Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

One does not expect, in the 2020s, to just up and get a new feature film directed by Tsai Ming-liang. His tenth and most recent, Stray Dogs came out in 2013, itself after a four-year delay following 2009’s Face, and it seemed perfectly reasonable to suppose that the strain of life and cinema had just […]

The cliché – and it is a cliché that the film justifies – is to describe A Brighter Summer Day, Edward Yang’s monumental fourth feature, from 1991, as “novelistic”. Indeed it is, and I can think of no word that better captures the film’s sprawl (it comes in with a running time just a few […]

There’s a notion going around that The Assassin is a hard movie to parse out at the narrative level. This is so. I have now seen The Assassin three times, in fact, and if you were to tell me that I had to clarify what every scene contributed to the overall narrative at each point, […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/21 & 10/22 & 10/23World premiere: 28 June, 2013, Taipei Film Festival The most unsettling moment in Soul – a movie in which unsettling things are not rare – comes when a young man, Wang A-Chuan (Joseph Chang), having already demonstrated his crazy-bastard bona fides to us is confronted by his father […]

To a certain extent, the films Tsai Ming-Liang are all of a piece; if you really love one of them (and there are few contemporary directors who are more of an acquired taste than Tsai Ming-Liang; his movies are famous for extraordinarily lengthy takes, often from a static camera, and if you don’t have a […]

Looking back at what I’ve written in this series over the past few weeks, I noticed that for a month now, I’ve only reviewed black-and-white movies: happy ones, sad ones, violent ones, funny ones, American ones, foreign ones: all very good and all monochromatic. It was time for what we sober types in the business […]

A director (Ang Lee) who I love, a lead actor (Tony Leung) who I adore, and a cinematographer who I worship (Rodrigo Prieto) working in one of my consistently favorite genres (WWII resistance thriller), and Lust, Caution has the temerity to be a bit of a washout? It’s not just a disappointment, it feels like […]

I have never before felt so thankless in writing a review – I come to praise the merits of one of the greatest films of this decade, in the full knowledge that most of my readers will never have the chance to see it, let alone the inclination. I refer to Taiwanese director Hou Hsiao-Hsien’s […]