Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The Tragedy of Macbeth comes burdened with a simply relentless amount of baggage, as much as any motion picture released in 2021. First, there’s the matter of the material itself: why in God’s name do we need another film of Macbeth? It is perhaps the Shakespeare play to have been the best-served by the movies: […]

It was, I believe, my father who introduced me to the phrase “he thinks his shit don’t stink” as a pithy way of denigrating the kind of person who is arrogantly convinced of their righteous infallibility. I will not say of writer-director Adam McKay, and his newest film, Don’t Look Up, that he thinks his […]

“These two unrelated movies constitute a trend” is not by any stretch of the imagine my favorite bad habit in film criticism. Yet it seems awfully hard not to notice that December 2021 has borne witness to two different movies made by A-list Oscar-winning directors that are both technically new adaptations of non-movie media, but […]

Edmond Rostand’s 1897 play Cyrano de Bergerac feels like it would be a perfect candidate for being turned into a musical, and indeed it would appear that exactly that transformation has happened, multiple times, in both French and English. So arguably there’s actually nothing special about the new film Cyrano, except that it is, as […]

The new film adaptation of the 1957 stage musical West Side Story has an exceptionally high “why did you feel the need to make this” bar to clear. Because it’s also, in the public imagination if not in the most precisely literal sense, a remake of the 1961 film musical West Side Story, one of […]

If I may risk dipping my toes into The Discourse, I would like to offer a thought. It is possible for two things to be simultaneously true: first, that smartphones and social media have absolutely turned the brains of everyone under the age of 45 into mashed bananas, and left us a society unable to […]

It can be to keep it in mind, especially with the memories of the grisly 2020 Oscar-baiting Trial of the Chicago 7 so fresh in memory, but there is in fact something Aaron Sorkin does very well. He’s great at writing a very particular kind of procedural narrative, in which egocentric, talented people involved in […]

There are many indelible moments sprinkled across the 128 minutes of The Power of the Dog, writer-director Jane Campion’s first feature film in the twelve long years since 2009’s Bright Star (which was itself her first film in the six long years since 2003’s In the Cut, so if I am doing the math right, […]

The idea of Kenneth Branagh writing and directing a semi-autobiographical story of his childhood in Belfast, right around the time that tensions between the nationalists and loyalists in Northern Ireland broke out into open violence in 1969, is not one that fills me with any great amount of automatic optimism. Branagh is quite a sufficiently […]

King Richard is the kind of film designed to make you feel sweet and warm and nice while you’re watching it, with maybe just a soupçon of self-righteousness, and then to evaporate like the morning dew the literal instant that it’s over. It is a sports biopic, probably my all-time second-least-favorite kind of movie (musician […]

The text “A fable from a true tragedy” is the very first message that Spencer has for us, and this tells us the most important thing we need to know about it. Namely, this is not a biopic of Diana, Princess of Wales, but an impressionistic psychodrama based on the material of her largely unhappy […]

The original Brodaway production of the musical Dear Evan Hansen won six Tonys off of nine nominations, making it the single most-awarded production of the 2016-’17 season. In some years this would mean very little, but that season was an atypically competitive one for critically-acclaimed new musicals, meaning that there had to be some actual […]