Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In the summer of 2003, documentary filmmaker Marie Nyreröd interviewed Ingmar Bergman in his home on the island of Fårö, in the process of making three one-hour documentaries about his life and work that aired on Swedish television the following year. At the same time, she recorded several short conversations with him, staged in his […]

In the year of our Lord 2020, you have either made your peace with Sofia Coppola’s entire filmmaking project focusing on stories of upper-class women suffering from an indescribable ennui – women whose biographies overlap in significant ways with Coppola herself – or you have not. As long as they remain insightful and clever, I’m […]

According to a certain strand of criticism that has existed since the early 1960s, the biggest single shortcoming with Ingmar Bergman is that he is fundamentally apolitical. His international heyday exactly overlapped with a moment of heightened political activism around the world from artists of every medium, much of it oriented in opposition to the […]

1968’s Hour of the Wolf has perhaps the single least-enviable position of any title in Ingmar Bergman’s filmography: it’s the feature film he made next after Persona. Anything would seem like a step down in ambition and visionary madness compared to that movie, though Hour of the Wolf makes a good-faith effort to stand out […]

The Silence is a film of negation. The first words spoken –  the first of not very many, at that – are a declaration of ignorance and meaninglessness. A boy of ten or eleven, Johan (Jörgen Lindström) points to a sign written in an unfamiliar language, asking, “Vad betyder det?” (What does that mean?). Off-camera […]

When I think upon Ingmar Bergman’s cinema, and what most perfectly embodies it, why he is one of my very favorite filmmakers of all time and what are the irreducible components of his style, what I always think of first is Winter Light from 1963. Specifically, I think of the shot of Ingrid Thulin’s face. […]

The quintessential Ingmar Bergman films, to me – the once that most sum up all of his strengths as a film director, his preoccupations as a writer, and his function in the ecosystem of art cinema – are a set of three movies he made in the early 1960s, right when his international visibility was […]

It will always be a little asterisk on the career of director Ingmar Bergman that the film for which he always has been and likely always will be best-known, 1957’s The Seventh Seal, is among the least-characteristic films he ever made. This is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad, nor anything (though it […]

The clear winner of the first round of voting in the poll to select what 2020 arthouse film I should watch and review next. Vote in that and the other polls if you want to control my, and the website’s fate Kelly Reichardt has never felt like a director who was forcing her career to […]

Forgive me if start talking about Tenet, the eleventh feature directed by Christopher Nolan (and, I am tempted to say, the most Nolan-ish of them all), by simply quoting what I had to say ten years ago about Inception, the seventh Nolan feature: “What some critics have praise/assailed as ‘confusing’ in [Tenet] is really just […]

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 […]

1955’s Smiles of a Summer Night is a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s also a light bauble: tinged with melancholy and hard-won worldy wisdom, but still mostly a sex farce. 1957’s The Seventh Seal is similarly a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, but it’s also a strange pageant-like work of dense symbolism, unafraid to […]