Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In all honesty, just the title of The Works and Days (of Tayoko Shiojiri in the Shiotani Basin) is enough to clue us in that this is going to be a fairly presumptuous motion picture, even without knowing one single other thing about it. Is there a more pretentious punctuation mark, in this context, than […]

Karin’s Face is the very definition of a minor work, a 14-minute photo montage cut together by director Ingmar Bergman and editor Sylvia Ingemarsson by the end of 1983 that didn’t see the light of day until 1986, when it was broadcast on Swedish television. Even so, I have the impression that it is one […]

By almost any conceivable metric, the experimental short film The Dance of the Damned Women/The Condemned Women Dance is the most minor work of Ingmar Bergman’s mature career, and maybe even putting the qualifier “mature” in there is unnecessary. Possibly its single biggest point of significance is that it was the last project the director […]

I will begin by saying that I have seen the film we are about to dig into with three different arrangements of capital letters: Bedevil, BeDevil, and beDevil. I have decided to favor the third, partly because it’s how the title is rendered onscreen, partially because that’s how a couple of art museums refer to […]

Intermittently 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. Last week: there are many ways we could plausibly describe Midsommar, one of them being to call it a psychodrama about the […]

Whatever else we can say about it, 24 Frames sure as hell is different. The final film by the late master director Abbas Kiarostami (it premiered a little under a year after his death) would already have my affection just for being such a swerve, albeit a totally in-character swerve. After briefly leaving Iran to […]

Screened at the 20th Wisconsin Film Festival. Be forewarned: I don’t think it’s possible to discuss this film without sounding like a pretentious ass, and anyway, I wasn’t trying not to. Both in person and online, I have encountered the criticism-or-maybe-it’s-just-an-observation that if you don’t know what The Green Fog is doing before you see […]

The most interesting thing about Dawson City: Frozen Time, by far, is the real-life history that enabled its existence. This is not to slight docu-essayist Bill Morrison, of the very highly-regarded 2002 Decasia (which I haven’t seen), among a couple dozen other films that are, as I understand it, mostly rather like this: moving collages […]

I will say this, and say it sincerely: Rat Film is definitely a weird film in all the right ways. On paper, director-writer Theo Anthony’s documentary argues a basic-unto-banal chain of causes and effects: systemic racism keeps black communities in the United States mired in poverty, urban centers that are mired in poverty tend to […]

Whatever else we might say about it, mother! is the most Darren Aronofsky of all Darren Aronfsky films, combining at least something from every one of his previous six features. This is the point where I need to admit that I’d rank those six features on a scale from “hated it” to “that was pretty […]

A review requested by Jakob G, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. It’s a bad habit to compare one film to another and count that as a review, but oh, how hard it is to talk about Baraka without constantly checking it against Koyaanisqatsi. The two films, released […]

A review requested by Andrew Yankes, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There is no film quite like the 1979 animated short Tale of Tales. I mean that in the most literal way. Just about every film is like some other film, but not this one – it […]