31 Best Movies To Watch After Oppenheimer (2023)
La sociedad de la nieve
J.A. Bayona directs a heartbreaking adaptation of a true-life tale of tragedy & miracles.
Though we joke about the smallest inconveniences rendering us helpless, in truth the human will to survive cannot be underestimated. When confronted with imminent death, we can and will resort to extreme means to escape it, sometimes in ways that might shock and horrify those who weren’t there. One such story was Aron Ralston, a hiker who was forced to break and cut his own arm off after he was trapped by a fallen boulder, as depicted in 2010’s 127 Hours. Another was a 1972 plane crash in the Andes mountains, after which the survivors, faced with subzero temperatures, no food, and no plant life or animals to be found, eventually resorted to cannibalism to avoid starvation.
The Andes plane crash story was adapted for film a number of times, including the trashy, exploitative Survive!, and 1993’s competently made but whitewashed Alive, in which Ethan Hawke was cast as a character named Nando Parrado. Now J.A. Bayona, whose 2012 film The Impossible was also a harrowing tale of survival, takes a turn with Society of the Snow, a gripping, heart-wrenching look at the emotional toll such an unthinkable event takes on those who somehow came out of it alive, if not exactly well. Continue Reading →
The Zone of Interest
Jonathan Glazer's first feature in 10 years is a near-unclassifiable work of patience and intentional distance from its historical horrors.
What am I to say here? What can I say?
I feel as if I’m to say nothing at all. My mind has gone and I feel sick, and while that’s due to the film in question, another degree of it comes from a deeper truth. I feel wrong in my reaction to it; it can’t help but feel inadequate. The Zone of Interest has leveled me like few things ever have, but that’s not the point. That’s not its point. 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 →
Thomasin McKenzie & Anne Hathaway burn up the screen in William Oldroyd’s unsettling thriller.
Eileen will likely be lost in the holiday season shuffle among such spectacles as the upcoming Wonka and awards-friendly fare like Ferrari. On the other hand, it’s unclear under what circumstances Eileen would make a big splash. It’s an odd, occasionally off-putting little film that wouldn’t work as well as it does if not for the scorching chemistry between its two leads.
Based on Ottessa Moshfegh’s (also odd and occasionally off-putting) novel of the same name, Eileen stars Thomasin McKenzie as the titular character, a lonely young woman stuck in a miserable rut. Living in the most depressing town in Massachusetts circa 1964, Eileen is forced to take care of her alcoholic, mean-spirited father (a chilling Shea Whigham, still somehow not one of Hollywood’s biggest stars), a former cop who’s taken to waving his gun at their neighbors. Working as a secretary at a juvenile detention center, though she’s in her twenties she comes off as someone much younger, a meek and awkward child merely dressing up as an adult. Eileen also has a child’s taste for doing things like ignoring her hygiene, stuffing herself with candy, and compulsively masturbating, while maintaining a rich fantasy life involving rough sex with a detention center guard, or murdering her father. Her boredom has reached pathological levels. 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 →
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.
It’s difficult to understand why author Suzanne Collins, who wrote the novel Songbirds is based on, made the decision to try to humanize a violent authoritarian when a core theme of the original Hunger Games books and movies was lashing back at systemic oppression. Nonetheless, director Francis Lawrence (Catching Fire, I Am Legend) and his enthusiastic cast of talented performers make the best of the rather thematically confused story arc they’ve been given, turning in one of the most exciting, emotionally arresting entries in the franchise. Continue Reading →
Killers of the Flower Moon
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 →
Most films don’t come with homework. The same cannot be said of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s new movie, The Marvels. Unless you’re a devoted MCU fan with an encyclopedic knowledge of both the movies and the Disney+ TV originals, it’s difficult to understand the mechanics of this disastrously convoluted entry in the floundering franchise. It feels like being dropped headfirst into a crossover episode based on three shows you’ve never seen -- mostly because it is. The Marvels kicks off with a bit of genuine visual interest (that never appears again) in the form of hand-drawn comics created by teenage superhero-slash-Captain Marvel fangirl Kamala Khan (Iman Vellani), aka Ms. Marvel. Vellani, who previously appeared as Kamala on the little-seen Disney+ series Ms. Marvel, is a spunky, hilarious teenage heroine whose impressive comedic timing buoys the leaden, disjointed script. She so thoroughly steals the show that it’s disappointing this movie wasn’t just about her; instead, it's a confused mix of storylines involving Kamala, Captain Marvel (Brie Larson), and astronaut Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris, Candyman). It feels like the powers that be made a huge mistake in consigning her story to a poorly publicized streaming original, instead of letting her headline a film on her own. 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
At the risk of making a "getting a lot of Sorcerer vibes from this" guy out of myself, The Hunted—William Friedkin's 2003 old-master-hunts-rogue-student thriller really does make for a fascinating counterpart to his earlier men-on-a-desperate-mission masterwork. Both delve into the lives of damaged, forlorn, isolated men on perilous quests for deliverance. And both of those quests lead deep into madness. Both pointedly contrast man-made, flame-choked hellscapes (Sorcerer's exploding oil well, The Hunted's secret mission amidst the Kosovo War) with the vast, amoral green of the deep forest (Columbia and Oregon, respectively). Both turn on setpieces that thrill while maintaining a grounded (if not necessarily "realistic") feel and weave surreality in with care. Continue Reading →
Flora and Son
About 75 minutes into Flora and Son, its script veers toward the self-reflexive. “What movie are you in?” Flora (Eve Hewson) snaps. “One without you in it,” her son, Max (Orén Kinlan), replies. This sort of exchange fits holistically into writer-director John Carney’s latest. It’s self-aware, sure, but it’s not meta. Like most of the film’s writing, it is entirely transparent in its machinations, going so far as to declare them at points. Supporting characters largely function as symbols rather than people. Continue Reading →
A Haunting in Venice
The first two entries in director/actor Kenneth Branagh’s foray into Agatha Christie adaptation lost the magic of the English writer’s mysteries. With his third attempt, A Haunting in Venice, Branagh decides to make considerable changes to the story. Using the bones of Christie’s Hallowe’en Party, writer Michael Green changes the setting from a small town in the English countryside to a palazzo in Venice. Branagh emphasizes the gothic elements of Christie’s story, leaning on the horror of the location, the manic nature of the children’s Halloween party, and the gruesome moments before and after an unexpected death. 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 →
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 →