When we talk about “chosen families,” we usually mean close-knit circles which, through our agency in their construction, stand as more authentic than the biological ones we were born into. They might be safe havens from the abusive homes to which fate has assigned us, but even when they’re not, the simple act of selecting them grants them a different, truer status.More
“The world is a mystery to me,” the awkward, aspiring writer Lee Jong-su tells his new “Gatsby-like” acquaintance Ben, at a moment of a maximum queasiness in Chang-dong Lee‘s Burning. The film is a mystery to us, not just in its genre mechanics but in terms of how we are supposed to engage with it: Burning talks and moves like a mystery, lingering on images in ways we’ve been trained to recognize as meaningful, before trailing away like smoke.More
Halloween is a week out now! Scared yet?
No? Perhaps it’s something like the genre exhaustion we’ve been feeling, or the gnawing sense that the horrors of the screen are ill-equipped to keep pace with the horrors of the world. (Am I alone in finding First Reformed to be the best horror movie of 2018?) Or maybe scary movies were never that scary in the first place?More
The works of horror fiction luminary Shirley Jackson might always play best in the chilly, overcast weeks leading up to Halloween, when gathering around a fire to elegantly process trauma seems to make more intuitive sense than in, say, June. That’s clearly the bet Netflix made in timing the release of its 10-part adaptation of The Haunting of Hill House, only the latest treatment of her classic.More
The Wild Boys, Bertrand Mandico’s feverish and gleefully overstuffed debut feature, is many things at once, and not all of those things make immediate sense together. It’s a highly theatrical coming-of-age story set on the high seas, featuring boys played by women becoming men who become women.More
With several months still to go, and no shortage of forthcoming releases, there’s already been talk about 2018 as The Year of Documentaries. Heather Lenz’s Kusama: Infinity probably won’t top too many year-end lists of these, but it merits inclusion: a solid, empathetic look at an artist whose body of work deserves the attention it’s finally receiving.More
No one told me about Yılmaz Güney, and I find this extremely rude.
Sure, I could’ve discovered one of the most famous figures of Turkish cinema on my own. It probably wouldn’t have been too difficult to uncover “the most seismic and controversial cultural figure of his generation and a catalyst for a new era of politically engaged filmmaking,” in Bilge Ebiri’s description, a writer and director who “remains an icon in Turkey to this day, his face gracing posters in coffeehouses and theaters, his name regularly invoked by contemporary filmmakers.” But would it have killed you to bring him up, given that he’s apparently the most interesting person in the world?More
One of the most insistent and silly tropes in coming-of-age films is the Preternaturally Articulate Child, the little tyke who functions in the narrative as, essentially, a grown-up trapped in a small body. Sometimes — particularly in that heady period of the late ’80s that gave us Like Father, Like Son, Vice Versa, and Big, among others — we compensate for this awareness with literal body-switch stories, but more often we just put alarmingly adult phrases and observations in the mouths of kids.More
When bulldozers accidentally hit upon a cache of film reels in the cold ground of Dawson City, deep in the Yukon Territory, it was compared to the discovery of King Tut’s tomb.
Hyperbolic? Maybe. But the find — 533 films “dating from the 1910s and 20s [and mostly] previously unknown to film scholars or thought to be totally lost” — really was something of a miracle.More
Boots Riley‘s sense of humor has always tended to the pointedly outlandish, indignant outrage paired with a much goofier sensibility. Case in point: the class-conscious dance track “Five Million Ways To Kill A CEO” from his legendary Oakland hip-hop ensemble The Coup, in which Riley, voice swaggering over the groove, lays out the case against a ruling class who “own sweats shops, pet cops and fields of cola / Murder babies with they molars on the areola,” before suggesting a number of ways to rectify the situation.More