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Television

Flirting with Demons at Home, or, When TV Movies Were Evil

Just in time for Halloween, a new Blu-ray from Kino Lorber presents sparkling 2K digital restorations of TV movies that have been missing for decades: Fear No Evil (1969) and its sequel, Ritual of Evil (1970).

Recent
Film

Outsiders Inside the State in Rosi's 'Christ Stopped at Eboli'

Francesco Rosi's tale of peasant life in a remote part of fascist Italy challenges the notion of the State and the individual's role in and duty to its preservation.

Television

Jules Dassin Versus Mark Hellinger and 'The Naked City'

Producer Mark Hellinger may have committed the biggest crime in the filming of Jules Dassin's classic film-noir, 'The Naked City'.

Film

Kamala Harris' 2020 VP Run Evokes Rod Lurie's 2000 'The Contender'

Like The Contender's Laine Hanson 20 years prior, US Democratic Party Vice-President choice, Kamala Harris, cuts the oxygen feeding the US political climate's raging sexism.

Film

The Poetry of Murder in Jean Renoir's 'Toni'

Renoir's Toni is a grim piece of work saturated in summer sunshine and tree-speckled shadows.

Film

Uncensored 'Native Son' (1951) Is True to Richard Wright's Work

Compared to the two film versions of Native Son in more recent times, the 1951 version more acutely captures the race-driven existential dread at the heart of Richard Wright's masterwork.

Film

Exploitation Shenanigans 'Test Tube Babies' and 'Guilty Parents' Contend with the Aftermath

As with so many of these movies about daughters who go astray, Test Tube Babies blames the uptight mothers who never told them about S-E-X. Meanwhile, Guilty Parents exploits poor impulse control and chorus girls showing their underwear.

Film

'Lost Girls and Love Hotels' and Finding Comfort in Sadness

William Olsson's Lost Girls and Love Hotels finds optimism in its message that life tears us apart and puts us back together again differently.

Film

Paul Leni's Silent Film 'The Man Who Laughs' Is Serious Cinema

There's so much tragedy present, so many skullduggeries afoot, and so many cruel and vindictive characters in attendance that a sad and heartbreaking ending seems to be an obvious given in Paul Leni's silent film, The Man Who Laughs.

Film

Rodd Rathjen Discusses 'Buoyancy', His Film About Modern Slavery

Rodd Rathjen's directorial feature debut, Buoyancy, seeks to give a voice to the voiceless men and boys who are victims of slavery in Southeast Asia.

Film

The Dance of Male Forms in Denis' 'Beau travail'

Claire Denis' masterwork of cinematic poetry, Beau travail, is a cinematic ballet that tracks through tone and style the sublimation of violent masculine complexes into the silent convulsions of male angst.

Film

Buster Keaton's Last Silent Masterpieces: 'The Cameraman' and 'Spite Marriage'

Buster Keaton was aware that the camera can be a catalyst of violence, especially stereotypical violence, for audience consumption -- and that it could also evoke the shared joy of cathartic laughter.

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

Investing in Surfaces in Renoir's 'Toni'

Discovery of what lies beyond the surface—or better, the profound meaning invested in surfaces—is the central motif of Renoir's Toni.

Film

Addicted to Drug Dramas "She Shoulda Said NO!" and "The Devil's Sleep"

Films by Sam Newfield and W. Merle Connell in Kino Lorber's Forbidden Fruit series show how exploitation films are blueprints for mainstream cinema.

Film

Serene Ambiguities in Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry

So much of Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry feels relevant to the 2020 experience, in which small distances have never felt greater.

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

"The Personal History of David" Puts a Playful Spin on Dickens' Social-Climbing Epic

Armando Iannucci veers sharply from pitch-black satire to a more upbeat comedy with The Personal History of David Copperfield, starring Dev Patel as a hero who would have been eaten alive in Veep.

Film

Choosing Experience in Abbas Kiarostami's 'Taste of Cherry'

Critic Roger Ebert was frustrated with Abbas Kiarostami's Taste of Cherry because the film subverts our desire to understand another -- the very core of cinema's intent.

Film

Michael Almereyda's 'Tesla' Imagines Its Man

Faced with the limitations of historical documentation of inventor Nikolai Tesla, director Michael Almereyda and actor Ethan Hawke choose instead to convey his spirit.

Film

"Just Don't Believe Truth" in John Cassavetes' 'Husbands'

The pugnacious characters in Cassavetes' Husbands couch their inauthenticity in bullying. For them, anger is more authentic than placidity, rage more authentic than sadness, cruelty more authentic than kindness.

Film

Greta Gerwig's Adaptation of Loneliness in Louisa May Alcott's 'Little Women'

Greta Gerwig's film adaptation of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel Little Women strays from the dominating theme of existential loneliness.

Film

The Inescapable Violence in Netflix's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui)

Fernando Frías de la Parra's I'm No Longer Here (Ya no estoy aqui) is part of a growing body of Latin American social realist films that show how creativity can serve a means of survival in tough circumstances.

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

The Erotic Disruption of the Self in Paul Schrader's 'The Comfort of Strangers'

Paul Schrader's The Comfort of Strangers presents the discomfiting encounter with another —someone like you—and yet entirely unlike you, mysterious to you, unknown and unknowable.

Television

HBO's 'Lovecraft Country' Is Heady, Poetic, and Mangled

Laying the everyday experience of Black life in 1950s America against Cthulhuian nightmares, Misha Green and Jordan Peele's Lovecraft Country suggests intriguing parallels that are often lost in its narrative dead-ends.

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

In Amy Seimetz's 'She Dies Tomorrow', Death Is Neither Delusion Nor Denial

Amy Seimetz's She Dies Tomorrow makes one wonder, is it possible for cinema to authentically convey a dream, or like death, is it something beyond our control?

Film

Performing Race in James Whale's 'Show Boat'

There's a song performed in James Whale's musical, Show Boat, wherein race is revealed as a set of variegated and contradictory performances, signals to others, a manner of being seen and a manner of remaining hidden, and it isn't "Old Man River".

Film

Paranoia Goes Viral in 'She Dies Tomorrow'

Amy Seimetz's thriller, She Dies Tomorrow, is visually dazzling and pulsating with menace -- until the color fades.

Film

Anna Kerrigan Prioritizes Substance Over Style in 'Cowboys'

Anna Kerrigan talks with PopMatters about her latest film, Cowboys, which deviates from the common "issues style" approach to LGBTQ characters.

Film

It's a Helluva of a World in Alain Corneau's 'Série Noire'

Alain Corneau's Série Noire is like a documentary of squalid desperation, albeit a slightly heightened and sardonic one.

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.

Television

The Enduring Appeal of 'Unsolved Mysteries'

Society is reckoning with Clinton-era "tough-on-crime" policies, law enforcement is no longer seen as the unambiguous good guys, yet true crime television thrives in Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries.

Film

Luchino Visconti's L'Innocente Lushly Escalates Emotional Intensity and Moral Quagmire

The wealthy, spoiled, entitled, monstrously egotistical male protagonist in Visconti's L'Innocente spends his time in various states of suffering, often sweating profusely and sometimes with eyes puffy and tear-stained.

Film

The Conception of Morality in Éric Rohmer's 'Six Moral Tales'

Éric Rohmer isn't interested in a pure critique of misogyny; his moral tales are mere observations on how we use other people to serve our interests and how we invent narratives from our relationships through which we define ourselves.

Film

Breaching Closure in Pasolini's 'Teorema'

Pier Paolo Pasolini's classic drama, Teorema, grapples with the parable -- the manner of knowing that which always remains just beyond our grasp.


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