Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

The promotional subtitle of First They Killed My Father (as well as the subtitle of the 2000 memoir from which it has been adapted) is A Daughter of Cambodia Remembers, and it’s that last word, “remembers”, that ends up being the key to the whole film. With a screenplay adapted by Loung Ung and director […]

Certainly, director Kathryn Bigelow and writer Mark Boal had the finest intentions in making Detroit, which is too bad for them. Because the one specific thing that Detroit most badly wants to do is the one thing that Detroit most particularly fails to achieve – indeed, it achieves something close to the exact opposite. The […]

A review requested by Will Beckley, with thanks for donating to the Second Quinquennial Antagony & Ecstasy ACS Fundraiser. 25th Hour is a great curiosity in Spike Lee’s filmography: it feels, to watch it, like an extremely important and personal film to him, in which the director is unloading all his anxiety and anger and […]

Martin Scorsese has been attempting to make a film version of Endo Shusaku’s 1966 novel Silence since the early 1990s (an earlier Japanese-language adaptation, directed by Shinoda Masahiro), was released in 1971). After a quarter of a century, he has finally succeeded, and the emergent Silence very much feels like a movie that was the […]

What a strange, strange trend 2016 has brought us: deadly serious movies about race and slavery in America that are nearly undone by terrible editing and ugly color correction that drenches night scenes in azure. By all means, The Birth of a Nation is better than Free State of Jones, but it’s a hell of […]

Of all the things people said against Free State of Jones when it came out – which wasn’t much, because it sank like a stone from the moment it opened as one of the most self-evidently un-commercial wide releases of summer 2016 – I’m rather angry that nobody bothered to tell me how shit-ass ugly […]