271 Best Releases From the Genre Drama
The crime drama returns to the Land of 10,000 Lakes and rediscovers its best storytelling self.
Throughout the six episodes of Fargo Season 5 screened for critics, the series isn’t exactly subtle. From opening the season with an on-screen graphic defining “Minnesota Nice” as neighbor attacks neighbor during a school board meeting to Sheriff Roy Tillman (Jon Hamm) staring up at a campaign billboard of himself, the show loudly states its theses at the viewer over and over. Continue Reading →
After stumbling with Downsizing, Alexander Payne bounces back with a gentle & witty comedy-drama.
The artist Dmitry Samarov one said to me that the ratio of good to bad late periods in an artist's life was depressing to consider. For every Sir Edward William Elgar there was an Eric Clapton (my example, not his), and that it was rare to see someone sharpen as they aged. Now, I like Dmitry and certainly respect his opinion, but I can’t help but feel that when film overtook painting as the dominant artwork that people engage with, the ratio shifted towards bizarre experimentation and welcome self-reflection as much as dull self reflection. Continue Reading →
The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Despite a challenging premise and an overlong runtime, the Hunger Games prequel makes the most of the hand it’s been dealt.
The character of Coriolanus Snow is an odd choice for a Hunger Games hero. In the original books and films, as played by screen giant Donald Sutherland, Snow was a cold-hearted, cruel dictator clearly meant to echo real world fascist leaders. Here, in the prequel story The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes (say that five times fast), Coriolanus (Tom Blyth) is just a sensitive, emotional teen dreamboat whose main goal is to provide for his family in the wake of the violent revolution that tore apart Panem, the country formerly known as the United States of America. Continue Reading →
Long overshadowed by Sideways, we’re giving this understated dramedy its due for depicting Midwest with the specificity Hollywood rarely gives it.
Alexander Payne’s Nebraska is as unassuming as the regular Midwestern folk it depicts. Even though this small, quiet, black-and-white comedy was flooded with nominations during the 2013 awards season it won almost none of them. Ten years on, it remains overshadowed by Payne’s more popular works like Sideways and Election. But this odd little dramedy is not only one of Payne’s finest films to date, it’s also his one true love letter to his home state of Nebraska and the Midwest itself. Continue Reading →
A Murder at the End of the World
Hulu’s crime thriller/environmentalist warning is less than the sum of its references, but star Emma Corrin earns viewers’ attention.
The plot for A Murder at the End of the World goes a little something like this. A wealthy tech genius invites a group of similarly impressive individuals—including a detective who seems not to belong—to an isolated location for not entirely clear reasons. A murder sets everyone on edge as competing interests suggest several suspects and impede a proper investigation. Things only get worse as more die, and a storm ensures the group has no means of immediate escape. Continue Reading →
To talk about The Killer is to strip away pretense. Well, one can try. Cold it may be, but David Fincher's latest is an incredibly open film. The houses are made of glass; the windows are ceiling-high; the voiceovers from the title character (Michael Fassbender) give infallible insight into his worldview. The film is his worldview, simple in its machinations and complex in its philosophy. In most other circumstances, this would unfold over time. And it does here, at least to an extent. Continue Reading →
All the Light We Cannot See
Early in For All Mankind Season 4, Ed Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) and Dani Poole (Krys Marshall) reencounter each other for the first time in years on the Happy Valley Mars base. Smiling warmly, each says, “Hi, Bob,” to each other. For fans of the show, it has an immediate impact. The significance of the silly greeting reminds those audience members of the deep bond between these two astronauts. Newcomers likely won’t grasp the specifics of the importance, but Marshall and Kinnaman’s performances make it quite clear that it isn’t some random bit of silliness. Continue Reading →
Miraculous - le film
When I was around thirteen, two classmates, Christina and Taylor (their real names, it’s not like they’re going to read this), played a prank on me that resulted in my eating dog food. In retrospect, it could have been worse: nobody else saw it happen, and for whatever reason they kept it to themselves. But when I think about my teenage years (and I try not to much at this point in my life, other than at a superficial pop culture level), my mind often goes to that moment. Continue Reading →
Lawmen: Bass Reeves
Screenwriter Josh Olsen (A History of Violence) used to tell anyone who would listen that his passion project was an account of the life of Bass Reeves, a man whose life and career were the stuff of fables. Reeves was the first Black deputy sheriff west of the Mississippi, with an arrest record in the thousands by most accounts. Best of all, legends assert that he almost never killed or shot anyone he didn’t have to. Continue Reading →
All the Light We Cannot See
