10 Best Movies To Watch After Licorice Pizza (2021)

The Spool Staff


Andrea Arnold has always been a tactile filmmaker. Since her 2003 Oscar-winning short film, Wasp, Arnold can make us taste, smell and hear everything through her protagonists, typically women trapped in socio-economic situations they can’t escape.  Continue Reading →

Nightmare Alley

Back in 1998, Gus Van Sant released his remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. It wasn’t a good movie, but it provided two decent critical talking points. Firstly, was it actually a remake, or was it another adaptation of Robert Bloch’s novel? Given that Van Sant’s film was a shot-for-shot recreation of its 1960 predecessor save for two or three differences, it was a rarity in that, given its context, it ended up being the former. It, for all its failures in execution, used semiotics to circumvent the aforementioned semantics of its identity. Continue Reading →

West Side Story

While audiences and critics often bemoan the plethora of sequels and remakes that litter the media landscape, retelling a familiar story isn’t inherently bad. After all, Shakespeare’s most famous play, Romeo and Juliet, was based on earlier works, and in 1957 playwright Arthur Laurents (along with composer Leonard Bernstein and lyricist Stephen Sondheim) adapted the tale into West Side Story, which Robert Wise turned into a classic musical in 1961. Sixty years later, Steven Spielberg has thrown his hat into the ring with a new adaptation of the material. But can he make a familiar plot relevant to the 21st century?  Continue Reading →

Robin Robin

Though their first project made exclusively for Netflix, Robin Robin brings animation studio Aardman back to familiar territory. Aardman’s big claim to fame was Wallace and Gromit shorts released as TV specials like A Grand Day Out or The Wrong Trousers. It may be dropping on a streaming platform rather than on broadcast television, but Robin Robin allows Aardman to once again cram a lot of beautiful animation and charm into 30 minutes of storytelling.   Continue Reading →

The Souvenir: Part II

With her abuser out of her life, one would think it’d be easier for Julie (Honor Swinton Byrne) to move from day to day. In some ways, it is; she’s no longer directly in the clutches of Anthony’s (Tom Burke) patterns of insults, flattery, and disposal. He’s now dead as a result of his drug addiction. She, however, still lives with his memory. She discusses him with her psychologist (Gail Ferguson) just as often as others refer to his passing as a “loss.” But he’s still there: in her mind, in her health, in her art. Now, in The Souvenir Part II, Julie is finalizing her graduation film for school, repurposing and compartmentalizing her emotions into her work. Continue Reading →

Red Rocket

Since seeing Red Rocket, I haven’t been able to stop listening to “Bye Bye Bye.” The hum of the song’s wonky strings overlays the opening shot. As the camera zooms out from a jarring close-up of a bus seat, the synthetic beat kicks in, revealing Mikey Saber (Simon Rex), battered and bruised. NSYNC’s upbeat, indignant track lends a pulsing momentum to the opening montage as Mr. Saber disembarks from his steel chariot and starts the long walk to his ex-wife Lexi’s (Bree Elrod) domicile. “I know that I can take no more, it ain’t no lie,” indeed.   Continue Reading →


Ryusuke Hamaguchi adapts a Haruki Murakami short story & gives it additional depth & soul. Interpretation is a complex beast. In terms of language, not even the most literal one is left entirely untouched by the person making it. In the case of longer work, a translator can take on a far more hands-on role, making a novel or film in translation a product of its interpreter as well as its original artist. In some cases, this influence can be significant. Translators and editors have played such a massive role in the way that English audiences understand and appreciate Haruki Murakami that writer, translator, editor, and creative writing professor David Karashima wrote an entire book on the topic in 2020.  Interpreting prose for the screen comes with its own nuances, and its own symbiotic relationship between the writer’s vision and the filmmaker’s. Translating Murakami’s writing for the screen is perhaps even more complicated, given the nature of his stories and how he tells them (or at least how I understand them based on the English translations I’ve read). Continue Reading →


Kenneth Branagh directs a moving film about a working class Irish family impacted by the Troubles. Historical films — especially those about devastating and traumatic events — require a precarious balance. If you focus too much on the events themselves, you risk erasing the humanity of the people who experienced them, coming across like a dry textbook. Dive too deeply into the personal — especially if your characters are fictional or fictionalized — and there’s always a chance you’ll make a maudlin melodrama that uses history as little more than a backdrop. This balance becomes exponentially more difficult to maintain when your audience’s main point of access to your story is the eyes of a child, because you’re at constant risk of nostalgia muddying up the proceedings.  Given the subject matter of Belfast and Kenneth Branagh’s deep connection to it (although the film is not a memoir, there are a great deal of similarities between the fictional family and the Belfast-born writer and director’s own), he could have easily faltered with this particular story. It would have been easy to forgive him if he did. Hell, he probably would have made a decent film even if it got too sentimental. This is Kenneth Branagh we’re talking about, after all. But what he’s done instead is craft a film that’s as measured as it is miraculous.  Continue Reading →

The Novice

Isabelle Furhman's relentless lead performance as an obsessive aspiring athlete propels the Tribeca rowing drama forward. “Rhythm is everything,” a crew coach tells Alex (Isabelle Fuhrman) at one point during The Novice, which won awards for best U.S. narrative feature, actress, and cinematography at the Tribeca Festival this week. The coach could well be explaining how this movie, about a college student with an obsessive drive to be the best at varsity rowing, differentiates itself from Black Swan (the movie about a young woman with an obsessive drive to be the best at ballet) or Whiplash (the movie about a young man with an obsessive drive to be the best at jazz drumming) or The Social Network (the movie about a college student with an obsessive drive to be the best at something, even if it winds up destroying the world, in part because there’s no way that he can row crew)—all of which The Novice resembles in content, and sometimes form. Writer-director Lauren Hadaway’s rhythm is her own, distinct from Darren Aronofsky’s, David Fincher’s, and Damien Chazelle’s, the triumvirate of dude directors who made those previous, excellent studies in obsession. Perhaps informed by her own college rowing experience, Hadaway keys into a relentless push-pull, especially as Alex drives herself further, further, and further still before picking herself up off the floor. Continue Reading →


One early scene in Natasha Kermani’s horror-thriller Lucky features a tracking shot following protagonist May (played by screenwriter Brea Grant) walking to her car in an empty parking garage. There's a foreboding sense that May is not alone even as the garage is seemingly deserted; a contemporary counterpart to the haunted gothic mansion. Fear and danger are everywhere, and nowhere.  Continue Reading →