Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The fifth film John Hughes directed, Planes, Trains & Automobiles, is privileged in a number of ways: the first movie he directed that wasn’t about suburban teenagers, the only film he directed that was rated R (and, in point of fact, the last film he was involved with in any way that was rated R […]

iIn the heart of every truly creative person who ends up getting pigeonholed as “the guy who does X” is the desire to do absolutely anything at all besides X. I cannot prove this was the case with John Hughes, but it certainly seems that way, for almost as soon as he secured his reputation […]

“Samantha Baker is turning sixteen and she’s fallen in love for the first time. It should be the best time of her life. “But… her family is so preoccupied with her sister’s wedding they totally forget her birthday, the boy she loves doesn’t know she exists and the class clown is putting the make on […]

Of the three films John Hughes wrote in 1983, Mr. Mom proved that he could write a big, Zeitgeisty hit, but his next effort (which premiered a whole week later in July of that year) was almost certainly the more impressive achievement. For one thing, it was almost as successful as Mr. Mom – $61 […]

Over the years, director Steven Soderbergh has established himself as something of a chameleon: social dramas, biopics, epics, caper films, action movies, satire of the political and non-political varieties, he’s done them all, always with a stylistic flourish on the material that could come from no other filmmaker, and to my mind, he’s done them […]

It is surely my fault that I held out the hope, however slight, that Bad Teacher would end up being an okay movie. Certainly, nobody that I ever discussed it with – and some of these are people that I would politely describe as having aggressively indiscriminate tastes when it comes to R-rated comedies – […]

Apologies all ’round that it took me this long to post a review of Transformers: Dark of the Moon. You see, I ran right out to see it when it opened three days ago, and it just now ended. At 157 minutes, Dark of the Moon is the longest of the now-three Transformers pictures – […]

We appear to be in a boom cycle for science fiction-tinged love stories with a nifty conceptual hook that gets buried by the filmmakers’ desire to entertain adults; first The Adjustment Bureau, now Source Code – the latter of these being altogether a stronger, tighter work, though they share a similar weirdness about apparently believing […]

The first thing I must get off my chest: if Public Enemies demonstrates anything, it’s that Michael Mann’s infatuation with high-definition video is becoming quite diabolical. When he used digital cameras to shoot Collateral, it made sense and it worked tremendously well; when he did the same for Miami Vice, it at the very least […]

Michael Mann’s first theatrical feature (in the United States, anyhow), Thief, has something of a reputation for being the Mann film that Mann fanciers haven’t quite gotten around to seeing even though they know that they ought to, because it’s supposed to be really good. Which, if it isn’t true that it’s really good, that’s […]

God only knows why Steven Spielberg is so hellbent on making an action hero out of Shia LaBeouf, but with Transformers, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and now Eagle Eye, every single film that he’s produced or directed in the last two years has featured LaBeouf running from or through massive […]

Let us begin by shooting the giant elephant in the room: yes, Heath Ledger is actually that good, and people would still be saying he was that good even if he were alive. His work as the Joker is just about the finest imaginable, and one of the most intense, most dangerous performances of a […]