Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There is very little inherently interesting about Things Heard & Seen, a movie about which the strongest emotional response I have had is frustration at the almost gravitational pull that I have towards typing out the title as Things Seen & Heard, having to bodily force myself on the right track every time.  Or that […]

Three stars gets absolutely nowhere close to my actual feelings about The Mitchells vs. the Machines, the new film by Sony Pictures Animation that has, after pandemic-related delays, settled into a home on Netflix. There are, in fact, three entirely different films happening here, and I would give three stars to none of them; but […]

At this point, in the third decade of the 21st Century, “terrible late-career comedies starring the formerly great actor Robert De Niro” has become its own genre, and I don’t think there’s a person among us who would claim that it’s a good one. Even so, The War with Grandpa is impressively terrible. The warning […]

There’s a certain slobbering, puppy-dog shamelessness to how desperately Psycho Goreman wants to be anointed a new cult favorite. The formula behind writer-director Steven Kosinski’s script is clear as a summer day: take the aesthetic of cheesy children’s television shows about people in very elaborate foam suits punching each other in the kind of spirited […]

Director Edoard Ponti, in making The Life Ahead, a new adaptation of Romain Gary’s 1975 novel La vie devant soi (which has been published in English as both Momo and The Life Before Us), did as many filmmakers have over the years, and cast a family member in a major role. In fact, one might go […]

Pieces of a Woman is the kind of film that gets watched because it received a solitary acting Oscar nomination, and even before it received that nomination, it was discussed for literally only two things, one of which is the performance that received that nomination. Which, for the record, belongs to Vanessa Kirby, one of […]

I have made no effort to hide my disdain for the aesthetic flattening that goes on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it has its plus side, too. Namely, it acts as a control: a film might have a pretty severe ceiling on how good and/or creative it can be, but it also has a […]

The Father is the most miraculous kind of film adaptation of a theater piece: one that’s almost impossible to imagine being staged live. In principle, sure, one can ponder how this exact screenplay might be fitted into a theatrical space, and how it could use stagecraft to get at the same sense of slithery, unstable […]

Among the very first conversations – maybe even the first conversation – in Supernova finds an old couple, Sam (Colin Firth) and Tusker (Stanley Tucci) lightly sniping at each other over Sam’s driving, and his refusal to ever shift out of a low gear to actually start moving the RV they’re in at something resembling […]

I have had cause to mention multiple times now that the tradition of regarding Fanny and Alexander as Ingmar Bergman’s final film is almost entirely a matter of sophistry, but the biggest sophist of all was Ingmar Bergman himself. When his 1984 telefilm After the Rehearsal was released theatrically basically everywhere in the world other […]

Minari won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival, and this is extraordinarily appropriate. It checks all the boxes of a stereotypical Sundance indie so hard that I almost can’t think of the last film to check them harder (not even the 2021 winner of […]

CODA is unbearably cloying and contains barely a single narrative beat that isn’t an ossified cliché. Naturally, it has been greeted with rave reviews and a spirited bidding war in the wake of its opening-night premiere at the Sundance Film Festival; elevating sentimental schlock made with little more than the most functional artistry has been […]