J. Hoberman’s Make My Day: Movie Culture in the Age of Reagan will be published in July. (March 2019)


The Waiting Rooms of History

Paula Beer as Marie in Transit


a film written and directed by Christian Petzold, adapted from the novel by Anna Seghers

Christian Petzold: The State We Are In

a film series at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, November 30–December 13, 2018
The protagonist of Anna Seghers’s novel Transit (1944)—the source for Christian Petzold’s new film of the same name—is a young German who, having escaped from a Nazi concentration camp and then a French work camp, makes his way to occupied Paris. There he is recruited by another former inmate to …

The House of Anderson

Phantom Thread

a film written and directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
“I find it comforting to think that the dead are watching over the living,” Daniel Day-Lewis happily confides to a new acquaintance several scenes into the writer-director Paul Thomas Anderson’s Phantom Thread. It’s an odd thing to say to a young woman whom he seemingly plans to seduce, particularly since …

Orphan of History

Victor Serge, Mexico, 1944

Unforgiving Years

by Victor Serge, translated from the French and with an introduction by Richard Greeman
Singular and solitary, the novelist Victor Serge (1890–1947) appears as an orphan of history, a chance survivor improbably clinging to the coffin of the Bolshevik Revolution. The main characters of Unforgiving Years, Serge’s final novel, written in Mexico, the place of his own final exile, are his fictional brothers—disillusioned Soviet …


‘Zohar Studios’: An Invented Artist’s Lively Inventions

Man with Downtrodden Banana

Two decades in the making, Stephen Berkman’s huge new book, Predicting the Past: Zohar Studios the Lost Years invents, creates, and explicates an artistic oeuvre—in this case, one that purportedly belonging to a nineteenth-century studio photographer named Shimmel Zohar. According to Berkman’s introductory narrative, Shimmel Zohar immigrated to New York City from Lithuania in the mid-nineteenth century and briefly established a photography studio on the Lower East Side before vanishing from history.

A Virtual Summer: Films to Stream

Dinah Washington in Jazz on a Summer's Day, 1959

Bert Stern’s Jazz on a Summer’s Day, streaming from Film Forum, starting August 12, transports us to a simpler time. Bare-faced citizens assemble en masse to listen and dance to American music. One of the earliest music documentaries, Stern’s film records a number of performers from the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival, periodically cutting away to the sailboat activities in the town harbor.

My Quarantine: Cannes, Interrupted

Darya Zhovner as Ilana and Olga Dragunova as Adina in Closeness, 2017

With this year’s Cannes Film Festival canceled, the Criterion Channel is revisiting the last edition that was also called off. Amid widespread demonstrations against the firing of Cinémathèque Française founder Henri Langlois for confounding the officious culture minister André Malraux, Cannes shut down midway through its 1968 festival. Criterion marks the occasion with a half-dozen movies that had been selected for the competition that year.

April Films to Watch at Home

Yongzhong Chen in Long Day's Journey Into Night

J. Hoberman’s monthly film roundup, usually a selection of what to see in theaters, now offers films that can be streamed online while readers are staying at home because of the pandemic.