Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Ever since its premiere at Cannes, The Skin I Live In has attracted the customary divisive reviews that attend to Pedro Almodóvar movies and become a talking point among cinephiles here, there, and everywhere. And in all this, not once have I heard of anybody pointing out the extremely important detail that this is basically […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/14 & 10/15 & 10/16World premiere: 4 September, 2010, Telluride Film Festival The reason that animated love story and 20th Century period piece Chico & Rita exists is, basically, because a documentarian, Fernando Trueba, and one of his subjects, the world-renowned designer Javier Mariscal, wanted to make a movie together. I admire […]

There’s a notion that every one of us has fallen into at one point or another: great art is depressing. It’s what drives the Oscars, film festival praise, top 10 lists (if you can think of any critics who explicitly or implicitly declared insightful relationship tragedy Blue Valentine to be superior to insightful relationship action […]

Paul Conroy (Ryan Reynolds) wakes up to find himself in a wooden box barely larger than his body, buried in the Iraq desert. In the box with him are a Zippo lighter, two green glowsticks, a flashlight that barely works, and a battered cellphone displaying Arabic text. This last object is the most important: it […]

Once again, the grand master of Spanish cinema, Pedro Almodóvar, has done his same old thing: a crazed blend of melodrama and cinema history, spun into a twisty pile of psychosexual candy floss. One could be forgiven for wondering if and when he’s ever going to move into a new phase in his career, but […]

Precious few film series can sustain a fourth entry. And when there’s already been a constant drop in quality from one movie to the next, it’s pretty much impossible to regard the idea of yet one more go-round with anything but minor dread; perhaps revulsion or dismissal, but not anything positive. Rules being made to […]

I am grown angry with Amando de Ossorio. Return of the Evil Dead, the second film in the director’s Blind Dead series, isn’t all that good, according to most workable definitions of “good cinema”. But it has atmosphere to spare, and it’s also not all that bad, so I found myself able to overlook some […]

The first semi-surprising thing about Amando de Ossorio’s first sequel to Tombs of the Blind Dead is that it really isn’t a sequel in any of the ways that word is usually meant. It’s certainly not a classic follow-up in that it looks at the same characters in events subsequent to the first movie; nor […]

Let’s briefly review the history of the zombie film, shall we? Sometime in the early 1930s, during the period when American studios were first really playing around in the horror movie sandbox, some smart person stumbled across the Haitian Vodou religion, and particularly a fairly minor component of that tradition, the idea of a sorcerer […]

As mindfucks go, the Spanish micro-budget indie Timecrimes is actually a pretty good lay – it’s not easy likely that you’d focus on its biggest problems while you’re watching. But the next morning, when you’ve got a little headache on, and you turn over to see this splotchy mess lying in bed next to you, […]

In 1973, the remarkably anti-prolific director released his first feature-length project, The Spirit of the Beehive, a film which was quickly hailed as being the single greatest work of cinema in Spanish history and is still frequently cited as such to this very day. Rubbish and hyperbole, I respond. Plainly, it is only the second-best […]

Woody Allen’s projects aren’t films so much as they are changes in the weather: sometimes delightful, sometimes annoying, nothing that anybody says or does can do much to change them, and they occur in a roughly annual cycle. With that in mind (extremely strained metaphor to follow), his latest feature, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, is like […]