Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

By the time Ingmar Bergman directed Waiting Women, released in the autumn of 1952, it had been almost two years since he’d made a movie. I don’t want to go all the way as far saying “and you can tell”, because there are ample strengths here. But there’s also a bit of stiffness in the […]

No film has ever deserved its reputation less than How Green Was My Valley, an adaptation by Philip Dunne of Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel that carefully balances gooey nostalgic sentiment and troubling clarity, is one of the most beautifully-shot films of the 1940s, and represents one of the highest achievements of John Ford’s career-long fascination […]

Ask me to make a snap judgment, and I think I might very well say that 1983 is the worst single year in the history of American cinema. I’d also say that the 1983 Academy Awards, notwithstanding the gratifying overperformance of Ingmar Bergman’s monumental Fanny and Alexander (four wins on six nominations, for a subtitled […]

It is a law as inexorable as gravity that if a European movie has the word “joy” in its title, it will be just about the most grimly tragic, unhappy thing imaginable. And so it is with 1950’s To Joy, the eighth film directed by Ingmar Bergman, the second with an original screenplay that he […]

One thing you quickly notice when perusing retrospective criticism of the early work of Ingmar Bergman is that there is absolutely no consensus when “the early work” ends and “the real work” begins. Almost every feature he made from 1948’s Port of Call onward has at least one writer citing it as “here it is, […]

There has been many a horror film to be completely saved through the intervention of nothing other than a really terrific, atmospheric location. You Should Have Left is not one of these. To be sure, the location is terrific, an ultramodern McMansion with razor-sharp clean lines, tastefully austere appointments, and a profoundly inorganic hostility to […]

In watching the early films of director Ingmar Bergman, it is hard to avoid feeling a certain polite boredom towards them: some are mediocre, some are good, some are very good, but not one of them feels so strikingly different from the kind of serious melodramas being made in northern and western Europe in the […]

Ingmar Bergman is among the filmmakers most associated with the idea that the director is a powerful individual voice who is solely associated with the meaning and shape of the finished film, but like anybody else working in the medium, he had collaborators. And those collaborators had a significant impact on the nature of the […]

Later in life,when Ingmar Bergman would speak of his earliest films, it was generally to crap all over them. It seems to me that, within that cluster of movies, 1947’s A Ship to India (adapted from a play by Martin Söderhjelm) is the one that he would discuss with the most open hostility, referring to […]

I’ve already announced my intention that as I work through the early films of director Ingmar Bergman, I’m going to avoid looking too far ahead to his better-known later films. But even if that wasn’t the official plan, I’m not sure that I’d have any other option in dealing with his second feature, and one […]

An older review of this film can be found here There are two ways one can look at the first film made by any major filmmaker. We can go backwards, hunting for all of the clues to the great, or at least prominent works to come. This approach has its charms, not least of which […]

In all the annals of final films by great filmmakers, they don’t come much more final than The Sacrifice, the seventh and last feature made by Andrei Tarkovsky. The director was diagnosed with the lung cancer that would ultimately kill him shortly after the film completed principal photography, and when it premiered at the 1986 […]