Film

Better Sex, Better World

By situating a lesbian love affair in the conventions of classic Hollywood filmmaking, Desert Hearts became a cult favorite.

The Almost-Villains of the Marvel Universe

Ultron is the most frightening enemy the Avengers have had to face so far, but can an ongoing franchise have a legitimately terrifying villain?

Insidious Tempter: A History of Iranian Cinema

Despite years of intimidation, censorship, and violence, Iran’s filmmakers continue to rise above the nation’s restrictions on the medium.

What Do We See in War Movies?

On the visual language of American Sniper‘71, The Hurt Locker, and Saving Private Ryan.

Abuse of Power Comes as No Surprise

On Dennis Hopper’s disavowed art-crime failure Backtrack, a film combining the work of Jenny Holzer, Jodie Foster as a glam-rock Patty Hearst, and Bob Dylan in a hardhat.

‘I Don’t Think We Remember it the Same Way’

Ava DuVernay’s Selma is more analytical than the average biopic—a negotiation between complex and intersecting histories, rather than a simple dramatic restaging.

‘That’s a Fairly Silly Question’: An Interview with Mike Leigh

The acclaimed (and playfully salty) filmmaker on the evolution of style, shooting in digital, and the limits and joys of making period pieces.

‘If You’re Pretentious, Be Obviously Pretentious’: An Interview with Frederick Wiseman

The National Gallery filmmaker talks about cultural elitism, film vs. digital, and the challenges of bringing artwork to life on screen.

J.K. Simmons demands perfection
Mastery is Misery

Two new films, Whiplash and Adult Beginners, make the same point: that real happiness means abandoning the obsessiveness required for greatness. Only one of them thinks this is a bad thing.

The Adult-Free Utopia

The Maze Runner depicts a world without adults: a giant maze beset by giant monsters. Is it a utopia?