Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Dheepan is terrific right up until a point near the end where it becomes kind of actively terrible in a really bold, gaudy way; not the first time this sort of thing has cropped up, and not likely to be the last. At least Jacques Audiard, the director and one-third of the writing team (with […]

Looking back from 2014, Tarr Béla’s second feature, The Outsider, is a staggering break from the filmmaker’s normal way of doing things. That’s not fair at all to the movie and moviemaker who, in 1981, had no idea that he’d one day become Europe’s crown prince of long takes, slow plots, and stasis, but it’s […]

Director Thomas Vinterberg’s 1998 sophomore feature, The Celebration (or Festen; I’m never clear on which is the preferred U.S. title), is one of the agreed-upon masterpiece of 1990s cinema. That being said, I don’t personally have much use for it at all, owing in part to it being the flagship of the Dogme 95 movement, […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/8 & 10/9World premiere: 15 May, 2011, Cannes Film Festival The terrible admission first: I have not to this point had much use for the Brothers Dardenne, Jean-Pierre and Luc, the Belgian filmmakers who’ve managed the rare trick of winning two Palmes d’Or with 1999’s Rosetta and 2005’s L’enfant. I’ll plead a […]

With Drive making its much-anticipated US debut this weekend, I thought it was a good time to finally acquaint myself with the cultishly adored films with which director Nicolas Winding Refn made his reputation. One of the more storied debuts of the 1990s came in 1996, when 25-year-old Nicolas Winding Refn of Denmark shocked and […]

White Material opens with a scene that, we’ll eventually learn, comes at the very end of the story. The second scene takes place much earlier, not all the way at the beginning, but comfortably before the middle. Nothing about the transition between these scenes implies in any way that they aren’t related in the usual […]

Romanian filmmaking, as everybody with more than a passing interest in international cinema already knows, has blown up in the last few years, becoming the hot New Wave of the moment (and in the process, robbing the nascent Korean New Wave of oxygen; but now is not the time for that). All the best festivals […]

Fish Tank boasts one of the most leading, metaphorically unsubtle, and wholly appropriate titles of any film in recent months: perhaps primed by the opening credits, it takes a stronger-willed viewer than I to require more than a few shots to marvel that, by God, it is rather like watching a poor girl trapped in […]

At his best, François Ozon can be either a keen observer of humanity at its most stressed-out and self-immolating (Under the Sand, Time to Leave), or he can toss out self-aware provocations like spitballs (Swimming Pool, 5×2). I don’t know that I have a set idea of Ozon at his worst, because until Ricky I […]

In Laurent Cantet’s The Class (Entre les murs, or “Between the Walls” in the original French), there is a Parisian teacher named François who wants very badly to help his students become the smartest and best people they can be. Those students – 14 and 15-year-olds from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds – do […]

Valdís Óskarsdóttir’s Country Wedding has a remarkably avant-garde central concept that makes for a great nugget of trivia, and as it turns out, only a modestly entertaining finished project: at the start of shooting her film, she rehearsed the characters and their history and their relationships, had each of the cast members think of one […]

My Brother Is an Only Child was co-written by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, whose best-known previous work in America was the massive The Best of Youth, and possessing that knowledge colors one’s response to the new film, directed and co-written by Daniele Luchetti. Because once that connection has been made, it’s almost impossible not […]