The Fits

The Fits

Directed by Anna Rose Holmer

2015

The Fits is a drama about a young girl who joins a Cincinnati dance troupe plagued by mysterious fainting spells and violent fits. The Fits is minimalistic and atmospheric without edging into obscurity for its own sake, and the film’s freeform plotting and nuanced characterizations defy easy categorization.

Would see.

No Regrets for Our Youth

No Regrets for Our Youth

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1946

No Regrets for Our Youth is a Japanese language drama based on the Takigawa Incident of 1933. No Regrets for Our Youth, directed by Kurosawa only a few years before many of his better known (and better) films, is in some ways more interesting as historical artifact than film. Sometimes didactic and sometimes melodramatic, No Regrets for Our Youth, while at times frustrating, is still ultimately effective.

Would see.

The Neon Demon

The Neon Demon

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn

2016

The Neon Demon is a psychological horror film about models in Los Angeles. Neither the themes nor the aesthetic in The Neon Demon are subtle, but the atmosphere is still effective. The ending is perhaps logically reached, but it still feels like a disappointment.

Would see.

The Godfather Part II

The Godfather Part II

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

1974

The Godfather Part II, partially based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel, The Godfather, is both a prequel and a sequel to Coppola’s 1972 film of the same name. The Godfather Part II has all of the well-crafted dialogue and well-framed shots of its predecessor, but lacks some of its tight pacing and thematic coherence. The prequel segments, particularly, tracking the rise of a young Vito Corleone, are not given enough time to fully develop as a meaningful complement to the film’s sequel narrative, following Vito’s son, Michael, and essentially end up being diversionary interruptions to the main story as a result.

Would see.

Where the Wild Things Are

Where the Wild Things Are

Directed by Spike Jonze

2009

Where the Wild Things Are, based on Maurice Sendak’s 1963 book of the same name, is a drama about a child, Max, who goes on a fantastical journey to an island populated by wild things. The film is an excellent adaptation and an excellent film. It captures the intensity and abstractness of childhood emotion, recognizing Max’s sincere fear as well his unencumbered joy. Where the Wild Things Are looks honestly at the frustration and freedom of being a child.

Would see.

The Godfather

The Godfather

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

1972

The Godfather, based on Mario Puzo’s 1969 novel of the same name, is a crime drama about a fictional American mafia family from 1945 to 1955. The Godfather is easy to follow despite its dense plotting and, given its 177 minute run time, is about as tightly paced as one could reasonably expect. The film is well-written and well-shot, with deservedly iconic lines and scenes, though the film’s themes are sometimes too on the nose.

Would see.

Dope

Dope

Directed by Rick Famuyiwa

2015

Dope is a crime comedy drama that follows three friends going to high school in Inglewood, California as a series of improbable circumstances drastically threatens their already tenuous situation. Whatever is wrong with Dope, it’s not for lack of aspirations. The film is ambitious in its subject matter, its plotting, its style, and its writing. Dope’s strong efforts and excellent acting, however, can’t entirely compensate for the film’s the scattershot pacing, inconsistent tone, occasional preachiness, and unsatisfying ending.

Would see.

The Money Pit

The Money Pit

Directed by Richard Benjamin

1986

The Money Pit is a comedy about a couple that buys a house in need of an unexpected number of repairs. The Money Pit is not a good film. The lack of ambition is matched by the poor execution. The upbeat tone, the often funny sight gags, and the presence of a young Tom Hanks are about all that are going for the movie. The Money Pit would be almost as funny without sound, and its scenes could be played in almost any order without creating a significantly less compelling narrative.

Would not see.

Goodfellas

Goodfellas

Directed by Martin Scorsese

1990

Goodfellas, an adaptation of Nicholas Pileggi’s 1986 non-fiction Wiseguys, is a crime drama about mobsters from 1955 to 1980. Goodfellas is stylistically creative, well-paced, and intelligently written. The film starts to become disjointed towards the end, but not totally without thematic purpose.

Would see.

Casablanca

Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curtiz

1942

Casablanca, based on the unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s, is a romantic drama set during the Second World War in the eponymous Vichy-controlled city. Casablanca lives up admirably to its reputation. It’s a tightly paced and memorable film open about its patriotic and romantic sentiments. Casablanca occasionally strains credulity and threatens to fall into melodrama or slapstick, but the film is easily saved by its essential sincerity and the quality of its acting.

Would see.