Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13World premiere: 10 February, 2014, Berlin International Film Festival I will concede up front that to a certain type of viewer, and it is the type that I am, there’s no way to describe Brazilian director Daniel Ribeiro’s feature debut The Way He Looks that makes it sound tolerable. Or […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/18 & 10/19World premiere: 21 May, 2013, Cannes International Film Festival I suppose if the situation was reversed, and The German Doctor was the movie that I think I want it to be, then I’d be bitching in the other direction: that the film was a hopelessly tacky and crass and exploitative […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/18 & 10/20 & 10/21World premiere: 11 February, 2013, Berlin International Film Festival The Argentine coming-of-age psychodrama in static long takes La Paz treads in so many clichés that I honestly don’t know if it avoids tracking all of them all over the nice clean movie theater, let alone how it avoids […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/16 & 10/18 & 10/19World premiere: 16 August, 2013, Gramado Film Festival There are critics whose first word on Chasing Fireflies would be about its tender but not sentimental depiction of a reunion between father and daughter; there are critics whose first word on Chasing Fireflies would be to consider the film’s […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/11 & 10/13 & 10/22World premiere: 26 August, 2013, Santiago International Film Festival It is good to respect bravery in filmmaking, for there is not enough of it; and not much is braver than trying to make something as thoroughly stagebound as a two-hander work onscreen. A two-hander, for those not versed […]


In his reasonably young career, Chilean director Pablo Larraín has been fighting a hard, bitter battle against long-gone dictator Augusto Pinochet, with largely good results. His second film, Tony Manero, is a breathtakingly cynical black comedy about the degradation of culture and morality in the end of the 1970s, and its follow-up, Post Mortem, a […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/16 & 10/21 & 10/21World premiere: 2 July, 2012, Karlovy Vary International Film Festival While watching The Bella Vista, I was turned off by it completely; a couple of hours later, I had mellowed to not really caring one way or another; and writing this, I find its commitment to violating the […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/15 & 10/16 & 10/19World premiere: 23 September, 2012, San Sebastian International Film Festival Part of me wants to eschew convention and not bother with any kind of synopsis for The Cleaner, the first feature by Peruvian writer-director Adriana Saba; and I will not indulge in this wish only because I am […]

Most of us would not, I suspect, look at the 17-year reign of Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, and then the branch of astronomy concerned with the study of stellar remnants and the origin of heavy elements, and say to ourselves, “You know, those two things seem to me like two sides of the same coin”. […]

There is what we might call the “Dirty Harry Rule of Sequels”, except that I’m not at all sure that there are more than just the two examples I’m about to name, and two isn’t enough for a rule. BUT ANYWAY, when that movie came out in 1971, it was famously described as fascist, and […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/7 & 10/8 World premiere: 30 September, 2011, Biarritz Latin Film Festival There is something about animation: a way it has of making everything it touches seem more creative and abstract, maybe, with the result being that stories which would be entirely uncompelling in live action get to cheat their way into […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/7 & 10/8 & 10/15World Premiere: 12 August, 2011, Festival de Cinema de Gramado One of the unalloyed delights of any film festival of a decent size & in possession of a well-appointed selection committee is that it gives you a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see things you otherwise might never have heard […]