Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Reviews of all episodes: Episode 1: “Mangrove” (15 November 2020) Episode 2: “Lovers Rock” (22 November 2020) Episode 3: “Red, White and Blue” (29 November 2020) Episode 4: “Alex Wheatle” (6 December 2020) Episode 5: “Education” (13 December 2020)

Education, the fifth and final entry in director Steve McQueen’s Small Axe anthology is almost certainly the most straightforward: as a narrative, a delivery system for a political message, as an aesthetic object. Whether this is good or bad is in the eye of the beholder; for myself, I will not pretend to be a […]

The consensus of opinion, as far as I can tell, is that Alex Wheatle, the fourth episode of Small Axe, is also the weakest, granting an exceptionally high lower bound for “weakness”. I don’t agree, but it’s not hard to understand why somebody might come to that conclusion: the 67-minute story (written and directed, as […]

It would hardly be righ to expect a filmmaker to crank out what amounts to five consecutive feature films all right in a row and have absolutely no detectable drop in quality, so the fact that Small Axe, Steve McQueen’s five-part TV anthology, couldn’t keep knocking out one Lovers Rock after another isn’t surprising, and […]

Frederick Wiseman, who persists in making some of the most sophisticated and effective documentaries in the United States even as he enters his 90s,* is well known for his films all being about “institutions”: he goes so a specific kind of place (a hospital, a museum, a cabaret), plops his camera down, sits behind it, […]

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe project has been gestating almost as long as he’s had a career as a film director: for a full decade, he was attempting to put together what ended up as a five-part television anthology series of stories (some of them based on true events) about life among the West Indian population […]

The good news first: Waiting for the Barbarians is one of the finest overall pieces of craftsmanship I have seen in any film released in the United States (for the appropriately cautious definition of “released”) in 2020, a heady mixture of gorgeous cinematography, deliberately cautious editing, aggressive sound design, and atmospheric music that combine to […]

The project that has finally emerged as The Trial of the Chicago 7, a direct-to-Netflix that was supposed to be Paramount’s big awards push and the inaugural film of Oscar movie season back in the Before Times, has been percolating since 2006. That was when Steven Spielberg commissioned Aaron Sorkin to write a film based […]

A review requested by Mandy, with thanks to supporting Alternate Ending as a donor through Patreon. Do you have a movie you’d like to see reviewed? This and other perks can be found on our Patreon page! Before watching it, I knew about 2013’s Fateful Findings, the breakthrough for writer/director/producer* Neil Breen, only that it […]

The argument is there to be made that the present moment in American history is so inherently ludicrous that it is immune to satire. I would not want to be the one to make it, but I offer to whomever wants to take the job a peerless piece of evidence in the form of Irresistible. […]

1950’s This Can’t Happen Here (first released in English under the much less meaningful title High Tension) is certainly not the only film directed by Ingmar Bergman that he would later describe in unflattering terms as an artistic failure. But it is the only one of his films that he hated so much that, for […]

Spike Lee is a director uniquely disinclined to repeat himself, and he’s not really repeating himself with Da 5 Bloods, his first feature-length film made by and for Netflix (which is by no means the way I’d prefer to see it). But he is re-running an experiment. The film is a whole lot of things […]