Where Asteroid City shines, where it is made masterpiece, is in its brief flashes of joy: a good picture, a milkshake, a song and dance, one more martini. Here is a life not perfect—soldiers wielding guns, no personal space, endless boredom—made enviable by one thing only: each other.
Part fairy tale, part ghost story, Phantom Thread starkly pushes the genre of Gothic Romance into the positively morbid. Yet the fundamental ambiguity in its human relationships casts the longest shadow in this story, filling every corner of the stately rooms in which two unabashedly English souls organize their lives to deny their own fragility.
Whether lost in the pregnant pause of a phantom victory, swamped by the rush of bizarre sex appeal, or struggling with the desire to follow a new best friend but kept back by the ironclad claims of home, Pee-wee understands that dreams are the basis for strange journeys.
Less parable, more portrait of an athlete as a young man, Michael Ritchie's Downhill Racer reminds us that our yearning for a moral arc of sport is just that: a yearning.
Top Gun: Maverick is not, at its heart, a story about what one man can achieve. Instead, it's an exploration of whether Man even matters.
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery, takes the classic structures of a Christie caper and levels them up, building an impossibly polyhedral monument to all that a mystery can be.
The Fabelmans is not a coming-of-age story. There is no answer. It isn’t a parable or lesson or meditation. Instead it reflects, renders in real time, its creator’s relationship to his memories.
In weaker, lesser, dumber hands, Design for Living is a movie about three horny morons; in Lubitsch’s, all three characters spark and sparkle, an abundance of wit powering them through reckless indecisions.
Park Chan-wook’s new film may come to us in the guise of a detective story, a police procedural, even a quasi-erotic thriller. But at its heart, Decision to Leave is really a romantic comedy.
On death-sentence testimonies in Blade Runner, Wings of Desire, and Nomadland.
Taken as a body of work, the Before trilogy asks us to consider the tension between its fantasy and naturalism, and the extent of our own ability to exert similar control over a lonely world that ushers us through life without concern for whether we’ve found any meaning in it.
No one really changes. But, Broadcast News asks, isn’t that kind of beautiful?