Lieberman and Popsíchal in a dugout

If you love the colour beige or taupe, can’t get enough fawn, dun and khaki, you’ll have an extra affection for Tobruk, the 2008 Czech movie written and directed by Václav Marhoul. It’s his second, after the Philip Marlowe-spoofing Smart Philip (Mazany Filip) of 2003, and has little in common with the 1967 film of the same name directed by Arthur Hiller and starring Rock Hudson and George Peppard. In fact it’s closer to The Red Badge of Courage, the 1951 war movie set during the American Civil War and starring Audie Murphy, since both are to greater (the older film) and lesser (this one) extents adaptations of Stephen Crane’s 1894 novel about … Read more

The Painted Bird

Joska asleep on a cart while a woman hoes

A screen adaptation of Polish-born Jerzy Kosiński’s novel The Painted Bird probably should have been made before 2019. “Of all the remarkable fiction that emerged from World War II, nothing stands higher than Jerzy Kosiński’s The Painted Bird,” wrote Jonathan Yardley in The Miami Herald in a typical rave when the book first appeared in 1965. When it turned out that the book wasn’t based on Kosiński’s own personal experiences, as he had claimed, and that he’d pulled off a remarkable literary hoax, sentiment reversed sharply. Decades later there were claims that other books by Kosiński – like Being There (which was turned into a 1979 film starring Peter Sellers) – were largely … Read more