Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Insofar as the 1944 Swedish film Torment is much remembered or discussed at all, it’s because the script was written by a 24-year-old named Ingmar Bergman, who was very eagerly in those days trying to kick-start a career in cinema, or theater, or both. He was successful in these goals. And this film is a […]

There’s an elegant symmetry at play here. One could argue, I’d say with very little effort, that no superhero movie released since The Incredibles debuted in November 2004, has improved upon it.* And now, finally, something has, and it’s Incredibles 2, a very long-delayed follow-up that’s also one of the most wholly satisfying sequels in… […]

A review requested by Salim “STinG” Garami, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. I’ll freely admit that I can’t tell if Class of 1984 is a good movie or not. On the one hand, it’s unmixed, trashy exploitation, portraying a most overheated melodrama that plays on the audience’s […]

A review requested by John Smith, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. Against all reason and the evidence of the film itself, Our Miss Brooks is one of the most singular movies I’ve ever had occasion to talk about. As far as I can tell, it’s the second […]

Hype is a brutal fucker. Coming to Whiplash cold, it might be entirely possible to find it a fun, nervy little sudser about Type-A personalities clashing with lacerating verbal violence, done up in an appropriately hyper if not terribly innovative style. Coming to it, instead, with the knowledge that it’s pretty much a done deal […]

(Part 2 of 2. Be sure to check out the companion review!) The Forbidden Dance made less than half of what the Warner-released Cannon production Lambada made their shared opening weekend; but we are speaking in terms of the purest relativism. Lambada still opened in eighth place and made less than one-fifth of that weekend’s […]

As you may know, the Academy Awards nominees for Best Foreign Language film get chosen by two groups: the old conservative group that enjoys simple morality plays, crusty grandpas, and dew-eyed children, and the edgy, smart group that was introduced in the 2000s specifically to make sure that at least some of the nominees are […]

It is surely my fault that I held out the hope, however slight, that Bad Teacher would end up being an okay movie. Certainly, nobody that I ever discussed it with – and some of these are people that I would politely describe as having aggressively indiscriminate tastes when it comes to R-rated comedies – […]

There is but one thing more annoying than wanting very much to love a movie, only to find out that it kind of sucks: wanting very much to hate a movie, only to find out that it’s pretty good. Other than its atrociously over-compensatory subtitle, Precious: Based on the Novel ‘Push’ by Sapphire is at […]

The story of an inspirational teacher who causes his (or very seldom, her) charges to understand something new and empowering about the world, is as hoary as any old chestnut out there, and probably for a simple reason: most people who write movies went to school at some point and very likely had a teacher […]

In Laurent Cantet’s The Class (Entre les murs, or “Between the Walls” in the original French), there is a Parisian teacher named François who wants very badly to help his students become the smartest and best people they can be. Those students – 14 and 15-year-olds from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds – do […]

It is trite by now to observe the dual facts that Happy-Go-Lucky is one of the brightest and loveliest movies of the year, and that this is a surprise; but I can’t help myself. It was after all directed by noted British misery-monger Mike Leigh, a man given to dark irony and emotional sucker-punches, and […]