Bound for Glory
Directed by Hal Ashby
Bound for Glory is a biopic that takes its name and main character (and little else) from Woody Guthrie’s 1943 autobiography. Bound for Glory intermittently understands Woody Guthrie’s greatness. His songs are well integrated, but there could be more of them. The film benefits by not covering his whole life, but it fulfills almost every other cliché of the genre.
Directed by Sofia Coppola
The Beguiled, an adaption of a novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan, is a drama about a wounded Union soldier convalescing in a nearly abandoned girls school in Virginia. (A movie of the same name – directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood, and also based on Cullinan’s novel – came out in 1971). The Beguiled is entertaining enough, and it’s very well-shot, but it feels hollow.
Directed by Edgar Wright
Baby Driver is an action comedy about a young getaway driver who dislikes the life of crime and enjoys listening to music. Baby Driver is less comedic than Edgar Wright’s previous films (and than I expected it to be) and the plot drifts a bit in the middle, but it is a good action movie and it uses music well.
Ils Sont Partout
Directed by Yvan Attal
Ils Sont Partout [They Are Everywhere] is a French-language comedy composed of vignettes about Jews and antisemitism. Ils Sont Partout is very funny and intermittently incisive – Yvan Attal acts like a very French Woody Allen – but a handful of the sketches drag.
Do the Right Thing
Directed by Spike Lee
Do the Right Thing is a comedy-drama about race relations in Brooklyn. The film is paced well, directed with verve, and generally nuanced, but it is a little didactic at times.
Directed by Jacques Tati
Play Time is a French comedy with minimal dialogue. It is almost entirely unlike other movies, which is more than can be said for most films. Most of the scenes are funny and some are even incisive, but a handful fall flat – and the film (at 124 minutes) feels longer than it is.
Directed by David Lynch
Mulholland Drive is a surreal neo-noir mystery film. The plot is dream-like but compelling. The film is strange but still affecting.
Directed by Makoto Shinkai
Your Name is a Japanese-language animated film about a boy and a girl who swap bodies. The stakes of the movie are too uneven, and the plot becomes increasingly disconnected from the theme as the film drags on. Your Name is often entertaining but ultimately frustrating and easily forgotten.
Inside Llewyn Davis
Directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
Inside Llewyn Davis is a black comedy-drama about a struggling folk singer. Inside Llewyn Davis is a masterpiece. The cynicism occasionally grates, but the distress feels sincere. The music, the plot, and the writing are all nearly flawless; the film is deeply moving.
The White Balloon
Directed by Jafar Panahi
The White Balloon is a Farsi-language film about a young girl’s efforts to buy a goldfish. The White Balloon is short and charming. The plot is wispy and its meaning either slight or obscure.