Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

A review requested by Ryan J, with thanks for contributing to the ACS Fundraiser. Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 debut feature and declaration of war Breathless* is a curious case. In hindsight, everything that is most daring about it would be repeated to stronger effect in more interesting movies overall by the same director – most directly […]

A review requested by Nathan Morrow, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. As titles go, Mind Game is perfect: it describes exactly what the movie is and plans to do to its audience (it’s also in English, spelled in Latin characters, despite the film being overwhelmingly in Japanese). […]

A review requested by Eric “Sssonic” Mason, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. There is a certain kind of film that has existed ever since the first generation of film school students began to direct features, and which came to its fullest prominence beginning in the 1990s, in […]

A review requested by McAlister, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The ingredients are pretty standard early ’40s Hollywood comedy, so you wouldn’t know it just to glance at it, but Ball of Fire is a very special movie. And not just because every film directed by Howard […]

A review requested by Andrew Milne, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Throughout his career, director Kim Jee-woon has been an unapologetic generic magpie, unified only in that whether he’s making a psycho-thriller like A Tale of Two Sisters, an absurdist Western like The Good, the Bad, the […]

It’s probably possible to overstate the importance of Bonnie and Clyde to the subsequent development of American cinema, but you’d have to indulge in some pretty outrageous hyperbole to do it. It almost single-handedly dragged Hollywood into the aggressive stylistic modernism that Europe had been enjoying for most of the 1960s; there had been scattered […]

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: since the Italian genre film began revving up after the Second World War, filmmakers have been putting Greek hero […]

The five films made by the four Marx brothers at Paramount between 1929 and 1933 are the stuff of legend, and the basis for what is likely the most famous career of any comic team in history (and this despite the first of those films, The Cocoanuts, sagging under the weight of an insipid romantic […]

Above all else, the best reason I can think of for adopting a historically-oriented approach to art appreciation is that there’s so damn much history just sitting there. Limit yourself to only the stuff produced in any given year, and you’re going to make some discoveries and have a great deal of random dross to […]

Miller’s Crossing may or may not be the Coen brother’s “best” movie. I think that argument exists to be made, but it’s hard to get all the way through it with Barton Fink and Fargo over there in the corner, flexing their muscles. It is, though, almost certainly their most elaborate and dense movie, both […]

The reason that there are two wildly different versions of the 1990 film Revenge is a great deal more interesting than the movie itself, for from the title on down it is but a meanly typical and pedestrian early-’90s erotic thriller whose chief point of significance is that, 14 years before Man on Fire, director […]