Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

All the credit in the world to Shia LaBeouf – there’s a phrase that makes me feel unwell just typing it out – for how unfathomably hard it must have been to write and then act in Honey Boy. The film is a barely-disguised autobiography drawing a bright, bold line from LaBeouf’s years as a […]

Tom Hanks does not look very much like Fred Rogers. Tom Hanks does not sound very much like Fred Rogers. And Tom Hanks does not move very much like Fred Rogers. Given that the new pseudo-biopic A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has been sold almost solely on the basis of “watch with amazement as […]

We have, in Dolemite Is My Name, such a perfect object lesson in what actually matters about movies that it almost feels unfair. This is a competent film – magnificently competent. Screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski know exactly how to write this material (in fact, this is basically the fourth time they’ve written precisely […]

Not, by any means, the most important fact about Martin Scorsese’s exhaustive new biographical epic The Irishman, but to me easily the most distracting: it is not titled The Irishman. The film has been adapted by Steven Zaillian from Charles Brandt’s 2004 nonfiction novel I Heard You Paint Houses, and that is the only title […]

In 1971, actor and perilously cool individual Steve McQueen willed into existence a film about the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the most important event in international sport car racing; it is titled simply Le Mans, and it is, equally simply, one of the great race movies in history. It is mercilessly clean, focusing intently […]

The question of how to make a good biopic is one that’s been a particular fascination around these parts for a while, and long-time readers have heard my theory that, broadly speaking, there are full biographical movies that start in a person’s youth and end in their old age, and these are typically dull; and […]

Pondering what makes for the nadir of the showbiz biopic screenplay is a yawning chasm that we had best not peer into, lest we fall in and plunge into a rich madness that can barely be described in words. I mean, it’s only been fifteen years since Beyond the Sea, and I’m still not sure […]

Gavin Hood is an extremely inconsistent director (and calling the man who signed his name to X-Men Origins: Wolverine “inconsistent” is paying him a very nice big compliment, I think), but his last feature is one that left me inclined to give him the benefit of the doubt. Eye in the Sky, from 2015, is […]

Part of the Summer 2019 Netflix Jubilee I can think of one thing that’s interesting to me about Extremely Wicked, Shocking Evil and Vile, a heavy hitter at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival that ended up as one of Netflix’s biggest releases of the year. Namely, it provides an especially clear demonstration of the truth […]

I would call Rocketman the best pop star biopic of the 21st Century and I would mean it with all my heart and soul, but for one caveat: I don’t think “biopic” is the right word. Oh, it’s got the structure: we see how little Reginald Dwight (Matthew Illesley as a boy, Kit Connor as […]

Winner of the 2019 Best Picture Review poll In deference to the idea that negativity is hard on your body and mind, I would like to begin talking about A Beautiful Mind, winner of the 74th Oscar for Best Picture, with my compliment. Starting right at the studio logos, we hear a really lovely motif […]

I take it as self-evident that to love cinema is to love Stan Laurel & Oliver Hardy, the comedy duo paired under the guidance of producer Hal Roach in the silent era and who made several wonderful short films before transitioning to sound and making several even more wonderful shorts and features in the 1930s. […]