Spotlight

Spotlight

Directed by Tom McCarthy

2015

Spotlight is a biographical drama about the Boston Globe’s investigation into child sex abuse by Catholic priests. Spotlight is very well executed, though with little stylistic ambition, and tackles its subject seriously, though without the boldness and daring of the journalists it chronicles.

Would see.

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Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World

Directed by Werner Herzog

2016

Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World is a documentary about modern technology. Ambitious in scope, Lo and Behold is also ambitious in style and substance. It is the rare informational documentary that would not be similarly successful in a different medium. Werner Herzog’s frequent and distinctive narration guides a film that is not soon forgotten.

Must see.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Directed by Michel Gondry

2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a science fiction film about a man, a woman, and a company that erases memories. The film’s eloquent, complicated writing and ambitious directing easily survive the uneven acting to result in a film that is both heartfelt and intelligent.

Would see.

Room

Room

Directed by Lenny Abrahamson

2015

Room, based on Emma Donoghue’s 2010 novel of the same name, is a drama about the captivity and freedom of a mother and her young son. The cinematography is unremarkable and the writing is good, but Room‘s exceptional acting makes it hard to forget.

Would see.

The Big Short

The Big Short

Directed by Adam McKay

2015

The Big Short, based on Michael Lewis’s 2010 book, The Big Short: Inside the Doomsday Machine, is a biographical comedy-drama that follows investors who short the housing market in the financial crisis of 2007-2008. The Big Short impressively navigates a tricky balance between information and entertainment, but its political message, though often incisive, at times threatens to subsume the many-threaded story.

Would see.

The Witch

The Witch

Directed by Robert Eggers

2015

The Witch is a horror film about a family banished from a Puritan plantation in 17th century New England. Stylistically flawless, The Witch has a strong sense of time and place. The film threatens to make a strong statement, but fades in the end.

Would see.

Dont Look Back

Dont Look Back

Directed by D. A. Pennebaker

1967

Dont Look Back is a documentary that covers Bob Dylan’s 1965 concert tour in England. The music is predictably virtuosic; Dylan’s interviews with the press are standoffish, but entertaining and subtly revealing; and the film has a naturalism and unforced pace well-suited to its subject. Dont Look Back‘s freeform aimlessness, however, though apt for its milieu, causes the film to drag by its end.

Would see.

Don’t Think Twice

Don’t Think Twice

Directed by Mike Birbiglia

2016

Don’t Think Twice is a comedy-drama that follows an improve troupe in New York City. Don’t Think Twice aims to be funny and poignant, and the the film’s clever dialogue, talented case, and well-balanced tone go a long way towards those ends, but the problems inherent in moving improv scenes from a live audience to a movie theater and the needlessly obvious machinations of the plot leave one with the nagging feeling the film was thought out too much by half.

Would see.

Indignation

Indignation

Directed by James Schamus

2016

Indigation, based on Philip Roth’s 2008 novel of the same name, is a drama about a working class Jew from Newark, New Jersey attending the fictional Winesburg College in Ohio. The best thing that can be said about Indignation is that nothing in it is terrible. The film occasionally shows signs of life, but spends most of its run time in staid resignation to convention.

Would see.