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 […]

The title of Life Itself comes from one of its most particularly florid, sophomoric lines, “The most unreliable narrator is life itself.” This sentence, or a close variation, is spoken enough times during the length of the film that, if you were to take a shot every single time, you would likely die. Given that […]

The question of whether Green Book is worse on race or worse on class is a tough one. It’s at least more spectacularly bad on race; but I, for one, was unprepared for it to touch on class at all, so that came as the far uglier surprise. Either way, it’s the kind of modestly […]

It is genuinely difficult to understand how Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald could have turned out so badly. This is, after all, the tenth movie in what I guess is officially being called the Wizarding World franchise, after eight Harry Potters and 2016’s Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and one […]

Much of the pre-release promotion for the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas focused on the extraordinary (and, eventually, Oscar-winning) make-up work it took to get Jim Carrey entombed in the flexible latex mask that allowed him to play Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s beloved Christmas-hating misanthrope. And, in particular, on how it was […]

I would say at the outset that David & Nic Sheff, subjects of the biopic Beautiful Boy, are a real-life father and son (the movie is based on their respective memoirs, titled after David’s), and the suffering depicted in the movie is real-life suffering, and far be it from me to minimise any of it. It […]

We must now ask ourselves: at what point does a studio become merely a brand name? Let’s not even make it a hypothetical: if we have something called Hammer Film Productions, and it’s all legal and aboveboard and there’s a clear line of ownership justifying that name, but also James and Michael Carreras are both […]

Because I am fundamentally broken, wretched person, I come to the films in the God’s Not Dead franchise with a certain expectation of laughing at the ineptitude, cringing in merry pleasure at the deep lack of understanding of human behavior, and feeling a twisted, ripped-up churning in my guts, like I’ve got a live copperhead […]

Bad movies happen all the time. Anybody can make a bad movie: all you need is some flat dialogue, lazy cinematography, actors in over their heads, an unprepared director, poorly thought-out story beats, an inattentive editor, cheap sound equipment. Or any combination of the above. No, there’s nothing particularly interesting about a bad movie. But […]

There is exactly one thing I unreservedly admire in Slender Man: in one shot, the protagonists are huddled around a laptop, and in the background, what appears to be one of their shadows stretches and elongates in a distinctively lanky (one might even say “slender”) way, looming over them on the back wall. Everything about […]

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: The Meg has decided that 60 feet isn’t nearly imposing enough of a size for a giant shark and […]

Without a moment’s hesitation, I’d declare 2009’s I Can Do Bad All By Myself the peak of Tyler Perry’s career as a director, and in a pinch I’d call 2008’s The Family That Preys his second-best, and this matters because of one of the only characteristics they share in common: prior to 2018, they were […]