Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Father is the most miraculous kind of film adaptation of a theater piece: one that’s almost impossible to imagine being staged live. In principle, sure, one can ponder how this exact screenplay might be fitted into a theatrical space, and how it could use stagecraft to get at the same sense of slithery, unstable […]

Among the very first conversations – maybe even the first conversation – in Supernova finds an old couple, Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) lightly sniping at each other over Sam’s driving, and his refusal to ever shift out of a low gear to actually start moving the RV they’re in at something resembling […]

With The Reckoning, we arrive at the saddest point in the life-cycle of any once-promising film director: the point where we need to abandon hope. Almost a whole generation ago, Neil Marshall blew his way into the world with an extraordinary one-two punch of Dog Soldiers in 2003 and The Descent in 2005, a pair […]

Ben Wheatley had, in my estimation, one of the most exciting early runs of any director in the last 20 years: a tonally aggressive feature debut with 2009’s Down Terrace, a genuinely visionary horror film with 2011’s Kill List, a surprising pivot to goofy dark comedy with 2012’s Sightseers, and then a psychedelic freak-out costume […]

Making homages to the gialli, Italy’s cultishly beloved violent, stylish thrillers from the 1970s, has become something of a cottage industry over the last few years, going from a fun celebration of a niche interest to a fairly lazy way to jazz up horror stories with bright colors and cryptic storytelling. It takes more than […]

Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like Kate Winslet has been gone for a very long time. She has, of course, been showing up in movies and TV shows, lots of them. But for about a dozen years following Sense and Sensibility in 1995, it felt like she was a pretty reliable middlebrow fixture […]

Reviews of all episodes: Episode 1: “Mangrove” (15 November 2020) Episode 2: “Lovers Rock” (22 November 2020) Episode 3: “Red, White and Blue” (29 November 2020) Episode 4: “Alex Wheatle” (6 December 2020) Episode 5: “Education” (13 December 2020)

Education, the fifth and final entry in director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology is almost certainly the most straightforward: as a narrative, a delivery system for a political message, as an aesthetic object. Whether this is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder; for myself, I will not pretend to be a […]

The consensus of opinion, as far as I can tell, is that Alex Wheatle, the fourth episode of Small Axe, is also the weakest, granting an exceptionally high lower bound for “weakness”. I don’t agree, but it’s not hard to understand why somebody might come to that conclusion: the 67-minute story (written and directed, as […]

It would hardly be righ to expect a filmmaker to crank out what amounts to five consecutive feature films all right in a row and have absolutely no detectable drop in quality, so the fact that Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s five-part TV anthology, couldn’t keep knocking out one Lovers Rock after another isn’t surprising, and […]

For such a tiny sliver of a thing – 70 minutes long, set almost entirely in one location, almost nothing “happens” – Lovers Rock feels like it’s almost boundless in how much it can yield up to its viewer. This is true simply at the level of how we encounter it: taken purely on its […]

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe project has been gestating almost as long as he’s had a career as a film director: for a full decade, he was attempting to put together what ended up as a five-part television anthology series of stories (some of them based on true events) about life among the West Indian population […]