The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked from Worst to Best

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked from Worst to Best
The Films of Pedro Almodóvar Ranked from Worst to Best

Finding the crux of a Pedro Almodóvar film is not unlike asking how many licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop. In each case, the supposed science of the issue at hand is often short-circuited by impatience. Lest the comparison seem too glib, Almodóvar's entire filmography is, to varying degrees, about the performance of taste, where characters often relate to one another not through their minds, but through their fingers, eyes, and teeth. Sweet tooths are more than a matter of dental hygiene; they're a means of defining personal placement within the broader spectrum of vivid characters and self-serving interests. The bright color scheme of Almodóvar's mise-en-scène redoubles these matters by problematizing realism as a dissenting faction amid otherwise psychologically defined characters, whose motivations are typically for sustenance of a rather short-order sort. On that note, Almodóvar's oeuvre, and the characters that comprise it, can perhaps be best summarized by Carmen Maura's character in Matador, who says near the film's end: “Some things are beyond reason. This is one of them.”

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 6, "Swear"

Comments Comments (...)

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 6, "Swear"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 6, "Swear"

The beginning of “Swear” echoes the ending of “Go Getters,” in which Jesus and Carl exchanged a long look in the back of the Savior truck they'd separately boarded, in a faceoff between the old and new world order. This time, Cyndie (Sydney Park) is the pragmatic but pacifist adult trying to play by the old rules, while Rachel (Mimi Kirkland) is the child young enough to have adapted without question to brutal post-apocalyptic survivalism. As in the last episode, the child's point of view seems to be in the ascendancy. Cyndie's status as an adult and the granddaughter of one of her group's leaders would have made her an undisputed authority figure in the pre-walker world, but when Cyndie and Rachel find Tara (Alanna Masterson) on the beach, Cyndie's humane impulse to spare Tara's life just barely prevails over Rachel's grim insistence on shooting the stranger on sight, as instructed.

Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25

Comments Comments (...)

Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25
Out of the Closet: Michael Jackson’s Underrated Dangerous Turns 25

Even before everything started to go really wrong for Michael Jackson, Dangerous emerged as something of a harbinger of end times. The official Rolling Stone-canonical version of events holds that the ouster of Jackson's new-jack album from the top of the Billboard charts in favor of Nirvana's Nevermind signaled the unmistakable death knell for the 1980s and the arrival of the '90s. Never mind that both albums were certified blockbusters, as was the release that supplanted Nirvana the very next week: Garth Brooks's Ropin' the Wind. The sense at the time, amid the unprecedented promotional push for Jackson's latest effort and its analogous chart performance, was that the crown was slipping from the king of pop's fingers.

Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

Comments Comments (...)

Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

Paramount Pictures

Watch the Trailer for Martin Scorsese’s 28-Years-in-the-Making Epic Silence

“I pray but I'm lost, am I just praying to silence?” Said words are being used by Paramount to promote the release of Martin Scorsese's Silence, but they could just as easily apply to the filmmaker's drive to get the film made. A two-decades-in-the-making passion project for the auteur, the film is the second adaptation of the Shūsaku Endō novel of the same name, previously adapted in 1971 by Masahiro Shinoda. It relates the story of two Christian missionaries (Andrew Garfield and Adam Driver) who venture to Japan, in the ultimate test of faith, to search of their missing mentor (Liam Neeson), at a time when Christianity was outlawed and their presence forbidden.

Los Cabos International Film Festival Jackie, Voyage of Time, Hasta la Raiz, & The Red Turtle

Comments Comments (...)

Los Cabos International Film Festival: Jackie, Voyage of Time, Hasta la Raiz, & The Red Turtle

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Los Cabos International Film Festival: Jackie, Voyage of Time, Hasta la Raiz, & The Red Turtle

When I left my apartment in Brooklyn for John F. Kennedy International Airport, late at night on November 8th, neither Hilary Rodham Clinton nor Donald J. Trump had yet secured the 270 electoral votes necessary to be elected the 45th president of the United States. By the time I got through security checks and made it to my gate—where TV screens were broadcasting returns from key battleground states—the race was called. Of course, I needn't hear the result: I saw it on the faces of the people waiting to board, a mix of utter shock and overwhelming concern that the future of our republic would be determined by the most inexperienced, unqualified, and roundly disreputable person to ever hold the highest office.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 5, "Go Getters"

Comments Comments (...)

