On Film

Essays

1267 Results
Malcolm X: Painting Superman Black

Spike Lee’s transcendent portrait of an American hero is an urgent call for the nation to live up to everything it claims to be.

By Barry Michael Cooper

WALL•E: Whoooooaaaaaaahhh . . .

Deeply influenced by the classics of silent-era comedy, this vision of a postapocalyptic future celebrates cinema as a universal language that offers us a sense of common ground.

By Sam Wasson

The Infernal Affairs Trilogy: Double Bind

A box-office success that buoyed Hong Kong’s beleaguered movie industry in the early 2000s, this suite of crime films combines narrative intricacy and moral complexity with an abundance of megastar charisma.

By Justin Chang

The Power of the Dog: What Kind of Man?

In her first film that places a male character front and center, Jane Campion trains her unsparing gaze on the brutality of patriarchal power and the pain of repressed homoerotic desire.

By Amy Taubin

Daisies: Giggling Generals; One and Two

In one of the most incendiary and formally experimental films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, two mysterious young women uncover humanity’s endless potential for revolt.

By Carmen Gray

Notes on In the Mood for Love

A film of rich colors, mournful silences, and haunting symmetries, Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece is a meticulously constructed memory box that invites fetishistic dissection.

By Charles Yu

Eve’s Bayou: The Gift of Sight

One of the few American films of its era directed by a Black woman, Kasi Lemmons’s feature debut advances a critique of patriarchy and asks questions about gender and sexuality that still resonate today.

By Kara Keeling

La Llorona: Turning Horror into Light

Drawing from Latin American folklore, Jayro Bustamente conjures an intimate, supernatural tale that engages with Guatemala’s history of violence.

By ​Francisco Goldman

Cure: Erasure

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hypnotic serial-killer film dives into the realm of the uncanny and envisions the breakdown of Japanese society.

By Chris Fujiwara

Arsenic and Old Lace: Madness in the Family

Frank Capra’s flamboyant farce—his only black comedy—finds an uncharacteristically frenetic Cary Grant surrounded by a clan of genteel maniacs.

By David Cairns

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

“I Am Muna moto

Cameroonian director Dikongué-Pipa’s debut feature is both a manifesto on cinema’s capacity to bring about social change and a celebration of love and its possibilities.

By Aboubakar Sanogo

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Prisioneros de la tierra: Tropical Oppression

A high point of early Argentine cinema, Mario Soffici’s 1939 film about the plight of plantation workers is an unflinching examination of exploitation and violence.

By ​Matthew B. Karush

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Two Girls on the Street: All Is Lies

This melodrama, made by André de Toth in his native Hungary, anticipates the unease of the director’s postwar Hollywood films with an array of radical stylistic choices and jarring visual tensions.

By Chris Fujiwara

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Sambizanga: Everyday Revolution

Sarah Maldoror’s only completed narrative feature tracks the Angolan struggle for independence from Portugal and reckons with the interlocking systems of colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy.

By Yasmina Price

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Chess of the Wind: The Glorious Miniature of an Upheaval

A long-obscure landmark of the Iranian New Wave, Mohammad Reza Aslani’s daringly ambiguous portrait of feudalism’s demise mirrors the revolutionary times in which it was made.

By Ehsan Khoshbakht

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Kalpana: Dreaming the Impossible Dream

Uday Shankar’s fantastical dance epic embodies a progressive, postcolonial Indian aesthetic that is decades ahead of its time.

By Shai Heredia

Sound of Metal: Throbbing Eternity

Darius Marder’s Oscar-nominated drama captures the isolation and despair of a man who suddenly goes deaf and struggles in vain to regain his former life.

By Roxana Hadadi

Exotica: Formula for Seduction

The Canadian auteur Atom Egoyan’s strip-club-set drama is an intricate tapestry of grief and trauma, held together by a longing for human connection.

By Jason Wood

Take Out: Off the Books

Sean Baker and Shih-Ching Tsou’s portrait of an undocumented Chinese immigrant working in New York City captures a suspenseful human drama with a DIY, documentary-like approach.

By J. J. Murphy

Faya dayi: Escape and Return

A lyrical study of a farming community in Ethiopia, Jessica Beshir’s debut feature reckons with the consequences of the region’s reliance on the cash crop khat.

By Yasmina Price

Hôtel du Nord: The Atmosphere in Question

With one foot in naturalism and the other in dreams and poetry, Marcel Carné’s visually rousing drama is an ode to the daily vicissitudes of ordinary Parisians.

By ​Edward Baron Turk

Buck and the Preacher: Unsettled Land

Sidney Poitier’s directorial debut, a western depicting Black cowboy heroes, allowed two of the industry’s most significant Black stars to reorient themselves as artists.

By ​Aisha Harris

Frownland: Down the Drain

With an obsessive attention to detail and tiny gestures, Ronald Bronstein’s debut feature film turns the tale of one neurotic Brooklyn man into a furious work of personal cinema.

By Richard Brody

Daddy Longlegs: Presto Magic!

The Safdie brothers drew inspiration from their childhood memories for their first feature as codirectors, a terrifying yet wondrous portrait of an unpredictable father.

By Stéphane Delorme