Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Personal Shopper was booed at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival en route to winning the award for Best Director for Olivier Assayas, both of which are exactly right. I would be inclined to call it not merely a great film, but a very great film, and comfortably the best thing Assayas has directed since 2002’s […]

We can talk about how bad it is in a minute (spoiler alert: very bad), but first, I think we should pay full respect to the title of The Bye Bye Man. It is just spectacularly the worst thing ever. I would prefer, as a dignified adult filmgoer, to loudly ask the ticket seller for […]

A third review requested by Sara L, with thanks for contributing three times to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. I expect that some of my loyal readers will be surprised to learn that it is only now, in the year 2016, that I’ve finally seen The Ring. There are reasons for this: […]

A review requested by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Ugetsu is everything. I don’t think it’s the best movie ever made – I don’t, in fact, think it’s even the best Japanese movie of 1953, what with Tokyo Story sitting […]

Scary is subjective, what makes one person quiver down to the base of their spine makes the person sitting next to them yawn with boredom, all that good stuff, and I wasn’t thinking about any of that “let us be sensibly objective” bullshit while I was quivering in pleasurable agony in the mostly dark theater […]

Gene Siskel had a famous test he supposedly applied to every movie he saw: is this more interesting than a documentary of the same actors having lunch? I cannot recall the last movie to fail that test as emphatically as the new Ghostbusters, which scoops up a most enviable collection of quick-witted comic actors and […]

A second review requested by Kent H, with thanks for contributing twice to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. For a while there at the start of his career, John Carpenter was making some truly admirable choices. After directing the most profitable movie in history in the form of 1978’s ur-slasher Halloween, he […]

The Conjuring 2 is a proper old-school sequel. It doesn’t retroactively turn The Conjuring into the first movement of a long-form narrative; it doesn’t really mention the events of The Conjuring at all, outside of a couple quick visual allusions. It just takes the same heroes, married paranormal investigators Ed (Patrick Wilson) and Lorraine Warren […]

Crimson Peak has a screenplay that feels like it was written by a 12-year-old, for 8-year-olds. It is a screenplay (credited to director Guillermo del Toro and Matthew Robbins) in which the main character is writing a Gothic novel that apparently has a similar story to the one she’s living through – perhaps she is […]

There us a great deal to admire around the largely French-made Turkish-language film Mustang. It scores two major coups even before you start watching it: it’s a study of adolescent female psychology and sexuality in a cloistered Turkish family, which is rare enough; and it was directed and co-written by a Turkish woman, Deniz Gamze […]

At its best, the 2015 Poltergeist is a beat-for-beat (but only sometimes shot-for-shot) retread of the 1982 Poltergeist, with Jared Harris substituting for Zelda Rubinstein. And I love Jared Harris, and I’m never sad to see him in a movie, but Zelda Rubinstein was the best part of the original movie. So at its best, […]

That the Insidious franchise would gravely soldier on even after the fucking awful Insidious: Chapter 2 was already a bad sign. That it would do so in the form of a prequel was an even worse sign, and that this prequel would defy basic rules of numerical order to call itself Insidious: Chapter 3 was […]