Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Blinded by the Light is an extraordinarily nice movie. There’s a lot about it that could do with a substantial bit of tweaking, but all of its flaws come directly as a result of its niceness. And who could feel too very bad about that? Plenty of movies have flaws because they’re cynically commercial, or […]

Intermittently 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: in Don’t Let Go, a cop is able to communicate across time with a dead relative and feed her the […]

When one of the greatest working directors of actors and one of the greatest working actors collaborate on their first film together, it is extremely easy to get one’s expectations all riled up. And this much at least can’t be denied about Where’d You Go, Bernadette: Cate Blanchett (for she is the actor) is splendid, […]

The IMDb synopsis for The Art of Racing in the Rain reads as follows: “Through his bond with his owner, aspiring Formula One race car driver Denny, golden retriever Enzo learns that the techniques needed on the racetrack can also be used to successfully navigate the journey of life.” What this fails to clarify is […]

I had supposed (and was even prepared not to be annoyed by it) that The Farewell was going to turn out to be overhyped, if only because the hype has been so damn loud. And this is only a tiny bit true. It has, however, been incorrectly hyped. To judge from many of the reviews, […]

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 […]