Favorite films

  • A Woman of Paris: A Drama of Fate
  • Gunnar Hede's Saga
  • Crime and Punishment
  • La Roue

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  • German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

    ★★★★★

  • Memory of the Camps

  • Nazi Concentration Camps

  • Night Will Fall

    ★★★★½

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  • Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles

    ★★★★

    Circadian

    The oxymorons runneth over in the criticism for Chantal Akerman's "Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce 1080 Bruxelles." Jenny Chamarette, for the Senses of Cinema website, refers to the film as "exquisite" and "drab" in the same sentence and to its supposed "agonizing glory," while one author of a book on Akerman's oeuvre, Marion Schmid, mentions the "disturbingly banal, the elusive everyday," and another, Ivone Margulies (whose book is aptly titled "Nothing Happens"), talks likewise about its "defamiliarized everyday"…

  • Citizen Kane

    Citizen Kane

    ★★★★★

    The Citizen Kane of Movies

    The most frequently acclaimed "greatest film ever," idiosyncratic in its day yet massively influential, a cultural staple, a narrative and technical tour de force, and there's the whole thing of the wunderkind granted carte blanche for his debut to the machinery of classical Hollywood at its peak--the expectations for "Citizen Kane," to say the least, are high. Indeed, it's a marvel of cinematography and plot. In both senses, there's a deep focus from various angles.…

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  • German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

    German Concentration Camps Factual Survey

    ★★★★★

    Primary Filmic Document of Nazi Genocides

    This resolute cinematographic record of the Nazi extermination factories, the straightforwardly-titled “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey,” is considered by Toby Haggith of the Imperial War Museum to be “the lost masterpiece of British documentary cinema.” I won’t disagree. I’ve hardly viewed even all of the most acclaimed Holocaust nonfiction films, either, and it’s been years since I’ve seen, say, Alain Resnais’s more poetically titled “Night and Fog” (1956), but this one is most remarkable…

  • Night Will Fall

    Night Will Fall

    ★★★★½

    “I’d Peered into Hell”

    “Night Will Fall” is basically a making-of documentary of a documentary, but it’s so outstanding that it’s received its own home-video release separate from the completion and restoration of the once-unfinished documentary that it’s about, “German Concentration Camps Factual Survey” (begun in 1945 and restored and completed by the Imperial War Museum in 2014). To this day, it would appear, more people have seen “Night Will Fall” than the once-shelved film that it concerns. Albeit, if…

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  • Violent Night

    Violent Night

    ★★½

    Santa Delivers Another “Die Hard” Knockoff

    “They used to pull the hog out, and they used to eat it. You’re hypocrites, all of you!”

    - Phil Connors, “Groundhog Day” (1993).

    “Violent Night” is a perfectly fine dumb movie, of Santa Claus going John McClane on Hans Gruber Scrooge and his henchmen in the name of protecting the absurdly wealthy and their oil-greased consumerism. Apt that they cast the mother, Beverly D’Angelo, from that “National Lampoon’s Vacation” series, as the matriarch…

  • Untold: Malice at the Palace

    Untold: Malice at the Palace

    Told, but Poorly

    When you begin a documentary program stating that footage of a past event wasn't made public back then and follow that up with interviewees suggesting we don't know the entire story, one expects the documentary to be informative--provide new footage and perspectives, tell the untold. So, it's egregious when this hour-and-some-change "Untold: Malice at the Palace" doesn't do that. There's hardly anything here that hadn't played live on television and repeatedly on ESPN and the rest of…