Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

I take it as self-evident that to love cinema is to love Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, the comedy duo paired under the guidance of producer Hal Roach in the silent era and who made several wonderful short films before transitioning to sound and making several even more wonderful shorts and features in the 1930s. […]

Ultimately, On the Basis of Sex is exactly the thing it most evidently appears to be: a paint-by-numbers biopic that rewards its audience for having politics more socially progressive than people had 50 years ago, and which was clearly aiming for Oscar glory until the distributor figured out far enough in advance that it was […]

The Upside premiered at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival, and didn’t receive commercial release in the United States until January 2019 (the demise of The Weinstein Company factored into this). That’s not “commercial release following an Oscar-qualifying run in one Los Angeles theater.” That’s commercial release. There’s such a thing as a distributor knowing […]

There is a thing that costume dramas sometimes do, and it always annoys me, and Mary Queen of Scots does it a whole lot: make characters who weren’t even progressive by their own era’s standards progressive by our own. What we have here is a story about two people who very much existed, and about […]

The Sisters Brothers is first and foremost just a damn solid Western. This isn’t really surprising: director Jacques Audiard (making his eighth feature film and his first in English) has largely made it his business to make damn solid movies in traditional genres, and it’s increasingly looking like A Prophet, which was more like an […]

Ultimately, there is a grand total of one test that Welcome to Marwen has to pass, and it does not. To wit, does this film do anything to justify its existence in face of the 2010 documentary Marwencol, which treats on exactly the same subject as this highly fantasised biopic, and does so with great […]

Years ago, a cop was assigned to infiltrate a criminal organisation in Los Angeles. Things went horribly wrong, people died who oughtn’t have, and the cop fell into a self-loathing spiral that neatly dovetailed with how much everyone in her department stopped trusting her. Now, the leader of that gang has – possibly – restarted […]

Whatever you think about Clint Eastwood, as director and actor, The Mule is not the film to change your mind. Myself, I persist in admiring the sinewy minimalism and directness of his style, his utter refusal to sentimentalise even when sentiment is called for. When he’s working with actual professional actors, as he is here, […]

The title of Life Itself comes from one of its most particularly florid, sophomoric lines, “The most unreliable narrator is life itself.” This sentence, or a close variation, is spoken enough times during the length of the film that, if you were to take a shot every single time, you would likely die. Given that […]

Want another opinion? Check out Conrado’s thoughts on the film! I have not read James Baldwin’s 1974 novel If Beale Street Could Talk, so I cannot say if the new film adaptation written and directed by Barry Jenkins is especially respectful (it’s the first English-language feature film taken from Baldwin’s works). I can certainly say […]

There are individual moments of goodness littered all throughout Vice, and individual moments of badness, just like with any movie. Unluckily for the film, the moments of badness are all given pride of place, and so what might, in a happier life, have just been a moderately irritating “hip” biopic turns into one of the […]

If you have to watch one of 2018’s two dramas about the parent of a teen drug addict played by one of the young hot It Boys who co-starred in Lady Bird – and I assure you that you don’t, but let’s say that you have to – I guess the least you can say […]