Oliver Hirschbiegel – Elser AKA 13 Minutes (2015)

In November 1939, Georg Elser’s attempt to assassinate Adolf Hitler fails, and he is arrested. During his confinement, he recalls the events leading up to his plot and his reasons for deciding to take such drastic action.

The German director Oliver Hirschbiegel impressed viewers the world over with his brutal and psychologically astute 2001 film “The Experiment,” but it was with 2004’s “Downfall,” a spectacularly effective picture about Hitler in his last days, that he not only made his reputation as a world-class filmmaker but also inadvertently created an Internet meme. Read More »

Nobuo Nakagawa – Kenpei to yûrei AKA M.P. and the Ghost AKA Ghost In the Regiment (1958)

Desiring another officer’s new wife, a military police lieutenant fabricates evidence of treason that consigns the innocent man to torture and a firing squad. The lieutenant rapes the wife, but is haunted by bad dreams which after he is assigned to a battalion with the victim’s brother Read More »

Arthur Maria Rabenalt – Achtung! Feind hört mit! (1940)

Action takes place in a factory producing cables for barrage balloons shortly after the critical September days in 1938. British Intelligence try to discover the production secrets and one of their agents is very active in the factory. The agent plays on the vanity of the owner’s secretary, takes advantage of losses at the gaming tables of one of the firm’s employees and blackmails another. The son of the owner is led astray by the female accomplice of the British agent. The secretary’s courage together with the son’s patriotism finally unmasks the entire plot… Read More »

Larisa Shepitko – Voskhozhdeniye AKA The Ascent (1977)

Two Soviet partisans on a mission to gather food contend with the winter cold, the occupying Germans, and their own psyches.

Letterboxd review by Lara Pop ★★★★½:
It rarely gets bleaker than The Ascent. Larisa Shepitko’s tale of perseverance in the face of imminent death surprised me on several counts. For the first half of the movie, I couldn’t figure out the significance of the title. If anything, Shepitko presents its exact opposite. The barren, snow-covered landscape, where death lurks in every grinding step man takes, devours the movie in its all-consuming white death. The shaky camera movement enhances every sound made in the white silence as the camera zooms in on man’s face and outlines the thin crust of ice scratching his cheek with its cold tendrils, stretching, reaching, with one goal in mind: to get to the innermost layer: the spirit; and to break it. It is a tableau of a frostbitten feast, an icy infusion of a deathly descent, straight into the vein. I couldn’t figure out why I was watching a film named its exact opposite. Read More »

Ingmar Bergman – Skammen AKA Shame (1968)

Ingmar Bergman’s Shame is at once an examination of the violent legacy of World War II and a scathing response to the escalation of the conflict in Vietnam. Max von Sydow and Liv Ullmann star as musicians living in quiet retreat on a remote island farm, until the civil war that drove them from the city catches up with them there. Amid the chaos of the military struggle, vividly evoked by pyrotechnics and by Sven Nykvist’s handheld camera work, the two are faced with impossible moral choices that tear at the fabric of their relationship. This film, which contains some of the most devastating scenes in Bergman’s oeuvre, shows the impact of war on individual lives. Read More »

Alan Parker – Birdy (1984)

Birdy is a 1984 American drama film based on William Wharton’s 1978 novel of the same name. Directed by Alan Parker, it stars Matthew Modine and Nicolas Cage. Set in 1960s Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the film focuses on the friendship between two teenage boys, Birdy (Modine) and Al Columbato (Cage). The story is presented in flashbacks, with a frame narrative depicting their traumatic experiences upon serving in the Vietnam War. Read More »

Nikola Tanhofer – Osma vrata AKA The Eighth Door (1959)

The film takes place in Belgrade during the German occupation in World War II. The main character is Predrag Simonović, played by Milivoje Živanović, a professor who is not concerned with politics and war, but who accidentally comes into possession of a list of resistance movement members and becomes involved. Read More »