First shared as a story on the radio show This American Life, The Farewell is the second feature-length film by writer-director Lulu Wang. The Farewell is a deeply personal, both cheerful and solemn film about identity, the immigrant experience, and the role of family.
Fans of Ari Aster’s instant-classic horror movie Hereditary will recognize a similar framework in the writer-director’s sophomoric film, Midsommar. Although Midsommar has more in common with the thriller and mystery genres, Aster’s imprint is as clear as a sunny Scandinavian day. What Midsommar lacks in scares, it makes up in genuine laughs, captivating lore, and haunting imagery.
It’s rare that a weighty, succinct, cerebral film slips through the cracks in the Information Age, but that’s exactly what happened to 2015’s underappreciated Ex Machina. Most filmmakers (and, let’s be honest, studios) would be happy to take home nearly $37 million at the box office on a $15 million budget and secure an Academy Award for Best Visual Effects, but those accolades don’t seem like quite enough recognition for the best film of 2015.
Screenwriter and director Paul Schrader is best known for writing Taxi Driver and co-writing Raging Bull. With First Reformed, a movie written and directed by Schrader, the filmmaker can step out of Martin Scorsese’s long shadow and add an accomplishment all his own to the list of his most prominent credits.
Over the course of the last five years, the horror movie genre has been on a tear. From the psychological (The Babadook) to the satirical deconstruction (Happy Death Day) and the thriller (Get Out), we seem to have reached a new golden age for scary movies. Hereditary, the first film by writer-director Ari Aster, only adds to that list.