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Film

Robert Altman's Quirky 'Popeye' Boasts a Can Full of Geniuses

Robert Altman's busy, mobile style perfectly captures and mirrors E.C. Segar's rowdy, rambunctious Popeye comic.

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Film

What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .

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

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.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Teaching Miyazaki's Films in the Time of Pandemic

Miyazaki's powerful worldview speaks to our times in striking ways: the hidden terror of the natural world; the need for truth and compassion; the humanism in the face of adversity.

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.

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

'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

Rediscovering Japanese Director Tomu Uchida

A world-class filmmaker of diverse styles, we take a look at Tomu Uchida's very different Bloody Spear at Mount Fuji and The Mad Fox.

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

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.


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