Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There is nothing quite like the profound satisfaction of a quiet movie made with absolute confidence and no need to prove itself. And in this vein we have Shoplifters, the thirteenth narrative feature directed by Kore-eda Hirokazu (and a lucky #13 at that; it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, the most wholly deserving film […]

Writer-director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square is a very particular, and at least mildly irritating, kind of satire. It’s a sometimes delicate, and oftentimes savage, attack on the moral inner lives of a certain kind of bourgeois intellectual type (who is probably male, definitely white, socially liberal, and inclined towards post-modernist art), and […]

A second review requested by Patton with thanks for contributing twice to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. How in the name of the good Lord does one even go about starting to discuss Apocalypse Now? It’s among the small population of films about which I think it’s more or less impossible to […]

It’s tempting to write off I, Daniel Blake as just Ken Loach doing that Ken Loach that he does so well, as if being one the greatest leftist message-movie directors in the history of the English language cinema is something to sniff at. Certainly it’s more than tempting to look at the uniquely great main […]

There’s no good in hiding the obvious: director Nuri Bilge Ceylan’s seventh feature Winter Sleep, winner of the 2014 Palme d’Or, is three hours and sixteen minutes long, with most of that time given to people talking. This is a shallow observation, but the film emphasises the weight of its running time to an extreme […]

The New Hollywood Cinema was largely a young man’s game, with most of its leading lights part of the first film school generation. Francis Ford Coppola, Peter Bogdanovich, and Michael Cimino were both born in 1939; Brian De Palma in 1940; Martin Scorsese in 1942; Terrence Malick in 1943; George Lucas and John Milius in […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/12World premiere: 23 May, 2013, Cannes International Film Festival The Palme d’Or winner for 2013, Blue Is the Warmest Color, comes with some serious baggage attached. More than most Palme d’Or winners, I mean. First, the running time: it’s a “lifespan of a romantic relationship” drama that is great at three hours, […]

I must first confess to a personal bias: ever since the release of Funny Games U.S., the complete body of work, past and future, of director/provocateur Michael Haneke has come to me with a definite “yeah? prove it” disadvantage. What, exactly, I want him to prove, other than the fact that he can stop being […]

An older review of this film can be found here. It is not demanding more of The Tree of Life than it can withstand to call it the defining film of Terrence Malick’s whole life. From the moment he first began drafting the script to what was then called Q, in 1978, it was fully […]

Despite its gloriously fervid title, Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives (winner of the 2010 Palme d’Or, mainstay of last fall’s festival season, but some of us just didn’t get to be the cool kids last year) strikes me as being the most mainstream, I daresay normal, film yet made by Thailand’s reigning […]

I like to imagine that Jacques Demy first thought up The Umbrellas of Cherbourg as a direct response to Jean-Luc Godard’s 1961 A Woman Is a Woman. That film, a splashy Technicolor Cinemascope musical, was also every inch a Godard film: amiably cynical, eager to tear itself apart and reveal all of the ways that […]

There are so many words you could use to describe the work of Michael Haneke: bold, provocative, cruel, cold, intellectual, confusing, cryptic, frustrating, alienating, disturbing, exhilarating. He’s a bit of a wild boy like that. There’s one word that not only would I never have used, I’d have denied the possibility I might ever feel […]