Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

It Comes at Night could be the title of a horror film, or of a pornographic parody of a horror film. In actuality, It Comes at Night is neither of these, though it’s not above pretending that horror might be in the offing. And if you’re willing to be flexible enough with definitions that a […]

1968, the bright dividing line between contemporary and classic horror – in the autumn of that year, George A. Romero’s Night of the Living Dead brought terrifyingly explicit violence and gore to the genre and things change forever. But that groundbreaking horror classic was beat to theaters by a few months by a film whose […]

1975’s The Stepford Wives has long since become one of those movies for which the twist ending of its central mystery has become the single thing that most people know about it. This is never a fair place for a work of narrative art to find itself, but it’s especially unfortunate for this film, which […]

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: a twofer! With Paranoia, we have a thriller about a man whose job has unexpectedly thrust him into the […]

I’ll tell you what one does not expect of a thriller produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, directed by Tony Scott, and starring Will Smith, released in 1998 when Smith, for one, was at his all-time most commercially marketable: that it would predict, so casually that it’s almost banal, one of the biggest U.S. domestic policy shitstorms […]

2012 marks the eighth year that Amanda Seyfried has been a Young Actress to Watch, following the one-two punch of her supporting performances in Mean Girls and Veronica Mars, and at some point those of us in her cheering section are probably going to get the message and go home. Maybe if they do an […]

If Michael Shannon gives his best onscreen performance ever in Take Shelter, and creates what might well be the finest male character of 2011, it’s not exactly a shocking achievement: the role could just as well have been created for him by Jeff Nichols (and very possibly was), whose only prior work as writer and […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13 & 10/15World premiere: 14 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival There have been many films about the confounded lot of women in contemporary Iran (and given how incredibly shitty that lot seems to be, it’s not the sort of thing I feel compelled to complain about), and on that front, […]

For a film that treats on the themes of free will and the identity of God, The Adjustment Bureau is an awfully light-headed popcorn movie. Upon reflection, I think this is all for the good: better for these concept-heavy sci-fi thrillers with pot-addled-freshmen-late-night-bull-session philosophies to dismiss themselves & save the rest of us the work: […]

If Roman Polanski never makes another film after The Ghost Writer, the very least we’ll be able to say about the man is this: he managed to end his career with a pretty crackerjack thriller, no masterpiece on the scale of Chinatown or Knife in the Water (and really, how could it be?), but a […]

(After experimenting this way and that, I’ve realised that I can’t really write any kind of analysis of Shutter Island that addresses exactly what makes it such an irritating, dispiriting and above all unsatisfying experience, without making pretty damn free with the spoilers for the film’s massive, easily-guessed third act twist. So easily-guessed, in fact, […]

I think that it is possible that no film in history before The Passion of the Christ could have been as theoretically unsuspenseful as All the President’s Men. President Richard M. Nixon was tied to the conspiracy to cover-up the White House connections to the attempted bugging of the Democratic National Committee headquarters, and resigned […]