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This Asian American lesbian love story is one of the best romantic comedies of the aughts

The 2004 romantic comedy Saving Face starts with a premise that feels both quietly revolutionary and just a touch familiar. Young surgeon Wilhelmina “Wil” Pang (Michelle Krusiec) finds herself at odds with the more conservative streak of her Chinese-American immigrant community in Flushing, Queens. While her widowed, propriety-minded mom Gao Hwei-Lan (Joan Chen) keeps trying to set her up with eligible men, Wil actually has eyes for self-assured ballerina Vivian Shing (Lynn Chen). But Wil has to keep her sexuality a secret…

The final Harry Potter closed a decade of hits—and of failed attempts at the next Harry Potter

The Harry Potter series was too big to fail, and yet it could’ve failed so easily, again and again. In Harry Potter, Warner Bros. had a diamond mine: a series of books that had become a massively lucrative global phenomenon, with a built-in and devoted young audience, plus some blockbuster-ready good-and-evil spectacle. It also had a cast full of children, a gigantic budget, a very active author with veto power, and a fanbase that would’ve been happy to riot at all but the…

"I'm going to give them the gayest movie ever made": An oral history of Another Gay Movie

Fifteen years later, Another Gay Movie is the definition of a cult comedy. A low-budget, crass parody, it was never meant to break through to a mainstream audience, but the viewers it did reach fell in love with it—except for the ones that hated it. Tasteless or not, Another Gay Movie was groundbreaking in its depiction of the messy sex lives of gay men, and its frankness has made it a defining (and educational!) viewing experience for young viewers in the years since. In…

Edward James Olmos on his Blade Runner ad lib and why Selena is the most difficult movie he’s made

Edward James Olmos began his decades-long career with one foot in rock ’n’ roll and one foot in live theater. He combined those loves for his breakout role as the wily, Spanglish-spouting El Pachuco in Luis Valdez’s 1979 play Zoot Suit. That performance led to roles in Wolfen and Blade Runner, as well as the film adaptation of Zoot Suit. As Olmos’ onscreen presence grew, so did his ability to shape his characters—so much so that everyone from Ridley Scott, to Michael Mann, to Gregory Nava…

70 years into his career, Godzilla remains king of the movie monsters

In just a few days, moviegoers and HBO Max subscribers alike will be treated to the title-fight rematch of the year, as Japan’s most famous radioactive reptile takes on the biggest ape of them all for the first time since 1962. And while The A.V. Club spent this past week of Watch This tracing Kong’s big-screen franchise evolution, it’s time to pay a little attention to his rival’s equally estimable body of work. That’s right: On this week’s kaiju-friendly episode of Film Club, critics A.A…

On the snubs, surprises, and Bad Terminators of the 2021 Oscar nominations

The nominations for the 2021 Academy Awards were announced a few days ago, at the ass crack of dawn, as per tradition. There were, as always, winners and losers, frontrunners confirmed and surprises to celebrate. There was not a fundamental change in the kind of movies—or, at the very least, the kind of distribution players—that tend to come out on top at Hollywood’s annual ode to itself. Halfway through 2020, we here at The A.V. Club dared to wonder if an unprecedented year for…

Judy Garland, Gene Kelly, and the bittersweet joys of puttin’ on a show

No one knew it at the time, but Summer Stock marked the end of an era for Judy Garland. The 1950 musical comedy was the last film Garland made for MGM, the studio that had defined her career since her breakout as a 15-year-old singing to a photo of Clark Gable in Broadway Melody Of 1938. In the studio-driven days of classic Hollywood, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer branded itself as the home for stars and musicals. And from the late 1930s through the late 1940s, Garland was one of the…

Ask our critics anything, and they'll answer your questions on Film Club next week

Every few days, A.V. Club film critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife plug a microphone into their laptops, retreat to a DIY sound booth in their respective apartments, and have a virtual conversation. The result is our weekly podcast Film Club, which drops every Friday (or most Fridays, anyway—we’re only human!), and covers a variety of topics. Last year, for example, the two talked about everything from the complete filmography of Christoper Nolan to the state of movie theaters during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to which film…

The best films of Sundance 2021

No one would confuse this Sundance for one of the absolute great ones. But set aside all the social-cultural intangibles lost with the necessary leap to an online format and there was plenty to admire about the festival, including its sincere attempts to make the remote experience worthwhile, from the pre-recorded introductions/Q&As to the blessedly unbuggy streaming off the website. Naturally, I’m hoping for a return to Park City proper this time next year (I need my Wasatch Bagel fix),…

The highlight of Sundance ’21 is a transfixing portrait of creepypasta obsession

At least I can leave virtual Park City with an unqualified favorite of the fest. Barring some late-breaking revelation, that unofficial award belongs to We’re All Going To The World’s Fair, one of the best cases I’ve encountered in my nearly decade of Sundancing for not letting pedigree entirely dictate your viewing schedule. Slotted into the Next program, which tends to highlight scrappy debuts, micro budgets, and the weirder stuff happening beyond the borders of Indiewood, this first feature from writer-director…

