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The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious
The Story of Temple Drake: Notorious

Often credited with inciting full enforcement of the Hays Code, this harrowing melodrama is one of the few Faulkner adaptations that successfully evokes the writer’s distinctive ambience and unsettling contradictions.

By Geoffrey O’Brien

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All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage
All About Eve: Upstage, Downstage

Full of booze, bons mots, and backstabbing, Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s impeccably crafted showbiz drama is the rare movie where—as its star, Bette Davis, once put it—“it all came out right.”

By Terrence Rafferty

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Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars
Now, Voyager: We Have the Stars

Perhaps the quintessential woman’s film of its era, this saga of self-discovery captures Bette Davis at the height of her reign at Warner Bros.

By Patricia White

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Cold War: You’re My Only Home
Cold War: You’re My Only Home

Two lovers cross boundaries both personal and national in this ambitious, zigzagging love story, one of the most romantic films of this century.

By Stephanie Zacharek

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Betty Blue: The Look of Love
Betty Blue: The Look of Love

Underneath its brilliantly colored, highly stylized surfaces, this key work of 1980s French cinema is a heartrending portrait of a woman struggling to both inhabit and reject traditionally feminine roles.

By ​Chelsea Phillips-Carr

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The Daytrippers: Alone, Together
The Daytrippers: Alone, Together

A scrappy comedy made on the cheap, Greg Mottola’s feature debut finds hilarity and heartbreak in the tale of one Long Island family’s Manhattan odyssey.

By Emily Nussbaum

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Matewan: All We Got in Common
Matewan: All We Got in Common

In one of his most resonant works of political filmmaking, John Sayles painstakingly brings to life an important and volatile chapter in American labor history.

By A. S. Hamrah

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Reign of Destruction
Reign of Destruction

Over its six and a half decades as a pop-culture icon, Godzilla has had many faces: a symbol of the nuclear age, a children’s movie superhero, and the engine behind a major international entertainment franchise.

By Steve Ryfle

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When We Were Kings: Ready to Fight
When We Were Kings: Ready to Fight

Drawn from a treasure trove of footage, this Oscar-winning documentary explores a watershed moment for one of the world’s greatest athletes—an international spectacle that revealed the complexities of black identity.

By ​Kelefa Sanneh

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Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”
Häxan: “Let Her Suffering Begin”

Decades before the witch became a staple of horror cinema, Benjamin Christensen used this gothic figure to explore the oppression of women in different historical periods.

By Chloé Germaine Buckley

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Häxan: The Real Unreal
Häxan: The Real Unreal

Integrating fact, fiction, objective reality, hallucination, and different levels of representation, this silent masterpiece invented what decades later would be known as the essay film.

By Chris Fujiwara

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The Circus: The Tramp in the Mirror
The Circus: The Tramp in the Mirror

During a tumultuous time in his life, Charlie Chaplin captured his own identity crisis with this deeply introspective comedy, which explores the fine line between success and failure.

By ​Pamela Hutchinson

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Local Hero: Our Man in Ferness
Local Hero: Our Man in Ferness

Decades before climate change became a mainstream topic of conversation, Bill Forsyth’s beloved comedy asked fundamental questions about humankind’s willingness to conserve the natural world.

By Jonathan Murray

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Cluny Brown: The Joys of Plumbing
Cluny Brown: The Joys of Plumbing

In his final completed film, Ernst Lubitsch created one of his most effervescent heroines, a nonconformist with a lust for life and a yearning for freedom.

By Siri Hustvedt

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Polyester: The Perils of Francine
Polyester: The Perils of Francine

After a string of punkish subcultural shockers, John Waters set out to make something different with this hilariously foul take on Hollywood melodrama, his first studio picture.

By Elena Gorfinkel

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The Cloud-Capped Star: A Cry for Life
The Cloud-Capped Star: A Cry for Life

In this landmark melodrama, director Ritwik Ghatak channeled his grief over the destruction of his beloved homeland, Bengal, in the wake of the Partition of India.

By Ira Bhaskar

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The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice: Acquired Tastes
The Flavor of Green Tea over Rice: Acquired Tastes

Class tensions in postwar Japan unsettle the domestic life of a middle-aged couple in this sweetly satirical marriage comedy from Yasujiro Ozu.

By Junji Yoshida

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The Koker Trilogy: Journeys of the Heart
The Koker Trilogy: Journeys of the Heart

Paving a path from neorealism to playfully deconstructive postmodernism, Abbas Kiarostami’s suite of village fables explores complex philosophical mysteries through disarmingly simple means.

By Godfrey Cheshire

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The Inland Sea: Invitation to the Voyage
The Inland Sea: Invitation to the Voyage

In Lucille Carra’s poetic adaptation of a classic travelogue by Donald Richie, an exploration of life in Japan’s Inland Sea becomes a path to self-discovery.

By Arturo Silva

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1984: Coming Soon to a Country Near You
1984: Coming Soon to a Country Near You

Brought to harrowing life in this film adaptation, George Orwell’s dystopian vision continues to ring true today. But so does his belief in the power of love and hope to overthrow the darkness.

By A. L. Kennedy

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Do the Right Thing: Walking in Stereo
Do the Right Thing: Walking in Stereo

Even as it inexorably rolls toward tragedy, Spike Lee’s masterpiece takes in the symphonic scale of the human condition in all its variety and precariousness.

By Vinson Cunningham

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The Baker’s Wife: Bread, Love, and a Trophy Wife
The Baker’s Wife: Bread, Love, and a Trophy Wife

In his first major film to capture the Provençal setting that would come to define his work, Marcel Pagnol brilliantly combined comedy and emotion, theater and cinema.

By Ginette Vincendeau

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Klute: Trying to See Her
Klute: Trying to See Her

Alan J. Pakula’s partnership with a newly politicized Jane Fonda turned what could have been a run-of-the-mill detective movie into a psychologically vivid portrait of a strong female character.

By Mark Harris

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Europa Europa: Border States
Europa Europa: Border States

This darkly comic vision of survival and deception during the Holocaust captures a crisis of ideological fanaticism that continues to plague contemporary Europe.

By Amy Taubin

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