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At the End of Love’s Road with Michelangelo Antonioni

The long, quietly tense opening minutes of L’eclisse offer a blueprint for filmmakers looking to craft a devastating breakup scene.

By Eskil Vogt

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Reality Breaks in Irma Vep

The director of We’re All Going to the World’s Fair reflects on the transformative power of a Sonic Youth needle drop in Olivier Assayas’s 1996 film.

By Jane Schoenbrun

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The Meaning Behind the Scaffold Tower in

The production designer of Pariah explains how Federico Fellini imbues the mysterious, bare-bones structure in the film’s final scene with profound metaphorical significance.

By Inbal Weinberg

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The Sound of Silence in Le samouraï

The author of Velvet Was the Night pays tribute to the shockingly stripped-down, dread-inducing use of silence in Jean-Pierre Melville’s masterful neonoir.

By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

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Chosen Family: The Tenderness in Midnight Cowboy

The director of Test Pattern examines how toxic masculinity gets in the way of the domestic bliss briefly enjoyed by the film’s downtrodden protagonists.

By Shatara Michelle Ford

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Family Affair: The Dinner Scene in Fanny and Alexander

The Oscar-nominated director of Another Round tells us why Ingmar Bergman has always been a cinematic role model for him and what he learned from the Swedish auteur’s approach to capturing human behavior.

By Thomas Vinterberg

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Train Ride to Hell: A Shocking Encounter in Code Unknown

The director of Martha Marcy May Marlene and The Nest examines the violence and unexpected humanism in one of Michael Haneke’s most unnerving long takes.

By Sean Durkin

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The Meaning of Money in The Game

A rich investment banker obliviously meets a moment of reckoning in David Fincher’s intricately plotted thriller.

By Gina Telaroli

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Four Ways of Looking at Agnès Varda

Filmmakers Ashley Connor, Anna Rose Holmer, Kirsten Johnson, and Lauren Wolkstein explore the moments in the French master’s oeuvre that resonate most deeply with them.

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Form and Function: On the Object Lessons of Summer Hours

Separated from the domestic spaces they once inhabited, two glass vases and a mahogany desk settle into a caged museum life in Olivier Assayas’s deeply felt family portrait.

By Christian Kiefer

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The Sweet Taste of Queer Victory in The Times of Harvey Milk

The director of Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project and Spaceship Earth reflects on the power of seeing a moment of pure joy—the defeat of California’s homophobic Proposition 6 in 1978—in Rob Epstein’s classic portrait of Harvey Milk.

By Matt Wolf

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Les Blank Lets the Good Times Roll

The director of Beasts of the Southern Wild and Wendy finds inspiration in the 1973 documentary Dry Wood, one of his first cinematic encounters with his adopted home of Louisiana.

By Benh Zeitlin

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Thus Spake the Fox: A Moment of Truth in Antichrist

Artificiality becomes a pathway to unbearable reality in a shocking scene at the center of Lars von Trier’s nightmarish marital drama.

By Angela Schanelec

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My Kind of Clown

In celebration of Federico Fellini’s 100th birthday, the director of The Farewell talks about the deeply moving final scene of Nights of Cabiria and its mixture of pain and hope.

By Lulu Wang

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The Fast-Tracked Unreality of Fat Girl

A boy-meets-girl seduction accelerates at absurd speed in Catherine Breillat’s controversial coming-of-age film, transporting us to a realm beyond naturalism.

By Jessica Hausner

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The Body Talk in Masculin féminin

The director of Synonyms reflects on the subtle physicality of Jean-Pierre Léaud and Chantal Goya during one long, meandering conversation in the French New Wave classic.

By Nadav Lapid

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Without Motive: The Last Scene in High and Low

The director of Audition and First Love dives into the haunting moral ambiguity of Akira Kurosawa’s crime masterpiece.

By Takashi Miike

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Baptized by the Light: “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” at Monterey

In one of the most overpowering moments in any concert documentary, D. A. Pennebaker immortalized soul icon Otis Redding as both palpable presence and luminescent mystery.

By Andrew Chan

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Sirk in the Sun

The trashy contrivances of Magnificent Obsession give way to brilliant, high-art mise-en-scène in a memorable scene that plays with the theme of lost vision.

By Zach Clark

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Pleasure in the Process: A Rehearsal Scene in Topsy-Turvy

The director of Midsommar finds the joy of collaboration and creation in Mike Leigh’s period epic.

By Ari Aster

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More Is More: Lessons in Excess from Women in Love

The director of the Sundance hit The Last Black Man in San Francisco reflects on what he learned from Ken Russell’s extravagant style and approach to the subject of male relationships.

By Joe Talbot

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Breaking the Ice: The Beginning of Desire in The Piano Teacher

One of the quietest, most unassuming moments in Michael Haneke’s disturbing drama serves as a microcosm of his themes of control and sexuality.

By Garth Greenwell

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A Problem with Authority: Dušan Makavejev’s Art of Repulsion

Early in his boundary-pushing Sweet Movie, Serbian renegade Dušan Makavejev stages a pageant of visual grotesquerie that speaks to the luridness of our contemporary age.

By Stephanie LaCava

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The Joy and Pain of One Good Meal in Bicycle Thieves

The great Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke recalls what his first encounters with Vittorio De Sica’s masterpiece taught him about the possibilities of cinematic realism.

By Jia Zhangke