Today's Liberal News

David Sims

Netflix’s The Sandman Is a Fan’s Dream. Is That Good Enough?

Not long after the 1989 launch of The Sandman, Neil Gaiman’s groundbreaking comic-book series, came the inevitable question that plagues critically acclaimed smash hits—how best to translate it to the screen? The series’s central family, known as “The Endless,” live in a vividly cinematic world; each member personifies a natural force, including dreams, death, and desire. But Gaiman’s epic story spans eons and an ensemble of dozens.

Whither Batgirl?

In the world of moviemaking, it’s generally considered good business to release the movies you make. After all, they can cost tens of millions of dollars to produce, and (pardon me for getting overly technical here) selling tickets for the general public to view them can help recoup that cost. Streaming TV has changed that calculation a little. Now films are sometimes made not to sell tickets but just to beef up entertainment libraries for monthly subscribers.

The Gray Man Takes the Stoic-Spy Cliché Way Too Far

Stoicism has long been a powerful weapon in Ryan Gosling’s cinematic arsenal. One of his best-remembered films remains the taut 2011 thriller Drive, in which he played an unnamed stunt driver who is cool behind the wheel but monosyllabic in conversation. As Officer K in Blade Runner 2049, he was quite literally robotic, an artificial “replicant” designed to be void of emotion.

Maybe Ridding the World of Superheroes Isn’t Such a Bad Idea

By far the most arresting character in Thor: Love and Thunder, the twenty-bajillionth Marvel movie, is the splendidly named villain Gorr the God Butcher. Bald, covered in scars, and draped in monklike robes, Gorr (played by Christian Bale) is a vengeful wraith who wields a mystical blade and has only one goal in mind: killing gods. Any deity he can get his hands on, no matter the faith or civilization they belong to.

Elvis Is Utterly Disorienting. That’s the Point.

Baz Luhrmann is a filmmaker who picks subjects as extravagant as the genre allows. When he made a teen romance, it was William Shakespeare’s Romeo + Juliet. His musical Moulin Rouge was scored with love songs from nearly every pop era. For a literary adaptation, he went with the totemic, supposedly unadaptable The Great Gatsby. He’s an Australian director who made a movie about Australia and literally called it Australia.

Chris Hemsworth Finds His Villainous Niche

When the author George Saunders was asked about the dark underpinnings of his short story “Escape From Spiderhead” in a 2010 interview, he gave an answer that would make any moviemaking executive sit bolt upright with interest. “More and more these days what I find myself doing in my stories is making a representation of goodness and a representation of evil and then having those two run at each other full-speed, like a couple of PeeWee football players, to see what happens.

Minority Report Tried to Warn Us About Technology

In Minority Report, when the detective John Anderton goes on the run in Washington, D.C., one of the first things he needs to do is swap out his eyes. The police of Steven Spielberg’s film, set in 2054, are not the only ones tracking people with eye-scanning machines mounted around the city. Public transit does so too, as does every business, and even all the billboards, which scream slogans such as “John Anderton! You could use a Guinness right about now!” as he walks by them.

The Dinosaurs Deserved Better

In Jurassic World: Dominion, a fate worse than extinction has cruelly visited the cloned dinosaurs that have been roaming on silver screens since 1993: They’ve become mundane. A nuisance. The kind of pests you might call your local wildlife department about, as you peek out your window onto the backyard and say with a sigh, “Honey, there’s another pack of Compsognathus trampling the daffodils.

The Indian Action Blockbuster That Should Make Hollywood Jealous

I can think of two action films from the past decade that involved a stunt in which an actor throws an entire motorcycle at someone. The first is the 2015 Marvel sequel Avengers: Age of Ultron. Captain America (played by Chris Evans), battling bad guys in a snowy forest, does a flip with his bike and flings it at an armored tank.

