Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Lost in Paris is beguiling as all hell, and I would in a pinch call it the most satisfying feature comedy released in the United States in 2017, though that’s not a particularly competitive field. Still and all: beguiling. It’s a featherweight romantic comedy full of many tiny surprises and absolutely no big ones, and […]

The Ardennes is a very frustrating movie in a very limited sense: it seems absolutely no-two-ways-about-it certain that it’s going to be just great based on the first scene, and the whole rest of the movie is at best a significant step down in inspiration and execution. And what it turns out to be after […]

Chantal Akerman premiered her final film, No Home Movie, on 10 August, 2015, at the Locarno Film Festival, and on 5 October, 2015, she died. It has been reported that she committed suicide. Ordinarily, I’d say it would be right to dismiss that kind of detail as prurient, salacious gossip-mongering, but as a heavily-modulated autobiographical […]

A review requested by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. As I write these words in the spring of 2015, the 2012 French animated feature The Day of the Crows has no distribution plans in North America, nor even an announced […]

It’s solely a reflection of the kind of films that Belgian brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardenne usually make that the obvious first response to Two Days, One Night, their newest film of suffocating poverty and human disconnection, made in a viscerally anti-beautiful style with a cast made up almost entirely of shabby-looking unknowns, is that […]

There almost certainly hasn’t been a more savagely dark feel-bad drama than The Broken Circle Breakdown all year, for most films in most years do not pivot on the death by cancer of a five-year-old girl. This isn’t merely a thing that happens in the film; it is the thing that happens, the ominous point […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/12 & 10/21 & 10/23 World premiere: 19 May, 2013, Cannes International Film Festival Writer-director Alex van Warmerdam’s Borgman is, to start with, an irresistibly weird movie. It’s also, I believe, an intensely angry movie, though the anger is a little bit hard to suss out underneath all the weirdness. It is […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/8 & 10/9World premiere: 15 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival The terrible admission first: I have not to this point had much use for the Brothers Dardenne, Jean-Pierre and Luc, the Belgian filmmakers who’ve managed the rare trick of winning two Palmes d’Or with 1999’s Rosetta and 2005’s L’enfant. I’ll plead a […]

Occasionally, one stumbles across a movie so pure in its concept and execution that it doesn’t seem right at all to try and crack it open, to explain how it works; it’s much more tempting to just grab every man, woman and child you stumble across and beg them to please, for the love of […]

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles is the very long title of a very long movie made in 1975 by Belgian filmmaker Chantal Akerman. The length is fully earned in both cases; this is one of the truly magnificent films that I have seen. Like all great films, there are as many ways […]

Jean-Claude Van Damme. I expect that’s not a name you’ve heard in a while. One of the world’s foremost action stars in the late ’80s and early ’90s, thanks to films like Kickboxer and Universal Soldier, the actor’s fortunes took a sudden, sharp turn for the worse sometime around the release of The Quest in […]

Ah, the agony of heightened expectations. By no means a “bad” film, L’enfant, the winner of the 2005 Palme d’Or is nonetheless a film I expected to enjoy a great deal more than I did. Indeed, it was this ambivalence that led me to withhold this review for so long (at five days, this was […]