O Brother, Where Art Thou?

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Directed by Joel Coen

2000

O Brother, Where Art Thou? is an adventure comedy film, loosely based on Homer’s The Odyssey, and set in 1937 Mississippi. Well written, well paced, and well acted, the film has stunningly innovative cinematography, sharp dialogue, and a precise sense of place. O Brother, Where Art Thou? is the Coen brothers at their best.

Must see.

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City Lights

City Lights

Direct by Charlie Chaplin

1931

City Lights, which bills itself as “A Comedy Romance in Pantomime” in its opening credits, is Chaplin’s second to last silent film. Expertly choreographed, incredibly funny, sharp, incisive, and surprisingly delicate at times, City Lights easily transcends the usual limitations of the genre.

Would see.

Children of Men

Children of Men

Directed by Alfonso Cuarón

2006

Children of Men is a science fiction thriller set in a dystopian 2027 future where no one can have children and the United Kingdom, the last functioning government, has instituted draconian laws against immigration. The cinematography is often impressive and the scenes are sometimes striking, but the tension between the film’s desire to be exciting, its low-key banter, its obvious political messages, and its heavy handed imagery make it neither enjoyable nor illuminating.

Would not see.

The Lobster

The Lobster

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos

2015

The Lobster is science fiction comedy drama set in a dystopian future where single people are taken to a hotel and given forty-five days to find a mate or be turned into an animal of their choice. The Lobster is sometimes funny, often bleak, and almost always inscrutable. There’s not much like it around now, and it probably won’t have many imitators.

Would see.

Yojimbo

Yojimbo

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1961

Yojimbo is about a wandering samurai who arrives in a small town divided between competing crime lords in 19th century Japan. Yojimbo is a movie that demands to be seen. The film’s score, cinematography, pacing, and choreography are flawless, and its as fun to watch the fifth time as it was the first.

Must see.

The Lower Depths

The Lower Depths

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1957

The Lower Depths, based on Maxim Gorky’s play of the same name, is about the lives of the inhabitants of an Edo-period tenement. The Lower Depths is odd and hard to place. It’s intermittently amusing and insightful, but its hard to escape the feeling that you’ve watched the same 25-minute film five times in a row.

Would not see.

Entertainment

Entertainment

Directed by Rick Alverson

2015

Entertainment follows an unsuccessful and unhappy comedian on a string of dead-end shows. The film is clever, depressing, original, and even, at times, funny, but it never fully lives up to the promise of its title. Entertainment is a film that is far more fun to talk about than it is to actually see.

Would not see.