Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

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 […]

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 […]

Every week this summer, we’ll be taking an historical tour of the Hollywood blockbuster by examining an older film that is in some way a spiritual precursor to one of the weekend’s wide releases. This week: a third feature-length adaptation of Ben-Hur is, you know, definitely a thing one could choose to produce. While wondering […]

In memory of Michael Cimino, 3 February 1939 – 2 July 2016 Compared to the glut of masterpiece-level films about World War II, American cinema has – perhaps surprisingly – never produced a wholly great and uncompromised movie about the United States’ war in Vietnam. Too many psychic scars, maybe; could be that the divisive, […]

Dedicated to Hollywood icon Olivia de Havilland on her 100th birthday Speaking honestly, The Snake Pit, released in 1948, is kind of a bad movie. It’s a thick slab of 20th Century Fox Post-War Message Movie, and if it remains more watchable than the previous year’s Gentleman’s Agreement, that’s only because every movie in history […]