It's not at all surprising that Laurie Anderson would make a film dealing with grief and loss, especially as one of her first major projects after the death of her husband Lou Reed. But instead of offering a tribute to her late spouse, Anderson chose to make a film that dealt with another departed loved one: her dog. Her 2015 film, Heart of a Dog, is loosely centered around her experiences with her dog Lolabelle, a rat terrier who was adopted by the artist after being given up by a family going through a divorce.
A quote from Bertolt Brecht ends this bitter and angry war film by Sam Peckinpah: "Do not rejoice in his defeat, you men. For though the world has stood up and stopped the bastard, the bitch that bore him is in heat again." Peckinpah's intense and belligerently non-commercial work, (based on the book by Willi Heinrich), is a World War II tale told from the German perspective, following a platoon of German soldiers in the Russia of 1943, when the German Wehrmacht forces had been decimated and the Germans were retreating along the Russian front. James Coburn is Steiner, a German corporal and recipient of the Iron Cross who feels that he owes his loyalty to his family and fellow soldiers and not to Hitler and the German war machine. But when a new commander, Captain Stransky (Maximillian Schell), takes over the platoon, Steiner and Stransky come into immediate conflict. Stransky is a career soldier, the complete opposite of Steiner, and a man who pledges himself heart and soul to Hitler and the war. But he envies Steiner for having been awarded an Iron Cross and deeply desires one himself.
Maria Muldaur has been taken by Bob Dylan's music from the very start. They were on the coffeehouse circuit in New York in the early '60s, and she's had occasion to sing his praises from the stage and in Martin Scorsese's film No Direction Home. And while other artists from Joan Baez to Judy Collins have cut entire albums of Dylan's tunes, none of them feels quite like this one. Muldaur, a fine blues and jazz singer, has taken the songs form Dylan's romantic canon and has fashioned them in her own image without losing their original bite, wonder, and humor. Accompanied by her road band and a slew of guests that include Amos Garrett, Danny Caron, and Suzy Thompson, she has created a dreamy, languid, memorable song cycle.