Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There has been some muttering about whether or not it is strictly correct to call The Mole Agent a “documentary”, and to this I have only one response: I don’t really care what we call it, as long as we acknowledge that it’s charming and good. But also, it’s totally a documentary; it’s just that […]

Part of the appeal of animation is that it can depict anything that can be imagined outside of the bounds of physical reality, but in practice there tend to be limits on just how creative any given film can be: the hard limits of labor and money mean that, in general, the boldest, most radical […]

Pablo Larraín, probably the most prominent Chilean director in the world right now, has at this point directed eight feature films. Most of these are period films; most of these are explicitly about politics; most of them have a certain performative sense of irony. His eighth and newest film, Ema falls into not one of […]

There are “right now” movies, and there are movies you expect will live on and linger for all time. It’s not, I don’t think, an insult to A Fantastic Woman, the 2017 Berlinale competitor and winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, to say that it’s 100% a “right now” movie, and it will […]

It’s rare enough for a filmmaker in these fallen days to release two major films in one calendar year. It is virtually unprecedented in modern times for both of them to be outright masterpieces, like Pablo Larraín has gifted unto the world in 2016. And both of them coming from the almost invariably shitty genre […]

It is clear to anyone who’s followed my reviewing through more than one Oscar season, I’m sure, that I have very little use for biopics. But anything can be done right, and there’s not much more right you can get than Jackie. On paper, at least, the film looks like a craven attempt to win […]

Septuagenarian documentary god Patricio Guzmán scored an enormous triumph with 2010’s Nostalgia for the Light, one of the most important and under-seen films of the decade. Two things are thus unsurprising: that Nostalgia‘s 2015 companion piece, The Pearl Button, would fail to match the same heights; and that The Pearl Button would still be a […]

The pitch for Gloria from virtually every angle has always been some variant on “yada yada, but Paulina García is amazing“. And boy, is she ever. Few actors are ever called upon to support an entire feature-length film with such totality – there is, I think, a grand total of one shot in which she […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13 & 10/22World premiere: 26 August, 2013, Santiago International Film Festival It is good to respect bravery in filmmaking, for there is not enough of it; and not much is braver than trying to make something as thoroughly stagebound as a two-hander work onscreen. A two-hander, for those not versed […]

In his reasonably young career, Chilean director Pablo Larraín has been fighting a hard, bitter battle against long-gone dictator Augusto Pinochet, with largely good results. His second film, Tony Manero, is a breathtakingly cynical black comedy about the degradation of culture and morality in the end of the 1970s, and its follow-up, Post Mortem, a […]

Most of us would not, I suspect, look at the 17-year reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and then the branch of astronomy concerned with the study of stellar remnants and the origin of heavy elements, and say to ourselves, “You know, those two things seem to me like two sides of the same coin”. […]