Form and Function: On the Object Lessons of Summer Hours
Separated from the domestic spaces they once inhabited, two glass vases and a mahogany desk settle into a caged museum life in Olivier Assayas’s deeply felt family portrait.
The Sweet Taste of Queer Victory in The Times of Harvey Milk
The director of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project and Spaceship Earth reflects on the power of seeing a moment of pure joy—the defeat of California’s homophobic Proposition 6 in 1978—in Rob Epstein’s classic portrait of Harvey Milk.
Baptized by the Light: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” at Monterey
In one of the most overpowering moments in any concert documentary, D. A. Pennebaker immortalized soul icon Otis Redding as both palpable presence and luminescent mystery.
More Is More: Lessons in Excess from Women in Love
The director of the Sundance hit The Last Black Man in San Francisco reflects on what he learned from Ken Russell’s extravagant style and approach to the subject of male relationships.
Breaking the Ice: The Beginning of Desire in The Piano Teacher
One of the quietest, most unassuming moments in Michael Haneke’s disturbing drama serves as a microcosm of his themes of control and sexuality.
A Problem with Authority: Dušan Makavejev’s Art of Repulsion
Early in his boundary-pushing Sweet Movie, Serbian renegade Dušan Makavejev stages a pageant of visual grotesquerie that speaks to the luridness of our contemporary age.
The Joy and Pain of One Good Meal in Bicycle Thieves
The great Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke recalls what his first encounters with Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece taught him about the possibilities of cinematic realism.
Marianne Faithfull Brings on the Heartbreak in Made in U.S.A
With her a capella take on the Rolling Stones’ “As Tears Go By,” the singer turns a brief moment in one of Godard’s most playful films into a reflection on loss.
The Sun on Their Faces: One Scene from People on Sunday
One of the most memorable sequences in the silent classic People on Sunday explores the experience of being photographed and the tension between still and moving images.
Transitory Figures: One Scene from Before Sunrise
Romantic love is poignant because it is an infinite feeling that exists in a finite frame. And Richard Linklater’s Before Trilogy is the most romantic and profound of love stories because it imbues love with the weight of time. In these three films…
Thoughts and Words Won’t Save Us: One Scene from The Human Condition
When I first heard about The Human Condition (1959–61), I was already familiar with director Masaki Kobayashi’s irreverent Harakiri (1962), a favorite film of mine where samurai are scum of the earth and honor is equivalent to dirt. I immediately…
Subtle Communication: One Scene from Scenes from a Marriage
Every time I watch Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes from a Marriage, I am stunned that a film could be so full. Here is this thing stuffed with detail, design, behavior, emotion, surprise, and skill. Like Fanny and Alexander and Face to Face, the work exist…
Stealing the Spotlight: One Scene from Monterey Pop
With a background in photography, I was initially attracted to the visual elements of cinema. But the first time I worked with great actors, my interest immediately shifted. Now, capturing a performance is all that matters to me; everything else is j…