In a recent profile in The New Yorker, the Austrian director Michael Haneke mentioned that he's used Costa-Gavras's Z, along with Air Force One, Battleship Potemkin, and Triumph of the Will, to show students how movies, tapping to a range of ideological beats, use sound and editing to drill home their arguments. I like the politics of Z more, he said, but the manner is all the same. Forty years after its release, Z, which was based on the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos, is still a mesmerizing political thriller that plunks spectators into a vortex of mass protests and systemic corruption. Inspired by the May 22, 1963, assassination of Gregoris Lambrakis, a Greek social democrat, the film (which was shot in Algeria) examines a botched attempt, organized by a junta and its minions, to suppress a political rally sponsored by anti-nationalist, anti-militarist sympathizers. With its zippy camerawork, bumping soundtrack, and comedic dress-down of the powers that be -- the blokes at the low end of the hierarchy belong to an organization named CROC (Christian Royalist Organization Against Communism), the film is activist in its approach to getting the audience on board with its program. Is this a bad thing? No, if one approaches the movie as a satire that is under no obligation to be evenhanded in its presentation of opposing viewpoints; yes, if one is looking for a detached, analytic film that's not as bullheaded as a pundit on the make.


April 23: " 'A job,' the woman repeated again, smiling, as if I hadn't heard her. 'Would you like one?' "

Kenneth Calhoun (Black Moon) and Lysley Tenorio (Monstress) of the Discover Great New Writers program on B-movies, heritage, and finales.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
In the Light of What We Know

Zia Haider Rahman's mystery of a brilliant Bangladeshi mathematician's past barrels through the Ivy League, London high finance, and spy-haunted Afghanistan in a page-turning tale of exile, intrigue and the price of friendship. A Discover Great New Writers selection.

The People's Platform

Once touted as the foundation for tomorrow's digital democracy, the Internet is increasingly ruled by a few corporate giants, while millions of contributors till its fields for free. Astra Taylor looks at why the web has failed to deliver a communitarian cyberscape, and offers a compelling case for restoring its original vision.

A Private Venus

Dubbed "the Italian Simenon," Giorgio Scerbanenco (1911-1969) began his crime-writing career with books set in the USA, but quickly shifted scene closer to home, the city of Milan.  In this adventure, appearing in English for the first time, his underdog hero Dr. Duca Lamberti finds himself in the middle of a seedy, scantily clad criminal racket, where the presence of an outsider could result in death.