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Film

Forest Whitaker Film 'Ghost Dog' Is a Sampler's Paradise

Jarmusch's 1999 classic Ghost Dog, now in a Criterion edition, freely mixes and matches Bushido philosophy, Mafia and samurai flicks, Ryūnosuke Akutagawa, and lo-fi hip-hop into a sly and dreamy comedy about role-playing.

Recent
Television

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Nudges Out Conscience in Our Time of Crises

Avatar shows us that to fight for only the people we know, for simply the things that affect us personally, is neither brave nor heroic, nor particularly useful.

Film

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Makes the Most of Meta Commentary

Spider-Man: Far From Home ties up the themes of deception and Trump-era media manipulation and it ensures that the next Spider-Man film will be completely different from anything that came before.

Film

Decode the Pre-Code: Four Hot Early Talkies Hit Blu-Ray

Sinuous camera moves and stylish direction, endings that surely wouldn't have flown after the Code crackdown: four pre-code talkies from Cecil B. DeMille, Phil Goldstone, Victor Halperin, and Stuart Walker.

Film

Douglas Sirk's Oppressive and Beautiful Worlds

That today's viewers can't easily fall into the fantasy of Rock Hudson as an "Indian" in Taza Son of Cochise -- one of three films discussed here -- provides its own distancing and underlining of the themes that make it Sirkian, the rampant phoniness used as a vehicle for something true.

Film

Beautiful Lies and False Gods in 'Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice'

Zack Snyder's Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice interrogates two primal drives in American culture through the top characters of the DC pantheon: fear and its trauma (Batman) and naked power and its ambiguities (Superman).

Film

'X-Men: Dark Phoenix' Will Never Rise from the Ashes

X-Men: Dark Phoenix, a weak, disappointing film, ends two decades of the groundbreaking X-Men series with a barely audible whimper.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Culminates 2010's Pop Culture Phenomenon

Avengers: Endgame features all the expected trappings of a superhero blockbuster alongside surprisingly rich character resolutions to become the most crowd-pleasing finalés to a long-running pop culture series ever made.

Film

Director Alice Winocour on the Stages of Separation in 'Proxima'

Alice Winocour talks with PopMatters about conveying the long process of separation between mother and daughter in her film, Proxima.

Film

'Captain Marvel' Sends a Powerful Message to Audiences and Filmmakers

The first female-centric film in the MCU, Captain Marvel, bakes the female experience into every aspect, making a potentially familiar story fresh and exciting.

Film

What Does Water See? On Fighting as Perception in Bruce Lee's Kung Fu Films

Bruce Lee's fight scenes evoke Gestalt theory: actual perception is a response to a provocation. Consider this philosophy while watching the films in Bruce Lee: His Greatest Hits and you too can become the water.

Film

The Cyclops and the Sunken Place: Narrative Control in 'Watchmen' and 'Get Out'

Hollywood is increasing Black representation but Damon Lindelof and Jordan Peele challenge audiences to question the authenticity of this system.

Television

What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

'Avengers: Endgame' Faces the Other Side of Loss

Whereas the heroes in Avengers: Endgame stew for five years, our pandemic grief has barely taken us to the after-credit sequence. Someone page Captain Marvel, please.

Film

Animated 'Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse' Is a Pop-Art Masterpiece

Animated Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse uses unique, groundbreaking animation techniques and engages with the most 'out-there' comic book concepts to tell a hilarious, relatable, timely coming-of-age story

Film

Ruben Fleischer's 'Venom' Has No Bite

Ruben Fleischer's toothless antihero film, Venom is like a blockbuster from 15 years earlier: one-dimensional, loose plot, inconsistent tone, and packaged in the least-offensive, most mass appeal way possible. Sigh.

Film

The Obstacles in 'Ant-Man and the Wasp' Are Not Typical of MCU

Peyton Reed's "Disney-fied" Ant-Man and the Wasp is unchallenging in all the best ways.

Film

The Highs Are Higher, the Lows Lower in 'Deadpool 2'

The first half of Deadpool 2, in which Vanessa is murdered and Wade becomes purposeless and suicidal, is a slog. The second half, where Wade commits to defending an angry teenage mutant, positively soars with fantastic action and some of the funniest superhero film moments in years.

Film

The Action in 'Avengers: Infinity War' Is Relentless

The focus on Thanos single-handedly saves Avengers: Infinity War from becoming the overstuffed mess many feared and lends the film a relentless action pace more akin to Mad Max: Fury Road than a superhero blockbuster.

