Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

I suspect, with absolutely nothing to back it up besides anecdotal data and hunches, that Murder on the Orient Express, from 1934, is Agatha Christie’s best-known mystery novel; or at least the best-known title to one of her mystery novels, which is the same thing as far as film producers go. And yet here we […]

For his inevitable return to feature filmmaking after the busiest retirement in the history of the entertainment industry, Steven Soderbergh has looked backwards, kind of. He’s never made a film exactly like Logan Lucky (a failed attempt at creating a new commercial opening for creator-driven mid-budget films, but otherwise one of the most effortless triumphs […]

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 […]

There’s almost nothing that the 2003 sci-fi horror film Dreamcatcher has in common with the 2016 Oscarbait melodrama Collateral Beauty, and yet they’re the only movies I can ever remember having seen that are both bad in almost exactly the same way. To wit, we have here a movie that has been made by very […]

A second review requested by Chris D, with thanks for contributing twice to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. First, shame on me. I’ve known for years that seeing Battle Royale was a thing I certainly ought to do, and I’ve had access to it for a number of those years, even during […]

A review requested by Will T, with thanks for contributing to the ACS Fundraiser. In celebration of the late Irwin Allen on the occasion of his centennial There are very few movies that you can point to that single-handedly killed off a thriving career. The Swarm is one of these. Prior to making this film, […]

Every week 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. This week: Money Monster is a very sober crime thriller about fiscal malfeasance starring George Clooney and Julia Roberts. I would […]

In retrospect, “the worst of the Captain Americas” and “the best of the Avengerses” is exactly what somebody with my tastes in Marvel movies should have expected from Captain America: Civil War, and lo and behold, that’s exactly what it is. The first film in the much-ballyhooed Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is […]

Many years from now, when they are making the list of the great War on Terror thrillers, they will of course start with Zero Dark Thirty, and until recently, that’s where they could have ended, too. Now we have a second, sneaking into the world with virtually no fanfare other than a 2015 Toronto International […]

My instinct to say of Hail, Caesar! that you will love it if you fall into the enormously specific niche of people who adore Studio Era Hollywood but are still totally okay with making fun of it, and also consider themselves somewhere firmly entrenched in the Leftist-Socialist-Marxist end of the spectrum but are still totally […]

Joy is weird as all hell. The film makes many false steps, both in its screenplay and its direction (both by David O. Russell, though it is fairly well-attested that the back half – the much better half, as it happens – has been changed far less from Annie Mumolo’s original draft), with a terrifically […]

The Hateful Eight, sure enough, is about hate. I can’t recall the last movie so explicitly about how all of its characters, and by extension the society that they are a part of, are irredeemably evil, and I certainly can’t recall the last one that has such a jolly mood about it. This movie, if […]