Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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As of 18 January 2020, 563 films have been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and 1967’s Doctor Dolittle is the worst one of them. This is not, we must immediately make clear, an example of a film that’s not very good that still got that nomination, and several others, because it was […]

Peter Strickland has made his reputation among arthouse genre fans largely on the back of his wild pastiches, with 2012’s Berberian Sound Studio and 2014’s The Duke of Burgundy both drawing extensively from the look and texture of European grindhouse pictures of the ’70s (Italian horror in the former case, French softcore in the latter). […]

First, let’s address the misconception that seems to be all over: there haven’t been “so many” film adaptations of Louisa May Alcott’s beloved 1868 novel Little Women. In the 92 years of sound cinema, there have been three: the one directed by George Cukor in 1933, the one directed by Mervyn LeRoy in 1949, and […]

Any film as enervating as The Nightingale must be doing something right: it is one of the most upsetting, unpleasant, grueling films I have watched all year, and this is not something that happens without effort. If you consider (as I do) that the first mission of art is to trigger an emotional response in […]

Inside every adult fan of musical theater is a teenage fan of musical theater, and like a lot of such teenagers, I had my Andrew Lloyd Webber phase. Which is why, even though the phrase “the best Andrew Lloyd Webber musical” feels to me now a little bit like saying “the funniest migraine I ever […]

Before I saw Portrait of a Lady on Fire, I was thinking I’d maybe start this review by point out how the 2010s weirdly became the decade of the lesbian romantic drama, and how the three best love stories of the decade to this point, 2014’s The Duke of Burgundy, 2015’s Carol, and 2016’s The […]

I admire The Aeronauts for its purity. This not a movie that does anything. It’s a movie that seems to exist because somewhere along the line, a producer or writer or director (here, Tom Harper is all three, which means it’s probably safe to blame him) heard about how 19th Century scientists figured out a […]

The hook for Jojo Rabbit, and the central focal point of the advertising campaign, is that there’s little German boy in 1944, Johannes “Jojo” Betzler (Roman Griffin Davis), who like most ten-year-olds just wants to fit in and be admired, and in Germany in 1944, that means that Jojo wants more than anything to grow […]

The question of how to make a good biopic is one that’s been a particular fascination around these parts for a while, and long-time readers have heard my theory that, broadly speaking, there are full biographical movies that start in a person’s youth and end in their old age, and these are typically dull; and […]

I will happily concede that Downton Abbey, the motion picture, does not present itself as a fans-only experience. It does not assume you have seen any or all of Downton Abbey, the 2010-2015 television series (as I have not: the unanimous opinion of every person in my life who has seen it – Series 1 […]

Peterloo is, in essence, what happens when Mike Leigh makes a Ken Loach film, and it’s also a costume drama. If you are anything like me, you have already perhaps decided that it is clearly the best movie of the 2010. In which case, I am sorry to have to splash some cold water on […]