Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

In the early parts of Mainstream, it appears that producer, director, and co-writer (with Tom Stuart) Gia Coppola was really anxious to make her own version of Aunt Sofia’s The Bling Ring. It is not very good at this, and also, by the time the film’s glacially-paced 94 minutes are over, this will seem like the […]

Probably the simplest way to start explaining what the living hell we have in front of us with The Twentieth Century, the first feature-length film by avant-garde director Matthew Rankin (who had some fairly substantial attention, by the standards of such things, with the shorts Mynarski Death Plummet in 2014 and The Tesla World Light […]

Movies about the life of Joan of Arc, the visionary teenager who rallied the French army to victories against the English during the Hundred Years’ War and was executed after a politically-motivated show trial for heresy in 1431, are hardly rare. And they are hardly obscure, including this writer’s pick for the best movie ever […]

The title character in the 2019 Russian art film Beanpole – for yes, “Beanpole” is a character’s nickname, and in most contexts that would suggest a lightly quirky dramedy, but I did say “Russian” and so you had best be gearing yourself up for some abject misery – is a veteran of the Second World […]

Part of the appeal of animation is that it can depict anything that can be imagined outside of the bounds of physical reality, but in practice there tend to be limits on just how creative any given film can be: the hard limits of labor and money mean that, in general, the boldest, most radical […]

Calling 1969’s The Passion of Anna by that name is already doing too much work in tidying up a film that’s almost perversely happy at how messy it is. Certainly, it is the messiest film directed by Ingmar Bergman, a director much more driven to crisp, clean, focused (to some of his critics, focused to […]

I am quite sure that I would never have supposed that a filmmaker working in the 1960s would leap to television because of the freedoms it offered. And I have no idea if that’s what actually took place with The Rite, director Ingmar Bergman’s sixth made-for-TV movie, and the first that wasn’t a staging of […]

1968’s Hour of the Wolf has perhaps the single least-enviable position of any title in Ingmar Bergman’s filmography: it’s the feature film he made next after Persona. Anything would seem like a step down in ambition and visionary madness compared to that movie, though Hour of the Wolf makes a good-faith effort to stand out […]

The Silence is a film of negation. The first words spoken –  the first of not very many, at that – are a declaration of ignorance and meaninglessness. A boy of ten or eleven, Johan (Jörgen Lindström) points to a sign written in an unfamiliar language, asking, “Vad betyder det?” (What does that mean?). Off-camera […]

When I think upon Ingmar Bergman’s cinema, and what most perfectly embodies it, why he is one of my very favorite filmmakers of all time and what are the irreducible components of his style, what I always think of first is Winter Light from 1963. Specifically, I think of the shot of Ingrid Thulin’s face. […]

The quintessential Ingmar Bergman films, to me – the once that most sum up all of his strengths as a film director, his preoccupations as a writer, and his function in the ecosystem of art cinema – are a set of three movies he made in the early 1960s, right when his international visibility was […]

It will always be a little asterisk on the career of director Ingmar Bergman that the film for which he always has been and likely always will be best-known, 1957’s The Seventh Seal, is among the least-characteristic films he ever made. This is, in and of itself, neither good nor bad, nor anything (though it […]