Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Whether you consider it a strength, or the movie’s most damning flaw, I think this much cannot be denied: The Godfather, Part II knows the scale of the movie it’s following, and it is hellbent on topping it. 1972’s The Godfather, adapted from Mario Puzo’s 1969 crime novel, was never supposed to be one of […]

You have perhaps heard of The Godfather. It is a three-hour movie about the Mafia, released in 1972 by a studio that had been losing money at a steady clip, directed by an up-and-coming filmmaker whose last film had been a major flop (he was hired, in large part because the desperate studio knew that […]

I won’t go so far as to say that there’s nothing that can prepare you for Tekkonkinkreet, the 2006 film that, among its many traits, was the first significant Japanese-produced animated feature directed by a non-Japanese person (the man with that honor was Los Angeles-born Michael Arias, who got his start in visual effects and […]

1935’s The Whole Town’s Talking is a weird movie. All the weirder still, because it doesn’t in the slightest bit act like it’s weird. But here’s what we’ve got: a variation of The Prince and the Pauper set inside of a ’30s gangster picture, that spends its first act looking for all the world like […]

Not, by any means, the most important fact about Martin Scorsese’s exhaustive new biographical epic The Irishman, but to me easily the most distracting: it is not titled The Irishman. The film has been adapted by Steven Zaillian from Charles Brandt’s 2004 nonfiction novel I Heard You Paint Houses, and that is the only title […]

2015’s Embrace of the Serpent, director Ciro Guerra’s third film, was a story of indigenous traditions in Colombia being corrupted and overwritten by an encounter with Westerners. It’s also one of the most remarkable sui generis films of the 2010s, a film that takes place in history but also feels outside of it; draws upon […]

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 […]