Recent
Books

'The Kill Chain': Why America Might Lose Its Next Big War

Christian Brose's defense-nerd position paper, The Kill Chain, inadvertently reveals that the Pentagon's problems (complacency, inertia, arrogance) reflect those of the country at large.

Film

'The Ghost of Peter Sellers': When an Actor Destroys His Own Movie

Peter Medak's documentary about his ill-fated 1974 pirate comedy, The Ghost of Peter Sellers, is less bonkers tale of a production gone mad than therapeutic excursion into a traumatic memory.

Film

'Capital in the 21st Century': Pie for the Rich, Crumbs for the People

Justin Pemberton's film version of Thomas Piketty's landmark book on the dangers of today's yawning income inequality, Capital in the 21st Century, is more TED Talk than documentary, but it's a handy summary nonetheless.

Film

'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.

Television

It Does Happen Here in HBO's 'The Plot Against America'

The organic growth of everyday American fascism and the understanding that pogroms are not a uniquely European phenomenon is rendered in stark and terrifying detail in David Simon's adaptation of Philip Roth's alternate historical novel, The Plot Against America.

Film

'The Wild Goose Lake' Is a Spellbinding Neo-Noir

A gang war becomes a massive police manhunt through a remote, lawless corner of China in Yi'nan Diao's moody, violent, and gorgeously shot crime story, The Wild Goose Lake.

Books

The Soul of the Machine in William Gibson's 'Agency'

In William Gibson's prequel to The Peripheral, Agency, Hillary Clinton is president, but that's only a detail.

Books

'Uncanny Valley': When the Confidence Boys Took Over Everything

Anna Wiener's Silicon Valley memoir, Uncanny Valley, reveals a piratical industry choking on its own hubris and blind to the cost of its destruction.

Film

'The 2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary' Shows People Struggling for Security

Anxiety about institutions' ability to provide security is at the root of a strong crop of nonfiction short subjects, which range from South Korea to Sweden, the suburbs of California to the city of St. Louis, in The 2020 Oscar-Nominated Short Films: Documentary.

Film

In 'Uncut Gems' Adam Sandler's Howard Ratner Is on the Brink of Everything, or Nothing

The Safdie Brothers' nervy ball of tension, #PMPick Uncut Gems, sends a hustler blasting recklessly through a city where everybody is on the make.

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

Cynthia Erivo's Performance Carries Kasi Lemmons' 'Harriet'

Cynthia Erivo's transcendent turn as Union spy, escaped slave, and Underground Railroad conductor Harriet Tubman shines through Kasi Lemmons' heroic but oversimplified biopic, Harriet.

Film

'The Lighthouse' Finds Lynchian Beauty in the Terror of Pitiless Nature

In Robert Eggers' brutal but lyrical 19th century horror show, The Lighthouse, there is a lot of David Lynch in the looming soundtrack and the steam-powered, proto-industrial feel in the scenes of tending the lighthouse machinery.

Film

Hamptons International Film Festival 2019: 'On Broadway'

Oren Jacoby's richly illustrated documentary on the ups and downs of modern Broadway, On Broadway, is all celebrations and no questions. Whether that's a problem depends on your level of theater mania.

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

'Official Secrets' Is a Devastating Reminder of the Power of Deception

Gavin Hood's thriller about British whistleblower Katharine Gun's attempt to stop the Iraq War, Official Secrets, is nothing special artistically, but its intense relevance burns the screen.

Film

'One Child Nation' Illuminates One Horror, Reveals Another

Starting as a personal look at the damages wrought by decades of China's one-child policy, One Child Nation exposes a deeper, baser level of national corruption.

Film

'Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood' Is Tarantino's Alternate History Theory of Moviemaking

Tarantino's surprisingly warm fantasy mash-up of California dreamin' and arthouse B-movie revenge fantasy, Once Upon a Time...in Hollywood, is dreamy but sacrifices coherence for the indulgence of changing history.

Film

'Sword of Trust' Is Random-Generation Comedy for a Truth-Deficient Time

Lynn Shelton's lo-fi Southern satire Sword of Trust yokes historical artifacts, the quest for meaning, Civil War Truthers, and the devastation of addiction to a pleasingly ramshackle comic quest.

Film

Olivier Assayas' 'Non-Fiction' Fiddles with Seriousness

In Olivier Assayas' speedy, slightly wan dispatch from salon society, Non-Fiction (Doubles vie), Parisians have badly concealed affairs and argue loudly but inconclusively about books and society.

Film

'In the Intense Now' and the Clash and Clangor of Conflict

João Moreira Salles's melancholic documentary, In the Intense Now (No Intenso Agora) stitches together amateur footage of the riots of 1968 to create a riveting rumination on the glee and disillusionment of idealism.

Reviews

'Woman at War': Planting Seeds of Revolt

In Women at War, an angry, jolting joy of a movie, an Icelandic woman turns the nation upside with her solo crusade of ecological sabotage.

Film

'Combat Obscura' Just Blows It All Up

In Combat Obscura, a jangled, jarring Afghan War documentary, a Marine Corps cameraman shows the flippant cynicism of combat in ways the military would rather we not think about.

Film

Banned 'Babylon' Finally Sees Light of Day

Franco Rosso's stark, rough-edged, and music-soaked 1980 drama, Babylon, about West Indian Londoners scrapping for survival, was never released due to worries about inciting violence. Until now.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.