Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Every now and then we get one of those little mini-cycles of movies that are in no way actually related, but somehow end up occupying the same exact spot in your brain. For me, at least, we have one of those going on right now, with a pair of movies, each with the word “Boy” […]

I would say at the outset that David & Nic Sheff, subjects of the biopic Beautiful Boy, are a real-life father and son (the movie is based on their respective memoirs, titled after David’s), and the suffering depicted in the movie is real-life suffering, and far be it from me to minimise any of it. It […]

The claims that BlacKkKlansman represents a renaissance for Spike Lee are at least slightly overheated. After all, even his very great movies are frustrating and flawed (except for Do the Right Thing, which is frustrating and perfect), and even his very bad movies are still interesting for the complexity and intensity of their ideas. There […]

In the latter half of the 2010s, “it’s like an episode of Black Mirror” has replaced “it’s like Philip K. Dick” as the hackiest, laziest way you can describe any work of science fiction. But Anon courts that comparison more vigorously than most. Not just because it’s a satiric treatment of contemporary social ills in […]

The adjective that recommends itself above all others in connection to First Reformed is “unrelenting.” You might, if you have absolutely no idea how cinema works as a medium, be able to avoid figuring out precisely what writer-director Paul Schrader wants you to think about the world, industrialisation, religion in 21st Century America, and despair; […]

Director Joshua Marston began his career in TV journalism, and somehow that feels exactly right. Not one of his films have been a documentary, and not one of them have had anything like a documentary aesthetic, but they have do have one important element of great journalism: they observe. The filmmaker’s approach is long on […]

2014’s God’s Not Dead has a loopy, auto-erotic concept that makes no sense, but I can vaguely see how, if you were so deep in the culture war trenches that you needed binoculars to see daylight, it might seem like its story of hostile academics trying to humiliate the Christ out of their students speaks […]

God’s Not Dead has become the stand-in in popular consciousness for a whole genre: the hectoring message movie designed exclusively for U.S. conservative evangelical audiences. And this makes a great deal of sense: it was a huge, shocking box-office success, making $61 million in North America from a $2 million dollar budget, which makes it […]

The winner of the 2018 Best Picture Review Poll There are two very different stereotypes of what kind of film wins the Best Picture Oscar, and neither of them is actually true. The kind of people whose movie-watching habits never extends to anything that isn’t a heavily-marketed wide-release blockbuster tends to suppose that Oscar-winning films […]

The biggest problem with Strong Island – but oof, what a terrible way to frame it. The movie has problems, of course; very few movies have absolutely no problems. But not so many movies are good at sympathetically displaying a range of human despair in a tight, intimate way that makes you feel like weeping […]

The opening ten minutes of BPM (Beats per Minute) (an inscrutably poor re-titling of the original French title, which translates as 120 Beats per Minute) are among the most bracing and original in any movie I’ve seen in 2017. Before we’re given a minute to situate ourselves, we’re dumped into the backstage area where a […]

It is quite impossible for Mudbound to be a mere 134 minutes long, and I’m not sure if it is the film’s great strength that it manages to cram such an unrelenting quantity of stuff into that running time, or if perhaps there is some other world where it clocked in at three hours and […]