Now Playing

Amateur (1994) | Sony Pictures Classics
The studied cool facades Hal Hartley’s characters put on, the way they almost play-act being criminals, the romantic fatalism that drives both the overarching narrative and the characters themselves: These are all elements that would make just as much sense in a Godard or Truffaut joint as they would in a ‘90s American indie film. Read More
Chungking Express (1994) | art by Tony Stella
In Chungking Express, everything is important—every can of pineapple, every dripping towel, every loop of “California Dreamin’”—mimicking that all-encompassing feeling of infatuation. These small items hold an entire story, the heartbreak and the hope and the waiting. Read More
The Set-Up (1949) | Warner Bros.
The Set-Up is a 72-minute cinematic poem. Director Robert Wise, who cut his teeth in Hollywood as an editor, strips away many of the fight-film conventions that his contemporaries used quite liberally. There is no training montage, no meteoric rise and fall, no climactic bout between the fighter and his hated rival. Read More

Featured Essays

Never Miss an Essay


Be the first to learn about new issues, what we're watching and news about the site.


We'll never use your email for any purpose other than emailing about Bright Wall/Dark Room, and guarantee that it won't be shared with third parties.

From the archives

2013-2019

illustration by Brianna AshbyIt is 1961 in a suburb of London. In this suburb there is a school, made of weather-beaten brick with classrooms painted white or in various pastels. In this school young girls, hardly over seventeen, dressed uniformly in white button-downs, knee socks, gray blazers, and neckties, learn how... Read More
Face to Face (1976) | Olive Films
The first half of Ingmar Bergman's script seems to call for an almost comically tight-lipped, stone-faced blankness; the second half calls for at least four different coloratura breakdowns. Ullmann “fought like a lion” in the role, and, just hearing about it, you might imagine her Oscar nomination was a reward for a kind of athletic stamina, a heroic stab at an impossible target. Read More
Juliette Binoche in 'Let the Sunshine In' (2018) | Curiosa Films
Much of what I saw in 2018 reflected a related range of anxieties—about difference, catastrophe, isolation, belonging. Maybe that’s every year. Likely it’s too soon to tell. But among the things I saw, in a year of personal and political upheaval and ambivalence, these are the moments that solicited my attention most memorably. Read More