Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The very first thing that happens in Gotti is that the camera pans across the Manhattan skyline on the far side of the river, to land on John Gotti (John Travolta), turning around to regard the camera with practiced surprise, like the host of a cooking show welcoming us to their fake house. The second […]

Taraji P. Henson as a gang assassin with a conscience who ends up fighting both sides of a turf war? Fucking-a yes. A neo-blaxploitation film with a classic soul soundtrack and posters like these? Not as much of an enthusiastic yes, but sure, why not. Both of those films in the same package? Obviously yes, […]

It might be a fun idea to think up ways to tell the same basic biographical story depicted in Birth of the Dragon – in 1964, on the brink of his explosion into pop culture stardom with TV’s The Green Hornet in 1966, San Francisco-based Wing Chun master Bruce Lee (Philip Ng) squared off with visiting […]

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: Despicable Me 3 protracts the adventures of a bad guy who we were encouraged to like for his badness, […]

A review requested by Tyler Thibodeaux, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The critical line of dialogue in Goodfellas isn’t, I don’t think, the pitch-perfect “As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.” It sure as hell isn’t “I’m funny how, I […]

A review requested by a contributor who wishes to remain anonymous, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There is a sense in which Diva is a victim of its own success. We know from the evidence of contemporaneous reviews that the 1981 release was greeted with “liking nothing […]

Let nobody say that Woody Allen is really as redundant and uninspired as all that. After 46 feature films spanning 50 years, the director’s Café Society finally catches him doing something brand new: for the first time, he’s made a film in color that is a genuine triumph of cinematography, as opposed to just reasonably […]

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: thirteen years later, Finding Nemo finally gets a sequel in Finding Dory. In contrast, it took less than sixteen […]

There are movies that are showcases for a bravura performance, and then there are bravura performances in search of a movie, and in the case of the bafflingly bad Legend, we see the latter. Tom Hardy is great – it would be disingenuous and stupid to deny that he’s not terrific as gangster twins Reggie […]

There are certain casting choices that are so ineffably perfect that it’s impossible for the reality to match up to the fantasy one concocts upon learning of them. “Ian McKellen as a geriatric Sherlock Holmes in 1947” is, for me, one such bit of casting, and sure enough, Mr. Holmes (for that is the movie […]

In 1948, Bud Abbott and Lou Costello met Frankenstein (as well as the wolf man and Dracula, and point in fact, they don’t meet Frankenstein, just his monster), and two flagging brands were revived. One of those was Universal horror, which had completely flatlined after 1945, as part of a more general fading of big […]

The notional context for this review of The Invisible Woman, Universal Pictures’ release for Christmas week in 1940, is “let’s look at all the far reaches of Universal horror!”, and yet there’s no movie that ever felt like it might be part of a horror franchise that so obviously isn’t. The Invisible Woman is so […]