Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The one good thing about living in some godforsaken quadrant of the country where the luscious awards-season heavy hitter Call Me by Your Name took forever and then some to open is that, by the time I had my chance to catch up with it, it had already moved from “rapturous praise” to “mild backlash”, […]

A previous version of this review appeared at the Film Experience. In 2011, Alberto Vázquez and Pedro Rivero co-directed a very dark-hearted short film called Birdboy, based on Vázquez’s comic Psiconautas. It left only a bit of an impression on me at the time, but over the years has clung voraciously to the lower tiers […]

So in defiance of all good breeding, let me get this part out of the way right now: Lady Bird has been ludicrously over-hyped. Everything it does good – which is a solid amount, to be sure – has been done just as good in earlier films about teenagers feeling like they’re stuck in a […]

After three exemplary art house masterworks (Reprise, Oslo, August 31, Louder Than Bombs), it’s fair that director Joachim Trier would finally put a foot wrong. And even there, I’m overstating things: if every time a filmmaker messed up, the results were still as amazing as Thelma (for that is the name of Trier’s fourth feature), cinema would […]

I think it is time to draw Cartoon Saloon into the company of the great animation studios of the modern day. It’s not just that with The Breadwinner, a sober-minded tale of the life of a girl in Afghanistan during the height of Taliban control, makes it three-for-three good or great features from Cartoon Saloon, […]

This much we must credit to Devil’s Whisper: it’s certainly not a typical “the creepy old gewgaw has a demon attached” picture, no matter how much it shares the essential beats of one. It’s a movie very much about religion, for one thing (which isn’t quite the same as calling it a religious movie), which […]

Categories: coming-of-age, horror

When they write the histories of the cannibal film, many years from now, they’ll have to save a whole chapter for Raw. It’s a right marvel all the way around: it has the unapologetic, unblinking gore of the all the most sordid examples of Italian cannibal films from the late ’70s and early ’80s,* but […]

The number of things that Beach Rats does that would ordinarily annoy the hell out of me is basically all of it. And yet. Somehow, the precise ratio of ugly-ass indie film cinematography, meandering narrative focus, and pointedly smudgy adolescent self-discovery is managed by writer-director Eliza Hittman (making her second feature; I have not seen […]

The only time that an animated movie will ever be made with the raw emotional potency of Takahata Isao’s Grave of the Fireflies, for Studio Ghibli, it will be at the very end of the universe, since two such profound motion pictures could not co-exist. Still, Katabuchi Sunao’s In this Corner of the World comes […]

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: Spider-Man: Homecoming provides not only the usual popcorn movie supeheroics, but also a healthy dose of adolescent angst. Genre […]

It’s all right there in the title: Spider-Man: Homecoming. Not “homecoming”, the early-fall tradition in U.S. and Canadian high schools, which puts in only a very mild and plot-inessential cameo in the film. But “homecoming” as in “coming home” as in “welcome to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man, this is where you belong”. I don’t […]

Rock Dog is a low-down, no-damn-good movie. But terribly fascinating anyway, if more in theory than actuality. The film exists as a hoped-for evolutionary link between the second- and third-largest film markets in the world;* it has been 100% financed by Chinese production companies but 100% created by U.S. artists at a U.S. studio. The […]