Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

It’s been a long year. You don’t need me to tell you that. There’s nobody on this planet who hasn’t been touched by the COVID-19 pandemic, in ways large or small. But some of those people have platforms. Some of those people with platforms are using that to aid people who need it the most. […]

Categories: netflix originals

“Movies are so rarely great art,” Pauline Kael wrote in 1969, “that if we cannot appreciate great trash, we have very little reason to be interested in them.” I do not agree with much of what Kael had to say over the years, and in fact I do not even agree with large swaths of […]

When confronted with a story as vigorously trashy as the one underlying The Woman in the Window – adapted from the 2018 novel by A.J. Finn, the pen name of Daniel Mallory, a book editor who very openly described how the book came about as a compendium of every trope in popular post-Gone Girl crime […]

The worst thing we can say about Oxygen is that it is a very gimmicky thriller based on an overfamiliar gimmick, but done by a director with a skill set extremely well-positioned to make the most of that gimmick, and starring an actor who wrings everything she possibly out of basically only three elements (her […]

There is very little inherently interesting about Things Heard & Seen, a movie about which the strongest emotional response I have had is frustration at the almost gravitational pull that I have towards typing out the title as Things Seen & Heard, having to bodily force myself on the right track every time.  Or that […]

The opening sequence of Stowaway, a new science fiction thriller by director Joe Penna that’s much heavier on the “science” than “thriller”, is a top-notch bit of space travel filmmaking that calls to mind all the best examples of the form from Apollo 13 to First Man; the last sequence is ginned-up sentimental horseshit that […]

I have from time to time mentioned that I have a rule of thumb for evaluating documentaries that I call the “glossy magazine” test: did I get anything from this movie that I wouldn’t have gotten from reading an article in a glossy magazine on the same subject. It’s basically a way of getting at […]

Ramin Bahrani has long since passed into the subset of directors whose best work, I concede, is almost certainly behind them, while my regard for that best work remains so high that I will continue to regard every one of their new films as an event of at least minor importance. And “minor importance” is […]

In fairness to Thunder Force, a high-concept science-fiction comedy vehicle for Melissa McCarthy written and directed by her husband Ben Falcone that was released as a direct-to-streaming exclusive in the first third of 2021: it is better than Superintelligence, a  high-concept science-fiction comedy vehicle for McCarthy directed (but not written) by Falcone that was released […]

My favorite piece of narration in Werner Herzog’s tremendous 2005 documentary Grizzly Man goes like this: “[I]n all the faces of all the bears that Treadwell ever filmed, I discover no kinship, no understanding, no mercy. I see only the overwhelming indifference of nature. To me, there is no such thing as a secret world […]

A Week Away, which is basically being advertised as Netflix’s Camp Rock for Gen Z, holds off for about three minutes before the big reveal: It’s a Christian movie. And not just any old Christian movie. It’s a CCM (contemporary Christian music) jukebox musical featuring updated versions of hits from the likes of Amy Grant, […]

Director Edoard Ponti, in making The Life Ahead, a new adaptation of Romain Gary’s 1975 novel La vie devant soi (which has been published in English as both Momo and The Life Before Us), did as many filmmakers have over the years, and cast a family member in a major role. In fact, one might go […]