Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The very first thing that happens in Gotti is that the camera pans across the Manhattan skyline on the far side of the river, to land on John Gotti (John Travolta), turning around to regard the camera with practiced surprise, like the host of a cooking show welcoming us to their fake house. The second […]

Years ago, a cop was assigned to infiltrate a criminal organisation in Los Angeles. Things went horribly wrong, people died who oughtn’t have, and the cop fell into a self-loathing spiral that neatly dovetailed with how much everyone in her department stopped trusting her. Now, the leader of that gang has – possibly – restarted […]

Not one solitary thing is fresh about Can You Ever Forgive Me?, and I’m not sure how far back in time you’d have to go for that statement not to be true. Even if you got as far back as 1991-1993, when the film takes place, I think people would be unimpressed by how much […]

It only takes a short while for Widows to prove to us that we’re in good hands. In point of fact, it takes until the very first cut, and the first cut comes rather sooner than we expect it to. Which is, in fact, part of how it shows us we’re in good hands – […]

I am sorry to say that I didn’t write down the exact phrasing, but The Old Man & the Gun opens with a title card that reads something along the lines of “This story, also, is mostly true”. And what the hell do we make of that? “Also” compared to what? This is literally the […]

You really do have to salute Bad Times at the El Royale for its bravery: not every film would run the risk of just up and putting “bad times” right there in the title. So impressed am I, in fact, that I’m going to dignify the film by not making any of the obvious jokes, […]

The Happytime Murders isn’t good, which is no surprise at all; but it is very close to being good, which is quite a surprise indeed. Basically, the problem is this: it’s poisonously unfunny. The film is an enthusiastic participant in the current wave of adults-only comedy, where cursing is funny, cursing in a sexualised manner […]

The claims that BlacKkKlansman represents a renaissance for Spike Lee are at least slightly overheated. After all, even his very great movies are frustrating and flawed (except for Do the Right Thing, which is frustrating and perfect), and even his very bad movies are still interesting for the complexity and intensity of their ideas. There […]

American Animals is a very good movie that frankly doesn’t seem to understand why it’s very good. This is apparent right from the very start – or rather, it becomes retroactively apparent that the very start is all mixed up. First, there’s a quote from Darwin, talking about “American animals” colonising cave systems in Kentucky […]

As dodgy, doomed to fail remakes go, Superfly actually does a pretty good job justifying its own existence. Obviously, the biggest and perhaps only way it ever had to justify its existence was by providing, after 46 years, a new chance to hear Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” and “Pusherman” on the big screen. And in light […]

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: to my great chagrin, I have lived on this globe 36 years and more without ever having seen the […]

It’s tough to talk about Hotel Artemis in any meaningful way, because all of the best adjectives to describe it sound like insults. The thing is, it’s a real trashy movie, pulpy and derivative, and these are all good things in this case. It feels very much like the summertime B-movie equivalent of a short […]