Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

An apology, or if you prefer a warning: this is perhaps less on the order of a review than it is a rant. The thing is, I found Nomadland to be a completely repulsive movie, cloying when it works and actively pernicious when it doesn’t, and simply having to choke it down was galling enough; […]

The mid-budget serious prestige drama has become an endangered species in 2010s cinema, we all know this. It’s a shame, but it has at least one positive benefit, which is that classic Oscarbait has become less common over the past few years. Oh, there are still the usual cradle-to-grave biopics and literary adaptations and Commentaries […]

From pretty much the instant it premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, The Wife has been greeted with a nearly uniform wave of critical praise to the effect that Glenn Close is absolutely fantastic as the wife in question, at or near her career peak. Having now seen the film with my own […]

There are “right now” movies, and there are movies you expect will live on and linger for all time. It’s not, I don’t think, an insult to A Fantastic Woman, the 2017 Berlinale competitor and winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, to say that it’s 100% a “right now” movie, and it will […]

Mike Mills made his first feature as a writer-director, Thumbsucker, in 2005. By some curious coincidence, that appears to have been the exact same year that his third feature, 20th Century Women, was packed in foam peanuts and left to age until it could be sprung on an unsuspecting world as a surprising, not completely […]

An unyielding commitment to honesty in the face of the supremely obvious demands that I concede that Forrest Gump, a gargantuan box-office hit that was the highest-grossing film at the U.S. box office in 1994 and the fourth-highest-grossing film in U.S. history at the time of its release, the winner of six Oscars including Best […]

There are certain casting choices that are so ineffably perfect that it’s impossible for the reality to match up to the fantasy one concocts upon learning of them. “Ian McKellen as a geriatric Sherlock Holmes in 1947” is, for me, one such bit of casting, and sure enough, Mr. Holmes (for that is the movie […]

It’s of course lazy and arguably bigoted, speaking to a cramped sample set, to suggest that Italian Filmmaker A and Italian Filmmaker B resemble each other in no small part because they are both Italian. But it is a national cinema that particularly favors enormous, lavish spectacle, and there’s never been a point since WWII […]

If I describe Brooklyn as the nicest movie to take your grandma to over the holidays, hopefully that implies two things. One of them, of course, is that the film has been carefully buffed and sanded by director John Crowley and screenwriter Nick Hornby (adapting a novel by Colm Tóibín) to make certain that it […]

A review requested by Tim Van Autreve, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Director Claude Berri’s Manon of the Spring from 1986 is maybe the best kind of sequel. It is greatly deepened in its emotional impact if you’ve seen Jean de Florette, its predecessor from earlier in […]

To begin with, Wild is a great deal better than 2007’s Into the Wild, its most direct antecedent in the “people finding themselves by dropping out and trekking through nature, meeting several people along the way who give symbolic life lessons, and ‘Wild’ is in the title” genre. And really, that’s all I needed to […]

The life story of Louis Zamperini is fascinating and wide-ranging, and it shouldn’t even be possible to condense it into a movie as all-around misguided as Unbroken. But that’s what happens when you throw an enormous non-fiction bestseller at talentless check-cashing hacks like Joel & Ethan Coen. Or something. I suspect that the story of […]