Category: Directors

Jacques Tati’s Playtime (1967): The Social Art of Tativille

Tativille looks suspiciously similar to our world but is plainly not. Each object, each line and curve has the potential to come to life at any moment. By the end of the film, no matter how much accidental destruction has taken place (a lot), you are likely wishing his world were the real world.

Bluebeard’s Eighth Wife (1938): A Brackett-Wilder Collaboration

The Brackett-Wilder team have all the parts of a perfect screwball comedy in "Bluebeard"—formal wear, cocktails, witty wordplay, and a married couple slapping, spanking, and biting each other. Nicole De Loisel (Colbert), daughter of Edward Everett Horton’s penniless Marquis, and Michael Brandon (Cooper), capitalist extraordinaire, are meant to be together, like all screwball couples.

Army of Shadows (L’armée des ombres, 1969), Part 2: Snoopathon

As much as Lino Ventura’s Gerbier grounds “Army of Shadows,” Simone Signoret is its heart, insofar as anyone is allowed a heart in the underground world of the French Resistance. She is, as her colleagues remark, a magnificent woman—among other things, she engineers two extraordinary escapes for her comrades.

Army of Shadows (L’armée des ombres, 1969), Part 1: Snoopathon

Jean-Pierre Melville’s film about a small group of WWII Resistance fighters is undeniably a spy film. Yet it is strikingly unlike other spy films. Bursts of action happen only between long stretches of mostly silent waiting. The heroes make no perceptible progress against the enemy, managing little more than survival before inevitable betrayal and death.

The Merry Widow Waltz: Lubitsch’s Heaven Can Wait

It’s hard to imagine Ernst Lubitsch making something that isn’t a classy, urbane romantic comedy. "Heaven Can Wait" (1943) is an odd duck, though. For example, not many romantic comedies begin in Hell. Yet, it is here that we, and His Excellency, played by the devilish Laird Cregar, meet Henry Van Cleve (smoothie Don Ameche).

Why You Were Probably Wrong about Verbinski’s “Lone Ranger”

Verbinski’s characters—his worlds—are loopy and sometimes it seems as though the stuffing is coming out at the seams. Characters teeter on the edge of our world, sometimes falling off into bizarre other-worlds where there exist things like the fanged feral rabbits in "The Lone Ranger," or, really, whole swathes of the fourth "Pirates" film.

Hitchcock Double Vision: Blackmail and North by Northwest

One thing that struck me the second time around was the arrangement of actors during the blackmail-over-breakfast scene, when Tracy attempts to squeeze Alice. It wasn't just that it looked familiar, but that the dynamic among the characters was familiar, too. It's an arrangement that's repeated in a few times in "Blackmail."