Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Any historical film movement is usually going to get discussed in terms of the biggest name-brand directors responsible for the biggest name-brand films, and so it was with the Soviet Montage movement. Any cinephile worthy of the name will know Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov at least by name, and anyone who likes their work […]

I am no expert in the history of silent Soviet cinema, merely an enthusiastic hobbyist, but I think I’m still comfortable saying that the two most important, well-regarded filmmakers in the USSR in 1927 were Sergei Eisenstein and Vsevolod Pudovkin. So it makes sense that those two men were tapped by the Central Committee to […]

I will say this, and say it sincerely: Rat Film is definitely a weird film in all the right ways. On paper, director-writer Theo Anthony’s documentary argues a basic-unto-banal chain of causes and effects: systemic racism keeps black communities in the United States mired in poverty, urban centers that are mired in poverty tend to […]

Alright, kiddies, it’s time for some box office numbers: 1. Star Wars: The Force Awakens: $936,662,22 (winter 2015-2016) 2. Avatar: $749,766,139 (winter 2009-2010) 3. Wolf Warrior II: $679,495,519 (as of 13 August, 2017) What we have there are the three largest single-territory grosses in the history of worldwide box office. The first two of those […]

Certainly, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had the finest intentions in making Detroit, which is too bad for them. Because the one specific thing that Detroit most badly wants to do is the one thing that Detroit most particularly fails to achieve – indeed, it achieves something close to the exact opposite. The […]

TIM: I’d like to thank Zev Valancy for his contribution to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser & Review Auction, which in his case wasn’t simply a run-of-the-mill review; for his money, he wanted to have to do some work. So his request was that he and I join forces for one of […]

Ironically, given that it is a movie expressly and entirely about the communicative power of the moving image, Cameraperson gives us the answer key to understanding everything about it in the form of a title card that precedes any other footage: “For the past 25 years I’ve worked as a documentary cinematographer. I originally shot […]

It’s rare enough for a filmmaker in these fallen days to release two major films in one calendar year. It is virtually unprecedented in modern times for both of them to be outright masterpieces, like Pablo Larraín has gifted unto the world in 2016. And both of them coming from the almost invariably shitty genre […]

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 […]

I shall start with the grubby & ungenerous part, which is that the documentary 13th isn’t all that great as a movie per se. It’s distractingly over-directed by Ava DuVernay, who shot all of her interviews from multiple angles and with editor Spencer Averick (credited alongside DuVernay as co-writer) cuts them together in a dizzying […]

The worst thing about almost all of polemicist-documentarian Michael Moore’s movies is when Michael Moore appears in them. Which bodes poorly for Michael Moore in TrumpLand, a film that includes virtually nothing else but Michael Moore. In TrumpLand. Specifically, it follows Moore to Wilmington, Ohio, the county seat of Clinton County. Here, over two nights […]

I teach 18-year-old college freshmen how to write research papers and persuasive speeches. Every one of them is better at these things than convicted felon Dinesh D’Souza, a grown-ass man whose job is political analysis. His third film, Hillary’s America: The Secret History of the Democratic Party, is founded on the most specious line of […]