Godzilla Vs. Kong shows the limitations of “realistic” giant monsters

The cartoonist Sergio Aragonés once pointed out something in an interview that has stuck with me for some thirty years. He said that when Superman in the comic books was rendered less realistically and more cartoonishly, he could pick up a tall building by its corner and we could believe it. In later years, Aragonés said, when Superman and his surroundings were depicted with more physical realism and you could see all his veins and muscles, all the bricks in the building, we could no longer believe in such a…


Raiders of the Lost Ark still kicks ass at 40

There are greater films, of course. The usual suspects, like Citizen Kane or The Godfather — those are greater, and many others. But if there were only two films left in the world, Citizen Kane and Raiders of the Lost Ark, and I had to rescue one and consign the other to flames, I know which way my heart would vote. Citizen Kane, the masterpiece and influential classic, would burn.

Perhaps I speak rashly. Perhaps I was also ten years old when I first saw Raiders, the absolute ideal time…


Alain Resnais’ Last Year at Marienbad still confounds at age 60

Ah, Last Year at Marienbad, the mystery all film lovers eventually must grapple with. Denounced as impenetrable, lionized as richly accessible, this damn thing has had ’em buzzing for over half a century (it turns 60 on June 25), and nobody has quite pinned this butterfly to the board. Its makers, writer Alain Robbe-Grillet and director Alain Resnais, devised Marienbad as the ultimate Rorschach test — the movie is almost entirely what you bring to it. Thus, it has attracted ecstasies of interpretation; this seemingly genre-free work has been…


George Romero’s “lost” film The Amusement Park resurfaces

The prospect of a “lost film” from George A. Romero (1940–2017), director of Night of the Living Dead and its several sequels, may sound as mouthwatering to you as it did to me. A word of warning, though: don’t let anyone overhype it for you. The Amusement Park, a 54-minute film completed in 1973 but unseen until recently (it will have its streaming debut on Shudder next week), is a downer of an allegory about discrimination against the elderly. Romero, at loose ends at the time, was hired by the Lutheran Society…


Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead is a bland mouthful of red meat

Image: The Stone Quarry

It’d be nice if Athena Perample got a career bump from Zack Snyder’s mediocrity at length Army of the Dead. A stuntwoman, Perample appears in the new zombie film as a character credited as Alpha Queen, and she slinks around hissing and looking fabulous in an undead Corpse Bride fashion. (Even the zombies are hotties in Snyderland.) I’ve seen Army of the Dead described as being full of characters who could carry their own interesting movies, but are instead all stuck with each other in a boring…


Alexandre Aja’s Oxygen is a minimalist triumph

Image: Gateway Films

If Oxygen, which started principal photography in July 2020, isn’t the ultimate quarantine film, I don’t know what is. There are flashbacks, but most of the movie is a matter of one actress, Mélanie Laurent, alone inside a cryogenic pod with nobody to interact with except voices.


Roy Andersson’s About Endlessness is life in miniature(s)

It is the common fatigue. That’s what my ears thought they heard during a scene in Roy Andersson’s typically deadpan About Endlessness. What I was really hearing was a priest delivering communion in Swedish: The body of Christ broken for you, or Kristi kropp bruten för dig. But, in a lot of ways, Andersson’s first film in five years, and possibly his last, is all about the common fatigue. The priest, as it happens, is going through the motions, administering the ritual with a heavy heart and hollow soul — we have…


Jim Jarmusch’s coruscating Dead Man turns 25

Jim Jarmusch’s Dead Man is a pristine and delicate mood piece — or, at least, as delicate as a movie with such alarming incidents of violence can be. Surely it wasn’t his intention, but Jarmusch, in opting for black and white photography (world-class D.P. Robby Müller did the honors, in a portfolio of lush, stark beauty that warrants inclusion among the all-time finest achievements of cinematography), found a way around the MPAA’s overactive gag reflex. …


Bob Odenkirk gives us a homebody samurai in Nobody

Sometimes you just want a brutality expert wrecking house and perforating faceless bad guys, and Nobody gives you that and then some. At ninety-one minutes, the movie embodies “lean and mean,” and it’s not about anything — it’s just an excuse to get our hero into as many ferocious encounters as possible. It’s the kind of pure cinema that traditionally gets little respect except from action-film fans, who have seen everything and just want to see it done well. Is it realistic? Gedoudda here. It’s a cartoon. But as directed by…


Lee Isaac Chung’s Minari serves up a quietly engaging slice of life

Minari is a modest film about big things — ambition, family, immigration and assimilation. It’s based loosely on writer-director Lee Isaac Chung’s experiences in a South Korean family living in rural America. In 1983, Jacob Yi (Steven Yeun) brings his wife Monica (Han Ye-ri) and two kids, and all their belongings, to what looks like a godforsaken five acres of Arkansas land, with a forlorn trailer sitting atop the dry grass. Monica hates the place on sight; Jacob hopes to raise a farm here, and one day have…

Rob Gonsalves

I see movies and write about ’em. Old, new, makes no difference.

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