Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Days of Thunder shouldn’t be as good as it is, I want to say; but that would imply that it is good, and I’m not entirely sure if that’s the case. It oughtn’t be good, at least. Not with that script. And yet it’s so much better than the combined quality of its elements that […]

42

All things being equal, 42 should not be even as good as it is, with the caveat that as good as it is still has some definite problems. But it’s an inspirational biopic, and with the monstrously unprepossessing track record that those have, “good with some problems” is like, just one or two steps down […]

Director Steve James has earned himself a reputation for making extrarodinarily wonderful documentaries, beginning with the legendary 1994 sports doc Hoop Dreams, followed by 2002’s Stevie and 2011’s The Interrupters, three movies that are customarily held by fans of the form to be among the greatest non-fiction films made in the modern era. And this […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/12 & 10/14 & 10/18World premiere: 21 July, 2011, Durban International Film Festival Dramas about apartheid are rare; South African films are rare; South African dramas about apartheid are thus exceptionally rare. And for that reason alone, I feel guilty about finding so little particular merit in Otelo Burning, a film about […]

I am ashamed to say that I didn’t make the connection that Real Steel is nor more nor less than Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots: The Movie until every other living person had already done so. But in my defense, that is only because I very early on got attached to thinking of it as […]

In 2002, the Oakland Athletics did not win the World Series. You might think that this is a sufficiently common event that it wouldn’t be worth making a movie about it, but then there’s Moneyball, which is happy to prove you wrong. You see, the A’s didn’t just fail to win the World Series – […]

The boxing movie is the most durable of all sports subgenres, despite being by no means the most popular of sports. My private belief is that this is because boxing is the sport that best allows for individual narratives, rather than stories of teamwork (and it is customarily the case that American cinema does better […]

Ray Schmit’s contribution to the Carry On Campaign was in service to seeing a review of one of his favorite childhood movies. Which is, I think, dangerous ground, but in this case I happened to rather like the movie he picked, though it was by no means part of my own childhood. You lucked out […]

There’s a something about boxing pictures; a certain movieish quality to them that’s not equaled by any of the more popular sports (has there ever been a truly great football film? or hockey story? Only baseball has come anywhere close to replicating the cinematic durability of boxing, and then typically as the background to a […]

Immediately after viewing Disney’s awards-hopeful Secretariat, I happened to meet a friend whose first question about the film was to know if, as promised, it is The Blind Side – an inspirational sports movie of virtually no aesthetic importance starring a woman who, for reasons best left unexplored, has been anointed as “owed” an Oscar […]

First principles: two hours and twenty minutes is a fucking unreasonable running time for a kids’ martial arts film. But that is exactly the running time of the new remake of The Karate Kid, which finds Will and Jada Pinkett Smith winning the Best Parents of the Year award, having bought their son Jaden his […]

It would appear that the latest “masterpiece” phase of Clint Eastwood’s career has quieted down for the time being: after making a few knockouts in the middle of the decade, and in the process fully justifying those of us who’d been known to call him one of America’s great filmmakers since sometime in the ’90s […]