In a year that promised to be chock full of eagerly anticipated film titles held over from 2020 – In the Heights, West Side Story, The French Dispatch -- the air went out of 2021, the way it seemed to leave the country. There was very little fresh air to go round anywhere, even off to the side in the film sector, try as it might to breathe some life into the culture.
The strongest among the films I caught up with were mostly those about the great disconnect, as if there’s just some information missing in what’s going down between characters onscreen. There’s no great theme at work here, or maybe not consciously, since what’s on display is as much a function of what got made during the last two years of social shutdown as what got chosen by festival programmers.
Top Gun: Maverick brings Tom Cruise back to the screen, flying faster than a speeding bullet, doing his own stunts in jet planes, blowing stuff up, reclaiming the pretty girl he left behind and burning a hole through the screen with his white, hot teeth as usual.
Lisa Hurwitz’ The AUTOMAT, which came out of the Telluride Film Festival and opens this week at the Film Forum in Manhattan, is a seductive dive back through time into the art deco origins of the Horn & Hardart Automats.
The 94th Academy Awards, which concluded last Sunday night, confounded just about everyone who watched it—whether they were in the elite crowd inside the Academy’s return to the Dolby Theatre or like the rest of us, flopped out on the couch.
Whatever else it was, Oscar night this year will be known forevermore as Not the Triumph of the Will.