On Film

Essays

1320 Results
The Roaring Twenties: Into the Past

Hollywood legend Raoul Walsh’s first movie for Warner Bros. is an epoch-spanning tall tale that takes inspiration from the New York City of his childhood and closes out a run of influential gangster films he inaugurated in the silent era.

By Mark Asch

The Heroic Trio / Executioners: To the Power of Three

Combining the influence of the wuxia genre, the Hong Kong New Wave filmmaking of the 1980s, and loony comic-book futurism, these two ass-kicking fantasias are dazzling showcases of female physicality.

By Beatrice Loayza

Nothing but a Man: What We Can See in Ourselves

Released at the height of the civil rights movement, this deceptively simple tale of a working-class Black man’s search for love and self-worth broke ground with its realism, nuance, and intensity.

By Gene Seymour

Eric Rohmer’s Tales of the Four Seasons: Another Year

Through its echoes, resonances, and intricately branching stories, this cycle of films evokes the feeling that life, like the weather, is based on patterns too complex to ever be fully predictable.

By Imogen Sara Smith

Trainspotting: Beyond the Tracks

Shifting recklessly between realism and surrealism, this drug-fueled odyssey from director Danny Boyle is a propulsive satire of depleted masculinity in urban Scotland.

By Graham Fuller

Mudbound: Friendship, Motherhood, and Redemptive Softness

A kaleidoscopic work of literary adaptation, Dee Rees’s fourth feature film is anchored in a powerful fraternal bond between two men from opposite sides of the color line.

By Danielle Amir Jackson

Chantal Akerman, 1968–1978: The Weight of Being

In the first ten years of her extraordinary career, the Belgian filmmaker used the raw materials of quotidian, marginal lives to spark a radical reinvention of cinema.

By Beatrice Loayza

Lone Star: Past Is Present

Drawing on the influence of a wide range of genres, John Sayles creates a densely layered narrative that unfolds across two timelines and explores the long-hidden secrets of a small border town in Texas.

By Domino Renee Perez

Branching Out: Guillermo del Toro’s Transformation of an Evergreen Tale

This powerful adaptation of Carlo Collodi’s Pinocchio combines the novel’s ever-relevant critique of corrupt institutions with a fierce belief in kindness and selfless courage.

By Cornelia Funke

Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio: Sculpted to Life

Imbuing stop-motion animation with vivid humanity, this ambitious take on a classic tale grapples with the realities of human suffering, fascism, and the parent-child bond.

By Matt Zoller Seitz

Head in the Clouds: The Cinema of Albert Lamorisse

Drawn to high-risk productions and propelled by his own technical ingenuity, French director Albert Lamorisse crafted some of cinema’s most beguiling visions of childhood, animals, and flight.

By David Cairns

Mean Streets: Rites of Passage

Martin Scorsese’s breakthrough feature—a rare example of a work of personal cinema with broad popular appeal—delivers all the elements of his future career in one spectacular, bravura throw-down.

By Lucy Sante

La cérémonie: Domestic Distubrances

In this late-career triumph, French thriller master Claude Chabrol asks what women are capable of when unencumbered by marriage, children, and class propriety.

By Sarah Weinman

Bugs Bunny in the Shaolin Temple

In a string of wildly entertaining films released between the late seventies and the mideighties, Jackie Chan paved the way to his international stardom by turning himself into a real-life cartoon character.

By Alex Pappademas

Nanny: Troubled Water

With the full force of her imagination, director Nikyatu Jusu examines the complicated nature of Black motherhood, as well as the importance of Black communion as an antidote to racial oppression.

By Angelica Jade Bastién

The Others: Something in This House

Influenced by haunted-house classics like The Innocents and Rebecca, this brilliantly restrained ghost story is a dramatization of extreme repression that builds toward an explosive reckoning.

By Philip Horne

Tod Browning’s Ballyhoo Art

The director of Freaks, The Unknown, and The Mystic tested the limits of early-Hollywood taste with his provocative visions of carnival life and society’s outcasts.

By Farran Smith Nehme

Moonage Daydream: “Who Is He? What Is He?”

Brett Morgen’s portrait of David Bowie is a free-associative hybrid of pop history and imaginative extravaganza—impressionistic, eclectically allusive, and, above all, immersive.

By Jonathan Romney

La Bamba: American Dreaming, Chicano Style

In this vibrant, music-filled portrait of an artist and his community, director Luis Valdez gathers what little is known about rock-and-roll idol Ritchie Valens and fuses it with a lived-in understanding of what it is to be Chicano.

By Yolanda Machado

The Trial: Crime of the Century

In the film he once called his best, Orson Welles found a cinematic language equal to Franz Kafka’s distinctive effects, creating a vertiginous experience that accentuates the writer’s subterranean perversity.

By Jonathan Lethem

Drylongso: A Refuge of Their Own

Cauleen Smith’s debut feature celebrates the bond between two young Black women and the ways that they imaginatively, collaboratively choreograph their lives in the face of their common vulnerabilities.

By Yasmina Price

Bo Widerberg’s New Swedish Cinema: Another Sweden

While frequently drawing from the depths of his private life, the writer-director also sought to shake Swedish cinema out of a state of complacency by engaging with the country’s turbulent social landscape.

By Peter Cowie

Dim Sum: A Little Bit of Heart: Family Style

For the first of several domestic melodramas in his filmography, Wayne Wang drew on the influence of Yasujiro Ozu and the talent within his own San Francisco community to explore the relationship between a mother and her daughter.

By Brian Hu

One False Move: “Lock Things Up”

A master class in dramatic tension and pacing, Carl Franklin’s neonoir masterpiece explores the desperate energy and desperate deeds that fuel real crime.

By William Boyle