Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

1955’s Smiles of a Summer Night is a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, as far as I’m concerned, but it’s also a light bauble: tinged with melancholy and hard-won worldy wisdom, but still mostly a sex farce. 1957’s The Seventh Seal is similarly a no-two-ways-about-it masterpiece, but it’s also a strange pageant-like work of dense symbolism, unafraid to […]

There’s a stock complaint about the Academy Awards that goes something to the effect of: “they don’t give Oscars for the Best Picture [Editing, Costume Design, etc.], they give Oscars for the Most Picture.” That’s usually at least a little bit true, but it becomes especially, spectacularly, in-your-face true in the case of 1956’s Around […]

Upon its release in the summer of 1981, Roadgames, the second (and final) collaboration of director Richard Franklin and writer Everette De Roche after 1978’s Patrick, became the most expensive Australian film ever made up to that point (a title it would hold only for a few weeks, until the opening of Gallipoli). That is, […]

The eighth film made by Joel & Ethan Coen, 2000’s O Brother, Where Art Thou? also has the distinction of being their first full-on no-two-ways-about-it major studio production. 20th Century Fox had distributed Raising Arizona, Miller’s Crossing, and Barton Fink, but the financing and production of those films was still closer to a conventional indie […]

I have a my disagreements with legendary film critic Pauline Kael, some of them fairly intense, but one thing I’ll never fault her for: she could write a hell of a sentence. And there’s no sentence of hers I co-sign more eagerly than the one that she used to start her review of Rain Man, […]

Onward is the 22nd animated feature made by Pixar Animation Studios, and thus we arrive at a numerically exciting point. For 2010’s Toy Story 3, the last movie in that company’s virtually uninterrupted early string of medium-defining computer animated films, was their 11th feature, which means they have now been a company that makes generally […]

I’m not going to go so far as to say that Queen & Slim has the best opening sequence of any 2019 movie, though it’s good enough that that thought flickered across my mind briefly. I am going to say that it has the best opening credits sequence of any 2019 movie, perfectly timed after a […]

The only word to describe The Peanut Butter Falcon is “nice”. I use the word “only” literally. Niceness is the film’s defining characteristic: it was made for nice reasons, it is nice to its characters (who are nice people), it is nice to its audience. It is not in any way interesting. It feels like […]

Part of me wonders if Kevin Feige is really just sticking it to Amy Pascal for the sake of it. The whole thing about Spider-Man in movies since 2016 is a bit tedious and wrapped up with corporate nonsense, but the basic thing to keep in mind is that Columbia Pictures, a subsidiary of a […]

One wishes to never have to say anything negative about a Laika film. The company only exists because multi-billionaire Phil Knight, founder and former CEO of Nike, is an indulgent father, and his son Travis wanted to run an animation studio; it’s been a possibility with every new feature that this might be the one […]

Whatever you think about Clint Eastwood, as director and actor, The Mule is not the film to change your mind. Myself, I persist in admiring the sinewy minimalism and directness of his style, his utter refusal to sentimentalise even when sentiment is called for. When he’s working with actual professional actors, as he is here, […]

The question of whether Green Book is worse on race or worse on class is a tough one. It’s at least more spectacularly bad on race; but I, for one, was unprepared for it to touch on class at all, so that came as the far uglier surprise. Either way, it’s the kind of modestly […]