And here are my 50 greatest movie characters: 11-20

Here are Greatest Movie Characters entries 11-20. First part is here. This is not a ranked list, and the ones below are entered in alphabetical order.

11) Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

silence of the lambs
Anthony Hopkins might get the acclaim for his delightfully twisted turn as Hannibal Lector in Jonathan Demme’s Silence of the Lambs, but it’s Jodie Foster’s Clarice Starling that makes it work.


The Impressionistic Melodrama of Teinosuke Kinugasa’s Crossroads (Jujiro)

Part of an ongoing effort to watch a set of films from non-White, non-U.S., non-male, and/or non-straight filmmakers and depart a little from the Western canon. The intro and full list can be found here.

The term “melodrama” gets a bad rap these days, implying artificially heightened emotions and stagy, contrived narratives, but few genres or tendencies have held such continuing appeal over time.


Love and Mercy, or: how not to make a biopic, in 5 easy steps


Love & Mercy is a bad film made with the best of intentions.

It has been championed by various critics and has its fair share of blurb-ready accolades, but, with all due respect, those people are mistaken. To its great credit, however, it provides an opportunity to examine exactly why the biopic is such a toxic, unpleasant, and inherently ridiculous affair.


The grand, personal sweep of the Apu Trilogy



There are dozens upon dozens of indelible moments in Satyajit Ray’s Apu Trilogy that could be held up as emblematic of the glorious whole, its empathy and gentle wisdom. The three films – Pather Panchali (1955, and filmed over the course of the previous four years), Aparajito (1956), and The World of Apu (1959) – are awash in masterful touches, perfectly framed and naturalistically performed scenes, psychological depth, and haunting beauty.


The Women Are Coming: Mid-Century Indian Feminism in The Big City

The Big City

The Big City, Indian master Satyajit Ray’s deeply feminist and empathetic 1963 depiction of a changing Calcutta, is nearly perfect in every way.

With nuanced performances, especially from the luminous Madhabi Mukherjee as Arati Mazumder and Anil Chatterjee as her wry, conflicted husband Subrata (Bhambal), and an effortless sense of place, custom, and the economic pressures that challenge tradition, the film is an utterly absorbing experience, by turns uplifting and heart-rending.


Nathan Rabin, and Giving the World the Benefit of the Doubt

Note: This was written as part of The Dissolve commentariat’s tribute to Nathan Rabin.

In a recent piece, Nathan Rabin reflected on a vicious review his memoir received, which baselessly took him to task for snark and cynicism.

Although this particular review didn’t have much ground to stand on, he (rather generously) concedes: “I realized I sometimes used humor, or at least jokiness, as a crutch so I resolved to be more nakedly sincere and open in my writing.