On Film

Essays

1275 Results
Bergman Island: Form and Feeling

In this shape-shifting exploration of creativity, couplehood, and artistic influence, Mia Hansen-Løve offers a glimpse at the existential heavy lift required by her deceptively simple autofictions.

By Devika Girish

This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection: Staying Power

Filled with evocative images and guided by the unique aesthetic sensibility of the landlocked kingdom of Lesotho, Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese’s film is an exploration of the power of grief that is paradoxically uplifting.

By Zakes Mda

Lars von Trier’s Europe Trilogy: Straight to the Bottom of the River

One of contemporary cinema’s most provocative filmmakers launched his career with three deeply unnerving, deliriously genre-blending portraits of Europe.

By Howard Hampton

Imitation of Life: On Passing Between

In its ambivalence toward its provocative themes, John M. Stahl’s groundbreaking exploration of racial identity demonstrates the insolubility of Hollywood’s representational conundrum.

By Miriam J. Petty

The Adventures of Baron Munchausen: A Reason to Believe

A work of pure, rigorous enchantment, the final film in Terry Gilliam’s “Trilogy of Imagination” employs old-fashioned technical wizardry to bring about its wall-to-wall visual astonishments.

By Michael Koresky

Cooley High: Young, Gifted, and Black

A departure from the tales of sex and violence that defined Black cinema in the early 1970s, Michael Schultz’s beloved coming-of-age film celebrates the emotional bonds among a group of young Black men.

By Craigh Barboza

Mai Zetterling: Cinema Artist

A pioneering feminist artist drawn to universal themes, the Swedish director mined the complexity and humor of human behavior in films that courted controversy and cultivated a sense of detachment.

By Mariah Larsson

Michael Haneke’s Alienation Effect

Known for their austerity and shocking moments of violence, the Austrian director’s first three films cultivate a kind of humanism in their dogged refusal to coddle the viewer.

By John Wray

Malcolm X: Painting Superman Black

Spike Lee’s transcendent portrait of an American hero is an urgent call for the nation to live up to everything it claims to be.

By Barry Michael Cooper

WALL•E: Whoooooaaaaaaahhh . . .

Deeply influenced by the classics of silent-era comedy, this vision of a postapocalyptic future celebrates cinema as a universal language that offers us a sense of common ground.

By Sam Wasson

The Infernal Affairs Trilogy: Double Bind

A box-office success that buoyed Hong Kong’s beleaguered movie industry in the early 2000s, this suite of crime films combines narrative intricacy and moral complexity with an abundance of megastar charisma.

By Justin Chang

The Power of the Dog: What Kind of Man?

In her first film that places a male character front and center, Jane Campion trains her unsparing gaze on the brutality of patriarchal power and the pain of repressed homoerotic desire.

By Amy Taubin

Daisies: Giggling Generals; One and Two

In one of the most incendiary and formally experimental films of the Czechoslovak New Wave, two mysterious young women uncover humanity’s endless potential for revolt.

By Carmen Gray

Notes on In the Mood for Love

A film of rich colors, mournful silences, and haunting symmetries, Wong Kar Wai’s masterpiece is a meticulously constructed memory box that invites fetishistic dissection.

By Charles Yu

Eve’s Bayou: The Gift of Sight

One of the few American films of its era directed by a Black woman, Kasi Lemmons’s feature debut advances a critique of patriarchy and asks questions about gender and sexuality that still resonate today.

By Kara Keeling

La Llorona: Turning Horror into Light

Drawing from Latin American folklore, Jayro Bustamente conjures an intimate, supernatural tale that engages with Guatemala’s history of violence.

By ​Francisco Goldman

Cure: Erasure

Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s hypnotic serial-killer film dives into the realm of the uncanny and envisions the breakdown of Japanese society.

By Chris Fujiwara

Arsenic and Old Lace: Madness in the Family

Frank Capra’s flamboyant farce—his only black comedy—finds an uncharacteristically frenetic Cary Grant surrounded by a clan of genteel maniacs.

By David Cairns

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

“I Am Muna moto

Cameroonian director Dikongué-Pipa’s debut feature is both a manifesto on cinema’s capacity to bring about social change and a celebration of love and its possibilities.

By Aboubakar Sanogo

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Prisioneros de la tierra: Tropical Oppression

A high point of early Argentine cinema, Mario Soffici’s 1939 film about the plight of plantation workers is an unflinching examination of exploitation and violence.

By ​Matthew B. Karush

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Two Girls on the Street: All Is Lies

This melodrama, made by André de Toth in his native Hungary, anticipates the unease of the director’s postwar Hollywood films with an array of radical stylistic choices and jarring visual tensions.

By Chris Fujiwara

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Sambizanga: Everyday Revolution

Sarah Maldoror’s only completed narrative feature tracks the Angolan struggle for independence from Portugal and reckons with the interlocking systems of colonialism, capitalism, and patriarchy.

By Yasmina Price

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Chess of the Wind: The Glorious Miniature of an Upheaval

A long-obscure landmark of the Iranian New Wave, Mohammad Reza Aslani’s daringly ambiguous portrait of feudalism’s demise mirrors the revolutionary times in which it was made.

By Ehsan Khoshbakht

Martin Scorsese’s World Cinema Project No. 4

Kalpana: Dreaming the Impossible Dream

Uday Shankar’s fantastical dance epic embodies a progressive, postcolonial Indian aesthetic that is decades ahead of its time.

By Shai Heredia