Call it sentimental postmodernism—and the essential first entry in Jia Zhangke’s 2010s filmography, the most essential of the decade.
Personal essays on the experience of cinema
January 10 The Shapes of Water in the Films of Makoto Shinkai
Rain offers the perfect setting for a formative romance in the heart of Shinjuku, and it’s only one of the many manifestations of a natural deity governing time, but water suddenly turns into a calamity when people must the price for their actions.
December 19 Divorce Baumbach Style
Maybe you’ll spend time parsing out the differences between Charlie and Nicole long after the credits or maybe you’ll have chosen a side before the movie’s over. Thankfully, Marriage Story ends on a breathtakingly simple but moving gesture.
December 16 Uncut Gems and the Messes We Make of our Dreams
"The Safdie's leads are New Yorkers to the core whose strengths and flaws seem inseparable from that city’s spiritual vibrations and social manners, and whose manic-depressive tangents and crash landings might be said to have a more universal resonance, conjuring up messes that we all have some recognizable part in stirring up, which we also suffer from."
December 11 Merry Christmas, Mr. Woodcock: The Holiday Spirit of Phantom Thread
"Why does Phantom Thread embody the holiday spirit so comprehensively? Because Alma’s presence feels like Christmas."
December 11 Every Little Detail: The Meticulous Romance of Carol
"These are characters striving for love and excitement against a backdrop of boredom and restriction, and the images themselves effortlessly and unforgettably evoke a society that is pining, and pulled corset-tight."
December 10 Selling the Film: The Art of the Movie Poster
"The most underrated player in the movie business is also someone whose work we come to know intimately: It’s the artist who must scan a film for the single image that says everything, and then must find a way to implant that image firmly in the mind of the moviegoer."
November 14 Sontag, Scorsese, and the Cinema Itself: Duet for Cannibals
It was nearly 25 years ago that Susan Sontag opined in The New York Times that movies were in decline...
November 7 On Baumbach: I Don't Think You'll Ever Be A Kid Again, Kiddo
Though his characters remain developmentally immobile, Noah Baumbach’s observations have become sharper. His eye is less jaundiced, his touch is a little more tender, and his ability to pinpoint his characters’ personal, emotional, psychological, and social shackles is both more precise and more generous
October 29 On Downtown 81
The meeting of punk, hip-hop, graffiti, and beat expressionism began the cultural transformation that we understand today as the last stand of DIY, personal, private, and hand-made art against a homogenized digital future.