Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The most surprising thing about the new animated adaptation of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s 1957 picture book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! – which, in keeping the the 21st Century’s refusal to even pretend like any of us still has an attention span, has shortened the title to just The Grinch – is that it’s […]

Much of the pre-release promotion for the 2000 version of How the Grinch Stole Christmas focused on the extraordinary (and, eventually, Oscar-winning) make-up work it took to get Jim Carrey entombed in the flexible latex mask that allowed him to play Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel’s beloved Christmas-hating misanthrope. And, in particular, on how it was […]

It’s not really accurate to suggest that The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is the latest example of Disney’s irritatingly robust program of remaking its animated features in shrieking, shiny CGI and “live-action”. But it’s not really inaccurate, either: the feature makes more than its share of glancing nods back towards 1940’s Fantasia, mostly (though […]

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 trope that dinosaurs must always live on the slopes of a volcano about ready to pop is much […]

It’s almost certainly unfair of me to propose that Anton Chekhov’s 1896 play The Seagull is one of the most uniquely un-adaptable works of theater in history, but in the immediate wake of watching the hugely blasé new film version adapted by Stephen Karam and directed by Michael Mayer, I’m inclined to be unfair. The […]

“Some books just can’t be adapted into movies” is a chintzy cop-out. But some books just can’t be adapted into movies, and A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle’s Newbery Medal-winning 1962 spiritual fantasy novel for children is an easy inclusion on that list. It would be easy enough to suppose that the book’s litany of […]

The first runner-up in the 2018 Best Picture Review Poll There is an absolute limit on how bad any film adaptation of the 1956 stage musical My Fair Lady can possibly be, and that limit is set by the fact that, no matter what else goes wrong, you still have Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick […]

The “Uncanny Valley” is a concept that comes from robotics, but which has long been applied to CG animation and digital visual effects, which suggests that the closer human simulacra come to precisely recreating the exact look of human beings, the more damnably off-putting actual human beings find the tiniest flaws in that illusion. That […]

Once upon a time there was an individual who was superficially a great deal like other individuals, but had sufficiently different interests than the rest of them that he was ostracised and mocked. And his self-confidence and willingness to be himself held the day in the end, but only after a third-act chase scene that […]

I suspect, with absolutely nothing to back it up besides anecdotal data and hunches, that Murder on the Orient Express, from 1934, is Agatha Christie’s best-known mystery novel; or at least the best-known title to one of her mystery novels, which is the same thing as far as film producers go. And yet here we […]

Stephen King’s seven-volume fantasy series The Dark Tower was completed in 2004; the attempts to turn it into a film (or film + TV) franchise began nearly immediately thereafter. And now we come at the end of ten full years of development hell, and what do we find? A big old wet squib of a […]

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: after many, many years, Stephen King’s most monumental work, The Dark Tower, is finally seeing the first fraction of […]