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 […]

Do we really want to go back?

Trainspotting is the great film of the 1990s counterculture, its decade’s Easy Rider or Rebel Without a Cause. The tone poem about heroin addiction, friendship and the idiocy of youth among the Scottish working class arrived in the United States in the summer of 1996 laden by the weight of a Miramax publicity juggernaut, the […]

A docudrama that everyone should watch

When I heard that ABC was going to do an eight-hour miniseries about the gay rights movement – a sort of Roots for the gays – I was shocked. Dustin Lance Black, who won an Oscar for writing Milk, was shocked, too, when he found out ABC was asking for LGBT-themed pitches. But he went […]

Movies: Saving the best for last

I received my first issue of The Uncanny X-Men in my Christmas stocking in 1985. I was 10, and it was the comic that all of my friends were reading. These boys were fixated on Wolverine, the cigar-chomping killing machine with unbreakable bones and long metal claws. He seemed to be half wild animal, half […]

Experience the art and irony of Asghar Farhadi’s ‘The Salesman’

Outside of cinephiles who have seen his Oscar-winning A Separation, Asghar Farhadi is not well known among Americans. But his name was thrust into the news over the last few weeks because of President Trump’s executive order banning travel of most anyone, but particularly Muslims, from seven majority Muslim countries. (The list does not include […]

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