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, "Go Getters"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 5, "Go Getters"

One of the things that has kept me loyal to The Walking Dead over the years is its matter-of-fact feminism. Some of the best fighters and most strategic thinkers in Rick's (Andrew Lincoln) gender-neutral meritocracy have always been women, and they were usually toughened up by the kinds of trials that all too often turn women into skilled survivors, like the spousal abuse Carol endured or the loss of an adored child that galvanized Michonne (Danai Gurira), a somewhat passive and subordinate housewife, into becoming a latter-day ninja. Even Paula, the Savior who captured and nearly killed Maggie (Lauren Cohan) and Carol in season six, gained our respect—and a soul-sister acknowledgement from Carol—for her focused ferocity after we learned that she had been a mousy, abused secretary in the pre-walker world who seized on the apocalypse as her chance to stop eating so much as one more morsel of paternalistic shit, even from her own men.

Britney Spears and Tinashe Channel Eyes Wide Shut in “Slumber Party” Music Video

Comments Comments (...)

Britney Spears and Tinashe Channel Eyes Wide Shut in “Slumber Party” Music Video
Britney Spears and Tinashe Channel Eyes Wide Shut in “Slumber Party” Music Video

The music video for Britney Spears's “Slumber Party,” a standout track from the singer's recent Glory, starts off promisingly enough. A vintage car rolls up to a mansion, and Britney, looking fresh, strides up to the front door. Inside she discovers a sleepover-themed masquerade party, with guests dressed in their slinkiest nighttime attire, and locks eyes with a stud in a tuxedo and what appears to be a David Bowie bolt tattoo.

Review: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 with Josh Groban

Comments Comments (...)

Review: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 with Josh Groban

Chad Batka

Review: Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812 with Josh Groban

I've never seen a Broadway theater look like the Imperial does now. For Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812, a catchy, silly and profound new(ish) musical, the 45th Street playhouse has been reimagined by set designer Mimi Lien as a lavish nightclub, in Metropolitan Opera style: There's lots of red plush and Sputnik chandeliers—what you wish Tatiana's in Brighton Beach looked like. It's also multitiered, with stadium and counter seating, four-seaters, and end tables in the orchestra seats, all cut through with runway stages. There are at least three bars just in the orchestra.

This production recreates the spirit of the unique layout of the show's Off Broadway runs, which were hosted for four years in small downtown theaters and a custom-built popup venue in the Meatpacking District. The biggest difference in the move to Broadway isn't the scale of the production, the price of the ticket, or the demographics of the audience; it's that Pierre, once originated by the show's creator, is now played by a big star, adult-contemporary singer Josh Groban, making his Broadway debut.

The Walking Dead Recap Season 7, Episode 4, "Service"

Comments Comments (...)

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, "Service"

Gene Page/AMC

The Walking Dead Recap: Season 7, Episode 4, "Service"

“Service” approaches war and other forms of carnage, which appear more and more to be the true subject of The Walking Dead, from a new direction, focusing on the stockpiling of weapons. Its two parallel themes, exploring who controls those weapons and the shifting allegiances within Alexandria, may explain the extra length of this episode, which actually feels less repetitive than many hour-long episodes from the show's past seasons that have pounded home the same point one or two times too many.

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

Comments Comments (...)

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

Rialto Pictures

The Films of Paul Verhoeven Ranked From Worst to Best

During the closing moments of John Carpenter's They Live, a sound collage of news readers and media pundits is unfurled, one of them indignantly blasting the low culture wrought by the likes of George A. Romero and Carpenter himself. It was a none-too-subtle in-joke for fans, but also a gesture of respect, one craftsman tipping his hat to his peer across the aisle. Had the speaker continued, he might easily have spoken the name of Paul Verhoeven, whose U.S. tour of duty resulted in several of the highest-profile and least respected films of their day.

Verhoeven signed his name to at least two VCR classics (RoboCop and Total Recall), one bona-fide game changer that dominated media and water-cooler conversations for months on end (Basic Instinct), and one certified turkey (Showgirls) whose fate may still be undetermined. While his stock rose and fell several times during his volatile tenure as a Hollywood auteur, his films rarely failed to provoke excitement and contention; only the bookends (Flesh+Blood in 1985, Hollow Man in 2000) fail to contribute to the tsunami.

Verhoeven didn't just arrive in America a fully formed auteur director; he began making features that way, arriving at his feature directorial debut, Business Is Business, equipped with a favorite set of progressive themes and a flair for instilling even small moments with a swaggering, ramshackle kineticism. Most movie buffs will now associate his name only with rank sensationalism—bare breasts and broken bones—and it isn't as if he would decline the honor. But filmed depictions of sex and violence don't exist within Verhoeven's purview exclusively. What we may have been responding to was the casualness, bordering on grinning impertinence, with which he deployed images designed to titillate or shock. A girl in Turkish Delight lops off the top of a banana before using a spoon to extract the meat. Verhoeven goes after your nervous system the same way: Why peel?

In honor of Film Society of Lincoln Center's complete retrospective of Paul Verhoeven's work, running from November 9—23, we ranked the Dutch filmmaker's films from worst to best.