Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

For over 50 years, dating at least back to 1962’s What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, some of our greatest actresses have spent their career doldrums playing psychopathic monsters in trashy thrillers. There is nothing noble about the hagsploitation tradition, but there is an awful lot that is dizzying, rollicking fun, seeing icons and towering screen […]

Once upon a time, there was a famous person, who made a famous piece of art, but get this: the famous piece of art was inspired by the events he experienced in his life. In other words, my friends, we have here yet another “Shakespeare in Love about _____” movie, with the blank this particular […]

I think it is time to draw Cartoon Saloon into the company of the great animation studios of the modern day. It’s not just that with The Breadwinner, a sober-minded tale of the life of a girl in Afghanistan during the height of Taliban control, makes it three-for-three good or great features from Cartoon Saloon, […]

At some point, I’d really like to see John Carney make a different movie, since he’s clearly got talent to spare as a director of actors, and his writing is an irresistible combination of aching sincerity and clear-eyed, raw naturalism. But as long as the one film he keeps making over and over again – […]

Whit Stillman has, kind of, always been making Jane Austen adaptations: his 1990 debut, Metropolitan, is a loose reworking of Mansfield Park, in addition to mentioning Austen in the dialogue, and his entire career to this point (five movies and an Amazon pilot that didn’t get picked up, in 26 years – also a 1996 […]

Director Yorgos Lanthimos’s 2009 international breakthrough Dogtooth is a bar set so high that you’d not even mind if it he never managed to leap over it again, and yet here we are: just two films later – and the director’s first film in a language other than his native Greek (it’s English and a […]

The tyranny of awards-season chatter is that it reduces interesting movies to uninteresting horse race conversation, so let’s get the dull part out of the way: yes, Brie Larson is fantastic in Room. This is only surprising if you haven’t been paying attention. Brie Larson is always fantastic. She was fantastic in Don Jon, where […]

It’s of course lazy and arguably bigoted, speaking to a cramped sample set, to suggest that Italian Filmmaker A and Italian Filmmaker B resemble each other in no small part because they are both Italian. But it is a national cinema that particularly favors enormous, lavish spectacle, and there’s never been a point since WWII […]

To begin by asking the least burning question of them all: is Song of the Sea better than The Secret of Kells? I’m inclined to say no. There’s the ol’ “form follows content” argument, which would have it that Kells uses a visual aesthetic that is intimately derived from its primary subject, the illuminated Book […]

Titling one’s movie Calvary, as writer-director John Michael McDonagh has done in his second feature (and also the second entry in his project to give amazing lead roles to Brendan Gleeson), boxes things in pretty well. It has to be a film with a walking, talking Christ surrogate, pretty much, and Calvary‘s is a doozy: […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/12 & 10/13 & 10/15World premiere: 11 March, 2012, South by Southwest Film Festival No film that opens with as big a moment as Citadel does can possibly be written off entirely: a young husband, living with his wife in a virtually uninhabitable public housing building too-ironically named “Edenstown”, has just stepped […]

In Albert Nobbs, Glenn Close plays a man (it is likely you know this if you’ve heard anything about the movie, because it is the only thing that the marketing really cares to mention). More precisely, she plays a woman posing as a man in 19th Century Ireland for economic purposes – she wants to […]