Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Fred Zinnemann is the epitome of a certain kind of film director. He was a workhorse – not a hack, not somebody who’d just show up and do the job in the most uninspired way, but somebody who still did obviously view it as a job. There’s nothing flashy in a Zinnemann film, but they’re […]

What is cinema? We can speak of its technical aspects: cinema is a medium in which still images (often, but not always photographic in nature) are shown at a fast enough rate to create the illusion of movement. Cinema is a medium of montage, in which the creator shows the viewer a single image followed […]

Clint Eastwood, a director I have admired and enjoyed far more often than not, has always had two pronounced weaknesses. One is that he directs like an actor, famously remaining hands-off and letting his cast find their characters, while using few takes to avoid draining their freshness. And this only works with a certain kind […]

As a story, The Two Popes is a confused and messy thing. “Popes! They’re just like us!” it declares in its pizza party scene, or the moment when Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio (Jonathan Pryce), the future Pope Francis, whistles “Dancing Queen” by ABBA in the Vatican men’s room. But it’s also about the intractable battle […]

There is one truly sublime moment in Just Mercy, near the beginning. Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan), a legal intern on the verge of taking the bar, has been sent to meet with Henry (J. Alphonse Nicholson), a young man of about Bryan’s age on death row, to give him the news that there is […]

Before I go anywhere with A Hidden Life, the tenth film directed by Terrence Malick in 46 years, and also the sixth in just the last eight years, I must remind you all that I am a fanboy incapable of anything like the proper objective distance from this director and his work. When the critical […]

That Bombshell wants to be The Big Short would be embarrassingly obvious anyway, but the fact that Charles Randolph wrote both films seals the deal. No question about it, this The Big Short of #MeToo biopics; the Vice of #MeToo biopics might even actually be more accurate, but I don’t want to be too hard […]

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 […]