The Criterion Channel dives into the unique hell of being a teenager & we’ll tell you which films not to miss.
This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movies being covered here wouldn't exist.
Back to school time is here, and maybe you’re taking a moment to reflect on your high school days, that complicated, angsty time of bad skin, painful crushes, poorly timed boners, and discovering that you’re turning into a werewolf. Continue Reading →
As the likes of Doogal and Planes make abundantly clear, there is no secret formula for making a great animated kid’s film. But there are some key things to avoid if you want to make a movie aimed at youngsters that satisfies its target demo. Luck, the first feature from Skydance Animation, trips over several of these shortcomings, particularly overwhelming your young audience with too much expository dialogue. Adolescents want wonder and soaring emotion, not endless chatter about how a fictional world operates. Devoting so much time to lore is just one of the many ways Luck underwhelms compared to its potential. Continue Reading →
Five strangers with deadly ambitions sit on a train speeding from Tokyo to Kyoto in the middle of the night, all connected by one mystery yet to be solved. It sounds like the setup for a modern Agatha Christie whodunit, but make those strangers dangerous hitmen, and switch out the intrigue with violent mayhem, and you get Bullet Train. Continue Reading →
DC League of Super-Pets
Being a pet owner can enrich your life and open your heart to certain movies you may otherwise ignore. If I had watched DC’s new animated children’s film, League of Super-Pets, before being a proud doggy dad, I would have rolled my eyes. I likely would’ve declared it a blatant cash grab that distracts kids with cute talking animals, loud explosions, mediocre animation, and plenty of needle drops that date the film quicker than Shrek. Continue Reading →
From the start, GKIDS' latest acquisition, The Deer King, can call itself the spiritual sequel to Princess Mononoke without fear. Like Studio Ghibli’s 1997 title, the adaptation of Nahoko Uehasi’s eponymous novel series also has world-building text about clashing factions and ancient magic unfolding over vivid forests and stirring music. One of this film’s directors, Masashi Ando, was a supervising animator for the other one. Wolves and elks are again the beasts with the most screen time. Continue Reading →
In the opening seconds of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, viewers are blasted with the sight of the Warner Bros. logo – a variant glowing in gold and crimson, practically exploding with flair and moving parts – accompanied on the soundtrack by a remix of “Suspicious Minds.” Within the first few minutes, sweeping shots of Las Vegas clash with Ocean’s 11-style split screens, and the editing juggles between slowmo and cranked-up fast motion, in classic Luhrmann fashion. Continue Reading →
The Black Phone
Gather around, children, and let Auntie Gena tell you a story about days gone by. Long ago, up till around 1984, kids used to run free in the streets from dawn till dusk, with virtually no adult supervision. Was it a better time? Not really, just different, and it all came to an end with the collective belief that bad things happen to children who aren’t carefully watched at all times. Now it’s swung so far in the other direction that allowing your children to walk themselves to school may result in a visit from child protective services. Scott Derrickson’s The Black Phone takes place in the time before, when parents didn’t worry about monsters until they were almost under their noses. Continue Reading →
A movie based on Buzz Lightyear seemed inevitable, didn’t it? Toy Story is Pixar’s flagship franchise, and an action-packed sci-fi movie is primed for merchandising opportunities. There’s no way The Mouse could resist making a spin-off featuring the beloved fictional action figure. Continue Reading →
Elder statesman Saul Williams has never shied away from grandiose, multivalent projects. An early adopter of both democratic distribution methods and envelope-pushing indie noise-rap, his career has been typified by restless innovation and intimidating prolificacy. Co-directed with partner Anisia Uzeyman (her second feature), Williams’ directorial debut feature, Neptune Frost, arrives with an analogously charged and audacious context. Continue Reading →
Jurassic World Dominion
In the video game version of the original Jurassic Park for the Sega Genesis, you can choose to play the side scroller as either Dr. Grant or a Velociraptor. Of course, you choose the raptor almost every time because dinosaurs are cooler than humans. It’s a great lesson for making a fun video game, but not for making a successful movie franchise. Continue Reading →
Top Gun: Maverick
Navy Captain Peter "Pete" Mitchell, callsign "Maverick" (Tom Cruise) is a living legend. He is the only man to have shot down multiple enemy planes in the modern era of combat aviation. From the F-14 Tomcat to bleeding-edge skunkworks stealth plane prototypes, there is nothing he cannot fly, nothing he cannot (or more accurately will not) push past the fabled Danger Zone. Continue Reading →
Spider-Man: No Way Home
How Marvel's latest cuts through the MCU trappings to deliver one of Spidey's most personal stories yet.
Please note that this article contains MAJOR SPOILERS for Spider-Man: No Way Home.
If you consume enough Spider-Man stories, you start to notice the malleability of the character. The assorted movies, shows, video games, and comic books all have their different takes on the wall-crawler and can plausibly plop him into different settings and moods. But you’ll also witness the two central aspects of Peter Parker that unite the various versions of the character across eras and mediums: (1) he chooses to do good, even when it’s hard, because he knows it’s the right thing to do, and (2) he suffers mightily for it. Continue Reading →
The Velvet Underground
To listen to the Velvet Underground today is to marvel at how very much its own thing it was. Their droning, dirge-like songs, often accompanied by the discordant squeaking of a viola, addressed such unsavory subjects as drug addiction and sadomasochism, and seemed to be designed for listeners who neither identified with hippie folk or rebellious rock and roll. They were so far ahead of their time that even more than five decades later no one else has sounded quite like them yet. Todd Haynes’ documentary, just called The Velvet Underground, captures their lightning in a bottle moment in music history, eschewing the tropes of the genre in favor of a dizzying sound and visual landscape. Continue Reading →