Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

1955’s Smiles of a Summer Night is a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s also a light bauble: tinged with melancholy and hard-won worldy wisdom, but still mostly a sex farce. 1957’s The Seventh Seal is similarly a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, but it’s also a strange pageant-like work of dense symbolism, unafraid to […]

I literally cannot imagine a world where The Seventh Seal didn’t exist. It is, without a trace of hyperbole, one of the works that defines its medium. That there is a thing called “the art film”; that we can, without embarrassment, treat cinema as something that serious intellectuals can and should grapple with; that there […]

Between 1962 and 1986, Andrei Tarkovsky directed a mere seven feature films, and every single one of them was greeted as a major work. But 1983’s Nostalghia, the sixth of those seven features and the firs made outside of the Soviet Union (it was shot in Italy, mostly in Tuscany), was regarded as being perhaps […]

My impression is that Stalker, the fifth and final film Andrei Tarkovsky made in the Soviet Union (customarily, one does not think of Soviet artists being allowed to up and leave the country to make movies in the decadent West, but I like to imagine that Goskino was just grateful to see him go), is […]

The Russian language does not have a definite article. Instead, as with most languages with the same characteristic, the difference between a generalised version of an object and this specific example of an object is largely gleaned through context. But that context is not available for a standalone noun, and here’s where we come to […]

The most amusing thing about the 1972 adaptation of Solaris – a film about which very little is amusing, to be fair – is that Andrei Tarkovsky made it, basically, as a “one for them” project. His previous feature, Andrei Rublev, had met with enormous hostility upon delivery, and was shelved for five years; his […]

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 […]

A review requested by WBTN, with thanks to supporting Alternate Ending as a donor through Patreon. Do you have a movie you’d like to see reviewed? This and other perks can be found on our Patreon page! Francis Ford Coppola’s popular reputation lies almost exclusively on the four films he made during the 1970s, every […]

Stories disagree on what, exactly, is up with Simon of the Desert. The received wisdom is that the funding got slashed during production, and so director-writer Luis Buñuel had to come up with a way to end the movie on the spot, using the last day to quickly tie things off of what ended up […]

Animation and surrealism – and I am here referring to surrealism in a narrower sense (though not the strictest sense), as the attempt to visually reconcile dream-reality and waking-reality into a single state, not as an intensified word for “weird” – have a difficult relationship. On the one hand, since surrealism is, in its way, […]

Diary of a Country Priest, from 1951, was the third feature film directed by French director Robert Bresson, and it is the hinge on which his entire career pivots. Prior to this point, he made the kind of films people were making in France in the ’40s: solemn melodramas for respectable middle class audiences who […]