Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The question of whether Green Book is worse on race or worse on class is a tough one. It’s at least more spectacularly bad on race; but I, for one, was unprepared for it to touch on class at all, so that came as the far uglier surprise. Either way, it’s the kind of modestly […]

Every now and then we get one of those little mini-cycles of movies that are in no way actually related, but somehow end up occupying the same exact spot in your brain. For me, at least, we have one of those going on right now, with a pair of movies, each with the word “Boy” […]

The 1966 television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a masterpiece at least three times over. First, it’s one of the greatest of all Christmas stories told in an audio-visual medium, filling its 26 minutes with exactly the correct amount of warm and fuzzy sentiment, wry cynicism to keep said sentiment in check, and […]

I would say at the outset that David & Nic Sheff, subjects of the biopic Beautiful Boy, are a real-life father and son (the movie is based on their respective memoirs, titled after David’s), and the suffering depicted in the movie is real-life suffering, and far be it from me to minimise any of it. It […]

Because I am fundamentally broken, wretched person, I come to the films in the God’s Not Dead franchise with a certain expectation of laughing at the ineptitude, cringing in merry pleasure at the deep lack of understanding of human behavior, and feeling a twisted, ripped-up churning in my guts, like I’ve got a live copperhead […]

The claims that BlacKkKlansman represents a renaissance for Spike Lee are at least slightly overheated. After all, even his very great movies are frustrating and flawed (except for Do the Right Thing, which is frustrating and perfect), and even his very bad movies are still interesting for the complexity and intensity of their ideas. There […]

There are, I would imagine, very few similarities between Marfa, Texas (2010 population: 1981) and Oakland, California (2010 poplation: 390,724). But they share this one thing: they both somehow became holy sites for filmmaking for very brief periods of time. In August 2006, Marfa was the base of operations for two different film shoots, those […]

I don’t know if Boots Riley has any interest in directing or writing a second feature film. And if he did, I don’t know if I’d expect it to be an even better refinement over his debut, or if he’d have one of those careers that begins in an explosion of pure creativity and then […]

A Kid Like Jake is a nice picture – a very fucking nice picture indeed. This is a big part of the problem with it. Nice pictures of this particular sort are also very smug, self-satisfied pictures, in the absence of virtually anything to be smug or self-satisfied about: their niceness is wielded as a […]

2014’s God’s Not Dead has a loopy, auto-erotic concept that makes no sense, but I can vaguely see how, if you were so deep in the culture war trenches that you needed binoculars to see daylight, it might seem like its story of hostile academics trying to humiliate the Christ out of their students speaks […]

God’s Not Dead has become the stand-in in popular consciousness for a whole genre: the hectoring message movie designed exclusively for U.S. conservative evangelical audiences. And this makes a great deal of sense: it was a huge, shocking box-office success, making $61 million in North America from a $2 million dollar budget, which makes it […]

There are “right now” movies, and there are movies you expect will live on and linger for all time. It’s not, I don’t think, an insult to A Fantastic Woman, the 2017 Berlinale competitor and winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar, to say that it’s 100% a “right now” movie, and it will […]