48 Best Movies To Watch After Barbie (2023)
Stamped from the Beginning
The Netflix documentary uses historical evidence and modern scholarship to demonstrate racism's continued role in US society.
At the start of the new documentary Stamped from the Beginning, filmmaker Roger Ross Williams asks his various interview subjects, “What is wrong with Black people?” Considering that all the interviewees in question are also Black, it is unsurprising that the question’s seeming hostility initially throws many. However, once they recognize the context of that query—Williams is asking for a historical context as to what Blacks have done to deserve centuries of institutionalized racism and violence—they are more than willing and able to discuss the subject at length throughout this strong and often provocative film.
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi’s book of the same name inspired the Williams’ film, a karmic debt the director pays back by including the doctor among a number of knowledgeable Black female scholars and activists. Together, they discuss how the twin stains of racism and white supremacy permeate American society in ways that continue to fester today. They explain how the concept of deeming people as greater or lesser by the color of their skin was born out of slavery. The aim was to simultaneously remove enslaved people’s distinguishing characteristics to make them seem like one undifferentiated mass and drive a wedge between them and white “indentured servants” to prevent the groups from joining forces against their common enemy, the wealthy landowner. Continue Reading →
Ridley Scott’s surprisingly hollow biopic of the French military commander falters as a character piece and comes shy of victory as an epic.
For a film with as many contradictions as Napoleon, it’s odd for it to be so straightforward. It covers 28 years, but it never feels like a lot of changes. It’s over two and a half hours, which, while not a herculean runtime, never entirely slows down. Perhaps it’s because it never really gets started. Ridley Scott’s latest opens with a public decapitation of Marie Antoinette (Catherine Walker), giving way to the 1793 Siege of Toulon. The violence is often unsparingly graphic, so why, then, does it feel so cosmetic? Shouldn’t a live horse eviscerated by a cannonball to the chest do something to the viewer?
Maybe not when there’s such little context. If Napoleon is one thing, it’s episodic—ahistorical, even. David Scarpa’s script begins in the trenches and is content on staying there. Everyone and everything are simply window dressing. That includes Napoleon Bonaparte himself (Joaquin Phoenix), whom the film oversimplifies from intrinsically flawed leader to wholly externalized man-child. After the Siege, he wins the affections of Joséphine de Beauharnais (Vanessa Kirby). The two soon marry. 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.
Take for instance 62 year old Alexander Payne, who, after the biggest disaster of his career (2017’s confused parable Downsizing), has started his fourth decade as a director by leaning hard back into what he knew (and what the royal “we” enjoyed) and rediscovered himself with The Holdovers, a movie no one can seem to stop comparing to Hal Ashby. No mean feat, of course, but even that sells its virtues short. This is no mere homage, no mere return to form, this is the movie that Payne’s been hoping to make since his 90s heyday, a film that earns both its jaundiced gaze and its catharsis. Continue Reading →
ROAD TO NINJA -NARUTO THE MOVIE-
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 →
Five Nights at Freddy's
I have never played Five Nights at Freddy’s. I need to make that abundantly clear before proceeding with this review. Continue Reading →
Once Within a Time
When Godfrey Reggio’s monumental experimental documentary Koyannistqatsi (Life Out of Balance in Hopi) first entered the zeitgeist, its radical nature as a postmodern film, with a thoroughly entrancing score by Phillip Glass, became intertwined with the rise of MTV and a new era of visual aesthetic being born within the music sphere. From the noise rock band Cows to electronic musicians Dr. Atmo and Oliver Leib to superstar pop singer Madonna, the film had an indelible effect on music and the music video. Continue Reading →
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 →
Silver Dollar Road
Based on Lizzie Presser’s 2019 ProPublica/New Yorker article, Raoul Peck’s Silver Dollar Road starts by barreling headfirst. Its first 15 minutes are a crash course of talking heads, introducing family members with broad, expository precision. The film shows them but doesn’t fully introduce them. Rather, it relies on graphics to fashion a sense of context. What the subjects say to the camera may provide an identity for the story at hand, but Peck’s approach renders such words largely textual. The narrative may be propulsive. The film, however, tends to feel stagnant. 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 →
TAYLOR SWIFT | THE ERAS TOUR
Make no mistake, Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour, the highly anticipated film version of the career-spanning spectacle the singer-songwriter-popstar toured stadiums with this summer, is essentially a victory lap for her in the wake of massive critical and commercial success. Despite that, it still works because it never feels like what it could have been—a final cash grab for a show that already pulled in enough money to rival the GNP of several developed nations. Instead, it plays like a summation of Taylor Swift and her ever-expanding artistic ambitions. It makes a definitive case for her as one of the most significant musical artists of these times. And it has a lot of sparkly, sassy fun while doing it. Continue Reading →
