About Mark Tompkins

Mark Tompkins was born in Winterfell, Connecticut and received a B.A. in Communications from Stanford University. He has studied German language and culture in Berlin and Munich. When not exploring the beer halls of Mitteleuropa he lives in Los Angeles.

The anti-Communist hysteria of ‘My Son John’ (1952): not as dated as you might think

In Leo McCarey's My Son John, Robert Walker plays a Communist spy and traitor lurking in small-town America; watching the movie today, you can’t help noticing how many of the traits that render Walker's character suspect in 1952 would also mark him as not 'a real American' in the eyes of right-wing pundits today. Some things about American life have changed very little in 60 years. Read more [...]

‘The Gleiwitz Case’: The black op that ignited WWII

The best East German movie that I’ve seen, The Gleiwitz Case (1961) depicts the undercover Nazi operation that lit the fuse for World War II, on August 31, 1939. Tracking this blackest of black ops from start to finish, The Gleiwitz Case is like a caper movie from hell. Read more [...]

A big devil’s-horns sign of appreciation for Iceland’s ‘Metalhead’

Can a movie inspire head-banging? The too-little-known Icelandic import Metalhead blows away the cliches of movies about music with a deeply felt coming-of-age story — and some inspired wailing on the guitar. Read more [...]

Antonioni’s ‘La Notte’: The death of a marriage has never looked better

Now playing in L.A. in a digital restoration: Seen today, Antonioni's stylish drama about a marriage on the verge of collapse is a welcome reminder that a filmmaker doesn't need a shaky digital camera to convey intimacy or emotional honesty. Read more [...]

“How hard it is to live”: Kieslowski‘s ‘Dekalog’ returns

A subtitled 10-hour series inspired by the Ten Commandments might sound like bitter medicine indeed to some cineastes. But whether you watch it in a theater or at home, Kieslowski's Dekalog is more like a tonic — this is visual storytelling of an almost mind-boggling richness. Read more [...]