When I go through each week's new film releases for my website, I have a template that lets me fill in the blanks. One line reads: "Language: [blank] with English subtitles." Lately I've noticed that I've often been deleting that line, which means that most of the new releases have been in English. This is not a new development, but it's a distressing one nonetheless. The downside is that we just don't know what we're missing. During World War II -- understandably -- the United States did not import any Japanese or German films; in the 1980s, it did not import any Iranian films. And to this day, the number of Vietnamese films shown here can be counted on one hand.

In the 1960s, however, a period of intellectualism prevailed and there was an air of excitement over the latest imports: College students, writers and journalists became entranced with the latest films by Godard, Fellini, Antonioni, Bergman, Truffaut, Renais, Satyajit Ray, Chabrol, Kurosawa, Bunuel, Bresson, etc. The list goes on. To read some of the reviews and essays of the time, you sense that it was truly believed that these artists could change cinema and convert it into a genuine art form, perhaps for the very first time.

Most people know the rest of the story. The 1970s ushered in the so-called "American Renaissance," with its band of young maverick filmmakers. When we talk about the 1970s, we talk about Altman, Bogdanovich, Scorsese, Spielberg, Coppola, Malick, Penn, etc., but rarely do we hear mentioned the great achievements from other countries: Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Eric Rohmer's Claire's Knee, Jacques Rivette's Celine and Julie Go Boating, Bergman's Cries and Whispers, Bresson's Lancelot du Lac, Tarkovsky's Solaris, Bunuel's last three films and a dozen Fassbinder films. ...

categories Cinematical