As Qinawi — our despondent, hobbling, would-be protagonist in Cairo Station — retreats to his shed outside the train depot to rest, he shifts the pants hanging from a ramshackle clothesline to block the midday sun from his eyes. It’s the kind of Neorealist detail that the great Egyptian director Youssef Chahine excels at here, in this, his arguable masterpiece.More
The furious quote in the title, courtesy of our tortured poet protagonist Vijay (director/producer/star Guru Datt), arrives near the end of 1957’s Pyaasa. Spurned by a world that privileges commerce over art, that elevates duplicity over sincerity and integrity at every turn, Vijay has had enough.More
The stories of Victor Hugo provided a wealth of material throughout the Silent Era, a source of inspiration that cinema would return to again and again. By the time Universal coaxed German Expressionist master Paul Leni to Hollywood to helm The Man Who Laughs in 1928, a full 53 separate treatments of Hugo had already been released in the previous 23 years.More
Released in the closing days of the Silent Era, with production wrapping the same month The Jazz Singer premiered, Chaplin’s The Circus is a film that seems to know it’s aesthetic is on its way out the door.
Even with City Lights and Modern Times still to come, there’s an air of finality to it, perhaps most movingly encapsulated by its closing frames: we watch the circus leave the town and The Tramp behind, no better off than when he arrived to amuse the crowd at the start.More
It is an article of faith among your more generous cinephiles that you should never be embarrassed by the classics you haven’t yet seen. Everyone has blind spots, no one has time to see everything, and a gap in your viewing only indicates how much you have to look forward to!More
Metropolis is indisputably one of the most celebrated films of the Silent Era and the generally agreed-upon cinematic pinnacle of Weimar. A dystopian sci-fi landmark distinguished by incredible set design and in-camera tricks, director Fritz Lang’s monumental ode to “the heart” as the “mediator of head and hands” was hugely influential on dozens and dozens of films to follow.More
Battleship Potemkin and Sergei Eisenstein, its visionary creator and Soviet film theorist, loom so large over the history of cinema that there seems little left to say at this point. Treatises, books, films, encyclopedia entries have all been produced on the film’s tale of mutinous sailors and the triumph of the proletariat over murderous Czarist forces.More
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.
Street walker by night, devoted mother by day, a woman fights to get her young son an education amid criminal and social injustice in China.