AFI Fest 2014: Villa Touma (Suha Arraf)

Violet keeps her wedding dress hung over the only mirror in her bedroom, looking at the dress rather than at herself in the mirror. The dress is one of the many signs that, for Violet and her sisters, Juliette and Antoinette, time stopped somewhere in the late 60s, when they each lost so much.

AFI Fest 2014: Takashi Miike’s Over Your Dead Body

Takashi Miike has a great eye, and he constructs breathtakingly beautiful mise-en-scènes. "Over Your Dead Body" is no exception: It's gorgeous. Of course, the other thing Miike is known for is gore, often sexual in nature. "Over Your Dead Body" is also no exception in this regard.

AFI Fest 2014: A “Fish and Cat” from Iran

The AFI schedule advertised it a "horror comedy art film," like "a 'Friday the 13th' installment directed by Alain Resnais." While that is one of the finest descriptions I have ever come across, I suspect that it did the film a disservice by attracting people who were expecting more "Friday the 13th" and less Resnais.

Bluebeard in Black and White: Fritz Lang’s “Secret Beyond the Door”

Lang is a master of mood and lighting (assisted by some fantastic cinematographers), and this carries "Secret." It doesn’t hurt that it stars Joan Bennett (a sometime Lang favorite) and Michael Redgrave, but the plot is so goofily Freudian that if Bennett and Redgrave weren’t adrift in Lang’s parallel universe, it probably wouldn’t work.

AFI Fest 2014: Réalité and Alléluia

Alléluia was riveting in a demanding sort of way—so much so that the film sometimes felt like mostly a tight close-up on Dueñas's Gloria, sometimes just her eyes. (Though there was of course less of that than it seemed like there was.) It's based on the same story, the Martha Beck-Ray Fernandez murders, as the pulpy The Honeymoon Killers (1969).

Having Your Cake in Fritz Lang’s Ministry of Fear (1944)

Lang's protagonists are often less involved in a plot than they are trapped in a psychologically overwrought context, an atmosphere rather than a real place. Even before we know what sort of trouble Neale will get himself in, there is an unnerving emphasis on the passing of time. The film opens on a clock.