Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Intermittently this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. Last week: there are many ways we could plausibly describe Midsommar, one of them being to call it a psychodrama about the […]

Writer-director Ruben Östlund’s Palme d’Or winner The Square is a very particular, and at least mildly irritating, kind of satire. It’s a sometimes delicate, and oftentimes savage, attack on the moral inner lives of a certain kind of bourgeois intellectual type (who is probably male, definitely white, socially liberal, and inclined towards post-modernist art), and […]

After three exemplary art house masterworks (Reprise, Oslo, August 31, Louder Than Bombs), it’s fair that director Joachim Trier would finally put a foot wrong. And even there, I’m overstating things: if every time a filmmaker messed up, the results were still as amazing as Thelma (for that is the name of Trier’s fourth feature), cinema would […]

It’s just really, really special to be a cinephile alive in the days of Joachim Trier. Three features in, all three of them genuinely great (the others being Reprise and Oslo, 31 August, one of the very best films of the 2010s), and none of them are especially like the other two, on top of […]

A War is not two films dwelling one films’ body, not exactly. It is one very sleekly unified film divided into two obviously distinct phases, and you can identify the exact frame where the second one starts. And that wouldn’t really be worth leaning on that, except that the first phase is a very well-made […]

I would say, “once you’ve seen one Icelandic domestic comedy-drama, you’ve seen ’em all”, but perhaps that’s making very wrong assumptions about the English-speaking cinephile’s consumption habits. Still, the point stands. Grímur Hákonarson’s Rams, winner of the Prix Un Certain Regard at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, has a great many things about it that […]

Just like that other Anderson from the United States, there’s not point in denying that Roy Andersson tends to make films that resemble each other, and A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence, his Leone d’Oro winner from the 2014 Venice Film Festival, does pretty much exactly the same things as 2000’s Songs […]

If the 2014 taught us all just one lesson, I’d like it to be that Eva Green is an international treasure. It’s one thing to be, allegedly, the one spot of pure bright light in the TV show Penny Dreadful (of which I have not seen a single episode), but quite another to survive two […]

“Scandinavian social realism” and “fluffy character-driven comedy” are what you might call non-overlapping magisterial. But that’s not the sort of thing to stop Lukas Moodysson, whose seventh feature We Are the Best! marries exactly those two genres and does it with surprising ease and charm. As one of European cinema’s foremost humanists, Moodysson has always […]

And so, Nymphomaniac; or is it Nymph()maniac? There are more than just cosmetic reasons for the latter to count as the actual title, since the dividing line between nymph and maniac is even more important to the film’s project than the fact that an open parenthesis followed directly by a close parenthesis looks in the […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/10 & 10/12 World premiere: 18 May, 2014, Cannes International Film Festival There’s an entirely great film living solely within the footage that makes up the complete Force Majeure, and plenty of people would apparently argue that the great film is the final cut. Hence the film’s victory in the Un Certain […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/18 & 10/19 World premiere: 28 August, 2013, general release in Iceland From its 2013 release in its native Iceland all the way to its present international festival run, the pitch for writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson’s terrific debut feature Of Horses and Men (the original Iclandic title, which is universes better in its […]