Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

(Part 2 of 2. Be sure to check out the companion review!) The Forbidden Dance made less than half of what the Warner-released Cannon production Lambada made their shared opening weekend; but we are speaking in terms of the purest relativism. Lambada still opened in eighth place and made less than one-fifth of that weekend’s […]

(Part 1 of 2. Be sure to check out the companion review!) My Hollywood Century project has, I confess, been subjected to some mission drift over the last twenty-odd entries. I described it, at the start, as: Sometimes it will be a well-loved consensus classic, and sometimes a lost masterpiece. Sometimes an ill-made but important […]

The post title says it all, really. Ron Howard is an important Hollywood director, and I felt that I had to include him; but there was no reason I could come up with for any individual title in his filmography. 1989 had no other compelling contenders, plus I had never seen the director’s film Parenthood […]

Speaking entirely personally, you understand, I’d be quick to identify the 1980s as the worst decade in the history of American filmmaking (though I recognise the strong argument in favor of giving that title to the 1960s, and frankly, the 2010s aren’t heading in a very promising direction). It was a formulaic, money-driven, recklessly safe […]

The gap between American cinema in the 1970s and in the 1980s, as much as anything, is the gap between little and big movies. The ’80s did not invent “big” cinema, of course, but the post-Star Wars ecosystem loved high concepts and sprawling productions a whole hell of a lot, and this love began infecting […]

The Tom Cruise intro I have spent a larger portion of my life thinking of Tom Cruise as a bobble-headed pretty boy than otherwise, but like all false beliefs, once you realise it’s not true, it’s hard to remember why you ever thought that way in the first place. I mean, yes, Top Gun, and […]

You would not, to watch the 1982 thriller First Blood, expect it to birth the franchise it birthed. Though it’s too much of an action movie to qualify in any other genre, it’s a very brainy, sociologically alert action movie, in which the cultural stratification of the Vietnam War years is found to have echoes, […]

We can say any number of nasty things about the American cinema of the 1980s – that it’s coldly regressive politically, that it’s corporatised to within an inch of its life, that it’s formulaic to a degree found nowhere else in the history of the American film industry – but there’s one thing that I […]

Whatever sequence of events, marketing pressures, shifting audiences preferences, and directorial indulgences contributed to the death of the New Hollywood Cinema at the dawn of the 1980s, it’s satisfyingly easy to point out when the corpse stopped twitching. In February, 1982, New Hollywood idol and godfather, if you will (and if you won’t, it’s no […]

The question of authorship of 1982’s Poltergeist is not going to be resolved here. It is one of the great stubbornly unanswered question of film production in modern days: whether producer/scenarist/co-writer Steven Spielberg (it is one of only three films for which he took a screenwriting credit) in fact directed the movie for which Tobe […]

The first thing the writer on film must do is to confess to all biases, and here is the one that matters the most for me: the 1980s are my least-favorite decade in the history of American film. Masterpieces can be found – masterpieces can be found in any era, of course – but the […]

The classic version of the story goes that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas ruined everything, just absolutely every god-damned thing, when they released their big ol’ popcorn movies Jaws and Star Wars in 1975 and ’77, and made all the studios go “Whoa! We don’t want to keep making little movies about the lives of […]