Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

I have seen only very little of  the work of French writer-director Bertrand Bonello, but my sense is that – like so many other French directors – one of his favorite things to do is to provoke the audience more or less for the sake of provocation, upsetting our expectations and tweaking our noses as […]

Recently, in reviewing the 14-hour La Flor, I suggested that most films that are very, very long achieve their great length in part by trying to make themselves deliberately unpleasant and hard to watch. Here we have a perfect case in point: An Elephant Sitting Still is three hours and 54 minutes long (so let’s […]

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 […]

Anna Seghers’s 1944 novel Transit is a ripped-from-the-headlines tale of the paranoid life of refugees in Nazi-occupied Marseille in 1942, telling the story of the constant feeling of danger and despair on the part of people clustered in the last escape hatch from an increasingly locked-down Europe. Christian Petzold’s 2018 adaptation of the novel is… […]

It is occasionally the case that a film has such a perfect first shot that, the moment it appears before your eyes, you already know that you’re about to see a masterpiece. Atlantics has such a first shot: a sleek new skyscraper rising in the background above a street in Dakar, capitol city of Senegal. […]

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 […]

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 […]

In space, maybe, nobody can hear you scream, but in High Life, space is marked out primarily by the thick omnipresence of sounds. The lucky 13th feature film by director Claire Denis – and her first in English, a leap she navigates with a force and confidence that equals any other great director’s forays into […]

I would certainly not want The Dead Don’t Die to be anybody’s first exposure to director Jim Jarmusch, but since it has an unusually wide release for that director, and an unusually friendly genre for that director (it’s a comic zombie movie), and a seemingly endless list of famous people in the cast, it seems […]

The reputation Climax has earned for itself – one of them, anyway – is that it’s the most likable, audience-friendly feature of the five made by infamous French provocateur Gaspar Noé. The best I can come up with is that this is a polite way of saying “no explicit cumshots in this one”, because there’s […]

Lee Chang-dong is by no means the most prolific of the many great South Korean directors to come to major prominence in the 21st Century: Burning, his sixth feature, comes to us after a long eight-year gap since his fifth, 2010’s lovely Poetry. But he does maybe put up a real fight to be considered […]