Neither right- nor left-wing, First Man plants its flag in a troubling ambivalence

It’s kind of hard to believe that First Man has been in theaters for less than a week. Hasn’t the controversy surrounding this movie been raging for a small eternity? Damien Chazelle’s biodrama about Neil Armstrong, the late astronaut and American icon, has already inspired an entire awards season’s worth of hot-take…

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and the story of indie rock’s best new supergroup

Julien Baker, Phoebe Bridgers, and Lucy Dacus make records that seemingly flaunt their loneliness to make the listener feel less alone. Devastatingly honest, each singer-songwriter’s most recent record—Baker’s Turn Out The Lights, Bridgers’ Stranger In The Alps, and Dacus’ Historian, all out in the past year or…

Why BoJack Horseman is uniquely qualified to tackle Hollywood’s moral reckoning

Five seasons in, BoJack Horseman has perfected its mix of satire, wall-to-wall (sometimes literally) visual gags, and quietly devastating drama. The two-dimensional medium hasn’t prevented series creator Raphael Bob-Waksberg from developing some of TV’s most complex characters, or from offering one of the most…

Mandy and Beyond The Black Rainbow share a lot more than the year 1983

Panos Cosmatos’ new film, Mandy, has earned the type of wild-eyed, freakout response that befits a movie about Nicolas Cage going apeshit with a battle ax. If that feels memetic and jokey, like a Chuck Norris coloring book come to life, the movie containing it does not. Mandy moves at a miasmic pace, fading gently…

The new American Horror Story combines seasons 1 and 3—here’s a refresher on what happened

Ryan Murphy’s unnecessarily grandiose visions of a wholly interconnected American Horror Story universe have come to pass: The new season, American Horror Story: Apocalypse, will bring together the first and third seasons of the show for a new story that ties together those respective storylines. Like many people, you…

Trash, class, and free cigarettes: My life with The Jerry Springer Show

Of the many lessons I’ve learned the hard way in my life, one of the hardest has been this: Never take a job for the story. Sure, you’ll win every game of “two truths and a lie” at every icebreaker function for the rest of your life if you take a job on The Jerry Springer Show, as I did when I was 22 years old and…

In the feminist fairy tales of 1998, the princess saves herself

“A woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets.” Titanic’s unofficial thesis receives flak to this day, as 21 years of hindsight confirm that, yeah, it’s strange and perhaps not very romantic for a 100-year-old woman to live her whole life in service of a man she knew for three days. In short, despite James Cameron’s…

On Mission: Impossible, Edge Of Tomorrow, and the morbid star power of Tom Cruise

One of these days, Tom Cruise is going to seriously hurt himself. It’s kind of inevitable, isn’t it? Cruise, who just turned 56 but still throws himself into every role like a teenager certain of his own invincibility, has a new Mission: Impossible movie out, the terrifically exciting Fallout. The star’s insistence on…

Want to join me for this 6 a.m. dance party experie—HEY COME BACK HERE

It’s 5:47 a.m. and I’m surrounded by people wearing all white. To be fair, we were supposed to wear all white to this event, in keeping with its “white hot” theme. I’m fashion-challenged on my best days, and the idea that I own white pants is laughable. I would rather be kidnapped than draw attention to myself in…

Stephen King isn’t made for TV—but he could be

On Wednesday, Hulu will premiere Castle Rock, the new series “based on characters and settings” by Stephen King. If that sounds an awful lot like “here’s a bunch of Easter eggs referencing the work of Stephen King,” that’s because it is. But the show is obviously trying to do more than just work in some…

Red Faction: Guerrilla embraced players for what we are: total assholes

Playing the recently released remastered—excuse me—“re-mars-tered” edition of Red Faction: Guerrilla hammers home just how radical that 2009 cult classic was all those years ago. At that point, big-budget games had barely explored their ongoing obsession with open worlds, a design style so uniquely predispositioned to…