Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In watching the early films of director Ingmar Bergman, it is hard to avoid feeling a certain polite boredom towards them: some are mediocre, some are good, some are very good, but not one of them feels so strikingly different from the kind of serious melodramas being made in northern and western Europe in the […]

As a genre, the making-of documentary is down near the very bottom of where you’d expect to find genuine artistic inspiration. At their worst, these are absolutely nothing but promotional puff pieces, and even when they are impressively packed with interesting and rare information, presented in a clear and engaging way (my mind immediately goes […]

If there’s a key to cracking Barton Fink, and honestly I’m pretty sure that there isn’t, it might be the simplest bit of production trivia of all. The 1991 film, the fourth written and directed by Joel & Ethan Coen, was written in a brief burst of activity when they were stuck on the labyrinthine […]

Certain beloved directors – Wes Anderson is an obvious example, but I’m sure we can all think of others – often get slagged for making the same movie over and over again. And while I’m sure we would in general prefer for directors to experiment and prod and try out new things, it’s worth pointing […]

Depending on how you count the intermissions that are baked right into the print – there are five of them, all about 15 minutes in length – La Flor is anywhere from about 13.5 hours long to a bit less than 15 hours long. This is, of course The Big Fact about the film that […]

Joanna Hogg is one of the most interesting working directors that you most likely haven’t heard of. In the four features she’s made, starting Unrelated in 2007, she’s carved out a very peculiar but rewarding niche of crafting sedate character dramas after the fashion of Éric Rohmer, but charged with the kind of overwhelming Englishness […]

It’s all right there in the title, a simple little thing that sounds as sensible as a well-fitting pair of shoes: Varda by Agnès. As in “Varda”, the filmmaking career of one of the all-time greats, a master director if ever a director was a master, someone who has more than earned the right to […]

In truth, it doesn’t matter to me that it’s a Romanian film (I tend to love Romanian films), a dark comedy (most of my favorite Romanian films are dark comedies), a story about totalitarian politics (my favorite Romanian dark comedy, 12:08 East of Bucharest, is about the nation’s history of totalitarianism), or as the cherry […]

We have, in Dolemite Is My Name, such a perfect object lesson in what actually matters about movies that it almost feels unfair. This is a competent film – magnificently competent. Screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski know exactly how to write this material (in fact, this is basically the fourth time they’ve written precisely […]

The 2019 Cannes Film Festival was a real punch in the gut: two of world cinema’s most irrepressible eternal adolescents both suddenly grew up all the way to make Old Man movies. Going by their U.S. release dates, we already had Quentin Tarantino show us his autumnal side with Once Upon a Time …in Hollywood; […]

For some years now, director Quentin Tarantino has been maintaining that his tenth feature will also be his last. While I don’t actually believe that (artists retire when they die, no earlier), I suddenly find myself deeply hoping that he doesn’t believe it either. Or maybe that when he says that it will be “his” […]

Intermittently 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. Last week: there are many ways we could plausibly describe Midsommar, one of them being to call it a psychodrama about the […]