Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

The 1966 television special How the Grinch Stole Christmas! is a masterpiece at least three times over. First, it’s one of the greatest of all Christmas stories told in an audio-visual medium, filling its 26 minutes with exactly the correct amount of warm and fuzzy sentiment, wry cynicism to keep said sentiment in check, and […]

I am sorry to say that I didn’t write down the exact phrasing, but The Old Man & the Gun opens with a title card that reads something along the lines of “This story, also, is mostly true”. And what the hell do we make of that? “Also” compared to what? This is literally the […]

Given the company’s current business model, it makes perfect sense that Disney would finally get around to releasing a film with the explicit message “constantly dwelling in nostalgia is good, and caring about adult things is bad”. I don’t even think I’m being ungenerous to Christopher Robin in summing it up that way; at least […]

If you did not believe that the late children’s television host Fred McFeely Rogers was the most wholeheartedly good and decent human being to live and work in the 20th Century prior to watching Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, I’m pretty sure you’d believe it afterwards. The film isn’t exactly a documentary of Rogers’s life […]

Wonder is every inch a Nice Movie. It offers very simple, bromidic observations about having a good heart and being yourself and what have you. It centers on a disfigured little boy that the makeup designers have carefully contrived to look more adorable than actually off-putting in any way. It carefully vanishes away all of […]

You ever met that guy, at a party or wherever, who you see before you hear him, loudly (and perfectly!) quoting from some not-very-well-known movie? And maybe you think to yourself “oh, this guy gets it”, and you drift over to chat for a bit about how much you both love that movie, and it […]

I cannot tell you about the moments in Faces Places that brought me the most happiness. This is partially because those moments are clustered in the film’s last 30 minutes, and they are far too wonderful in their little surprises for me to dare spoil them. This is partially, also, because they are so pure […]

First things first: director Amanda Lipitz’s first documentary feature, Step, is about the first graduating class of the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a charter school opened in 2009, and initially founded by Brenda Brown Rever. Lipitz is Rever’s daughter. Maybe this means nothing at all, and maybe it completely invalidates the film’s arguments […]

Girls Trip – a title in desperate, aching need of an apostrophe, but that’s neither here nor there – is made out of stock ingredients, and nothing can change that. But then, comfort food is by design made out of stock ingredients, and Girls Trip is supremely comforting. “The uptight one, the one with a […]

In ten feature-length documentaries made over a 35-year span, Errol Morris has played with different styles, different tones, different genres (he is, in no small part, the reason we can speak about “different genres” of documentary film in the first place), and different intentions, but one thing has remained constant. Ten times out of ten, […]

I’ll tell you what, Collateral Beauty only wishes it could Collateral Beauty as well as The Book of Henry does. This summer’s entry in the “uplifting sentimental treacle made by people who learned about humanity by studying our robots” genre has, like that film, a plot swerve so unbelievably apeshit that I cannot imagine how […]

It’s genuinely shocking to me that Lion is as good as it is, for as long as it is. It’s Harvey Weinstein’s duly-anointed champion for the Oscar season, which has only rarely been a good sign in the 21st Century and is frequently the biggest red flag I can think of. And that becomes an […]