A modern western thriller with a conscience

Taylor Sheridan writes modern western thrillers with something like consciences. In Sicario, drug war on the U..S Mexico border corrupted the best of intentions. One of last year’s Best Picture nominees Hell and High Water was about two brothers who robbed a scurrilous bank that had cheated their mother out of her land. Wind River, […]

‘Atomic Blonde’ is a landmark as a super-queer action film

Twenty years ago, Rupert Everett, fresh off his star making turn in My Best Friend’s Wedding, lobbied to become the star of a gay superspy franchise. It never happened despite Everett seemingly being born to play such a role. Neither Hollywood financiers nor the action film ticket-buyers were quite ready for such a character, or […]

A romantic comedy that’s both fresh and familiar

Kumail meets Emily when she sort-of-heckles his standup comedy performance that is centered on his immigration experience. He asks if anyone else is from Pakistan, and Emily, a young blonde woman from North Carolina, woops in response. He joshingly admonishes her, she wittily snaps back, and he hits on her after the show. She makes […]

‘Okja’ shouldn’t be missed

I think the best reason to applaud the ascendance of the Netflix and Amazon TV and film studios is their willingness to fund the ambitious projects of artists like the Wachowskis (Sense8), Jill Soloway (Transparent) and Aziz Ansari (Master of None) – and now Bong Joon Ho, who directed the insane, groundbreaking Snowpiercer, as well […]

A most salient portrait of evil

When Miguel Arteta and Mike White started filming Beatriz at Dinner last August, I doubt they could have predicted how salient the film would be when it was released ten months later. The biting, mostly comic commentary on class, race and manners is particularly unsettling because Trump won, because what may have been written as […]

Finally, ‘Wonder Woman’ is here

Infamously, since Warner Bros. decided to create a crossover-heavy “universe” with its superheroes, the studio’s comic book films have been at best wrong-headed and underwhelming (Man of Steel) and at worst incompetently made and pointless (Suicide Squad). The fear that they’d screw up a Wonder Woman film after waiting decades to greenlight it was justified. […]

Ridley Scott delivers another slice of deep-space terror

Alien: Covenant is the eighth movie in the 38-year-old sci-fi horror Alien franchise. Following 2012’s Prometheus, the financially successful but fan-loathed prequel, Covenant tries to walk a fine line: The film throws enough red meat to ravenous Alien fanboys with stomach-bursting, face-sucking, don’t-go-in-the-basement grotesquery to get away with continuing Prometheus’ much-maligned, but wildly ambitious origin […]

The Guardians are back in a swashbuckling sequel

Part of why people loved Guardians of the Galaxy so much when it came out in 2014 was how surprised they were: The Guardians are not well-known characters outside of diehard Marvel Comics fans; no (at-the-time) major starred in the movie and few knew of writer-director James Gunn beyond his screenplay for Scooby Doo. There […]

Presenting the emotional realism of adolescence

It is likely that if you are reading this, you were either bullied in high school for not conforming to conservative gender roles or you consciously conformed to such roles so that you wouldn’t be bullied in high school. You may have gone the extra mile and bullied other kids to show how much you […]

Refusing a genre, ‘Colossal’ is a revelation

The strongest of my genre expectations is that every film will exist in some sort of genre. And then, I expect that the conventions of that genre will convene, maybe with a few slips or surprises, but nothing more. When a film like Colossal comes along – a film that defies, ignores, mashes up and […]

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