Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Andrey Zyagintsev’s 2003 The Return is one of the great lost films of the 2000s, a masterpiece that nobody ever talks about, and it was reason all by itself to be excited for the director’s newest film, Elena (he made one feature in between the two, The Banishment, which I don’t believe received U.S. distribution). […]

The standard history of Tolkien adaptations ushers us right from the terrible 1980 Rankin/Bass TV animation The Return of the King to Peter Jackson’s monolithic big-budget blockbuster trilogy starting with The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring over two decades later; but that is only because the standard history is written by […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/17 & 10/18World premiere: 14 February, 2011, Berlin Film Festival In what I hope desperately is a piece of deliberate misquotation and not just crappy subtitling (at a festival it never does to assume), one of the characters in the Russian metaphysical sci-fi love story Target early on recalls the opening moral […]

Sometimes, you have to wonder if the censors in the Soviet Union just plain hated art. It seems, doesn’t it, that just about every great filmmaker to come out of that country had at least one of their films stomped on by the House That Stalin Built, whether that film could be properly called “counter-revolutionary” […]

A small elderly woman walks through a train yard on a scorching hot day, looking for her ride. Eventually she comes to an armored military train, loaded with sweaty, dusty soldiers, who are glad to help the woman up into their dingy hold. As the train pulls out, the men discuss how best to afford […]

It’s an embarrassing thing to say about one of the highest-regarded Soviet art films ever produced, but try though I might, as I watched Sergei Parajanov’s Color of Pomegranates, I could never quite shake the ghost of Monty Python’s parodies of inscrutable art films. You know what I’m talking about, if you’ve seen enough Flying […]

There exists a rare breed of film that takes as its sole raison d’être is Ungodly Size. It’s easy to call these films “epics,” but that isn’t a full enough term: Seven Samurai and Lawrence of Arabia are mere “epics.” The films I am thinking of are David O. Selznick’s Gone with the Wind, Peter […]

My first admission should be that I saw Night Watch about a week ago, and yes I know that if I were going to review it I should have done so already, dammit. But with one thing and another, I’ve been having a hard time focusing on it. The thing is, Night Watch sucks. Sucks […]