Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

A short while ago, a friend of mine suggested that we all have something like a quota of major contemporary world cinema directors that we can love, and once we’ve hit capacity, we’re not going to be able to get really excited anybody else. He was of course being facetious, but I take comfort in the […]

When a film has a title like My Summer of Love, it wouldn’t be unreasonably to expect a languorous, stretched-out mood, slightly lazy and slightly warm and prone to lingering on moments. None of this is the case. The actual My Summer of Love that exists – a 2004 film that gave Emily Blunt her […]

Let us start with the title. The new film titled Les Misérables is not an adaptation of Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel, already one of the most commonly-adapted books in cinema history. It is, rather, a story that takes up the same concerns as Hugo, approaching them in their 21st Century embodiment. So this tale of […]

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 […]