Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

It’s not that Monster Trucks is “bad”, which would be comprehensible. It’s that it is enormously dispiriting. The kind of dispiriting that causes a film shot in the spring and early summer of 2014 to receive four different release dates before it’s finally quietly dumped into the hostile snows of January, almost two years after […]

Buried in Sing is the year’s most harrowing story of a married family life crushing the life out of the people involved. This children’s comedy about singing animals includes a subplot about a pig-woman who only wants out of life to have a chance to sing mediocre pop songs and have any other living soul […]

The trailer for Hidden Figures included a line of dialogue so utterly wretched in its flat-footed expository gracelessness that I maintained some hope it was one of those things that was only ever shot to give maximum possible clarity to the ads. Silly me. In fact, the version of the line that shows up in […]

If Captain Fantastic had come out nine years earlier, you’d suppose it was a minimally inspired Little Miss Sunshine knock-off: a colorfully eccentric family travels across These United States in a vehicle unapologetically nostalgic for the 1960s (a refurbished school bus named “Steve”, decked out in hippie decor, in this case), with a misfit teenager […]

What we all know – and like most things we all know, it’s a simplification, but in this case not such an extreme nor indefensible one – is that George Lucas stuck the Ewoks into Return of the Jedi to sell toys. “Warrior teddy bears” isn’t the most all-time slam-dunk moneymaking idea, to be sure, […]

What a strange, strange trend 2016 has brought us: deadly serious movies about race and slavery in America that are nearly undone by terrible editing and ugly color correction that drenches night scenes in azure. By all means, The Birth of a Nation is better than Free State of Jones, but it’s a hell of […]

Of all the things people said against Free State of Jones when it came out – which wasn’t much, because it sank like a stone from the moment it opened as one of the most self-evidently un-commercial wide releases of summer 2016 – I’m rather angry that nobody bothered to tell me how shit-ass ugly […]

Jack Reacher, back in 2012, was no masterpiece, but it’s a damn solid action thriller with an admirably unfussy star turn from Tom Cruise, a phenomenally colorful villain played by Werner Herzog, and it is blessed with a plot that splits the difference between “twisty” and “generic as all hell” exactly where you’d like to […]

There’s potentially a great thriller to be found in the content of The Girl on the Train. In fact, there already have been. A witness to a potential crime who isn’t sure exactly what she saw, men using domestic authority to trick the women they love into doubting their own handle on the truth, someone […]

The basic plot of Seven Samurai has been re-worked so many times in so many wildly different contexts that it’s frivolous to complain about one specific remake. Of course, nobody had to make The Magnificent Seven in 2016, and it’s no shock that it’s not remotely as good as The Magnificent Seven of 1960, but […]

No movie has ever had such an easy bar to clear as director Adam Wingard and and screenwriter Simon Barrett’s Blair Witch: be better than 2000’s stupefyingly awful Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2, unrelentingly terrible and trashy even by the standards of horror sequels. At the same time, Blair Witch had another bar to […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: a third feature-length adaptation of Ben-Hur is, you know, definitely a thing one could choose to produce. While wondering […]