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  • The Image Book

    The Image Book

    ★★★★★

    When I screened A MAN ESCAPED in an Intro to Film class a few years ago, one particularly bright student seemed riveted by Bresson’s radical and extensive use of first-person voice-over narration, close-ups of hands at work, and the unusual way these elements interacted with each other. In a post-screening discussion, he made the salient point that “It was as if Lieutenant Fontaine’s hands were doing the thinking and the talking.” I was reminded of this remark at the beginning…

  • D A N C E R

    D A N C E R

    ★★★★

    As with all beautiful films, it is the most beautiful of films.

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  • Like Someone in Love

    Like Someone in Love

    ★★★★★

    The late Chilean director Raul Ruiz’s indispensable book Poetics of Cinema argues against the necessity of “central conflict theory” that has long dominated commercial narrative filmmaking in the western world. If Abbas Kiarostami, one of the world’s greatest living directors, ever wrote a comparable book on film theory, one suspects he might similarly challenge the notion of the “three-act structure.” The Japanese-set Like Someone in Love may well be the Iranian master’s most provocative work; his extremely unconventional handling of…

  • A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

    A Spell to Ward Off the Darkness

    ★★★★½

    This masterful experimental film by co-directors Ben Rivers and Ben Russell begins with one of the most incredible images I’ve seen on a cinema screen in some time: an epic panning shot of a Finnish landscape, first from right to left, then from left to right, as the last traces of sunlight disappear from the night sky. As the screen grows increasingly dark, a band of hilly forest becomes nothing more than a thick, black horizontal line separating the midnight…