Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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: once again, filmmakers have failed to do a decent job of giving Bruce Lee a biopic with Birth of […]

I want you to ignore the modestly impressive 3/5 rating attached to this review. Ip Man 3i is a fascinating film even in its mistakes, and a great film in its triumphs: anyone with the most glancing interest in action movies, especially martial arts movies, has really no choice but to see it. This is […]

A review requested by Kin Wing Yan, with thanks for contributing to the ACS Fundraiser. The American viewer who knows of Hong Kong superstar Andy Lau at all is likely to associate him exclusively or nearly so with action movies, though this is not at all a fair summarise his career, as I understand it. […]

A review requested by Bryan C, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. If there’s one big, unanswerable complaint to be made against Wong Kar-wai’s 1997 romantic tragedy Happy Together, it’s that three years later, Wong made In the Mood for Love, and in the process made the earlier […]

A review requested by Shoumik H, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Johnnie To is a name that you might know, and you definitely should. He is nothing less than the finest director of action movies and crime thrillers in Hong Kong since that country’s action cinema wave […]

To begin with, there’s no getting around it: The Grandmaster was massively fucked with on its way to U.S. theaters. Is it clearly the case that the changes that director Wong Kar-wai executed under the watchful eye of chop-happy impresario Harvey Weinstein make the film worse? Search me. But it’s just not possible to watch […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/12 & 10/14 World premiere: 31 March, 2011, China It’s been some years since Hong Kong cinema was a cause célèbre among Western cinephiles, but if that weren’t the case, surely Johnnie To would be a name as well-regarded today as John Woo was 15 years ago. He’s responsible for […]

One would assume that an international film star with the appeal and cult of Jackie Chan would not have much if any trouble getting his way; and yet the path leading to Little Big Soldier, which premiered in Asia in the winter of 2010 and has yet to secure a proper release across most of […]

In 1994, Wong Kar-Wai made a film called Ashes of Time: a movie of much greater budget than he’d ever been given before, in a genre (wuxia, martial arts) previously unknown to him, with a cast comprising some of the biggest names in Hong Kong cinema at the time. The project became an infamous boondoggle, […]

Oh, how I’m going to hell for that post title. The final vampire picture produced by Hammer Film Productions saw the studio going out with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a comic SPROING!!! noise. At least that is the sound it makes in my head, because wow is The Legend of the 7 […]

Having seen only his 2006 gangster-western Exiled hardly makes me anything like a specialist on director Johnnie To, but even with that limited knowledge it’s hard not to see what makes that film like his newest, Sparrow. Both films are, on paper, rough-and-tumble crime pictures about the travails affecting a group of friends who get […]

I think it’s fair to argue that Wong Kar-Wai makes the most distinctive films in the history of narrative cinema. So to call My Blueberry Nights a Wong Kar-Wai film is a fair bit of description all by itself. On the other hand, My Blueberry Nights is also, by a pretty healthy margin, the worst […]