Joshua Ray

A still from 'Mike Wallace Is Here'.

Review: 'Mike Wallace Is Here'

The title of Avi Belkin’s Mike Wallace Is Here may be a nod to the phrase used to introduce the television journalist on his influential news magazine show 60 Minutes, but it also cleverly points to the late Wallace’s authorial presence within... Read more

A still from 'Them That Follow'.

Review: 'Them That Follow'

Britt Poulton and Dan Madison Savage’s debut feature, Them That Follow, suffers greatly from its lack of an interesting point-of-view. Set in secluded foothills of the Appalachian mountains in which a community of evangelical Pentecostal devotees deploy... Read more

A still from 'The Mountain'.

Review: 'The Mountain'

Rick Alverson’s The Mountain begins in a familiar fashion, mixing elements of Paul Dano’s Wildlife (2018) with Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master (2013). In this mid-century mood piece about the perils of masculinity, a doe-eyed cipher... Read more

A still from 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood'.

Review: 'Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood'

After unleashing his nastiest work, The Hateful Eight, in 2015, one might rightfully expect Quentin Tarantino to lean even further into the subversive excavation of the violent heart of America in his latest feature, Once Upon a Time ... in Hollywood... Read more

A still from 'Wild Rose'.

Review: 'Wild Rose'

Jessie Buckley is a combustible powder keg as ex-con country singer Rose-Lynn in Tom Harper’s Wild Rose. At the drop of a cowboy hat — or the switch-on of a microphone, more literally — the Glaswegian will break through her already infectious, knowing... Read more

A still from 'Paris Is Burning'.

Double Take: 'The Queen' and 'Paris Is Burning'

The mainstreaming of queer culture means that nearly every Target in America has a small and strategically positioned rack of mass-produced rainbow-bedecked accoutrements for customers to own and don for their area’s June Pride festivities. The issue with the... Read more

A still from 'Non-Fiction'.

Review: 'Non-Fiction'

Olivier Assayas’ last film, Personal Shopper (2016), proposed that modern technology could be a possible medium for the living to communicate with the dead. One part haute couture murder mystery and one part grief tone poem, the beguiling ghost... Read more

A still from 'Rocketman'.

Review: 'Rocketman'

Early in Rocketman, musical prodigy Reginald Kenneth Dwight (Matthew Illesley) – who will eventually assume the stage name Elton John as an adult (Taron Egerton) – sits on his bed late at night, feverishly studying sheet music. He raises a hand to conduct... Read more

A still from 'Trial by Fire'.

Review: 'Trial by Fire'

Saying a film is so bad it becomes a parody of its original intentions is sort of a critical cliché. The would-be prestige film Trial by Fire proves that assessment sometimes necessary by unknowingly (one would hope) taking it one step further and... Read more

A still from 'The Hustle'.

Review: 'The Hustle'

One can’t begrudge the makers of The Hustle for wanting to update the Michael Caine and Steve Martin-starring cult comedy classic Dirty Rotten Scoundrels (1988) – itself a remake of the forgotten Bedtime Story (1964) with David Niven and... Read more

A still from 'High Life'.

Review: 'High Life'

There are bucket-loads of bodily fluids – blood, semen, breast milk – in High Life, including some inexplicable substances that come pouring out of the “Fuck Box” after its use by a crew member of a spaceship prison. That’s probably enough information to... Read more

A still from 'Missing Link'.

Review: 'Missing Link'

The title of Laika Studio’s latest, Missing Link, has at least three meanings. It ostensibly refers to the erudite yet naive Bigfoot character, Mr. Link A.K.A. Susan (voiced by Zach Galifianakis). This furry fellow calls on the charlatan British explorer... Read more

A still from 'Diane'.

Review: 'Diane'

Diane (Mary Kay Place) is a caretaker – not in any professional sense but as an overriding aspect of her identity. The middle-aged New Englander is a star exerting a gravitational pull on the planets that orbit her. Diane’s hospital-bound cousin, Donna (Deirdre O'... Read more

A still from 'Gloria Bell'.

Review: 'Gloria Bell'

Whether art should be evaluated on its own merits and removed from its cultural context or makers’ intentions is a question that has persisted throughout the history of criticism. That conundrum won’t be solved here — countless think pieces comparing remakes,... Read more

A still from 'Greta'.

