Paths of Glory (1957), Stanley Kubrick

A cynical perspective on military motivations, Stanley Kubrick’s 1957 Paths of Glory, with its themes of moral corruption, undisguised hypocrisy and absurd vanity, astonishes and outrages in equal measure, for its outstanding storytelling and unbearable injustice.

paths-of-glory-2Usually understood as an anti-war film, Paths of Glory seems unduly reduced to a moralistic and doctrinaire tale. Colonel Dax, the audience’s alter ego, is indeed an honourable and dignified man, who nevertheless remains a military man to the very end. He even becomes outraged when his superior suggests that his quest for justice is in reality an artifice to get a promotion. However, as dignified as he may be, Dax never questions the bureaucratic structure or the raison d’être of his organization. The movie fights through some very dense philosophical issues. Continue reading

Pickpocket (1959), Robert Bresson

A masterpiece that distils Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche and Camus into its fascinating protagonist, Robert Bresson’s 1959 Pickpocket inhabits the nihilist universe of a man, whose lack of feelings goes beyond the pathological and for whom punishment seems futile as it is desirable.

pickpocket-2In the films of Robert Bresson, where emotions are hard to be found, facial expressions are nonexistent and the approach to acting is stripped to a minimum, the eyes of the characters become our dramatic guides. Thus, actions have to be taken at face value (!!) As the contrast between speech and body language is partially nullified, viewers ought to search inside themselves for further confirmations of what is being presented to them. Who could be better then, than a Russian master to guide the tale of the pickpocket? Continue reading

Three Colours: Blue (1993), Krzysztof Kieslowski

The first film on the director’s great trilogy before his death, Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 1993 Three Colours: Blue is poignant and profound, not only on its intended theme about liberty, but also on honesty, grief and, ultimately, how one reinvents oneself after tragedy.

three-colours-blue-2Though it might strike as a cliché, it has to be noticed that Julie, the film’s protagonist, is both the epitome of vulnerability and the utmost show of strength. As she is virtually in every scene of Three Colours: Blue [Trois Couleurs: Bleu], viewers experience a gamut of emotions, from her quivering lips while watching on TV as her family is being buried to the self-satisfied smile as she squander her inheritance on the housekeeper and the gardener. Her enigmatic outlook increases the impression that she can be an angel or the devil. Continue reading

Hidden (2005), Michael Haneke

A multi-layered parable dressed as a thriller, Michael Haneke’s 2005 Hidden, delves into the historical subconscious of the European colonizer, swims at the bottom of media manipulation, and when it comes up for air, with blood in its teeth, it does not offer any answers.

hidden-2By the end of Hidden [Caché], after Georges has been terrorized by events which climax with the suicide of an old acquaintance, he lies in his bed and envelopes himself in a blanket, almost as if trying to recapture some womb-like comfort. He lies in there but probably does not have a clue who’s made that bed. We, instead, can fathom that this feeling of angst and dread haunting him is, in fact, self-inflicted. Continue reading