Discovering good movies, one bad movie at a time

Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, from 1995, was literally advertised in Japan with the slogan “Godzilla Dies”. But even if you didn’t know that going in, it’s a film that positively oozes fin de siècle gravitas and sincerity and gloom, making it very clear that whatever the story the film intends to tell, it will arrive at a point of intense, permanent change, and perhaps not for the better. (As for why […]

Golly, here we are just, blasting through February, and I totally forgot to do this. We could blame the almost unprecedented slate of outrageous shit that opened in January for ruining movies altogether, and the fact that February is never a great time for films either. But that wouldn’t be true. That would be spectacularly untrue, in fact… 7.2.2014 …because this February includes The Lego Movie, directed by Phil Lord […]

Everything about King Kong Escapes is inexplicable. It’s… no, let’s wait a second. Look at that Japanese poster there. I mean, really look at it. Bask in it. It is only descriptive of the things actually to be found in the movie it’s advertising, as giddily pulpy and inane as those longs would appear to be. It is rare to find any piece of movie advertising that tacky and also […]

King Kong vs. Godzilla arrived in Japanese movie theaters in 1962 (and American theaters, in a considerably different incarnation, in ’63) after a strange and tortured path through Development Hell that stands up with the greatest making-of stores in cinema history. As you’d expect, when the two greatest giant monsters were put onscreen together for the first and only time, involving not just the usual studio politics bullshit, but two […]

Strictly speaking, the title of 1995’s A Goofy Movie is accurate. It is a movie; the iconic Disney character Goofy is in it. But it is an incomplete title: A Goof Troop Movie would be far more precise and cause fewer broken hearts: for while it is A Goofy movie, it is surely not The Goofy movie, given as it makes its title character the second banana to a protagonist […]

Screens at CIFF: 10/8 & 10/9 & 10/11WORLD PREMIERE I’m in no position to make pronouncements about Indian cinema, so I’ll defer to the experts: and they inform me that right now, that country is on the cusp of a New Wave, in which the traditional Bollywood entertainments that maybe you and certainly I think of when you call to mind Indian films (three hours long, musical numbers in everything […]

It is surely my fault that I held out the hope, however slight, that Bad Teacher would end up being an okay movie. Certainly, nobody that I ever discussed it with – and some of these are people that I would politely describe as having aggressively indiscriminate tastes when it comes to R-rated comedies – saw anything much to be optimistic about the ads, but sometimes we allow ourselves to […]

Even in the depths of the horrible stretch of critical, commercial, and artistic failures that plagued Walt Disney Productions between 1970 and 1988, there’s one spot of true brilliance, although the degree to which The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh belongs to that interregnum is debatable. Its roots lie in the comparatively strong period of the 1960s, in fact, for it is nothing but an anthology film put together […]

This, ladies and gentlemen, is what desperation looks like. By 1943, the steam was mostly out of the second phase of Universal horror movies, even in their new cheaper, B-picture incarnation, and if the cycle was going to keep on going, something bold and splashy had to be done, for then as now movies made their money from a snappy advertising campaign more than because of their inherent quality. The […]

Smart People isn’t really a good movie, and nothing I can say can change that fact. This is particularly galling, because I actually liked Smart People, and liking movies that I can tell aren’t very good always leaves me feeling like I’m easy to manipulate. My lack of critical strength notwithstanding, it’s a film that does several things wrong, and those things it gets right are largely cribbed from better […]

Today, the occupation-war in Iraq is five years old. During this war, there have been 3990 US military fatalities, 308 military fatalities among the other coalition armies, and a yet-uncalculated number of Iraqi civilian causalities: as few as 80,000, as many as 10 times that. These figures have all been taken from the Iraq Coalition Casualties Count and Iraq Body Count. For perspective, here is a list of the US […]

Since Robert Altman died two months ago, I haven’t had a chance to watch any of his films, either familiar to me or new, which is frankly a bit awful. After all, at the time of his death, he was the greatest American filmmaker. Last night, I finally had my chance to watch either The Long Goodbye or Quintet, neither one of which I’ve ever seen. And despite how much […]