Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Of all the colorful eccentrics that Werner Herzog has collected over his years of making documentaries about interesting people doing interesting things in interesting places, Clive Oppenheimer is among the least-colorful and least-eccentric. He’s a volcanologist at Cambridge, and it was in this capacity that he was doing fieldwork on Antarctic volcanoes when Herzog traveled […]

It’s hard to imagine a more profoundly unsentimental film director – or person – than Werner Herzog. Good ol’ Werner “The trees here are in misery, and the birds are in misery. I don’t think they sing. They just screech in pain” Herzog. Or Werner “Life on our planet has been a constant series of […]

Werner Herzog has the kind of wide-ranging, long-lasting career that has very earned him at least enough benefit of the doubt that he will never, ever release a film that we can dismiss out of hand; I will not say that every new Herzog film is An Event (he releases too many for that to […]

When all else fails, every Werner Herzog documentary has at least this going for it: they make for a fascinating glimpse into the things that Werner Herzog finds interesting, and he’s nothing if not an interesting man himself. This is probably the best argument I can make in favor of all 104 minutes of the […]

The subtitle of Werner Herzog’s new documentary Into the Abyss declares itself to be “A tale of death, a tale of life”, which is accurate-ish: it is about both of those things, but skewed rather heavily to the former for virtually the whole of its running time. Not in bad way – not in a […]

There is a cave system in the south of France, named Chauvet after one of the three people who discovered in 1994. The Chauvet cave contains a wealth of paintings created by Stone Age artists; there are the usual dating controversies that crop up whenever people want to find exact dates for things that happened […]

Werner Herzog is not, in the best of times, a director who especially cares if you (yes, you personally) particularly like what he’s doing in a given movie or not. Which means that when he goes full-bore and makes a film that seems to spend its entire running time ensconced firmly in his own head, […]

Customarily, it is an unpromising sign when you do not know how to correctly punctuate a title, because it has so many different parts jangling about. My current operating guess is The Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call: New Orleans, which runs afoul of rules about serial colons, but then again, nobody – not even the […]

There are many types of people in the world, but the two I’m concerned about right now are these: those who hear about a new Werner Herzog film and immediately clear space at the top of the year-end Best Of lists, and those who, unaccountably, do not. I’m shamelessly one of the former; yet even […]

It doesn’t seem right that there should be “Werner Herzog’s first documentary.” His career ought to have sprung fully-formed. And yet here we are, with Werner Herzog’s first documentary, Land of Silence and Darkness. Or at least it’s his first feature-length documenatry, if we don’t count the sort of documantary-ish visual tone poem Fata Morgana. […]

It’s not exactly the case that I disliked Rescue Dawn because it is a distinctly uncharacteristic project for director Werner Herzog; nor is it exactly the case that I disliked Rescue Dawn because it is essentially a retread of ground that Herzog himself covered to Olympian perfection in the 1997 documentary Little Dieter Needs to […]

I got into a conversation this weekend on the subject: can a Werner Herzog film actually count as a misfire? Even if it’s inscrutable and unsatisfying to watch, that’s probably exactly what Herzog wanted it to be. So even if it’s bad, it’s still a success. I shortly thereafter saw The Wild Blue Yonder, and […]