Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

There’s something deliciously off-kilter about folding a story about the abuse and genocide of indigenous South American cultures into what amounts to a mismatched buddy comedy (minus any jokes), and for that alone, Embrace of the Serpent – Colombia’s first-ever nominee in the Best Foreign Language Film category at the Oscars – would deserve our […]

Septuagenarian documentary god Patricio Guzmán scored an enormous triumph with 2010’s Nostalgia for the Light, one of the most important and under-seen films of the decade. Two things are thus unsurprising: that Nostalgia‘s 2015 companion piece, The Pearl Button, would fail to match the same heights; and that The Pearl Button would still be a […]

A review requested by Coco, with thanks for contributing to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. It should be no surprise when a movie titled The Milk of Sorrow turns out to be unrelentingly bleak, but the film’s opening minutes are shattering beyond anything one could be prepared for: over black, we hear […]

The original sin of the anthology film is that no matter how tightly controlled it is, no matter how thematically tight, and no matter how aesthetically consistent, there’s always going to be a segment that isn’t as good as the others, and it’s going to feel like it showed up in the worst possible place […]

The pitch for Gloria from virtually every angle has always been some variant on “yada yada, but Paulina García is amazing“. And boy, is she ever. Few actors are ever called upon to support an entire feature-length film with such totality – there is, I think, a grand total of one shot in which she […]

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 […]