Amadeus (1984)

A brilliant exploration of envy, rivalry, inadequacy, and artistry. Salieri is performed exceptionally well by F. Murray Abraham. The character (real-life figure really) would not have been nearly as relatable without such a strong performance behind him; it’s a triumph that Abraham makes such a pitiful weasel so eminently relatable. It’s visually stunning, and a…

The Steamroller and the Violin (1961)

The third of Tarkovsky’s student films, and by far the most substantial. Poignant, touching, beautiful. The characters are performed very well and are very compelling, the story and the character arcs are engaging, and the thematic exploration of the different worlds of art and labor and what was being left behind. Very strong, especially for…

There Will Be No Leave Today (1959)

Great for a student film, with more production value than I’d expect, coming off of The Killers. The tension is crafted really well. It’s nothing overly elaborate, but it’s engaging enough. I can imagine it would have been quite impactful on release, but the lack of connection I have with the relevant events and context…