Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Quo vadis, Aida? takes place over a few days in July 1995, in the small town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if that date in connection to that place has any meaning to you, you already know more or less exactly what kind of movie you’re in for. And also, maybe you don’t. […]

Pieces of a Woman is the kind of film that gets watched because it received a solitary acting Oscar nomination, and even before it received that nomination, it was discussed for literally only two things, one of which is the performance that received that nomination. Which, for the record, belongs to Vanessa Kirby, one of […]

The title character in the 2019 Russian art film Beanpole – for yes, “Beanpole” is a character’s nickname, and in most contexts that would suggest a lightly quirky dramedy, but I did say “Russian” and so you had best be gearing yourself up for some abject misery – is a veteran of the Second World […]

I have had cause to mention multiple times now that the tradition of regarding Fanny and Alexander as Ingmar Bergman’s final film is almost entirely a matter of sophistry, but the biggest sophist of all was Ingmar Bergman himself. When his 1984 telefilm After the Rehearsal was released theatrically basically everywhere in the world other […]

Lord forgive me for starting with the most obvious question, but in the case of Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made, it is the most obvious because it is also the most dumbfounding: how is it that one goes from directing the winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture to making a direct-to-streaming children’s movie […]

For what would prove to be the final film of his self-imposed exile in West Germany, Ingmar Bergman wanted to finally honor the cinema of his host country, rather than keep making quasi-Swedish chamber dramas as if nothing had changed but the address of his studio. And indeed, that is very much what he ended […]

Capone is an outright disaster, but it’s my favorite kind of outright disaster: ones that come from a mortifying surfeit of ambition and creativity. This is the third feature in the short but tumultuous career of writer-director Josh Trank, of the pleasantly clever and low-key Chronicle in 2012, and very much more visibly the farrago […]

In the summer of 2003, documentary filmmaker Marie Nyreröd interviewed Ingmar Bergman in his home on the island of FÃ¥rö, in the process of making three one-hour documentaries about his life and work that aired on Swedish television the following year. At the same time, she recorded several short conversations with him, staged in his […]

It will always be a little asterisk on the career of director Ingmar Bergman that the film for which he always has been and likely always will be best-known, 1957’s The Seventh Seal, is among the least-characteristic films he ever made. This is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad, nor anything (though it […]

Brink of Life is an overlooked film in Ingmar Bergman’s career, possibly because he later stepped away from it, but it feels to me like a crucial example of his developing career at the end of the 1950s. On top of being, in its own right, a terrific acting showcase, which by this point was […]

The late and quite unlamented (by me, anyway) horror subgenre of torture porn was, if it was anything, aggressively unpleasant. Watching extended scenes of human having miseries realistically inflicted upon them without the sweet release of death would sort of have to be; this is the difference between the torture films and other gore-driven subgenres, […]