Review: 'Greta'

Neil Jordan’s Greta is unlikely to replicate the sensation of his breakout neo-noir, The Crying Game (1992). That feature helped usher in a wave of independently produced films going quasi-mainstream, with its modest success and cultural... Read more

A still from 'The Favourite'.

Ranked: The 2019 Best Picture Nominees

Best Popular Film. No Best Popular Film. No host. Kevin Hart. No host, again. Gaga and Kendrick only. All song nominees, but just a little bit of them. Cut the boring awards no one cares about. Oh, wait, everyone cares about them. The Academy of Motion Picture... Read more

A still from 'High Flying Bird'.

Review: 'High Flying Bird'

Steven Soderbergh has been in the game for 30 years. His auspicious debut feature, sex, lies, and videotape, was the talk of the 1989 Sundance festival, won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival mere months later, and premiered on North American... Read more

A still from 'Cold War'.

Review: 'Cold War'

Cold War is a deeply personal film for director Paweł Pawlikowski. The story of a Polish man and woman who couple and uncouple numerous times across many European countries from 1949-64 is inspired by the tumultuous relationship of Pawlikowski’s own... Read more

The Best Films of 2018

The Best Films of 2018: The Roundtable

After publishing their individual “Best Films of 2018” lists in late December, the Lens critics began a spirited discussion via email on the state of cinema in 2018, and... Read more

Banner graphic for the Best Films of 2018.

The Best Films of 2018: The Lists

Although the calendar year is an admittedly arbitrary framework for the discussion of cinema, when the end of December approaches, even the most high-minded writer is usually compelled to look back on the past 12 months and catalog their favorite films. (List-... Read more

A still from 'Scenes from a Marriage'.

Double Take: 'Scenes from a Marriage' and 'Saraband'

To celebrate the centenary of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s birth, the boutique home video label the Criterion Collection has released a beautifully-curated mammoth box set containing... Read more

A still from 'Wildlife'.

Review: 'Wildlife'

Joe Brinson (Ed Oxenbould), pubescent son of Jeanette (Carey Mulligan) and Jerry (Jake Gyllenhaal), stands in the frame of their bathroom door, staringly lovingly and inquisitively at his mother. She’s readying herself to hit the streets of their new hometown,... Read more

A still from 'Widows'.

Review: 'Widows'

There’s a shot early in director Steve McQueen’s Widows that haphazardly announces the politically subversive nature of this Hollywood-made heist thriller. Following a rally for his program supporting women entrepreneurs of color, Jack Mulligan (Colin... Read more

A still from 'Black Memorabilia'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'Black Memorabilia'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'Support the Girls'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'Support the Girls'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'In the Aisles'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'In the Aisles'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'Zama'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'Zama'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'The Great Buddha+'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'The Great Buddha+'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'Memoir of War'.

SLIFF Spotlight: 'Memoir of War'

Throughout the 27th Annual Whitaker St. Louis International Film Festival (SLIFF), the writers at the Lens will be spotlighting their favorite narrative and documentary films on this year's festival schedule. Each day, our critics will discuss can't-miss... Read more

A still from 'Mid90s'.

Double Take: 'The Hate U Give' and 'Mid90s'

There’s lately been a resurgence of films centered on teens, but these features don’t quite resemble either John Hughes’ watershed films of the 1980s or the light comedies and slashers of the late 1990s that used the late director’s work as a templates. The... Read more

A still from 'The Thing'.

Ranked: John Carpenter

In a 1999 Film Comment piece celebrating John Carpenter, the director memorably quipped to Kent Jones: “In France, I'm an auteur; in Germany, a filmmaker; in Britain; a genre film director; and, in the U.S.A., a bum.” After 20 years, it could be said that America... Read more

A still from 'A Star Is Born'.

Review: 'A Star Is Born'

Not long into A Star is Born, it's become apparent that Bradley Cooper will be a real contender as a filmmaker. His visual influences are evident: Martin Scorsese’s gliding and orchestral tracking shots; Terrence Malick’s unencumbered camera with its awe-... Read more

A still from 'The Land of Steady Habits'.

Review: 'The Land of Steady Habits'

The title The Land of Steady Habits may be misleading. It suggests portraiture of a menial but well-meaning life, and to some, it reads as pejorative against a perceived life not lived. For filmmaker Nicole Holfcener’s characters, the idea of this state... Read more

A still from 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls'.

