Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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. […]

Ultimately, On the Basis of Sex is exactly the thing it most evidently appears to be: a paint-by-numbers biopic that rewards its audience for having politics more socially progressive than people had 50 years ago, and which was clearly aiming for Oscar glory until the distributor figured out far enough in advance that it was […]

There is a thing that costume dramas sometimes do, and it always annoys me, and Mary Queen of Scots does it a whole lot: make characters who weren’t even progressive by their own era’s standards progressive by our own. What we have here is a story about two people who very much existed, and about […]

Ultimately, there is a grand total of one test that Welcome to Marwen has to pass, and it does not. To wit, does this film do anything to justify its existence in face of the 2010 documentary Marwencol, which treats on exactly the same subject as this highly fantasised biopic, and does so with great […]