Directed by Masaki Kobayashi
Harakiri is a Japanese language drama about a desperate ronin in the 17th century. The film’s elegant compositions and careful pacing mask its restless, thrashing core. With its breathlessly choreographed sword fights and close attention to emotion, Harakiri meets the expectations of its genre, while transcending its presumed limitations.
The Flowers of Saint Francis
Directed by Roberto Rossellini
The Flowers of Saint Francis is an Italian language film about Saint Francis and the early Franciscans. Episodic, slight, and repetitious, The Flowers of Saint Francis occasionally matches expectations, but mostly succumbs to didacticism and trite sentiment.
Would not see.
Directed by Martin Scorsese
Raging Bull is a biographical drama about the life of the boxer, Jake LaMotta. Mostly filmed in black and white, Raging Bull, is deeply indebted to early cinema. Carefully composed and sharply edited, the dialogue, music, sound effects, and action are tightly woven into a kinetic tale of stunning visuals and striking violence.
The King and the Mockingbird
Directed by Paul Grimault
The King and the Mockingbird is a French language animated film, loosely based on “The Shepherdess and the Chimneysweep,” that follows a king, a chimneysweep, and a shepherdess, who walk out of their paintings and take life, and a bird who tries to save the chimneysweep and shepherdess from the malicious king. The film has been cited by Isao Takahata and Hayao Miyazaki as an influence, and it often shows. The animation is somewhat simplistic, but The King and the Mockingbird is a whimsical, funny, and delightful, if slight, film before its weightily philosophical, and wholly unexpected, ending.
Being John Malkovich
Directed by Spike Jonze
Being John Malkovich is a comedy about a puppeteer who finds a portal that allows him to be the actor, John Malkovich. The film is surreal, unique, engaging, jarring, off-putting, and very funny. Full of unexpected turns, dense symbolism, and dark insights, Being John Malkovich defies category and expectation.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End is the third fantasy film in the Pirates of the Caribbean series; it wraps up the conflict begun in Dead Man’s Chest. At World’s End could become tiresome to anyone not fully enamored of the franchise because it builds inward on prior jokes to such an extent that many lines would be otherwise unintelligible.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest
Directed by Gore Verbinski
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest is a fantasy film that returns to characters from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, uniting parties formerly at odds against new villains, while simultaneously maintaining an interplay of individual motives. The film builds on The Curse of the Black Pearl‘s success by using a similarly fast paced script and becoming, if possible, even more self-referential. It is a sequel that gives fans of Curse of the Black Pearl more of what they love, but it also adds depth to the franchise by introducing development to one-sided characters.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
Directed by Gore Verbinksi
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl is a fantasy film that unravels the conflict between parties of pirates, navy officers, and civilians, against the backdrop of a pirate crew that tries to return treasure it pillaged to revoke a curse. Improbably well written and executed, subtle plot points and self-reference cause the film to improve with each viewing.
The Art of the Steal
Directed by Don Argott
The Art of the Steal is a documentary about, and against, the controversial relocation of the Barnes Foundation, a valuable collection of post-Impressionist art. The film is informative, engaging, and opinionated, although it’s sharp criticisms turn into dull repetition and agitprop as the film wears on.