Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

No film could possibly earn such a monumental title as Cold War, and at 89 minutes, the new Polish film going by that title (or, anyway, that title in Polish) is hardly monumental besides. But that’s okay, it’s a masterpiece anyway, the best film yet made by director/co-writer Paweł Pawlikowski. And with his last film […]

Ordinarily, the fun challenge of reviewing a highly fucked-up movie that does things movies tend not to is to figure out how to describe it in a way that sounds appealing. The Lure has already taken care of that. This is a Polish musical-horror film set in a tacky disco/strip club in the 1980s – […]

A previous version of this review appeared at the Film Experience. Loving Vincent opens with two different title cards. The first talks about the labor practice involved in making the movie, and the second tells us what the movie is about. And that’s pretty much exactly the right order: this is very much a movie […]

Everything about Ida sounds like it was copied verbatim from the Big Book of European Art Film Clichés: full-frame black and white cinematography with emphasis on the whole range of greys, frequently silent people staring mirthlessly and hopelessly at nothing, the Holocaust looms imposingly in the background, and the whole thing is a metaphor for […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13 & 10/16World premiere: 5 September, 2013, Venice International Film Festival Winner of the Silver Hugo for Best Actor (Robert Więckiewicz) My bona fides in disliking the biopic as a cinematic form can hardly be called into question, so the mere fact that I think Wałęsa: Man of Hope is […]

After releasing Three Colors: Red in summer 1994, Krzysztof Kieślowski announced that he was done making movies. It took his premature death from a heart attack less than two years later to seal that promise (I am, invariably, dubious about any artist’s “retirement” while they are still able-bodied and of sound mind), but even without […]

Conventional wisdom holds that Three Colors: White is the least among the Three Colors trilogy, and I guess that I agree with that assessment. I suppose that it’s possible to have a least-favorite panel of the Sistine Chapel ceiling, too, and about as useful to the field of arts criticism. The particular reasons that White […]

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the premiere of the first part of cinema’s all-time greatest trilogy. Let us joyfully celebrate this event in the only way I know how: marathon time! The first thing one must not do with swan song of the great Krzysztof Kieślowski, Three Colors, is to reduce it to […]

In Darkness, an excessively serious-minded Holocaust drama directed by the unimpeachably sober prestige film specialist Agnieszka Holland, is such a tailor-made winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Oscar that even now that it’s all done, I still can’t believe that it lost. Especially since it actually turns out to be quite good, despite a […]

Don’t have time to read my blathering about something I’m underqualified to discuss? That’s fine! But please skip to the end and watch one of the most awesome things you have ever seen. The problem with paying tribute to the films of my birth year is my birth year: 1981 was one of the low […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/16 & 10/18World premiere: 5 August, 2011, Poland When it works, and it does so more often than not, Rafael Lewandowski’s The Mole is a well-considered, quietly ambivalent film about the scars of living in a democratic country where totalitarianism happened recently enough that not-so-old people can still remember the […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/15World premiere: 11 March, 2011, Poland 2011 is really much too late for anybody to still be amazed that there are cartoons – not “animated features”, which sounds like something stately and artistically ambitious by Miyazaki, but crude, brightly colored cartoons – made expressly for an adult audience; even so, […]