Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Director Olivier Assayas has made world-class masterpieces, like Irma Vep (1996); he has made solidly routine arthouse fodder, like Something in the Air (2012); he has made films that I think simply do not work, like Clouds of Sils Maria (2014). But one thing he had not made prior to Wasp Network in 2019, or […]

Personal Shopper was booed at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival en route to winning the award for Best Director for Olivier Assayas, both of which are exactly right. I would be inclined to call it not merely a great film, but a very great film, and comfortably the best thing Assayas has directed since 2002’s […]

Clouds of Sils Maria is essentially three different films, and each one in order is a little bit less interesting. But for a while there, for maybe the first 25 minutes or so, it seems that Olivier Assayas has done it again, knocking out a fascinating character study of life in a constantly plugged-in, celebrity-addicted […]

The original French title of the film Something in the Air is Après mai, “After May”, and a vastly more descriptive title it is, too. Because the film, an autobiographical work of sorts for Olivier Assayas, is very much set in the aftermath of May, 1968, a month that has only tangential importance for most […]

No film by the chameleon-like director Olivier Assayas met with as much brutal misunderstanding – at least, in the United States; I cannot speak to its reception in Europe – as 2002’s demonlover, a stupendously intelligent assault on globalism, e-commerce, the media, corporate culture – oh, and violent pornography, although insofar as the movie has […]

I do not know what the Frenchest of all film genres is, but if I were invited to submit a shortlist, one of the candidates would surely be the ever-popular drama about a family that quietly tears itself apart through unspoken resentments and bitterness. In fact, the mere fact that I can casually refer to […]

The omnibus film! That most difficult, maddening, precious attempt to gather the best and the brightest of international cinema into one place, the genre that peaked and fizzled in a roughly 3 year span in the 1960s and has never taken off since! A full year after its 2006 Cannes premiere, the United States gets […]

36 hours ago, I was prepared to say that Clean, an official selection at the 2004 Cannes Festival, was a very solid film, not quite a great one, but a satisfying-in-all-ways piece of craftsmanship. Now I find that I have forgotten much of it, or at least why it excited me so. At any rate, […]