Fair Play is all about the rules of engagement—in business, in bed, in relationships—and the chaos that ensues when someone who lives and dies by those rules suspects his partner is breaking them. However, it isn’t the fairness of the righteous or the just she’s violating. No, it is the unwritten rules he believes everyone should play the game by. Continue Reading →
Love at First Sight
As an avid consumer of romance—be it in book, film, or television format—you learn to level expectations when a beloved story is adapted. That’s particularly the case amongst the recent spate of mid-to-low budget adaptations across the gamut of streaming services. Usually, the best-case scenario is they’re mildly enjoyable but ultimately forgettable. For example, there’s Prime Video’s recent adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s Red, White, and Royal Blue. More often than not, they’re absolutely dreadful. The less said about Netflix’s take on Austen’s Persuasion, the better. What is true, though, is that they’re very seldom genuinely good. Continue Reading →
A Million Miles Away
A Million Miles Away is one of those movies that live in the meaty part of the decent curve. Far too sturdy and well-made to be called bad. Too rote and predictable to really call good. It tells the true story of José Hernández (Michael Pena), an unquestionably inspiring man who did an impossibly difficult thing under impossibly difficult circumstances. Continue Reading →
Sitting in Bars with Cake
(Editor's note: A previous version of this review included the full name of the presumptive real-life inspiration for the film; upon a subsequent request to maintain their privacy, we have removed that sentence.) Continue Reading →
Meg 2: The Trench
Ever since James Cameron boldly wrote “S” after ALIEN on a chalkboard and then changed it to a dollar sign, the quickest way to sequel-ize your killer extraterrestrial/reptile/mammal/whatever has been to add more of it. You scored a hit with people fighting one giant mosquito? Great, here’s a sequel with six of them. Continue Reading →
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah
You Are So Not Invited to My Bat Mitzvah has a simple premise. Stacy Friedman (Sunny Sandler) wants her bat mitzvah, only a few weeks away, to be perfect. Using that premise, the film takes off, exploring the growing pains of middle school. Continue Reading →
Landscape with Invisible Hand
Cory Finley is obsessed with money. His characters have nice things or want them. They live in beautiful houses or enviously plot to get them. Even in the year 2036, with aliens living on (or, more precisely, about two miles above) planet Earth, people still fret over money and try to make scads of it. That’s the state of things in his latest, Landscape with Invisible Hand. It’s a title with the same bespoke aestheticism as the stuffed ocelots and oversized chess pieces his characters own. It feels seemingly designed to scare off less curious viewers. While the film has an awful lot of plot, the undergirding is the same. As in his 2017 debut Thoroughbreds, his follow-up Bad Education, and even his episodes of the abysmal miniseries WeCrashed, the drama comes from the idea of what money does to the soul. Continue Reading →
Talking animals have been an entertainment staple for practically as long as movies have been around. Most classics of the genre, like 1993’s Homeward Bound, aim squarely at children in the audience. Director Josh Greenbaum’s Strays seeks to subvert that approach by weaving dirty jokes and curse words into familiar genre tropes. The result is considerably more grating and unpleasant to watch. Continue Reading →
In a media landscape with fewer and fewer options actually targeted toward adults (often tied to the death of the mid-budget movie), audiences take the scraps they're given and make the best of them. This is the space that Jules occupies, a sci-fi fairy tale about the specific loneliness of senior citizens who feel isolated, ignored, and afraid. It’s also a thin, often ham-fisted take on a tale that could have had real legs in more capable hands. Continue Reading →
Heart of Stone
In the 2023 sea of action movies, setting yourself apart from others becomes increasingly hard. John Wick: Chapter 4, Mission: Impossible- Dead Reckoning Part 1, Extraction 2, and more have sparked an action cinema revival. It’s a rebirth that I am incredibly grateful for, certainly. Continue Reading →
The Last Voyage of the Demeter
The Last Voyage of the Demeter feels like a movie from a different era. To a point, it is—writer Bragi Schut first drafted his adaptation of the 'Log of the "Demeter"' sequence in Bram Stoker's Dracula in the early 2000s. It's a capital letters Hollywood Creature Feature—a grimmer straight horror cousin to 2004's action/horror hybrid Van Helsing. At its best, it's an admirably gnarly monster flick—bolstered by sturdy craft from director André Øvredal and consistently good performances from a game ensemble. At its worst, it loses confidence and resorts to bumbling attempts to guide its audience by the hand—most notably in its prologue and epilogue. Continue Reading →