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Film

Buridan's Ass and the Problem of Free Will in John Sturges' 'The Great Escape'

Escape in John Sturge's The Great Escape is a tactical mission, a way to remain in the war despite having been taken out of it. Free Will is complicated.

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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

Spike Lee's 'Da 5 Bloods' and Pedagogical Filmmaking in the Movement for Black Lives

As with Da 5 Bloods, Spike Lee's films are replete with experimental aesthetics that deconstruct the conventions of (white) Hollywood and re-frame and re-contextualize Black lives and Black history.

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 Grand Budapest Hotel' Gorgeously Conveys Our Need for Poise and Elegance

The sense of artifice in Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel helped him create an alluring reverie of both color and meaning.

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

A Fix of Fantasy: Reviving the Wondrous Films of Karel Zeman

The imaginative filmmaker Karel Zeman influenced many artists including Terry Gilliam, Tim Burton, fellow Czech Jan Švankmajer, the Brothers Quay, and animator Lawrence Jordan's recycling of classic 19th Century imagery.

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

Has Terry Gilliam Finally Captured Don Quixote?

In Gilliam's 25-year pursuit of filming Don Quixote, the story is at last made manifest in The Man Who Killed Don Quixote. But the character's spirit is crafty.

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

'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?

Film

Oh, That Tiger!: Fritz Lang's Indian Epics

Fritz Lang's The Tiger of Eschnapur and The Indian Tomb are hothouse flowers of cinema with gyrating dancers, man-eating tigers, pagan magic, groaning lepers, and mythic moments. Has Lang ever come up with more desperate, mad, or heroic symbols of futile struggle?

Film

'Captain America: Civil War' Mirrors Another Kind of American Civil War

In the Russo Brothers' Captain America: Civil War, friend turns on friend, and no easy resolution is reached. It's rather like the toxic online fan culture that followed the film's release.

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' Says Goodbye to the Great White God

At its better moments, James Gray and Dan Bradley's Ad Astra brings forth larger themes beyond the usual space action-thriller.

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

'Toy Story 4' and the Consolation of Uselessness

Josh Cooley's addition to the Toy Story universe is injected with something altogether more cosmic in scope than the previous films -- a comedic reverie of all things disintegratory.

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.

Television

Jane Goldman's 'Game of Thrones' Prequel Will Be Better Than the Original

As Empress of the Fantasists, if you will, Jane Goldman's prequel to Game of Thrones promises to be far less straightforward, way messier, and much more fun -- even without the dragons.

Film

'Spider-Man: Far From Home' Is a Perfect Date Movie

Spider-Man: Far From Home is arguably the cutest, funniest, most entertaining comic book superhero movie of the year.

Film

'Guardians of the Galaxy' Blew the Door to Comic Book Films Wide Open

With Guardians of the Galaxy, set to the soundtrack of an Awesome Mix Vol. 1 cassette tape, Marvel Studios adapted a little-known comic book property -- with a raccoon superhero -- into a hugely successful film and launched the next wave of comic book films.

Film

Film Composer Carter Burwell Provides the Missing Link to Chris Butler's 'Missing Link'

Among today's most prolific film composers and a two-time Academy Award nominee, Carter Burwell ventures into animated fare with the Chris Butler's Missing Link.

Film

'X-Men: Days of Future Past' Restored the Series to Its Former Glory

More than any previous X-Men film, Days of Future Past engages in deeply geeky, comic book-inspired elements resulting in the best cinematic representation of X-Men comics to-date.

Film

'The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot' Will, Like 'Donnie Darko', Surprise

The title suggests that this would be a schlocky B movie with a '70s-style grindhouse aesthetic, but The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then The Bigfoot is, in fact, a finely crafted and emotionally charged drama about ageing, loneliness, and lost love.

Film

'Avengers: Endgame' Satisfies on Every Level

Big budget action filmmaking doesn't get much better than the Russo Brothers' Avengers: Endgame.

Film

Claire Denis Goes for Broke with Hallucinatory Space Thriller, 'High Life'

High Life is more a series of tensions and breaking points than it is a traditionally satisfying space narrative, but Denis's allegiance to directors like Tarkovsky and Kubrick offers an intriguing view of humanity at the gates of the final frontier.

Film

East Meets West in Cold War Vacations 'The Golden Head' and 'Flying Clipper'

Flicker Alley restores Cinerama travelogue spectacles The Golden Head and Flying Clipper.

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