Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There are individual moments of goodness littered all throughout Vice, and individual moments of badness, just like with any movie. Unluckily for the film, the moments of badness are all given pride of place, and so what might, in a happier life, have just been a moderately irritating “hip” biopic turns into one of the […]

The Wall isn’t a movie so much as an amuse-bouche, and one that’s none too amusant. I rescind none of my faith in director Doug Liman, who has made a few good films, a couple of great ones, and only one that’s actually bad, 2008’s Jumper, but this first of his two 2017 releases (the […]

It seems irresponsible to review American Sniper without doing so through the lens of the enormous cultural conversation surrounding it, but having actually seen the damn movie, it strikes me as rather bizarre that so many tens of thousands of words have already been spent discussing it without most of them being, y’know, accurate. Given […]

The man who gives Restrepo its title appears very early on: on a bus heading to the Korangal Valley in Afghanistan, PFC Juan “Doc” Restrepo grabs the camcorder that his platoon is sending around the bus, to joyfully holler right into the lens how damn excited he is to be going into combat with all […]

That there would be two political thrillers in 2010 about the now seven-year-old boondoggle of the Iraqi WMD program, both making the not terribly bold claim that members of the Bush administration knew damn well that there was no Iraqi WMD program, is a touch odd, but not of itself surprising. That both of the […]

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up to find himself in a wooden box barely larger than his body, buried in the Iraq desert. In the box with him are a Zippo lighter, two green glowsticks, a flashlight that barely works, and a battered cellphone displaying Arabic text. This last object is the most important: it […]

Were I to say that Paul Greengrass’s Green Zone is the best movie yet made about the Iraq War, virtually nobody would agree with me, and I’m okay with that. But it’s much harder to disagree that it’s probably the most outraged movie about Iraq (Kimberly Pierce’s Stop-Loss is the other candidate), and if I’m […]

Points for originality: the directorial debut of screenwriter Oren Moverman, The Messenger, adopts a perspective toward the Iraq War – to war in general – that I can’t recall having seen before. It is the story of Will Montgomery (Ben Foster), an Army staff sergeant returned home thanks to some nasty physical damage, who is […]

François Truffaut once famously suggested that there could never be a truly anti-war film, because film by its nature makes whatever it is depicting seem exciting. This generally sound theory has been violated since he first voiced it (and really, already had been before that; has anyone ever walked out of Grand Illusion thinking to […]

When I am dictator of the world, one of the first laws I shall pass will make it illegal for movie studios to keep giving money to filmmakers whose reputation is based solely on the masterpieces they made 20+ years ago. Though this is not a flawless plan (it would have deprived the world of […]

Daniel Dennett once said, “There’s nothing I like less than bad arguments for a view that I hold dear,” which I largely agree with.* At this moment, I think I might refine it a bit, however: there’s nothing I like less than a bad argument for a view that I hold dear, made by a […]

Errol Morris, long one of the most distinctive stylists in the world of documentary filmmaking, has finally done something I never expected him to do: he’s allowed his style to trump all substance, releasing his first unnecessary film. In the past, Morris has made quite a name for himself as a chronicler of the offbeat […]