Today’s podcast is spurred by something Film Comment Co-Deputy Editor Devika Girish wrote in her dispatch from Cannes a few weeks ago: “the undeniable thrills and pleasures of Top Gun: Maverick … are not entirely separable from the American-exceptionalist fervor of its narrative or the military resources poured into its making. It isn’t ‘a good film but with bad politics’; it’s a good film in part because of its bad politics.”

This thought was the catalyst for an ongoing conversation about the questions Tom Cruise’s world-dominating blockbuster raises—about nationalistic movies, star power, and the responsibilities of criticism and cinephilia. So this week, Devika and her fellow Co-Deputy Editor Clinton Krute invited two ideal interlocutors to join the conversation and help pick apart the Top Gun phenomenon: editor and critic Blair McClendon, who grew up in San Diego and can actually distinguish between various fighter jets, and Ed Halter, whose brilliant review of the sequel appeared in 4Columns.