Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Because I am fundamentally broken, wretched person, I come to the films in the God’s Not Dead franchise with a certain expectation of laughing at the ineptitude, cringing in merry pleasure at the deep lack of understanding of human behavior, and feeling a twisted, ripped-up churning in my guts, like I’ve got a live copperhead […]

The claims that BlacKkKlansman represents a renaissance for Spike Lee are at least slightly overheated. After all, even his very great movies are frustrating and flawed (except for Do the Right Thing, which is frustrating and perfect), and even his very bad movies are still interesting for the complexity and intensity of their ideas. There […]

I don’t know if Boots Riley has any interest in directing or writing a second feature film. And if he did, I don’t know if I’d expect it to be an even better refinement over his debut, or if he’d have one of those careers that begins in an explosion of pure creativity and then […]

I have to give The First Purge this much credit: it patches one of the biggest holes in the Purge universe. Namely, the titular Purge itself, an annual event held across the United Stated by the neo-fascist governing party New Founding Fathers of America in which all crime is made legal for 12 consecutive hours, […]

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 […]