Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

To the ordinary list of problems with the conventional biopic – they are boring, they are shallow, they are pandering, they are formulaic – Bohemian Rhapsody reminds us that they can be even worse still than the none-too-high standard. For on top of all its other shortcomings, Bohemian Rhapsody is something of an official, authorised […]

There are two words that rush to the forefront of my mind as I think upon 20 Feet from Stardom. The first of these is “pleasant”, the second is “safe”, and the combination of those two gives, I think, a pretty clear impression of what kind of territory the film looks to occupy. It is […]

Categories: documentaries, music

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: the problem with concert documentaries, like One Direction: This Is Us, is that they’re hardly worthy of that name […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/15 & 10/16World premiere: 4 September, 2010, Telluride Film Festival The reason that animated love story and 20th Century period piece Chico & Rita exists is, basically, because a documentarian, Fernando Trueba, and one of his subjects, the world-renowned designer Javier Mariscal, wanted to make a movie together. I admire […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/15 & 10/16 World premiere: 1 October, 2011, New York Film Festival I have seen Chicago-based indie artist Andrew Bird perform live four times, which might not sound like a lot to the music junkies out there, but it ties him for my personal record. The second of those four times is […]

Thankfully, with the new year beginning on a Friday, there’s basically a one-week vacation from new releases, so over the next several days I’m going to take the opportunity to review some films from 2009 that I either didn’t have a chance to see during their release, or couldn’t find the time to review, in […]

Agile, Mobile, Hostile: A Year with Andre Williams is one of those documentaries where it seems that the filmmakers approached their subject and started filming with one idea in mind, until real life intervened, and forced them into something much stranger and more uncomfortable and better than they’d originally planned. This is a double good […]

Categories: cimmfest, documentaries, music

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 […]

The recent films of Martin Scorsese have shown a distinct tendency to be flabby and aimless – I’d not exclude his Oscar-winning The Departed form either of those charges – so it’s with a feeling akin to a spiritual rebirth that I come to praise his new Rolling Stones concert film Shine a Light as […]

In the abstract, The U.S. vs. John Lennon seems divided between being the story of a place in time told through the prism of one man who embodied that time, or being the story of one man who tried to change the world. It’s a somewhat scattered documentary of the state of the Vietnam War […]

Categories: documentaries, music

Spending the whole work day moving my office was conducive to nothing but fatigue, so I apologize in advance if this is a less than wholly enlightening review; the plus side is that if I’d had a moment to think of anything interesting today, I probably wouldn’t have reviewed the film at all. Right, the […]