Marion Cotillard and Mathieu Amalric in the French drama by Arnaud Desplechin

‘Ismael’s Ghosts’ – Life, art, and love on Hulu

French filmmaker Arnaud Desplechin makes films about the messiness of families, lovers, and creative lives that can become quite messy in their telling. Ismael’s Ghosts (France, 2018) jumps abruptly back and forth in time and between biography and fiction and dreams, smudging the line between biography, fiction, and artistic imagination. Desplechin regular Mathieu Amalric is […]

Mathieu Amalric and Catherine Deneuve, directed by Arnaud Desplechin

‘A Christmas Tale’ – A messy family holiday on Criterion Channel and Sundance Now

A Christmas Tale (France, 2008), Arnaud Desplechin’s mercurial, knotty and cinematically vibrant drama of family dysfunction stirred up over a Christmas gathering, was my pick for best film of 2008. Directing with restless energy, Desplechin sketches out a family tragedy, the untimely death of a first-born, that precedes the story by decades and then only […]

Robert Pattinson stars in David Cronenberg's creen adaptation of Don Delillo's sprawling novel

David Cronenberg’s ‘Cosmopolis’ on Amazon Prime

Cosmopolis (2012) is a microcosm of a disconnected existence, life lived in a bubble in financial dealings and digital communications and brief face-to-face conversations and sexual intermissions in a space shuttle of a limousine creeping through the gridlock of an anonymous New York City. David Cronenberg adapts Don Delillo’s massive novel, distilling it down to […]

Alain Resnais You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet

‘You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet’ and ‘Life of Riley’ on FilmStruck and Fandor

Alain Resnais was the most narratively experimental and ambitious of directors at the birth of the nouvelle vague, startling audiences with the short documentary Night and Fog (about the Nazi death camps) and the features Hiroshima Mon Amour (ruminating on the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki) and Last Year at Marienbad (which you could say […]

Emmanuelle Seigner and Mathieu Amalric star in 'Venus in Fur,' directed by Roman Polanski

‘Venus in Fur’ on Hulu

Venus in Fur (France, 2013), adapted by Roman Polanski with playwright David Ives from his Tony Award-winning play, is Polanksi’s second theater piece in a row. This is a two-hander between a playwright (Mathieu Amalric) auditioning actresses for his adaptation of the novel by Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and an actress (Emmanuelle Seigner) who arrives late […]

The delirious cinematic dreamscape world of Guy Maddin's 'The Forbidden Room'

‘The Forbidden Room’ on Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Fandor

Canadian iconoclast Guy Maddin has been making strange, surreal films that evoke the images and storytelling traditions of silent movies for decades. The Forbidden Room (2015), which he co-directed with his former student Evan Johnson, is like a compendium of his obsessions and cinematic fetishes. It opens on a mock-instructional film on “How to Take […]