This column features essays about films made in the twenty-first century that deal explicitly or implicitly with matters of American identity.

By Hazem Fahmy | August 27, 2021

As a 2016 film about the 1950s studio system, Hail, Caesar! reminds us that Hollywood has always been a place of myth and self-congratulation, a dream factory that feigns progressiveness while serving national and hegemonic interests.

By Caden Mark Gardner | June 10, 2021

The story of American identity in the 21st century cannot be told without acknowledging that social media has shifted the ways we talk, interact, and forge communities.

By Ina Archer | December 4, 2020

It is a quiet but influential work in its depiction of blackness, of Black romance and alterity in a shifting urban landscape. The film is both elegiac and symbolic, yet precisely located in San Francisco and true to the early 2000s.

By Shonni Enelow | November 17, 2020

Jimmie cannot lay claim to the house as he wants to, cannot stabilize and contain his feelings about his family and himself. But the greater loss is that the city has no place for Mont’s theater.

By Kelli Weston | October 30, 2020

The American Gothic, particularly as practiced by literary forebears Nathaniel Hawthorne and Washington Irving, tends to orbit around concepts of evil, madness, and the supernatural. But ultimately no monster ever compares to humans driven by fear.