Rough Cut Blog

The English-language invisibility of Alfred Döblin

Günter Lamprecht as Franz Biberkopf in Fassbinder's epic adaptation of Alfred Döblin's Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980)

Remarkably, despite the fame of Fassbinder’s adaptation of Berlin Alexanderplatz (1980), author Alfred Döblin remains little known among English-speaking readers, with few of his monumental novels translated. My brother Chris has made it his mission to change that situation with the launch of Beyond Alexanderplatz, a website devoted to his own on-going translation project.

The cinematic art of Cristian Mungiu

Voichita (Cosmina Stratan) has chosen an austere, almost Medieval life, in Cristian Mungiu's Beyond the Hills (2912)

Two recent Criterion releases, Cristian Mungiu’s Beyond the Hills (2012) and Graduation (2016), illustrate the richness of the Romanian New Wave; formally rich, morally complex, and dramatically powerful, they both look superb on Blu-ray and Criterion supplements them with substantial contextual material which reveal Mungiu to be one of the finest artists working in film today.

Twilight Crime

Public transportation as claustrophobic trap in Larry Peerce's The Incident (1967)

Twilight Time has recently released a strong selection of crime-related Blu-rays, ranging from Marilyn Monroe’s debut as a lead in Roy Ward Baker’s Don’t Bother to Knock (1952) to Sam Fuller’s powerful revenge noir Underworld USA (1961), from Larry Peerce’s urban nightmare The Incident (1967) to a pair of ’70s exercises in police realism, Richard Fleischer’s The New Centurions (1972) and Philip D’Antoni’s The Seven-Ups (1973).

Nuclear war and the movies

Survivors of nuclear attack in Mick Jackson's Threads (1984) face nuclear winter and the end of modern society

20 years after the BBC commissioned and then suppressed The War Game, Peter Watkins’ devastating depiction of a nuclear attack on England, the Corporation produced Mick Jackson’s Threads, an even more powerful film on the theme. Synapse has released Threads on an impressive new Blu-ray.