Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

American Hustle is set in the 1970s, and tells a vigorously fictionalised account of the ABSCAM sting set up by the FBI to target corrupt politicians in 1978, but it’s a ’60s movie. For despite its grittastic cinematography and the word “American” there in the title, both of them promising a neo-New Hollywood exercise in […]

Alfred Hitchcock is probably the closest thing to a consensus pick for the greatest film director of all time, between critics, historians, general audience, and hardcore film buffs, but even he was a mortal, and could not do every thing he applied himself to. Notably, and predictably for a man promoted as “the Master of […]

It is a greatly satisfying thing that the first shot of Sólo con tu pareja, the first feature directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is a tracking shot towards an exquisitely-lit man and a woman having sex. That’s as close a one-image summary of the director’s subsequent career as you’re likely to run into, particularly when that […]

It is frequently proposed that Some Like It Hot is the best movie comedy ever made, and those looking for an iconoclastic opinion on this front will, I am afraid, need to look elsewhere. For it is the best movie comedy of all time, says I, and only partially because it is the funniest. Which […]

Every Sunday 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: of all the things you can turn into movies, board games are one of the weirdest, and an ice-cold […]

Allow me to begin with a surprising revelation, followed by a qualification. The surprise is that American Reunion, despite the seemingly insurmountable difficulty of being the first theatrical American Pie picture in nine long years (discounting a canonically dubious franchise of spin-offs released direct-to-video and featuring none of the main cast), is not just the […]

The easiest, and indeed most accurate, way to describe Footnote would make it sound like an absolute chore: an Israeli family dramedy about a father and son pair of feuding Talmudic scholars, recently nominated for the Best Foreign Language film Oscar. If you are anything like me, the only word in that description that was […]

To a certain kind of film lover – the kind writing this film blog, for starters – the phrase “pre-Code” sparks a particular kind of joy. It refers to the thin window between the arrival of sound in 1929 and the time late in 1934 when the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors Association, and the […]

It’s a parlor game for 19th Century literature freaks and nothing but to speculate on such questions, but let us take a moment to muse upon the most famous short story written by Edgar Allan Poe – that is, name the first Poe story that comes to mind. Ask a dozen people, and I suspect […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/12 & 10/14 World premiere: 31 March, 2011, China It’s been some years since Hong Kong cinema was a cause célèbre among Western cinephiles, but if that weren’t the case, surely Johnnie To would be a name as well-regarded today as John Woo was 15 years ago. He’s responsible for […]

Of the three films John Hughes wrote in 1983, Mr. Mom proved that he could write a big, Zeitgeisty hit, but his next effort (which premiered a whole week later in July of that year) was almost certainly the more impressive achievement. For one thing, it was almost as successful as Mr. Mom – $61 […]

If I happened to be teaching a class in screenwriting, I’d be overjoyed to have Crazy, Stupid, Love. as a case study: it’s the best and most frustrating kind of good-but-not-great movie, in which the specific, singular script flaw that holds it back is absurdly obvious and easy to fix, but so profound in its […]