Film

Marvel's 'Black Panther' Has Its Claws in the Zeitgeist

Ryan Coogler's Black Panther engages with deep and timely social, cultural, and psychological concepts, and completely taps into America's zeitgeist.

Film

'Thor: Ragnarok' Destroys and Discards the Thor Mythos

Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok takes a refreshingly iconoclastic approach to Thor, throwing out the old, bringing in the new, and packaging the story in a colourful, gorgeously trashy aesthetic that perfectly captures the spirit of the comics.

Film

'Spider-Man: Homecoming' Has the Most Relatable Peter Parker

The teen-focused, John Hughes-inspired approach not only makes Spider-Man: Homecoming feel fresh in the realm of Spider-Man films, but in superhero films in general.

Film

Cue the Music: 'Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2'

James Gunn crafts a deeply flawed film, but Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, which digs deep into daddy issues, is still entertaining, visually gorgeous, and likable.

Film

James Mangold's ​'Logan​' Depicts Wolverine's Worst Nightmare

In Mangold's Logan, an elderly, sick surrogate father and a young, estranged, emotionally-scarred "daughter" come to rely entirely on the aged Wolverine who is now but a haunted, battered, suicidal husk. It's nothing like superhero films that came before.

Film

8 Low-Budget Films That Delivered Big

Money isn't everything, although in filmmaking it counts for a lot. These eight films defied their minuscule budgets.

Film

'Doctor Strange': It's About Time

Scott Derrickson's Doctor Strange is a surprisingly cerebral, emotionally relatable film. It's also wrapped in some of the most exciting and unique blockbuster visuals seen in years.

Film

Why Pat O'Connor's 1989 Bomb, 'The January Man', Is Worth Watching Today

Considered in relation to the postmodern explosion that would rock Hollywood during the second half of the '90s, The January Man registers as a pop culture curio that was ahead of its time.

Film

'X-Men: Apocalypse': The Apocalypse of Comic Book Films

The filmmakers' attempt to mask X-Men: Apocalypse's lack of purpose and thematic unity with a stunning density of characters, plot lines, and fan service. But we see behind the mask.

Film

'The Rise of Skywalker' Is a Lightsaber Duel between Good and Evil, Past and Present, Authenticity and Greed

The Rise of Skywalker has been trumpeted as the last in the Skywalker saga. But with Disney's and this trilogy's annoying tendency to resurrect, it may never end.

Film

'Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker' Is a Let-Down

The third installment to the Star Wars trilogy, The Rise of Skywalker, has us wondering. Is this trilogy about creating memories? Or is it simply an act of remembrance?

Television

In HBO's 'Watchmen', the Devil Doesn’t Disappear

Damon Lindelof's over-plotted, over-anxious, daring, genre-hopping offshoot of Alan Moore's alternate-history graphic novel, Watchmen, is less a show about hunting down the bad guys than it is about the twisted turns and stubborn legacies of racist trauma in America -- and the resistance to atoning for it.

Film

New York Film Festival 2019: 'Bacurau'

Loony anti-colonialist Brazilian satire Bacurau doesn't always balance its humor with its bite, but its communitarian soul, oddball wit, and dark vision of the future still hits home.

Film

Deadpool and Ryan Reynolds' 11-Year Love Affair

If the best measure of success for a comic book film is how well it captures the tone for the central character, then Ryan Reynold's beloved character in Deadpool makes it among the greatest superhero films of all time.

Film

'Ad Astra' Does Daddy Issues Well

Ad Astra has the astronomical humanism of Interstellar mixed with the morose nihilism of Apocalypse Now, fueled by a booster rocket of daddy issues.

Film

Sub-Atomic Particles and Brilliant Heist Sequences: 'Ant-Man' Masters the Tiny Universe

There are strong emotional stakes and likeable characters in Peyton Reed's Ant-Man, but they are all rooted in a, well, less than epic scale. This makes Ant-Man refreshing, an MCU palate cleanser.

Film

It's New Dynasty, Same as the Old Dynasty, in King Hu's 'The Fate of Lee Khan'

The only truth in The Fate of Lee Khan is expressed physically, for these devious, untrustworthy characters become themselves only when fighting. Truly, we shall know them by their actions.

Film

Unbecoming Woman: 'Dark Phoenix' and the Dethronement of the Wealthy White Male Hero

Dark Phoenix makes it clear that the X-Men, as socio-political commentary, must take their own metaphor more seriously and evolve, already.


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