of a well-known composer and his young daughter. Julie, the composer’s wife and the girl’s mother, survives the crash but withdraws into isolation and silence. She is slowly brought back to a social existence by small claims on her attention in her immediate proximity, and then by the revelation that a child will be born out of the dead husband’s affair with another woman. She finally returns to composing music.
A humiliating divorce from a French hairdresser forces the emigrant Karol to sneak from Paris back home to Poland, impoverished and crushed. Having eventually hustled his way up the economic ladder, he stages his own death as a trap to lure his ex-wife to Poland, jail, and sweet revenge.
Valentine, a student and occasional model, is distracted from her . . . Read More
Mory and Anta are young lovers who dream of escaping from the slums of Dakar, Senegal to the city of their dreams, Paris, capital of the former colonial power. Anta attempts to study at university, Mory rides around town on his motorbike decorated with zebu horns on the handlebar and an elaborate Dogon fetish as a backrest. They choose to wear ragged, filthy clothes, Anta dressed as a youth with her hair cropped short, while their contemporaries sport the latest 1970s striped flares and cool shades. Through a series of bizarre incidents and adventures they contrive to steal money, clothes and a chauffeured car. Anta leaves for France, but Mory is unable to board ship, left behind to a dubious fate in Dakar.
Djibril Diop Mambéty (1945–1998) was born to a Wolof family in Colobane, a small town on the fringes of Dakar; his father was an imam – ‘all these films are immersed . . . Read More
The elderly Shukichi and Tomi Hiroyama leave their youngest daughter Kyoko in Onomichi to visit their other grown-up children in Tokyo. Mild disappointment dogs the whole enterprise as their presence is clearly considered burdensome. Only their widowed daughter-in-law Noriko shows genuine warmth and welcome. Returning home, Tomi falls ill and dies. The family expresses regret but only Noriko and Kyoko show more than superficial duty. Shukichi urges Noriko to remarry and move on while he contemplates his own lonely future.
Tokyo Story’s plot is simple. However, ‘explaining’ Tokyo Story is like trying to have the last word on Citizen Kane. Its director, Ozu Yasujiro has been considered both modernist and traditionalist; his work Zen-like while wryly urbane; his themes specific to their context, yet universal. Ozu’s films were not seen outside of Japan until after his death in . . . Read More
Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of those rare writers who drew great critical acclaim during his own lifetime. To his contemporaries—Edgar Allan Poe, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and Herman Melville—as well as to the next generation of writers, Hawthorne was a genius. Poe said in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales that Hawthorne has “the purest style, the finest taste, the most available scholarship, the most delicate humor, the most touching pathos, the most radiant imagination.” Hawthorne’s work, consisting of over 50 stories and sketches as well as such classic novels as The Scarlet Letter, continued to draw attention after his death and experienced a particular resurgence of interest after World War I. His writings attract readers not only for their storytelling qualities, but also for the moral and theological ambiguities Hawthorne presents so well.
The Latin American writer Jorge Luis Borges and the eminent American scholar Harold Bloom both agree . . . Read More
Lingering Puritan Influences in Nineteenth-Century New England
Although the Salem Witch Trials had unfolded more than one hundred years prior, nineteenth-century New England was still reeling from inherited guilt, even as it rebelled against the constrictive morals of its forebears, the Puritans. It was into this Salem, Massachusetts, society that Hawthorne was born in 1804. Despite the fact he listed Unitarian as his official religion, his roots and sensibilities were unmistakably Puritan.
Hawthorne’s great, great grandfather William Hathorne (Nathaniel added the “W” to the family name when he began signing his published works) was the first family member to emigrate from England. He once ordered the public whipping of a Quaker woman who refused to renounce her religious beliefs. Following in the footsteps of his father, William’s son, John, presided over the Salem Witch Trials. Hawthorne claims he was . . . Read More