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 […]

Please watch me

In October, the little watched cable channel Pivot shut down. Few people noticed, and even though this is the sort of thing I do notice, I didn’t find out until one of its shows, the Australian import Please Like Me, debuted its new season on Hulu. At first I was happy, because I don’t get […]

A civil rights movie that perfectly balances history, humor and sentimentality

I learned most of Space Race history from The Right Stuff, Philip Kaufman’s excellent epic about the test pilots and first astronauts who propelled us into space. The movie is classic American hagiography, in which a bunch of brave white men risk life and limb for the glory of the flag. It’s mostly accurate, though […]

2016: Movies provided some glimmers in the darkness of this annus horribilis

I will repeat what everyone else has said over and over again: 2016 was dreadful, and as I write this, it continues to be wretched, with George Michael and Carrie Fisher dying as Donald Trump provokes a new Cold (or World) War. In times like these, with our waking lives enveloped by evil and despair, […]

A musical love letter to a fairytale version of Los Angeles

I relatively recently became a Los Angeleno, and among the many lessons I have learned since arriving is that the movies that taught me about L.A. are mostly bold, beautiful lies. I have long known that Hollywood is in the business of pablum, artifice and mythmaking; I’m a film critic, after all. But the extent […]

A masterpiece of the genre

A few months ago, an acquaintance dismissed an entire swath of acclaimed American films as “sad white people movies.” In the sense that they are about various Caucasians who aren’t happy, sometimes for existential reasons and often for tragic ones; movies like In the Bedroom, The Savages, or Sideways are, yes, about sad white people. […]

Enjoy new wonders reminiscent of Harry Potter’s world

When the final book in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series was published, after the initial excitement of reading the final chapter, fans of the boy wizard and Rowling’s magical world created were also a bit distraught: It was the end. The cynic would have said, “Oh, please. There’s way too much money involved!” Between Warner […]

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