Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Whatever you think about Clint Eastwood, as director and actor, The Mule is not the film to change your mind. Myself, I persist in admiring the sinewy minimalism and directness of his style, his utter refusal to sentimentalise even when sentiment is called for. When he’s working with actual professional actors, as he is here, […]

When Clint Eastwood, a director whose signature aesthetic includes his proud disinterest in multiple takes and giving actors notes, set himself to make a film about which the single most noteworthy fact is that the lead roles are being filled by non-professionals, the question was never going to be “is this bad?”, but “so just […]

Sequels are always an artistically dubious risk, horror sequels not least of all. It’s still hard to process just how much worse 1955’s Revenge of the Creature is than its remarkable predecessor. Creature from the Black Lagoon is, if nothing else, one of the truly great B-horror pictures of the 1950s, and with both producer […]

If we want to be brutally honest about it, Sully never really does quite get around to making the case that the story it’s telling needed to be told. It tells the story, to be fair, very well; in an era when highly proficient movie storytelling for middle-class adult audiences was more common, this would […]

It seems irresponsible to review American Sniper without doing so through the lens of the enormous cultural conversation surrounding it, but having actually seen the damn movie, it strikes me as rather bizarre that so many tens of thousands of words have already been spent discussing it without most of them being, y’know, accurate. Given […]

1968 is a symbolically freighted year in the history of American filmmaking, for it was in 1968 that the Motion Picture Association of America, two years into the nearly four-decade tenure of president Jack Valenti, abolished the Production Code that had been zealously enforced (though increasingly less so) ever since 1934. In place of the […]

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: there are not many living filmmakers whose style and interests would seem to make them a worse fit for […]

Well, we finally got there: a Clint Eastwood movie that even I, ever the enthusiastic Clint Eastwood apologist, can’t pretend is worth a damn. We have in front of us Jersey Boys, a sepulchral adaptation of the 2005 jukebox musical based on the songs of the Four Seasons that has been stripped bare of any […]

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: Roland Emmerich’s latest “violating the White House” picture, White House Down hinges on a wannabe Secret Service agent protecting […]

Every Sunday (or thereabouts) 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: there are few narrative tropes as well-worked as the one at the center The Dark Knight Rises, […]

There was every reason on earth to assume that J. Edgar was going to be bad or horrible: it is an Oscar season biopic, and that is absolutely never a good sign, directed by Clint Eastwood, a filmmaker with a one-size-fits-all aesthetic, and starring Leonardo DiCaprio, an actor who hasn’t done anything to seriously challenge […]

Every Sunday 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: Final Destination 5 would appear to call for a violent horror movie, but thanks to the Summer of Blood, […]