Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The question I would ask, for a start, is whether Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is chiefly a Harry Potter movie, or chiefly an Alfonso Cuarón movie. This is, of course, dumb as fuck: there are people who have seen and worshiped and idolised Prisoner of Azkaban who probably haven’t even heard the titles of the director’s other six features, and would possibly drop dead of mortification if […]

So, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 has opened now, and concluded an eight-film, ten-year, decade-defining franchise, and it does so in exactly the way you would expect it to do if you read the book, saw Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, and/or any of the six books and films preceding them. And it’s pretty gosh-darn likely that, if you are planning on seeing Deathly […]

The decision to cut the seventh and final Harry Potter novel into two parts for its film adaptation was a damn bad choice, made for obvious financial reasons despite the filmmaker’s urgent, repetitive insistence that it was because of that book’s “density”. A transparently stupid claim: the book was already sick with padding, relative to the three books that preceded it, and every one of those was turned into a […]

There’s a common observation that the Alien franchise is something of a director’s showcase: take one lead character, one basic concept, one highly memorable monster design, and give it to someone with some very specific ideas for story and visuals, and you end up with four extraordinarily different movies that don’t even necessarily belong to the same genre. I am coming around to a similar idea for the Harry Potter […]

It’s an odd thing about the Harry Potter franchise: given that the films are based upon a series of books noted for their formulaic structure, and given that they are massively expensive blockbusters, one would suppose, if one knew nothing about them, that each entry would be more or less indistinguishable from the others except in incidentals. And yet, after the tedious first two, guided by the steady hand of […]

For all of their charms, none of the films based on J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series have really worked. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone suffered for trying to blaze through too much plot in too little time, and was severely hamstrung by the Prince of Hacks and third-tier Spielberg wannabee Chris Columbus, who managed to direct without ever once communicating a sense of wonder or delight at this magical […]

To all those who assured me that my fears were groundless, and that I would surely enjoy the Harry Potter books, I have one word of thanks: what fucking crack were you smoking when you read them, and can I borrow some? No, too harsh, let me try again On Sunday night, I became the last person in the anglophone world to read Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, and […]

2018 was my favorite year of cinema in the 21st Century. Best to get that kind of thing right out in the open, yes? I’d love to tease out a through-line that connects everything, but I don’t know that it’s worth it: it was the best year because it had a tremendously lopsided number of the best movies. Some pressed the boundaries of the medium; some simply did the same […]

As the daughter of a British mother, costume dramas were always a thing in my movie watching repertoire and I’m more lenient on them than I should be (unlike resident critic Tim). But as the daughter of an American dad and living in America, the concept of a monarchy lived mostly in the idea of celebrities as royalty more than actual ruling monarchs. Nevertheless, I still indulge in whatever historical […]

It is genuinely difficult to understand how Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald could have turned out so badly. This is, after all, the tenth movie in what I guess is officially being called the Wizarding World franchise, after eight Harry Potters and 2016’s Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and one of the hallmarks of the series across its first fifteen years of existence was an […]

If you have been awake at any point over the last year, it has surely come to your attention that there is a new movie from the Harry Potter universe on the horizon. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, aside from having an M.C. Escher-esque labyrinth of a name, also features Jude Law playing a young version of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore. This is a character who author J.K. Rowling […]

Fantastic Beasts: The Grimes of Grindelwald takes us back to the Harry Potter universe, which love it or hate it, surely we must all agree it’s one of the most comprehensively designed movie universes that has ever existed. And in celebration of the amazing feat of production design that this franchise has represented, we’re taking a look at our very favorite movie universes: the places so beautiful, so comfortable, so […]