If Shawn Levy, director of Netflix’s new miniseries All the Light We Cannot See, seems like an unnatural fit to direct All the Light We Cannot See, a limited series set in World War II’s Nazi-occupied France, it’s because he is. From Night at the Museum to Cheaper by the Dozen and, more recently, Free Guy, the director-producer is best known for lighthearted, family-friendly films. Unfortunately, this series does not prove to be a case of the unexpected choice yielding surprisingly excellent results. Continue Reading →
As daybreak bleeds from within the walls, Priscilla Presley (Cailee Spaeny) wakes up next to her husband, Elvis (Jacob Elordi). Her water’s broken and, as he calls for a car, she goes to the bathroom, where she applies the perfect fake eyelashes in silence. Continue Reading →
In such films as Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, Velvet Goldmine and I’m Not There, filmmaker Todd Haynes has taken the stories of famous people and utilized what we know—or think we know—about them to explore ideas about celebrity and our all-consuming need to render their often-complex stories into straightforward narratives. That strange compulsion to explain, understand, and commodify the lives of real people is at the heart of his latest work, May December, and it certainly seems to have sparked something in him because the end result is the strongest work that he has done in quite some time. Continue Reading →
With her first film, Promising Young Woman, writer-director Emerald Fennell took a storyline that was essentially a cloddish-but-glossy retread of such female-driven revenge sagas as Ms .45 and I Spit on Your Grave, infused it with insights regarding gender issues that would barely have passed muster in a 100-level college class and somehow rode it to inexplicable praise and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay. Continue Reading →
The Vanishing Triangle
The Vanishing Triangle takes its name from media shorthand for an approximately 80-mile area in Eastern Ireland. For almost 20 years, from the late 70s to the late 90s, the Triangle suffered through several unsolved crimes. The victims, women ranging from teens to in their thirties, disappeared at an alarming rate. Additionaly, several murders of women in the area during the period were frequently linked in the press. Some speculated a serial killer's (or serial killers's) involvement, but the Gardaí—Ireland’s national police—never made such a declaration. As The Irish Times noted, “the ‘vanishing triangle’ phenomenon [is] a media creation rather than a Garda theory.” Continue Reading →
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Whenever a crowd pleasing movie hits theaters or streaming, people lament, “They don’t make ‘em like they used to.” Often, these people refer to middle-of-the-road movies from the 80s and 90s, the type of film that would play on cable television in the middle of a Sunday afternoon, something that people watch over and over again, simply because it makes them feel lighter. The Burial, the new courtroom drama from writer/director Maggie Betts, falls firmly into this category. It’s dad-fare, set in 1995 when it also likely would’ve had mainstream success in popular culture. Continue Reading →
Killers of the Flower Moon
Having earned just about every accolade there is and long cemented his position as one of the all-time great filmmakers, Martin Scorsese has nothing left to prove. Yet, on the cusp of 81–an age when most directors are either retiring to the Lifetime Achievement Award circuit or making films that are largely variations of their past glories–he is still out there challenging himself and audiences with bold and audacious projects. Continue Reading →
Outside of Janicza Bravo’s Twitter thread turned feature film Zola, viral social engagements have rarely yielded great art. Nonetheless, Buzzfeed Studios wades into the fray with the horror film Dear David. Based on a series of Twitter threads from their former comic artist Adam Ellis, the story chronicles Ellis’s experiences with a possible supernatural presence in his New York apartment. That may seem like a fresh idea, but the film traffics in standard scary movie tropes, a stunted look, and an overreliance on the concept. Continue Reading →
Our Flag Means Death
It’s always the surprise hit quirky shows with the most to live up to in their second season. A bad sophomore outing, especially after quickly gaining a cult following, could make or break, say, the plucky little pirate romance known as Our Flag Means Death Season 2. Luckily, David Jenkins, Taika Waititi, et al. keep things fresh and fun without reinventing (or stealing) the wheel. Continue Reading →
Doom Patrol Season 4 Part 2 dives headfirst into what has consistently been a series favorite topic since the beginning: death. While much of Patrol has pondered what it would be like to live agelessly—essentially without fear of any possible death except the violent and unusual—but still struggle with every other aspect of being human. The members screwed up, had mental issues and physical ailments, struggled with vanity and loneliness, and frequently gave in to any number of self-loathing varietals. They would never age, but they wore their pain the same as the rest of us. Continue Reading →
As the TV series Everything Now begins, Mia (Sophie Wilde) is eager for freedom. After spending months in a hospital undergoing treatment for her anorexia, her supervisor, Dr. Nell (Stephen Fry), has decided she’s well enough to return to school with her best friends Becca (Lauryn Ajufo), Cam (Harry Cadby), and Will (Noah Thomas). Cooped up inside for what seemed like an eternity, Mia is bursting with enthusiasm about finally undergoing many teenage rites of passage like first dates and big parties. Continue Reading →