Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The adjective that recommends itself above all others in connection to First Reformed is “unrelenting.” You might, if you have absolutely no idea how cinema works as a medium, be able to avoid figuring out precisely what writer-director Paul Schrader wants you to think about the world, industrialisation, religion in 21st Century America, and despair; […]

I’m not sure that I have such a thing as a list of the filmmakers that I’d be interested in seeing make a biopic of legendary critic, filmmaker, political agitator, and cantankerous asshole Jean-Luc Godard. But I am 100% certain that Michel Hazanavicius would be nowhere remotely near that list if it existed. The one […]

In the first decade of the 21st Century, Argentine director Lucrecia Martel made three feature films and instantaneously became one of the most important and exciting voices in international cinema: first came 2001’s La Ciénaga, then 2004’s The Holy Girl, then 2008’s The Headless Woman, and then silence. Not calculated silence; just one of those […]

It’s one thing to say “this is a dark comedy”. It’s quite another to come face-to-face with a comedy that has the word “death” right there in the title. So if I were to say, for example, that The Death of Stalin is a dark comedy, I’m not telling you the half of it. It’s […]

2014’s God’s Not Dead has a loopy, auto-erotic concept that makes no sense, but I can vaguely see how, if you were so deep in the culture war trenches that you needed binoculars to see daylight, it might seem like its story of hostile academics trying to humiliate the Christ out of their students speaks […]

God’s Not Dead has become the stand-in in popular consciousness for a whole genre: the hectoring message movie designed exclusively for U.S. conservative evangelical audiences. And this makes a great deal of sense: it was a huge, shocking box-office success, making $61 million in North America from a $2 million dollar budget, which makes it […]

Barring some major and wholly unexpected change, I suspect that Black Panther is the best film Marvel Studios is capable of making right now, and will never be topped in the future. That’s not really much of a compliment, though it’s enough to make me (with some vague resentment and suspicion that I’ll regret it […]

The biggest problem with Strong Island – but oof, what a terrible way to frame it. The movie has problems, of course; very few movies have absolutely no problems. But not so many movies are good at sympathetically displaying a range of human despair in a tight, intimate way that makes you feel like weeping […]

Diane Kruger won the Best Actress award at the Cannes Film Festival for In the Fade, and that’s pretty much exactly right. I don’t know if there was or wasn’t a better performance at that festival this year, but I do know that this is the kind of film that, if you’re involved in festival […]

The miraculous alchemy of The Post lies in how great it can be, despite also being all of the terrible things one might prejudge it for. It is, for starters, one of the most unabashedly Oscarbaity films to come out in a season that has been almost entirely devoid of traditional Oscarbait. And it is […]

The opening ten minutes of BPM (Beats per Minute) (an inscrutably poor re-titling of the original French title, which translates as 120 Beats per Minute) are among the most bracing and original in any movie I’ve seen in 2017. Before we’re given a minute to situate ourselves, we’re dumped into the backstage area where a […]

First things first: director Amanda Lipitz’s first documentary feature, Step, is about the first graduating class of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a charter school opened in 2009, and initially founded by Brenda Brown Rever. Lipitz is Rever’s daughter. Maybe this means nothing at all, and maybe it completely invalidates the film’s arguments […]