In more ways than one, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory is a movie about how your boss thinks it’s okay to die at work. Obviously it’s not the preferred outcome, but it’s a plenty acceptable one.
Wake in Fright is a horror movie like no other. It is a film that seizes you by the arm—like a man in a bar who will not let you leave until you’ve had just one more drink—and then drags you, kicking and screaming, down into the ugliness inside yourself.
The Devils is not your edgy-for-the-sake-of-edgy middle finger to the Church many at the time took it to be. It’s, in fact, a very religious film made by a Catholic artist trying to make sense of his own faith.
The principal Homeric venture of Blue Water, White Death is that there is still worth in seeing the unseen things in the world. There is still worth in testifying to the idiot spirit of human inquiry.
If many of Steven Spielberg’s films are marathon novels, Duel is a sonnet—it has room to play because of its formal constraints.
In both Play Misty for Me and The Beguiled, Eastwood finds himself at the mercy of hysterical, horned-up women scorned. Not only does he play against type as victim to some tenacious broads, but the taciturn western hero—historically smoldering yet essentially sexless—presents in both films as a total horndog.
In the six-decade and soon-to-be-25 film oeuvre of the series, Diamonds Are Forever stands out as the most peculiar entry in the franchise thanks to its unintentional embrace of the surreal and the challenges it poses to its own pedigree and dogma.
Tales of Beatrix Potter is a loose collection of concepts and elements that barely coheres, but manages to engage—and even delight—in spite of what should be overwhelming flaws.
At a time when hippie culture papered over structural problems with platitudes about “peace and love,” Punishment Park presents an unflinching condemnation of systemic racism and oppression.
If much of Fonda’s life both before and after Klute was marked by losses of her own identity as she attempted to mold herself into whatever the dominant man in her life wanted, Klute captures a rare and specific transitional moment.
Fifty years since its release and 20 years since I first saw it, The Last Picture Show remains one of the best portraits of the ways we often fail to be worthy of one another, and one of the most generous towards the myriad disappointments of growing up and growing old, especially for women.
For all its strangeness and inexplicability, Billy Jack is very real, and its confusion and missteps make it more than a snapshot of its era—it’s a self-portrait of a country during a strange time.