Well before Christian Grey donned his dumb ripped jeans, James Spader embodied the paradigmatic combination of vulnerability and composure; his appeal, from Crash to Secretary, requires our conviction that he would, and would like to, and could, punish us—only gently.
Breathless is at once a ferociously horny and formally audacious remake of Godard’s hyper-referential film, as well as an all-or-nothing, frenetically American and self-aware meditation on desperately empty people lost in the thrall of the pop culture that gives form to their wants and needs.
In Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, a carnal energy roils and simmers in the air, like the thunderstorms rolling in over the plantation, drenching everyone to the bone.
On the surface, Last Action Hero seems to be an action-buddy comedy with a gimmick—enjoyable for its humor, action set pieces, and clever metafictional gags—but at bottom it is a trenchant critique of action movies, the model of exaggerated masculinity they promote, and the real-life violence they both reflect and project.
Interview with the Vampire contains far more complex themes about human desires than initially meets the eye, and at the center of it all is Tom Cruise’s Lestat—the embodiment of a literal thirst trap, and a proud entry in the larger cinematic tradition of vampiric eroticism.
The further we get from American Psycho’s release, the closer we get to the world it depicted. The satire becomes more pointed, but instead of being a fun indictment of the ‘80s, it becomes an unsettling reflection of the way we live now.