Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ is the ultimate horror film. With its portrayal of the shocks, the cruelties and indignities to which old age and disease subject a happily married Parisian couple, it’s far scarier and more disturbing than Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho,’ Kubrick’s ‘The Shining,’ or Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ and like those films, it stays with you long after you might have chosen to forget it.

Francine Prose: A Masterpiece You Might Not Want to See

Michael Haneke’s ‘Amour’ is the ultimate horror film. With its portrayal of the shocks, the cruelties and indignities to which old age and disease subject a happily married Parisian couple, it’s far scarier and more disturbing than Hitchcock’s ‘Psycho,’ Kubrick’s ‘The Shining,’ or Polanski’s ‘Rosemary’s Baby,’ and like those films, it stays with you long after you might have chosen to forget it.

Francine Prose: A Masterpiece You Might Not Want to See

Heavily dependent on computer-generated imagery, The Hobbit has also been ballyhooed for introducing a new technology. Projected at forty-eight frames per second rather than the usual twenty-four, Jackson’s movie bombards the retina with twice the visual information of a standard film. Does it matter? It does seem as though this innovation has solved the problem of the dark polaroid glasses needed for stereo visions. The 3D struck me as brighter, if disconcertingly sharp. Others have described the image quality as thin or shiny. (The critic Dave Kehr called it “a heightened video look.”) In any case, this improvement was overwhelmed by the repetitive violence of the digital carnage and the ugliness of the CGI.

J. Hoberman on Tolkien vs. Technology

Photo: Martin Freeman, left, and Andy Serkis on the set of The Hobbit (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

Heavily dependent on computer-generated imagery, The Hobbit has also been ballyhooed for introducing a new technology. Projected at forty-eight frames per second rather than the usual twenty-four, Jackson’s movie bombards the retina with twice the visual information of a standard film. Does it matter? It does seem as though this innovation has solved the problem of the dark polaroid glasses needed for stereo visions. The 3D struck me as brighter, if disconcertingly sharp. Others have described the image quality as thin or shiny. (The critic Dave Kehr called it “a heightened video look.”) In any case, this improvement was overwhelmed by the repetitive violence of the digital carnage and the ugliness of the CGI.

J. Hoberman on Tolkien vs. Technology

Photo: Martin Freeman, left, and Andy Serkis on the set of The Hobbit (Warner Bros. Entertainment)

The combination of Lincoln’s many elements is effected with a deliberation and exactness that consistently skirts the abyss of empty heart-stirring sentiment, the favorite destination of patriotic epics. If the film is moving it is because it is also, by virtue of Tony Kushner’s intricately constructed screenplay, so dry and precise about the political practicalities that are its real subject matter. The Civil War is reduced to a close and ugly hand-to-hand skirmish and a battlefield strewn with corpses. Restricting themselves almost entirely to the first five weeks of 1865, Steven  Spielberg and Kushner show us for once a Lincoln too busy working to spend much time cutting a sublime figure.

Lincoln: A More Authentic Wonderment by Geoffrey O’Brien

The combination of Lincoln’s many elements is effected with a deliberation and exactness that consistently skirts the abyss of empty heart-stirring sentiment, the favorite destination of patriotic epics. If the film is moving it is because it is also, by virtue of Tony Kushner’s intricately constructed screenplay, so dry and precise about the political practicalities that are its real subject matter. The Civil War is reduced to a close and ugly hand-to-hand skirmish and a battlefield strewn with corpses. Restricting themselves almost entirely to the first five weeks of 1865, Steven Spielberg and Kushner show us for once a Lincoln too busy working to spend much time cutting a sublime figure.

Lincoln: A More Authentic Wonderment by Geoffrey O’Brien

Set in Tokyo, “Like Someone in Love” has all of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s usual preoccupations: the passage of time, the mystery and contingency of human intercourse, the shadow of death, the illusions of love, the intimacy of being isolated from the world in a moving vehicle. But the setting in Japan does not feel arbitrary; it has a point. Tokyo, the ultimate modern metropolis, with its neon-lit commercial graffiti and buildings that look like a pastiche of everywhere and nowhere, is perfect for Kiarostami’s story of closeness between strangers.

Ian Buruma, Kiarostami’s Tokyo

Photo: Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love (2012) from Euro Space/MK2 Productions

Set in Tokyo, “Like Someone in Love” has all of Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami’s usual preoccupations: the passage of time, the mystery and contingency of human intercourse, the shadow of death, the illusions of love, the intimacy of being isolated from the world in a moving vehicle. But the setting in Japan does not feel arbitrary; it has a point. Tokyo, the ultimate modern metropolis, with its neon-lit commercial graffiti and buildings that look like a pastiche of everywhere and nowhere, is perfect for Kiarostami’s story of closeness between strangers.

Ian Buruma, Kiarostami’s Tokyo

Photo: Abbas Kiarostami’s Like Someone in Love (2012) from Euro Space/MK2 Productions

During the many lengthy shots of the scenic British countryside in the latest Wuthering Heights, directed by the British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, I found myself wondering how anyone could have been convinced that what the culture needed was yet another cinematic treatment of Emily Brontë’s novel. If one counts feature films, foreign adaptations, and TV mini-series, audiences have had more than twenty opportunities to watch Brontë’s doomed lovers race across the wind-swept moors. Then, about an hour into the newest version, it struck me: it’s ‘Twilight!’

Francine Prose, The Taming of Wuthering Heights

Photo: Kaya Scodelario in Andrea Arnold’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ (2011) (Oscilloscope Laboratories)

During the many lengthy shots of the scenic British countryside in the latest Wuthering Heights, directed by the British filmmaker Andrea Arnold, I found myself wondering how anyone could have been convinced that what the culture needed was yet another cinematic treatment of Emily Brontë’s novel. If one counts feature films, foreign adaptations, and TV mini-series, audiences have had more than twenty opportunities to watch Brontë’s doomed lovers race across the wind-swept moors. Then, about an hour into the newest version, it struck me: it’s ‘Twilight!’

Francine Prose, The Taming of Wuthering Heights

Photo: Kaya Scodelario in Andrea Arnold’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ (2011) (Oscilloscope Laboratories)