Ad Astra (2019)

Where FIRST MAN examined the troubled sort of mindset that might set one up to leaving the planet, AD ASTRA really zeroes in on the specific ideas of duty, legacy, masculinity, self-sufficiency, pioneership and so on, those that form the sort of astronaut identity, those that would see a father leaving his family to go…

Raging Bull (1980)

A powerful depiction of male insecurity, paranoia, sexual neuroses, self-loathing, self-destruction, the Madonna-whore complex, and so on. The story itself – a true one – is generic in that even in the context of the film’s release, it was known that there’d been many other films of this nature. But what distinguishes it is the…

Network (1976)

Any film that says mass media is detrimental to culture is going to seem prescient to some degree, and NETWORK’s looming foreshadowing of corporate cosmoly, exploitation news, amorality of media, all of it tracks neatly to the present day. This is very obvious and self-evident not only in the film but all the amounted discourse…

The King of Comedy (1982)

THE KING OF COMEDY is an unnerving character study of an obsessive…well, it’s not exactly accurate to call himself a stand-up comedian, although that’s what he fashions himself as. But he doesn’t do any stand-up. He performs only in front of cardboard cutouts of celebrities arranged around his room. He pushes the country’s most famous…

Taxi Driver (1976)

TAXI DRIVER feels like a dream, or more accurately the kind of insomniac haze between dreaming and wakefulness, with the way nearly every scene is so hyperfocused on Travis Bickle’s POV, the intermittent narration, the melancholy jazz score, the point-of-view sequences in the taxi Travis rides around the city like a portable metal coffin he’s…

It: Chapter Two (2019)

IT: CHAPTER ONE took an interesting approach to Stephen King’s behemoth of a novel, bifurcating its frequent switches between the past and the present into purely the past sections. Doing so gave the film a kind of GOONIES-esque purity, really drilling down on that very Stephen King sense of childhood, and making a more isolated…

Booksmart (2019)

The relentless comparisons to SUPERBAD in this film’s marketing really hurt stand on its own. It’s a perfectly good, enjoyable, well-made high school comedy…and SUPERBAD is its own, iconic film from a very different context. “Female SUPERBAD!” might sound like a catchy hook but it’s a disservice to both films, especially when what works well…