Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Tom Hanks does not look very much like Fred Rogers. Tom Hanks does not sound very much like Fred Rogers. And Tom Hanks does not move very much like Fred Rogers. Given that the new pseudo-biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has been sold almost solely on the basis of “watch with amazement as […]

I’m not going to go so far as to say that Queen & Slim has the best opening sequence of any 2019 movie, though it’s good enough that that thought flickered across my mind briefly. I am going to say that it has the best opening credits sequence of any 2019 movie, perfectly timed after a […]

We have, in Dolemite Is My Name, such a perfect object lesson in what actually matters about movies that it almost feels unfair. This is a competent film – magnificently competent. Screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski know exactly how to write this material (in fact, this is basically the fourth time they’ve written precisely […]

Not, by any means, the most important fact about Martin Scorsese’s exhaustive new biographical epic The Irishman, but to me easily the most distracting: it is not titled The Irishman. The film has been adapted by Steven Zaillian from Charles Brandt’s 2004 nonfiction novel I Heard You Paint Houses, and that is the only title […]

In 1971, actor and perilously cool individual Steve McQueen willed into existence a film about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most important event in international sport car racing; it is titled simply Le Mans, and it is, equally simply, one of the great race movies in history. It is mercilessly clean, focusing intently […]

The question of how to make a good biopic is one that’s been a particular fascination around these parts for a while, and long-time readers have heard my theory that, broadly speaking, there are full biographical movies that start in a person’s youth and end in their old age, and these are typically dull; and […]

Pondering what makes for the nadir of the showbiz biopic screenplay is a yawning chasm that we had best not peer into, lest we fall in and plunge into a rich madness that can barely be described in words. I mean, it’s only been fifteen years since Beyond the Sea, and I’m still not sure […]

The mid-budget serious prestige drama has become an endangered species in 2010s cinema, we all know this. It’s a shame, but it has at least one positive benefit, which is that classic Oscarbait has become less common over the past few years. Oh, there are still the usual cradle-to-grave biopics and literary adaptations and Commentaries […]

Gavin Hood is an extremely inconsistent director (and calling the man who signed his name to X-Men Origins: Wolverine “inconsistent” is paying him a very nice big compliment, I think), but his last feature is one that left me inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Eye in the Sky, from 2015, is […]

Winner of the 2019 Best Picture Review poll In deference to the idea that negativity is hard on your body and mind, I would like to begin talking about A Beautiful Mind, winner of the 74th Oscar for Best Picture, with my compliment. Starting right at the studio logos, we hear a really lovely motif […]

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 […]