Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

It says something – and as a contented old atheist, I hardly know if I’m in a position to say what, but it’s something – that The Last Temptation of Christ could have the theologically promiscuous fatherhood of an Italian Catholic director working from a screenplay that a Calvinist writer adapted from a 1955 novel […]

What is cinema? We can speak of its technical aspects: cinema is a medium in which still images (often, but not always photographic in nature) are shown at a fast enough rate to create the illusion of movement. Cinema is a medium of montage, in which the creator shows the viewer a single image followed […]

Before I go anywhere with A Hidden Life, the tenth film directed by Terrence Malick in 46 years, and also the sixth in just the last eight years, I must remind you all that I am a fanboy incapable of anything like the proper objective distance from this director and his work. When the critical […]

The adjective that recommends itself above all others in connection to First Reformed is “unrelenting.” You might, if you have absolutely no idea how cinema works as a medium, be able to avoid figuring out precisely what writer-director Paul Schrader wants you to think about the world, industrialisation, religion in 21st Century America, and despair; […]

Martin Scorsese has been attempting to make a film version of Endo Shusaku’s 1966 novel Silence since the early 1990s (an earlier Japanese-language adaptation, directed by Shinoda Masahiro), was released in 1971). After a quarter of a century, he has finally succeeded, and the emergent Silence very much feels like a movie that was the […]

My instinct to say of Hail, Caesar! that you will love it if you fall into the enormously specific niche of people who adore Studio Era Hollywood but are still totally okay with making fun of it, and also consider themselves somewhere firmly entrenched in the Leftist-Socialist-Marxist end of the spectrum but are still totally […]

A review requested by André Robichaud, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. The apparent subject of Soviet director Andrei Tarkovsky’s second feature, Andrei Rublev, is indicated right in the title: it’s a story of the life of the most renowned painter of icons in medieval Russia, Andrei Rublev […]

Since Ordet is all about the Big Questions, I don’t see any reason not to lead off my review of it with Grand Statements all my own – though since the movie is anything but hyberbolic, I do so with a fair and appropriate degree of shame. First, it is the greatest movie about religion, […]

An older review of this film can be found here. It is not demanding more of The Tree of Life than it can withstand to call it the defining film of Terrence Malick’s whole life. From the moment he first began drafting the script to what was then called Q, in 1978, it was fully […]

After Days of Heaven, Terrence Malick vanished from the face of cinema. It was not, as is sometimes suggested, a deliberate retirement; he actively pursued at least a handful of projects in the years after his sophomore effort, including his creation-to-today epic Q and a biopic of Jerry Lee Lewis. Yet is there not something […]

There’s an old Jewish joke. I’m paraphrasing, heavily, but it’s a standard form that can survive a gentile like me: Ephraim spots his old friend Samuel walking down the street, and he rushes over to say hello. “Samuel, my friend!” he says, “how long it has been! How are you doing these days?” “Ah,” says […]

“Le film, c’est le monde. Vraiment, en une heure et demi, en une heure quarante, voir le monde.” -Jean-Luc Godard [“The film is the world. Truly, in an hour and a half, you see the world,”] In the opening moments of Robert Bresson’s 1966 film Au hasard Balthazar* something remarkable happens that sets the tone […]