Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

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 […]

No reviewer of the 1958 MGM musical Gigi will ever come up with a better lede paragraph than the one Bosley Crowther wrote for his review in The New York Times, in which he affects modest shock at the astonishing list of coincidences between the film and a recent Broadway, before drily ending with the […]

I literally cannot imagine a world where The Seventh Seal didn’t exist. It is, without a trace of hyperbole, one of the works that defines its medium. That there is a thing called “the art film”; that we can, without embarrassment, treat cinema as something that serious intellectuals can and should grapple with; that there […]

Ingmar Bergman once suggested, I do not know how seriously, that his choice in the early summer of 1955 was between two things: making a lightweight comedy for Svensk Filmindustri, or killing himself. Now, I shouldn’t think that his professional situation was as bad as all that – his position with Malmö City Theatre was […]

The torture porn fad of the mid-’00s was one of the dreariest developments in the history of horror cinema: take the imaginative gore effects of the early slasher films, strip away the merry exploitation hucksterism, and replace it with bitterness and a fascination with the human capacity for cruelty. I have seen at least a […]

One would be hard-pressed to overstate the importance of director-producer-writer-star Laurence Olivier’s 1948 film of Hamlet in the history of screen adaptations of William Shakespeare’s plays. It’s not necessarily a question of direct influence: despite the film’s commercial success and sizable haul of awards (both the Golden Lion and the Best Picture Oscar, a combination […]

1953’s Summer with Monika, Ingmar Bergman’s twelfth feature film as director, was also the film with which he first found major international success, though that success had very little to do with critical recognition of his talent. Rather, it’s because Summer with Monika had what was, at the time, a groundbreaking depiction of nudity, and […]

No film has ever deserved its reputation less than How Green Was My Valley, an adaptation by Philip Dunne of Richard Llewellyn’s 1939 novel that carefully balances gooey nostalgic sentiment and troubling clarity, is one of the most beautifully-shot films of the 1940s, and represents one of the highest achievements of John Ford’s career-long fascination […]