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  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull

    Kooky pulp that full embraces every absurdity, every bit of crazy adventure. There are obviously fair criticisms of the film, but inter-dimensional beings and nuked fridges are not among them. Nazi-melting tablets and immortal knights have great company in aliens, and flying fridges are close cousins of rafts parachuting from planes. Spielberg merges serial and sci-fi, adventure and cosmic wonder, and it's terrific fun.

    The nuclear imagery in particular is such a potent deconstruction of American values (fake families, artificial…

  • Munich

    Munich

    "We can't afford to be that decent anymore."
    "I don't know if we were ever that decent."

    Spielberg's "9/11 trilogy" ends with curdled morality and decayed collective morality; national violence only creates more monsters, only produces corroding cycles of paranoia and extreme hate. Quite possibly Spielberg's most ethically challenging film, and it is certainly one of his most formally effective.

    The unstable-pain leaking into horrific bombing sequences, cutting deep over the recognition that very little separates these sorts of violent acts. Munich moves with an angry urgency and concludes with the future's nightmares.

    Eric Bana should be in everything.

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  • Alien: Covenant

    Alien: Covenant

    Five years ago, as I walked out of Prometheus, my imagination was ablaze with the possible trajectories the sequel would go as David and Elizabeth’s journey to their creators continued. That film, while certainly dreary, had a streak of optimism in discovery that high school Austin expected to continue. I was totally unprepared for Ridley Scott to submerge my soul into an inescapable hell.

    Alien: Covenant is unrelentingly nihilistic in its philosophy, seemingly suggesting that humanity is a disgusting species…

  • War of the Worlds

    War of the Worlds

    Removed even from its visual parallels to 9/11, this film is simply horrifying. Almost immediately, bodies are obliterated and homes are erased, confusion and blood pool across pavement, incinerated ash collects on skin, nightmares refuse to sleep. But placed in our national context, War of the Worlds evokes Hell.

    Tragedy awakens our bloodiest bits. The aliens already being buried here feels like the rot America murders itself with, like our death is an inevitability beneath our feet. Perhaps external destruction…