On Film

Essays

1331 Results
Anatomy of a Fall: Seeing and Believing

This Oscar-winning courtroom drama revolves around one of director Justine Triet’s most complex creations—a high-achieving female protagonist whose motivations remain tenaciously mysterious.

By Alexandra Schwartz

Girlfight: Taking by Storm

In Karyn Kusama’s award-winning feature debut, Michelle Rodriguez delivers a smoldering performance as a young woman who finds in boxing a container for her grief, loss, and rage.

By Carmen Maria Machado

Three Revolutionary Films by Ousmane Sembène: History in the Remaking

The Senegalese filmmaker’s steadfast devotion to African autonomy led him to become a foundational contributor to the hard-won, dynamic flourishing of an independent cinematic tradition on his home continent.

By Yasmina Price

Peeping Tom: He Has His Father’s Eyes

Despite the harsh critical drubbing it received upon its release in 1960, Michael Powell’s lurid tale of obsession and violence is now widely regarded as a masterpiece—and as a key inspiration for an entire subgenre of “slasher” movies.

By Megan Abbott

Dogfight: In Love and War

The gentle rapport between actors Lili Taylor and River Phoenix fuels this humane examination of American masculinity, a film that showcases the nuanced and compassionate approach of director Nancy Savoca.

By Christina Newland

I Am Cuba: The Filmmakers Who Came In from the Cold

With its delirious images and audaciously poetic style, Soviet filmmaker Mikhail Kalatozov’s hymn to revolution moves beyond ordinary logic to capture the mysterious beauty of collective utopia.

Werckmeister Harmonies: Dark Side of the Earth

Unfolding in elaborately choreographed long takes, this sublime adaptation of László Krasznahorkai’s novel The Melancholy of Resistance captures the weight of time and the mood of fascism with a haunting palpability.

By Dennis Lim

Saint Omer: Shades of Motherhood

In her first fiction film, director Alice Diop brings the skills of observation she has learned from her documentary work to a thought-provoking exploration of race, power, and motherhood.

By Jennifer Padjemi

To Die For: You’re Not Anybody in America Unless You’re on TV

In Gus Van Sant’s wickedly funny tale of suburban depravity, Nicole Kidman plays a vacuous weather reporter whose hunger for fame anticipates our own era of digital celebrity.

By Jessica Kiang

The Runner: Cycles and Circles of Desire

One of the first postrevolutionary Iranian films screened and celebrated internationally, Amir Naderi’s autobiographical masterpiece is a lyrical exploration of childhood that showcases the director’s gift for radical simplicity.

By Ehsan Khoshbakht

All the Beauty and the Bloodshed: The Highest Stakes

In this profoundly emotional portrait of artist Nan Goldin, director Laura Poitras explores how her subject’s creative sensibility and commitment to activism spring from the same source.

By Sarah Schulman

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