A Sci-fi Film With a Lighthearted, Apocalyptic Vision

The gray-haired, cloak-wearing protagonist of David Cronenberg’s new science-fiction film, Crimes of the Future, is a very particular sort of conceptual artist. Saul Tenser (played by Viggo Mortensen) sleeps in a bizarre contraption that looks like a spiky womb, speaks with the cadence of someone being strangled, and is constantly growing new organs, which his partner, Caprice (Léa Seydoux), surgically removes from his body for a live audience.

The Ludicrous Beauty of Top Gun: Maverick

In the original Top Gun, the enemy is intentionally obscure: anonymous pilots flying MiGs from a hostile but unnamed country who have to be chased away and shot down by the heroic Maverick (played by Tom Cruise) and his fellow graduates of the Top Gun naval flight school. Who exactly the enemy is does not matter. What matters is that the hero is America. Tony Scott’s film was a highly successful, undeniably compelling advertisement for brash 1980s jingoism.

The Review: Top Gun

Top Gun: Maverick is out soon! But can any movie with fast planes, Tom Cruise, and beach volleyball truly compare to the classic fighter-pilot movie about, as writer Shirley Li puts it, “cute boys calling each other cute names”? And do audiences have an appetite anymore for what Megan Garber called an “infomercial for America”? Find out with Shirley, Megan, and David Sims, and explore the moral (but fictional) simplicity of an earlier era: the Cold War ’80s.

Alex Garland Knows You Might Hate Men

Alex Garland has never shied away from unusual endings. His 2018 sci-fi film, Annihilation, adapted a mind-bending best seller and put a poetic spin on its final showdown, in which Natalie Portman performs a balletic fight with an alien copy of herself. Then he made the TV show Devs, an inscrutable tech thriller whose conclusion unfolded over multiple parallel universes.

David Lynch’s Unfathomable Masterpiece

One day, deep into production on David Lynch’s 2006 film, Inland Empire, a producer approached the actor Laura Dern in a panic, trying to parse a strange request from the director. “He took me aside and said, ‘Laura, David called me this morning, and I can’t figure out if it’s a joke,’” Dern, the movie’s lead, recalled in an interview. “‘He said, “Bring me a one-legged woman, a monkey, and a lumberjack by 3:15.

The New Doctor Strange Is Not Just Another Marvel Movie

The last time Sam Raimi made a comic-book movie, nobody had ever heard of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That film was Spider-Man 3, in 2007, the final entry in his trilogy of adventures starring Tobey Maguire as the hero. It seemed like a story at war with itself; the director’s earnest zaniness was bumping up against studio demands for more villains, more plot twists, and more money on the screen. It was a box-office success but underwhelmed critics.

We’re All Going to the World’s Fair Takes On the Horror of Internet Echo Chambers

Cinemas are pretty much always the best way to watch a movie. The darkened screening room is the ideal place to immerse yourself, distraction-free, in a film’s sound and visuals. That’d be a fine setting for Jane Schoenbrun’s We’re All Going to the World’s Fair, a tale of online alienation that debuted at 2021’s Sundance Film Festival and hit theaters and some streaming services this month.

The Netflix Bubble Is Finally Bursting

Ten years ago, Netflix started offering its subscribers exclusive TV shows (we all, of course, remember the hit series Lilyhammer). An approach that at first seemed like a fad quickly yielded a handful of awards juggernauts—and then became a model for the entire TV streaming industry. For the past decade, the company has spent freely to fatten its library, eventually making hundreds of shows and movies a year, with the goal of staying ahead of its many online rivals.

A Cozy, Whimsical Film About Growing Up

In the early scenes of Céline Sciamma’s gentle new film, Petite Maman, 8-year-old Nelly (played by Joséphine Sanz) is exploring a haunted house of sorts—the quiet abode of her recently deceased grandmother. The location is mundane.