Spoiler Alert! This week Film Club is diving into spoiler culture

This episode comes with a warning up top, but don’t worry: All the classic films whose big twists are revealed on this week’s episode of Film Club are at least a couple of decades old. And although whether there’s such a thing as a term limit for spoilers is part of the conversation, we’re not just ruining movie plots for our listeners at random. Our critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife approach the topic of spoilers from both a historical and a practical perspective,…

Carey Mulligan on the wild ride and devastating truth of Promising Young Woman

The last time The A.V. Club spoke with Carey Mulligan, she was promoting her role in Paul Dano’s 2018 film Wildlife, where she played a housewife in 1960s Montana tentatively exploring the concept of self-determination. The last time this author wrote about Carey Mulligan, it was in a review of The Dig, a film where Mulligan stars as an invalid landowner in ’30s England whose fragile health forces her to the sidelines of her own life. All of which is to say that Mulligan’s role in Promising Young…

Denzel Washington and Liam “King Of January” Neeson kick off an uncertain year for movies

This January is lighter on schlock than normal. But then, it’s lighter on movies in general. While a few are creeping into theaters over the next four weeks, those plans could easily change between now and the day each is scheduled to open; as we’ve said pretty much every month since the pandemic started, the following list of upcoming titles could prove more generally upcoming than indicated. If it holds, audiences can expect a couple of crime-centric star vehicles, several acclaimed documentaries, and a…

The line between movies and TV got blurrier in 2020

Once upon a time, movies and television were mortal enemies, and pretty easy to tell apart, too. But the lines that once separated these two mediums have been blurring for a while now—a process that’s only been accelerated by the rise of streaming platforms, where everything is just content for the algorithm. And this year, as movie theaters closed their doors in the face of a deadly pandemic and people began watching everything at home, the distinction between big and…

The 20th century ended with the creative whimper and box-office bang of The Phantom Menace

People applauded a logo. I’d never seen that before. When the word “Lucasfilm” shimmered across the screen, my entire opening-weekend theater lost it. I might’ve applauded, too. The moment demanded a certain level of hysteria. We were here. It was happening. This day seemed like it would never arrive, but now there was a new Star Wars movie, and we were about to bear witness. Sure, some people had already seen it, and not all of them were ecstatic about what they’d…

May Hillbilly Elegy mark the end of Trump-era myth-making about the white working class

Ever since Donald Trump won the presidency in 2016, newspapers and magazines have been obsessed with constructing a mythology of a “forgotten” white working class through interviews at down-home diners and reportage from tractor pulls in deep red states. And if you’re someone who grew up in one of those states, it’s kind of funny to watch reporters from New York contorting themselves into pretzels trying to understand these exotic creatures in camouflage T-shirts. Funny, except that same effort has…

The best horror movies of 2020

Halloween is imminent, and if you’re anything like us, you’re getting in the holiday spirit with some of your favorite seasonal staples—going back once more to those timeless classics of the scary-movie genre, like Michael Meyers returning to Haddonfield right on schedule. But while Halloween, like Halloween, never gets old, there are options for those looking to watch something new this October, something they don’t know line for line or kill for kill. On this week’s episode of Film Club,…

Halloween isn’t canceled: What to stream from Nightstream, Salem Horror, and Fantastic Fest 2020

Going to a movie theater requires about as much prep as storming an abandoned mall full of zombies these days, but cinephiles who prefer to keep the mortal peril on screen have plenty of options this October. Rallying around the common cause of saving Halloween, genre festivals and streaming services have taken up virtual arms to ensure that this month is packed with as much horror, action, and just plain weirdo content as possible. It’s a mission that, combined with…

What horror classic have you never seen?

Everybody has classic movies they’ve somehow never seen. On this week’s episode of Film Club, we’re addressing two of them in a new feature called The Blindspot Challenge, wherein our critics, A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife, confess and then fill in the biggest gaps in their moviegoing history. And because it’s October, both films are of the horror variety: Katie finally catches up with Richard Donner’s satanic blockbuster staple The Omen, while A.A. Dowd gets around to the influential French…

Let's revisit the train wreck that was the 1989 Academy Awards

The Lowe brothers must have been really excited heading into the 1989 Academy Awards. Rob Lowe was set to open the show with none other than “the star of all time” (whatever that means), Snow White. And later on in the telecast, Chad Lowe would take to the stage with 19 (for some reason not 20) “stars of tomorrow” for a nine-minute musical number. Both of the performances would go on to be memorable—but for all the wrong reasons.

On the popularity of and backlash to elevated horror

It’s tough to pinpoint the exact origins of the expression “elevated horror.” But it was sometime around the middle of last decade that someone coined the term to refer to a new renaissance of atmospheric, critically acclaimed scary movies like It Follows, The Babadook, and The Witch. Is it a useful distinction or just a condescending buzzword? On the first of four episodes Film Club is devoting to spooky Halloween fare this October, critics A.A. Dowd and Katie Rife discuss what qualifies as…