Review: 'The House with a Clock in Its Walls"

Eli Roth’s directing credit follows soon after Steven Spielberg's Amblin Studio logo, and it comes as the first surprise of the YA horror-novel adaptation The House with a Clock in Its Walls. The director’s debut feature, Cabin Fever (2002), is... Read more

A still from 'White Boy Rick'.

Review: 'White Boy Rick'

When Rick Wershe Jr. (Richie Merritt) begins peddling dope on the streets of Detroit, Mich., he’s a mere 15 years old. He’s doing so at the behest of a pair of FBI agents (Jennifer Jason Leigh and Rory Cochrane) and a local cop (Brian Tyree Henry), three officials... Read more

A still from 'Support the Girls'.

Review: 'Support the Girls'

Andrew Bujalski hides his cinematic modus operandi inside a joke during the first act of Support the Girls. Lisa (Regina Hall), the general manager of a Hooters-like “boobs, bros, and beers” bar, Double Whammies, is conspiring with her right-hand... Read more

A still from 'Papillon'.

Review: 'Papillon'

Franklin J. Schaffner’s 1973 film Papillon was mostly a vehicle for its star, the ever-cool Steve McQueen, as well as a cash-in adaptation of the popular memoir of the same name by Henri Charrière. It’s a shaggy hybrid of prison-escape drama and adventure... Read more

A still from 'McQueen'.

Review: 'McQueen'

For those already familiar with the well-publicized life and highly regarded work of Alexander McQueen, there’s nothing revelatory in Ian Bonhôte and Peter Ettedgui’s McQueen. The biographical documentary — that most popular of nonfiction subgenres — ... Read more

Review: 'Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot'

Gus Van Sant has always been somewhat of an experimental filmmaker, working both in and just outside of Hollywood. He ascended into the ranks of vital indie filmmakers as a member of the New Queer Cinema movement with features like Mala Noche (1986), ... Read more

Ranked: Dario Argento

The films of Dario Argento span the qualities of cinema as a whole. At their worst, his films are eye-glazingly boring. At their best, they resemble dreams manifested on a blank canvas, impossibly complex explorations of sight and sound, plumbing the relationship... Read more

A still from 'Damsel'.

Double Take: 'Damsel' and 'The Great Silence'

It’s common for film writers to note that the Western has waxed and waned in popularity over the course of cinema’s history. While that may be true, the genre contains such a breadth of ideas and archetypes that its malleability allows for it to be remixed and... Read more

Still from 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'.

Review: 'Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom'

[Note: This review contains spoilers.]

As genetically engineered as its new super-dino, the Indoraptor, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is designed to trigger specific responses from and ingratiate itself with an increasingly jaded audience... Read more

 A still from 'Hearts Beat Loud'.

Review: 'Hearts Beat Loud'

Nick Offerman has carved out quite the niche over the past decade with variations of the earthy but deadpan Ron Swanson he played on television’s Parks and Recreation (2009-15). He’s cropped up in other works with supporting parts that borrowed Swanson’s... Read more

Review: 'Ocean's 8'

Brian De Palma’s Femme Fatale (2002) opens on the miraculously sleek and labyrinthine heist of a diamond necklace from an actress’ neck at the Cannes Film Festival. It’s a thrilling  meta-movie moment that recalls Jules Dassin’s Rififi (1955) and... Read more

Paul Schrader.

Compendium: Paul Schrader

[Photo: Zenith Entertainment]

There are many versions of Paul Schrader. He’s the screenwriter of Martin Scorsese’s great Taxi Driver (1976), Raging Bull (1980), and The Last Temptation of Christ (1988). He’s also a film academic,... Read more

A still from 'Let the Sunshine In'.

Review: 'Let the Sunshine In'

In Claire Denis’ last film, the director left viewers with the most unsettling images of her career. Her 2013 feature Bastards was a time-hopping narrative of betrayal and murder, culminating in the reveal of an incestual rape. While not exactly a change... Read more

A still from 'The Rider'.

Review: 'The Rider'

Director and writer Chloé Zhao’s film The Rider opens on hypnotic equine images. The camera glides along the tan mane of a horse in slow motion, fading into other closeup images of its snarling mouth, the muscles writhing beneath its thick skin, and... Read more