The Northman Is an Unsentimental Portrait of a Hero

The magic of Robert Eggers’s breakout first film, The Witch, a horror fable about a Puritan family besieged by supernatural forces, lay in its authenticity. Not from the close attention to period detail, though that was itself impressive, but from the earnestness of its tone, which presented every supernatural element as matter-of-factly as the grim realities of corn farming in 17th-century New England.

Michael Bay Has Done It Again

Ambulance is an action movie with a simple hook, the kind of “high concept” story pitch that one can just imagine a Hollywood executive’s eyes lighting up at. Two bank robbers, the adoptive brothers Danny (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), hijack an ambulance after a heist gone wrong, using it to sneak by the cops.

Michael Bay Has Done It Again

Ambulance is an action movie with a simple hook, the kind of “high concept” story pitch that one can just imagine a Hollywood executive’s eyes lighting up at. Two bank robbers, the adoptive brothers Danny (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) and Will Sharp (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), hijack an ambulance after a heist gone wrong, using it to sneak by the cops.

Sonic the Hedgehog 2 Is Confident, Dorky Fun

When Sonic the Hedgehog made his theater debut two years ago, after decades as a famed video-game mascot, the cinematic equivalent of a ball and chain was placed around his speedy little legs. He still looked every inch the big-eyed blue speedster from Sega’s many games, but the movie made him spend all of his time palling around with a local cop in small-town Montana instead of battling alien robots in phantasmagoric, loop-de-loop-filled locations like the Casino Night Zone.

An Existential Film About the Oddities of Modern Life

The first thing the viewer hears in Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Memoria is a loud but distant thud. The vague sound stirs Jessica Holland (played by Tilda Swinton) from her sleep and then begins to haunt her. Over the next two hours and 15 minutes, Jessica tries to understand what it is that she keeps hearing, a distracting noise seemingly perceptible only to her.

Morbius Is a Portrait of a Very Annoying Weirdo

Indisputably, our cinemas are clogged with superheroes. Griping about a trend that’s just a Hollywood fact of life is almost trite, but in the case of Morbius, the dark and gloomy Jared Leto vehicle finally making it to theaters this weekend, I have to register a complaint. Morbius, a “living vampire” who can fly and has super-strength and -reflexes, is the least helpful superhero I have ever seen in a movie.

The Most Shocking Moment in Oscars History

This year’s Oscars had a slightly chaotic air to them from the start, with awards choppily edited in from earlier in the night, three hosts awkwardly trading off zingers, and bizarre fan-voted prizes given to the films of Zack Snyder. But nothing tonight, or in the 94-year history of the Academy Awards, could have prepared viewers for what happened during the presentation of Best Documentary Feature.

Channing Tatum Reaches Peak Himbo in The Lost City

One could easily accuse The Lost City of cribbing from the classics. The fizzy action comedy sees the romance author Loretta Sage (played masterfully by Sandra Bullock) get dragged to a mysterious tropical island, where she’s forced to contend with the kind of high-stakes adventure she writes about. She’s joined there by Alan Caprison (Channing Tatum), the beefy model who graces all of her book’s covers; predictably, the two end up together.

The Slasher Film X Is a Modern Classic

A month ago, another installment in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre series was released, an attempt to modernize the horror franchise while still harkening back to its gritty 1970s roots. It was a creative failure, too reliant on digitally enhanced gore and thudding callbacks. The task of matching an all-time classic seemed impossible.

The Thriller Is Sexy Again in Ben Affleck’s Deep Water

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Ben Affleck, resplendent with stubble and weary eye bags, is a rich but bored husband with a beautiful (but also bored) wife, rattling around in a giant house wondering what to do with himself. Soon enough, a dead body appears.

‘I Imagined a Future That Was Neither Utopian nor Dystopian’

The union of the filmmaker Kogonada and the actor Colin Farrell might not have seemed obvious at first glance. Kogonada’s debut film, the excellent 2017 indie Columbus, is told with quiet remove—the camera is often placed quite a distance away from the lead actors (John Cho and Haley Lu Richardson).