Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Nicolas Cage is in fact a very good actor. That might sound like it goes without saying, or it might not, but it does help to have the reminder: after something like a quarter of a century building an ever- grander persona as a goofy, kitschy weirdo, prone to glowering and bellowing and twitchy, almost […]

It’s not literally the case that every single anthology film that has ever been made has one segment that threatens to seriously undo all the good work done by the rest of them, but it feels that way sometime. And There Is No Evil, the Golden Bear winner at the 2020 Berlinale, makes things extra […]

An apology, or if you prefer a warning: this is perhaps less on the order of a review than it is a rant. The thing is, I found Nomadland to be a completely repulsive movie, cloying when it works and actively pernicious when it doesn’t, and simply having to choke it down was galling enough; […]

Quo vadis, Aida? takes place over a few days in July 1995, in the small town of Srebrenica in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and if that date in connection to that place has any meaning to you, you already know more or less exactly what kind of movie you’re in for. And also, maybe you don’t. […]

Pieces of a Woman is the kind of film that gets watched because it received a solitary acting Oscar nomination, and even before it received that nomination, it was discussed for literally only two things, one of which is the performance that received that nomination. Which, for the record, belongs to Vanessa Kirby, one of […]

I have made no effort to hide my disdain for the aesthetic flattening that goes on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but it has its plus side, too. Namely, it acts as a control: a film might have a pretty severe ceiling on how good and/or creative it can be, but it also has a […]

The detention center at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, where hundreds of men were (and in some cases still are) held for years at a time, mostly without having been formally charged with a crime or tried before a judge, represents what I would consider the single most flagrant human rights violation perpetrated by the United […]

The great Polish director Agnieszka Holland is in the pantheon of European master filmmakers whose work we are more or less required to grapple with, if we take seriously the idea that cinema is an art form. And in this light, it’s not surprising that Mr. Jones, a political history lesson that premiered at the […]

Eliza Hittman is maybe my favorite American filmmaker right now working in what is probably my least-favorite mode of filmmaking. I honestly don’t even know if that’s a backhanded compliment or a sincere one. Her preferred aesthetic is Indie Film 101:Β  handheld cameras, a shitload of medium shots and medium close-ups, a plot that coalesces […]

According to a certain strand of criticism that has existed since the early 1960s, the biggest single shortcoming with Ingmar Bergman is that he is fundamentally apolitical. His international heyday exactly overlapped with a moment of heightened political activism around the world from artists of every medium, much of it oriented in opposition to the […]

The project that has finally emerged as The Trial of the Chicago 7, a direct-to-Netflix that was supposed to be Paramount’s big awards push and the inaugural film of Oscar movie season back in the Before Times, has been percolating since 2006. That was when Steven Spielberg commissioned Aaron Sorkin to write a film based […]

I would like to start by pushing back against the idea that The Assistant, the first narrative feature directed by experimental documentarian Kitty Green, is “about” disgraced former movie mogul and present convicted sex criminal Harvey Weinstein. This in fact seems to me very much against the point of the movie: if we say, Ah, […]