Comme si, Comme Saw: Spiral

By Elias Savada. Strings a handful of grisly murder traps together in its fairly mundane whodunit frame.” As the Saw horror series goes, its new spinoff, being fully titled Spiral: From the Book of Saw, isn’t much to write home about. Despite the presence of comedian Chris Rock, in a […]

A Toxic “Crime of Passion”: Phillip Noyce’s Above Suspicion

By Theresa Rodewald. Whether the film wants its audience to revel in or ignore the casual, low-key sexism and the gratifying violence towards women is unclear. But it definitely expects us to cut it more slack.” Above Suspicion could have been an analysis of privilege and power, of patriarchal structures […]

Movie without a Mission: Ryan Kruger’s Fried Barry

By Elias Savada. This is one of the most unusual alien visitation films you’ll ever watch. Especially if you don’t give any thought to why the other-worldly presence was careless enough to pick Barry for its stopover on Earth.” The 3:44-minute South African short Fried Barry is an acid trip […]

Diva Directors Around the Globe: Bettina Oberli on My Wonderful Wanda

By Anna Weinstein. I’m really interested in the psychology of my children, and that has shown me that we are fragile and strong creatures. I’m really exploring and elaborating this subject. It’s always about family and relationships – that’s what all my movies are about.” Leading Swiss director Bettina Oberli has directed one television mini-series and six […]

Post-War Malaise in the Rural US: Spring Night, Summer Night (1967)

By Tony Williams. I can’t help but reflect that noir and neorealism, contemporary film movements, may exactly be opposite sides of the same coin. (Isn’t Open City a noir, and The Sound of Fury an alternate version of The Bicycle Thief?) The key traits that they have in common are […]

Return of the Early 80s Action Film: Guy Ritchie’s Wrath of Man

By Thomas Puhr. If you’re willing to surrender to the testosterone-saturated, borderline fascistic dialogue – at times, the characters’ locker room banter sounds like it’s taken from a subpar John Milius script, or an unironic Paul Verhoeven film – there’s some pleasure to be had.” With his latest genre exercise, […]

Fiction Telling Early Hollywood About Itself: from The Last Word

By Justin Gautreau. Well aware of film’s representational constraints, technologically and politically, these writers told a different story than the one early Hollywood could tell about itself.” From its earliest days in Southern California, the film industry inspired a body of fiction that helped shape Hollywood as a place of romance […]

Nature in a Beautiful Vacuum: Mindaugas Survila’s The Ancient Woods

By Thomas Puhr. Does a document of a unique place not lost some of its impact if packaged in a sociocultural vacuum? Perhaps, but as a means to contemplation and appreciation, The Ancient Woods exudes an undeniable power.” The Ancient Woods (2017), a nature documentary filmed in Lithuania, says a […]

Lost in a Genre Maze: Nick Stagliano’s The Virtuoso

By Theresa Rodewald. Could be an enjoyable action thriller [but] jumps between locations, plot points, and flashbacks without ever deciding which story to tell.” The Virtuoso (Anson Mount), an enigmatic hitman, lives a solitary life in the woods. After a mission goes awry, the Virtuoso reluctantly accepts a mysterious job, […]