Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

David Fincher has directed nine features as of 2014, and 2002’s Panic Room is almost beyond question the least interesting one to talk about on its own merits (which isn’t to say it’s his worst: even that would make it more interesting). This is exactly why I picked it as his representative in this series: […]

As the Hollywood Century takes us into the 21st Century and thus near to the present day, I shall find myself increasingly hard-pressed to do much good situating the films I’m discussing in any kind of historical context: we’re still in that historical context, for the most part, and it will take a few more […]

There are two ways to primarily think about Erin Brockovich, I believe: one is that it is among the most conventional films in the career of director Steven Soderbergh, which isn’t to say that it’s really so conventional as all that, but coming sandwiched in his career smack-dab in between The Limey and Traffic, it […]

How does one try to summarise 1999 with one review of one movie? It was arguably (by which I mean “almost certainly, but let’s not be smug know-it-all dicks about it”) the single most transformative year of American filmmaking after the collapse of the New Hollywood Cinema. A stunning number of major filmmakers made some […]

Knowing that I’d eventually get to write about Saving Private Ryan – to grapple with my own wildly inconsistent feelings about it over the years, as well as to challenge all of you, my readers, to do the same – has been one of the things that I’ve been most excited about since the very […]

Not that one expects much out of a movie like Air Bud, but I still wasn’t expecting it to reveal itself to be quite so vile quite so quickly. Very nearly the first thing that happens in the entire movie is a series of comic close-up shots of a little yellow bird, sitting on a […]

I foreground pee-drinking not because it’s fun to take cheap shots (which it is), but because the film genuinely cares that much. Pee-drinking is the first thing that happens. We get the scene-setting as a portentous but oddly tinny-sounding narrator invokes “The future. The polar ice caps have melted, covering the Earth with water. Those […]

The first half of the 1990s were the worst time ever to be a fan of horror. Even the stretches of time where horror films weren’t being made were better, since even the least the absence of horror is preferable to the virtually uninterrupted stream of shit that was North American genre filmmaking in the […]

In most ways, “the 1990s in cinema” is a hard thing to define, aesthetically or otherwise. Mostly, it’s the thing that transitioned between the 1980s (infatuated with narrative simplicity and violence) and the 2000s (CGI-driven franchises and a kind of pop-market humanism), with the constant, lecturing presence of the most artistically and commercially robust independent […]

There is a stat that I find somehow totally unexpected, even though I’d have guessed it right if you asked me beforehand: the highest-grossing baseball movie in history is A League of Their Own, the story of the first season of the short-lived All-American Girls Professional Baseball League, founded during World War II as a […]

Let us consider the curious case of Kathryn Bigelow. She is, arguably, contemporary Hollywood’s most important female director, at least as measured by her directorial Oscar win in 2009, the only such victory by a woman. And she has acquired this status while being among the very few major woman filmmakers to completely (and, to […]