Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

If the 2014 taught us all just one lesson, I’d like it to be that Eva Green is an international treasure. It’s one thing to be, allegedly, the one spot of pure bright light in the TV show Penny Dreadful (of which I have not seen a single episode), but quite another to survive two […]

I’ll tell you what, there’s a lot of pleasure to be had in watching a real movie-movie. The kind that’s totally drunk on the expressive potential of cinema and does not give a shit about what it’s saying, as long as it says it with visual fervor. That’s the spirit that animated the French New […]

The Homesman is a film with an unimaginably specific and small ideal audience. It is, to begin with, a Western; a Western lover’s Western, drunk on the iconography of the genre and steeped in an awareness of the kind of myths told in Western cinema and more than that, the particular language and tenor of […]

The classic version of the story goes that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas ruined everything, just absolutely every god-damned thing, when they released their big ol’ popcorn movies Jaws and Star Wars in 1975 and ’77, and made all the studios go “Whoa! We don’t want to keep making little movies about the lives of […]

The one thing that can never be claimed of the 1961 Western One-Eyed Jacks is that it’s like other movies. Lumbering and bloated, often compelling, always gorgeous, and at times astonishingly bizarre in its attempt to force the psychological impulses of mid-century naturalist theater acting into the framework of a bog-standard Western revenge thriller, I […]

Motion pictures had been taking their cues from stage plays since the earliest days of narrative filmmaking, but something specific shifted in the 1950s. Part of that shift happened in theater itself: the evolution of the musical play in the years following Oklahoma! in 1943 introduced new psychological acuity and narrative complexity to what had […]

The next time you’re at a cocktail party, and the hostess stands up tipsily and imperiously like Rosalind Russell in Auntie Mame to demand that everybody share their favorite actor-director team,* I want you to do me a favor. Overlook the obvious (De Niro and Scorsese), the tasteless (Depp and Burton), the snobby (Ullmann and […]

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: there are not many living filmmakers whose style and interests would seem to make them a worse fit for […]

There is a particular interest in watching filmmakers with a strong, distinctive visual style making their first movie using this or that technology; and there’s a similar appeal to watching such filmmakers stretching outside of their comfort zones of tone and genre. So the first color film and first Western made by German expatriate Fritz […]

Straight Shooting offers up a twofer for the the historically-inclined fan of director John Ford. Made in 1917, the year that the 23-year-old (years away from swapping out the name “Jack”) began making movies with The Tornado, it is the first feature-length project of his career, after five shorts. And with all of those presently […]

There are old movies – really old movies, I mean, movies from the first 15 or 20 years of cinema, when the visual language and narrative structures were so different from any of the norms we’ve grown accustomed to in the intervening decades that it’s virtually a different art form altogether – so self-assured and […]

Even among those who love it, there’s no real consensus as to why the 1999 horror film Ravenous is great. Because it is a punchy black comedy? Because it is an intelligent attack on social constructs of bravery and masculinity? Because it’s a satire of American expansion in the West? Because it’s one of the […]