Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

(Part 1 of 2. Be sure to check out the companion review!) My Hollywood Century project has, I confess, been subjected to some mission drift over the last twenty-odd entries. I described it, at the start, as: Sometimes it will be a well-loved consensus classic, and sometimes a lost masterpiece. Sometimes an ill-made but important […]

There’s no shortage of aesthetic and cultural upheavals that rocked the American film industry in the 1970s, but the most important from a sociological standpoint absolutely has to be the sudden discovery made by the studios early in the decade that nonwhite people liked to watch movies, too. A lesson that has been forgotten and […]

My first thought is not a very professional one: holy shit, Diane Ladd used to look exactly like her daughter. Now that I’ve got that out of my system, I can turn to the matter at hand. And the matter at hand is The Wild Angels, a film without which the subsequent history of cinema […]

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 most outlandish movie yet made by the Marvel film factory, Guardians of the Galaxy, at least wins points […]

If it had done nothing else to distinguish itself, 1982’s The Slumber Party Massacre would stand out in the crowded glut of early ’80s slasher films by virtue of being written by a feminist. Not, please understand, the kind of everyday feminist that anybody could be who believes in equality between the sexes and calls […]

If there was ever a time when the notorious genre of the slasher film wasn’t in its rotten, decadent phase, that time was at any rate not 1988. By this point, all the good ideas had been used up, all the mediocre knock-off ideas had been used up, the audience was all used up, and […]

The operating thesis of The Canyons is that movies are awful, the people who make them are awful, and the culture that permits their continued existence is awful. It is perhaps a keen example of form reflecting content, therefore, that The Canyons is itself pretty goddamn awful; and given who director Paul Schrader is, it’s […]

If I were to say to you, a propos of nothing, “the most trenchant satire of American bloodlust and broken-down media culture of the 1970s was produced by Roger Corman,” would you believe me? Don’t bother answering, because I refuse to believe anybody would; I’m the biggest Corman fan I know personally, and I was […]

It is right, and a good and joyful thing, that producer Dino De Laurentiis and director Roger Vadim should have collaborated on a film. Their careers were too complementary for there to have been any possibility of them both bopping around Europe at the same time without colliding. Indeed, the fact that 1968’s Barbarella was […]

First the easy, if depressing part: Django Unchained is easily the least impressive feature film yet made by director Quentin Tarantino. Nothing to do with what it does or does not say about racism in America, or the liberties it takes in turning a very tender period of history into a violent exploitation film, or […]

The Paperboy is now the third film of Lee Daniels’s career that can be readily described as “bugfuck insane”; and it is the third film of his career that has, apparently, turned out exactly the way he wanted it to – and if something as balls-out batshit as this movie represents an artistic compromise, than […]

On 22 September, 1995, a movie called Showgirls was released on a tidal wave of hype that could only come with being the first major film to get released under the notorious NC-17 rating from the MPAA; a rating which, coupled with the exploitation-friendly setting of the movie, was widely understood to promise, “this movie […]