The great Bengali filmmaker/writer/composer Satyajit Ray is one of my greatest heroes, so this will not be any kind of an objective review. So be it.
Ray's roots were in - among other things - film criticism; a background he shared with fellow filmmakers Jean-Luc Godard and Nagisa Oshima, and he never stopped being fascinated by film - it's potential, the theories surrounding process and technique, and even after launching his own filmmaking career (PATHER PANCHALI - a debut of similar stature to CITIZEN KANE or BREATHLESS) with quite a splash, Ray continued to view other films with both the analytical precision of a scholar, and a fan-like fascination retained from his own childhood and adolescence.
OUR FILMS, THEIR FILMS collects the best of Ray's critical writing (also including some diary excerpts and otherwise uncollected film musings), from the late 1940s until the mid 1960s, and is divided into writings on Indian (OUR FILMS) and international (THEIR FILM) cinema. Ray's enthusiasms and his critiques are both rendered with very sharp, eloquent precision; one will come away from this collection with a very strong impression of an extremely erudite and restless creative mind.
For me, there are many highlights here: Ray's writings on Italian film, starting with neo-realism, which offer a number of insights that depart from current critical consensus; with some of the more well-observed (if concise) commentary on Fellini, Antonioni, DeSica, Visconti and others, I would say that this essay is overdue for rediscovery by current cinephiles.
Ray's writings on Indian new wave are provocative, and one subject I would have liked to see a bit more of his opinions - Ray was central to, but not the only noteworthy figure in Bengali Parallel Cinema, and I'd have liked to see more on this.
The multiple essays on Japanese film are revelatory - Ray's friendship with Akira Kurosawa surfaces, and one can detect a similarity in worldview, in spite of their (seeming) stylistic differences. Ray follows a detailed piece on Kurosawa with another more generalized one on Japanese cinema, and one gets the distinct impresion that it (and certain specific figures: Ozu and Mizoguchi) made a powerful impression upon him in many ways - foremost as another great non-Western cinema that had emerged with distinct theories and techniques of its' own.
And Ray's writing on Jean Renoir, Charlie Chaplin and Alfred Hitchcock comes alive with the complex joy of cinema, offereing the greatest explanation for why he (or anyone) would want to make films.