Hooked on Hereditary’s spooky power? Check out director Ari Aster’s fucked-up short films

Mark your calendars, because Hereditary season is upon us. More like a vicious remake of Robert Redford’s Ordinary People than any studio-built jump-scare obstacle course, writer-director Ari Aster’s frightening feature debut is the feel-terrible movie of the summer: a shocker about a family slowly descending into…

The thrill and the tragedy of Jonathan Fire*Eater's Stewart Lupton

The very first photo in Lizzy Goodman’s recent oral history, Meet Me In The Bathroom, is of Stewart Lupton smoking a cigarette, framed by enormous angel wings. It’s a fitting image to begin Goodman’s story of New York’s rock rebirth in the early 2000s—a story that really began several years earlier, when the…

Somewhere in the Super Mario Bros. movie is a vision that’s weird enough to work

It’s a miracle the Super Mario Bros. movie is as barely coherent as it is. That much is clear from reading the many interviews and in-depth reports about its nightmarish production that have been published in the 25 years since it hit theaters. As they tell it, the husband and wife directing duo of Annabel Jankel and…

Frightened Rabbit’s Scott Hutchison made anthems out of agony

“I guess that’s what life has come to mean to me: It’s not ever quite right, but that’s okay,” Scott Hutchison told us in 2016. Josh Modell, our devoted ambassador to Frightened Rabbit, had asked him what he liked best about his job. Scott (forget journalistic practice; “Hutchison” doesn’t feel right for someone who’s…

Atlanta, Westworld, and the episode-description revolution

There’s always too much good TV to keep up with, but in a packed spring—The Americans, Westworld, The Terror, Legion, sigh—Atlanta’s second season has felt like uniquely essential viewing. Comedies go “dark” all the time, but few manage to delve all the way into horror, as Donald Glover’s has, while still retaining…

This season, The Handmaid’s Tale is making the connection between Gilead and present-day America explicit

Premiering three months after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration, The Handmaid’s Tale couldn’t help but feel significant. The relevancy hits because Margaret Atwood pulled every detail about the controlling and punishment of women in her dystopian novel from real-world examples, mostly historical (going as far…

The rainy, smoky, lovesick world of Alan Rudolph, the last of the romantics

Alan Rudolph, recently unretired film director and slept-on romantic of American movies, is speaking to me by phone from Bainbridge Island in Washington’s Puget Sound. The seaplanes are taking off, he says, and he’ll move if they get too noisy. His voice is an older man’s, reedy and sweetish with a California sound.…

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No one in Marvel's Avengers universe has a character arc that compares to Tony Stark's

As easy as it often looks to be Tony Stark—the success, the money, the endless array of awesome gadgets—the question of who, exactly, Tony Stark is as a person is more difficult to pin down. From movie to movie (and often even within a single film), no other character goes on as transformative a journey as Iron Man.

Netflix’s sci-fi thriller 3% is helping viewers conquer their fear of subtitles

Have you seen the Brazilian sci-fi thriller 3%? According to Netflix, there’s a good chance you not only saw it, but binged it. The streaming behemoth’s 2017 statistics (at least, the ones it released to the public) included a list of the most-binged shows globally, and coming in at number two—ahead of The OA, …

From femme fatale to complex superhero: The evolution of the MCU’s Black Widow

The Marvel Cinematic Universe hasn’t just changed the way people consume movie franchises. It’s also changed the way audiences engage with cinematic characters. Heroes introduced as the lead of their own film can go on to be tertiary characters in another and vice versa. And no character better embodies this new form…

A visit to the new Marvel museum exhibit, where the MCU movies are the real heroes

Anyone who’s read Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story or Blake Bell and Michael Vassallo’s The Secret History Of Marvel Comics knows there’s a rich background and involving narrative surrounding the creation of some of our most iconic and enduring superheroes. But a new exhibit makes a simpler argument:…

A spoonful of sitcom synergy: 25 years of the "Disney episode"

If you’ve watched sitcoms over the past 25 years, there’s a good chance you’ve seen a “Disney episode.” They all follow the same basic formula: A family (it’s always a family) is suddenly presented with an opportunity to go to Walt Disney World (it’s nearly always Walt Disney World). Maybe the uncle’s band is playing…

Ready Player One’s real nostalgia trip is to an era when critics didn’t hate pop culture references

Get ready for a blast of crazy pop-culture nostalgia: Remember when pop culture references weren’t considered a creative cheap shot? There was a time when a well-timed zinger about an old TV show or a recent movie was considered refreshing, rather than about on par with the band name-checking the town that they’re…