Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

With The Killing, we arrive at a very exciting moment in the career of Stanley Kubrick, just shy of his 28th birthday when the film premiered in June, 1956: his third feature and sixth project overall is the very first work of the director’s career that he’d acknowledge existed in later years. That’s not entirely […]

When Disney conducted its grand experiment in rebuilding the Muppet brand name in 2011 with The Muppets, the results were inconclusive: pleasingly off-kilter and nostalgic, but in the most punishingly authoritarian way possible. Nostalgia was, at a certain point, the only driving element of the plot and the only thing to get back out of […]

15 years and change since Rushmore, it would seem that there couldn’t possibly be any more development in the aesthetics of Wes Anderson, a director whose personal stamp is about as obvious as anybody’s ever has been. And yet here we are, and The Grand Budapest Hotel exists, and it feels like it might be […]

American Hustle is set in the 1970s, and tells a vigorously fictionalised account of the ABSCAM sting set up by the FBI to target corrupt politicians in 1978, but it’s a ’60s movie. For despite its grittastic cinematography and the word “American” there in the title, both of them promising a neo-New Hollywood exercise in […]

One year after Man on Fire, Tony Scott directed Domino, and the vast chasm between the two of those films is telling. Of what, I’m not sure – but man, is it ever telling. Domino, I believe, has its share of passionate defenders, and it ought to: it’s the kind of movie precisely designed to […]

Now You See Me opens with a wonderful gambit that could not possibly fit the movie any better: arrogant Chicago-based street magician J. Daniel Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg) asks a woman just off screen to pick a card as he flips extremely quickly through a deck. A moment later, he apologises for flipping through so fast […]

There used to be a rule, that maybe does not have so much currency with the younger folk, given that it was spectacularly broken in 2002, so I will restate it for those who are unfamiliar with it: Even-numbered Star Trek movies are good. Odd-numbered Star Trek movies are bad. What, exactly, that means depends […]

The Sting is not a great movie because of its ending. Let’s just get that out of the way. It is, undoubtedly a fine ending. It is the exact perfect ending to that movie, in fact, and no movie about con men has ever done such a good job of baking a con against the […]

I shall begin with a parable. Barry Ackroyd, in more than a quarter of a century as a cinematographer, has been responsible for many fine pieces of work, with at least a handful of award-worthy turns in projects like The Wind That Shakes the Barley, Green Zone, and The Hurt Locker (for which he received […]

Author’s note: I no longer endorse this review, and certainly not its final score, but I leave it in place for now until such time as I’m able to write a replacement. Whatever pretext undergirds the Fast and the Furious series, it has finally been snuffed out by Fast Five, which is not really a […]

Ellen Shapiro’s donation to the Carry On Campaign offered a choice: either her favorite movie of all time, or one of the worst movies she’d ever seen. Gratefully, I elect the former – there’s plenty of rarefied crap still to come, and her favorite happens to be a film I’ve always particularly enjoyed. “This is […]

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: while it’s probably the case that no movie has ever matched The Expendables in assembling such a uniformly all-star […]