Phantom India (Louis Malle, 1969)

“It’s not about explaining or dominating the world but being a part of it.” Plot Summary: French director Louis Malle’s documentary portrait of life in India circa 1968. Review: Frustrated with the French film industry, Malle decided to take a cameraman and a sound recorder to India where he spent the next four months filming […]

The Street with No Name (William Keighley, 1948)

“What’s the use of having a war if you don’t learn from it?” Plot Summary: A young FBI agent goes undercover to investigate mob activity. Review: Many Hollywood films produced during the immediate postwar period of the mid-to-late ’40s reflected the general social malaise of the country, including “social-consciousness” pictures (Crossfire, All the King’s Men), films noirs […]

Old Joy (Kelly Reichardt, 2006)

“Sorrow is nothing but worn out joy.” Plot Summary: Two old friends – one married with a child on the way, Mark (Daniel London), the other a seemingly carefree drifter, Kurt (Will Oldham) – reunite for a weekend camping trip in the Cascade Mountains of Oregon. Review: Although they were once close friends, Mark and […]

Hollywood Homicide (Ron Shelton, 2003)

“I don’t think I want to be a cop anymore.” Plot Summary: After the nightclub shooting of a rap group, two L.A. homicide detectives – a seasoned veteran (Harrison Ford) and a green rookie ( Josh Hartnet) –  reluctantly team up to solve the case. Review: Ron (Bull Durham) Shelton has built a career out […]

Black Book (Paul Verhoeven, 2006)

“You mean sleep with him? I want things to be clear, is that what you mean?   Plot Summary: After her entire family is slaughtered by German soldiers, a sexy Jewish woman (Carice van Houten) joins the Resistance. Using her feminine wiles she infiltrates Gestapo headquarters and seduces the Nazi commandant as part of a […]

Sunshine (Danny Boyle, 2007)

“Our sun is dying. Mankind faces extinction.” Plot Summary: A team of astronauts embark upon a do-or-die mission to re-ignite the dying sun with a megaton nuclear bomb, and thus prevent the earth from becoming a giant block of ice. Review: As the intrepid crew moves steadily toward the sun, close enough in fact to […]

The Adventures of Sebastian Cole (Tod Williams, 1998)

“So tell me about your adventure” Plot Summary: A transsexual, Hank/Henrietta (Clark Gregg), helps his troubled young stepson, Sebastian, become a man. Review: Adrian Grenier (of HBO’s Entourage) stars in the titular role of this likable but inconsequential coming-of-age film about a restless 17-year suffering from pretty commonplace teenage angst: confusion over the opposite sex; […]

Killer of Sheep (Charles Burnett, 1977)

“I’m not poor, I give away things to the Salvation Army sometimes.” Plot Summary: A black man, Stan (Henry G. Sanders), struggles to maintain his humanity amid the soullessness of his slaughterhouse job and the hopelessness of his impoverished living conditions in an L.A. ghetto. Review: Although Killer of Sheep, made as Burnett’s thesis project […]

Behind Enemy Lines (John Moore, 2001)

“You’re a combat aviator, start acting like one!” Plot Summary: A naval pilot (Owen Wilson) is shot down behind enemy lines and must use his survivalist skills to escape from the enemy Serbian forces pursuing him. Meanwhile, his commanding officer (Gene Hackman) organizes a rescue operation. Review: In 1996 Owen Wilson made his memorable debut […]

Proof (Jocelyn Moorhouse, 1991)

“You must never lie to me.” Plot Summary: A distrustful blind man, Martin, harbors suspicions that people have not accurately described the world to him. His new friend, Andy, seems trustworthy. But is he? Review: Seeing is believing, right? But what’s the implication of this truism for a blind person? Does it mean that not […]