Aubrey Plaza Turns Auteur in Hypnotic, Surreal ‘Black Bear’

When sex and death are often coupled up in film; they clash and burn, usually ending in kicking-and-screaming terror. Director Lawrence Michael Levine knows this, and his film “Black Bear,” now available on VOD, sets up erotic sequences which spiral into extended, dizzying vignettes focused less on these disarming acts than the conditions in artistic communities which allow them to occur.

‘Herself’ is a Touching Testament to Motherhood

In her latest directorial project, “Herself,” Lloyd presents a heart-wrenching tribute to relationships between women with intimate flair and candid performances. Lloyd highlights how strong female relationships are at the foundation of any woman’s struggle for success.

'Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom' Celebrates and Defends Black Art

Ultimately, “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom”’s captivating visuals, radiant performances, and celebration of the Blues in its music and sound design make for an affecting meditation on Black art and racism in the entertainment industry that unfortunately feels as timely as ever.

In ‘The Midnight Sky,’ Humanity is Doomed

In “The Midnight Sky” (which George Clooney also produced and directed) the battle is over before the film even starts. Earth is no longer a habitable planet due to a sudden unspecified disaster. Humans are still around, but it is only a matter of time before everyone dies out.

‘One Night in Miami…’ Dissects Power in America

Based on Kemp Powers' stage play of the same name, Regina King’s directorial debut “One Night in Miami…” is a thoughtful (if conventionally plotted) thesis on power and civil rights in America.

Retrospective: In ‘Leaving Las Vegas,’ Love Doesn’t Win

Based on the novel by John O’Brien, the film deftly explores the challenge of caring deeply for a person with devastating flaws. Through portraying the tension between the protagonists’ profound connection and persisting inner demons, Figgis artfully explores love, despair, and the capacity for — and, ultimately, futility of — change.

The Tragedy of the American Maniac, the Triumph of the American Institution: ‘One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest’ Refuses To Yield to Time

One of Hollywood’s finest, the three-time Academy award winner has paved an enduring legacy for himself by grace of an unparalleled sequence of arresting performances. What renders Nicholson’s contribution to “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” so remarkable is his uncanny ability to portray moral ambiguity.

'Boys State' Is a Rollercoaster Through Modern US Politics

A political documentary directed by Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, the film follows the Texas Boys State, an annual one-week program where a thousand high school students are put to the task of creating their own government. With dynamic shot composition, intimate character development, and a well-paced story, the film serves as a stunning microcosm of the state of US politics.

‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Is Just Plain Bad

Here’s a fun drinking game to play while watching “Hillbilly Elegy” (directed by Ron Howard): Take a shot every time someone yells. Take another every time Glenn Close’s Mamaw stumbles angrily toward someone.

Pixar's 'Soul’ Offers a Thesis on the Meaning of Life, and It’s a Pretty Good One

“Soul” offers a thesis on the meaning of human life — a difficult question to answer in a 200-page philosophy dissertation, much less a 104-minute animated film. And it does so with all the beauty, detail, and imagination that audiences have come to expect from Pixar.

‘Sound of Metal’ Opens Loudly But Ends Too Soon

In the universe of cinematic drummers, Ruben Stone, the heavy metal drummer in Darius Mauder’s “Sound of Metal,” is a classic Andrew Nieman. In short, he's a case study of how dedication, obsession and perfection come at the expense of mental — and often, physical — health.

Old America’s Young Men: How A24’s ‘Boys State’ Reinvents the Democratic Project

Boys State is a democratic experiment — think Model United Nations or Junior State of America on steroids. The documentary film closely follows four participants: charismatic Southern Westpoint-hopeful Robert MacDougall, political junky Ben Feinstein, Chicago native René Otero, and underdog Steven Garza.

'Rebecca' is Beautiful and Empty

This new adaptation is stunning, stressful, and messy: It delivers beautiful cinematography and psychological thrills, but fails to address the more interesting aspects of the source material.

‘Yi Yi’ is a Gorgeous Meditation on the Mundanity of Unhappiness

Nothing seems to happen in some films. In others, everything occurs at once. Taiwanese auteur Edward Yang’s mesmerizing drama “Yi Yi” (2000) deftly bridges this dichotomy, detailing the monotony of adulthood while also illuminating the complex emotional upheavals that strain even the closest of familial bonds.

‘Chungking Express’ is Poetic, Genre-Bending, and Incomplete

In his sensitive comedy-drama “Chungking Express” (1994), director Wong Kar-wai uses stunning visuals, layered dialogue, and a unique narrative structure to challenge the boundaries of time and the imagination.

‘Da 5 Bloods’ Explores the Possibility of Reparations for Vietnam Vets

Starting the film with excessively violent and authentic footage from the Vietnam War (which lacked a much-needed trigger warning), Lee makes himself clear: He has no desire to glamorize the brutality that millions of people endured.

Too Bad ‘Wag the Dog’ Isn't Fiction; Or, What It’s Like to Live in 2020

Totally absurd until it isn’t, the 1997 film “Wag the Dog” still manages to feel prescient despite its age and thematic distance from current American politics. In the realest sense possible, we are living in the film’s own world — except dialed up many, many notches.

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