Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

It is a law as inexorable as gravity that if a European movie has the word “joy” in its title, it will be just about the most grimly tragic, unhappy thing imaginable. And so it is with 1950’s To Joy, the eighth film directed by Ingmar Bergman, the second with an original screenplay that he […]

One thing you quickly notice when perusing retrospective criticism of the early work of Ingmar Bergman is that there is absolutely no consensus when “the early work” ends and “the real work” begins. Almost every feature he made from 1948’s Port of Call onward has at least one writer citing it as “here it is, […]

In watching the early films of director Ingmar Bergman, it is hard to avoid feeling a certain polite boredom towards them: some are mediocre, some are good, some are very good, but not one of them feels so strikingly different from the kind of serious melodramas being made in northern and western Europe in the […]

Ingmar Bergman is among the filmmakers most associated with the idea that the director is a powerful individual voice who is solely associated with the meaning and shape of the finished film, but like anybody else working in the medium, he had collaborators. And those collaborators had a significant impact on the nature of the […]

1948’s Music in Darkness is the first film directed by Ingmar Bergman to genuinely make me sit up and take notice, and wonder to myself if this kid might have a good future for himself. Each of his three previous films had at least one genuinely excellent scene, but in every case, it was the […]

Later in life,when Ingmar Bergman would speak of his earliest films, it was generally to crap all over them. It seems to me that, within that cluster of movies, 1947’s A Ship to India (adapted from a play by Martin Söderhjelm) is the one that he would discuss with the most open hostility, referring to […]

I’ve already announced my intention that as I work through the early films of director Ingmar Bergman, I’m going to avoid looking too far ahead to his better-known later films. But even if that wasn’t the official plan, I’m not sure that I’d have any other option in dealing with his second feature, and one […]

An older review of this film can be found here There are two ways one can look at the first film made by any major filmmaker. We can go backwards, hunting for all of the clues to the great, or at least prominent works to come. This approach has its charms, not least of which […]

In all the annals of final films by great filmmakers, they don’t come much more final than The Sacrifice, the seventh and last feature made by Andrei Tarkovsky. The director was diagnosed with the lung cancer that would ultimately kill him shortly after the film completed principal photography, and when it premiered at the 1986 […]

What is cinema? We can speak of its technical aspects: cinema is a medium in which still images (often, but not always photographic in nature) are shown at a fast enough rate to create the illusion of movement. Cinema is a medium of montage, in which the creator shows the viewer a single image followed […]

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 […]