Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There are multiple versions of 1973’s The Wicker Man, but the one that has been easiest to see for most of the film’s existence is 88 minutes long. This might not matter, since you’re not reading a review of The Wicker Man, but here’s the thing: Midsommar is basically The Wicker Man with the serial […]

2015’s Embrace of the Serpent, director Ciro Guerra’s third film, was a story of indigenous traditions in Colombia being corrupted and overwritten by an encounter with Westerners. It’s also one of the most remarkable sui generis films of the 2010s, a film that takes place in history but also feels outside of it; draws upon […]

The story goes that A Madea Family Funeral is going to be the final big-screen appearance by Tyler Perry’s most famous and infamous creation: the bossy, violent, and vulgar Mabel “Madea” Simmons, played by Perry himself with increasingly diminished enthusiasm over the years. Absolutely nothing in the film suggests  that will be the case (it […]

It is well to avoid making absolute statements, especially absolute statements about weirdly idiosyncratic and fundamentally unquantifiable things, but I’m feeling feisty. So here goes: I think it’s entirely likely that the most interesting and important thing happening to cinema anywhere in the world right now is the Chinese film industry’s attempts – largely successful […]

Damned if I know why “Iranian filmmaker directing European art cinema” has turned out to be such a robust, reliable formula, but here we are with Everybody Knows, writer-director Asghar Farhadi’s eighth feature and the first made entirely outside of his home country, and the pattern holds. This is, admittedly, not necessarily the consensus opinion […]

Winner of the 2019 Best Picture Review poll In deference to the idea that negativity is hard on your body and mind, I would like to begin talking about A Beautiful Mind, winner of the 74th Oscar for Best Picture, with my compliment. Starting right at the studio logos, we hear a really lovely motif […]

The most overwhelming takeaway from Private Life is that Tamara Jenkins needs to be enabled to make more movies. In a career stretching 20 years, the writer-director has only now made her third feature, following Slums of Beverly Hills in 1998 and The Savages in 2007, and once again she’s created an immaculate gem of […]

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, […]

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 […]

Want another opinion? Check out Conrado’s thoughts on the film! Every movie, even if just by accident, starts out by telling us how to watch it. Roma, the eighth feature film directed by Alfonso Cuarón (who also takes solo screenwriting credit), just happens to be unusually great at doing this. The film’s exemplary opening shot […]

There is nothing quite like the profound satisfaction of a quiet movie made with absolute confidence and no need to prove itself. And in this vein we have Shoplifters, the thirteenth narrative feature directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu (and a lucky #13 at that; it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the most wholly deserving film […]

If you have to watch one of 2018’s two dramas about the parent of a teen drug addict played by one of the young hot It Boys who co-starred in Lady Bird – and I assure you that you don’t, but let’s say that you have to – I guess the least you can say […]