The Post

The Post

Directed by Steven Spielberg

2017

The Post is a dramatization of The Washington Post’s publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Post is didactic, flat, and self-satisfied, but it’s still a fun film — and it’s too earnest a paean to its ideals to dislike very much.

Would see.

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Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

2017

Call Me By Your Name is a romance set in Northern Italy in 1983. Call Me By Your Name is a good film, but it is too impressed with its own importance — this itself is fine, except that the film appears more motivated by the desire for importance than an urgency to speak. Call Me By Your Name likes the idea of intelligent characters, but is bored by the details of their interests. It is a romance populated exclusively by ideas of people — there are no actual lives. The scenery is pretty and the story is moving, but Call Me By Your Name is entirely submerged in an ethereal emptiness.

Would see.

Lady Bird

Lady Bird

Directed by Greta Gerwig

2017

Lady Bird is a coming-of-age story set in Sacramento, California. The film is occasionally too on the nose, but it is also honest and charming. Lady Bird, unlike many movies almost like it, is the actual saying of something — not just the performance of having something to say.

Would see.

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)

Directed by Noah Baumbach

2017

The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected) is a comedy-drama about adult siblings and their father. An excellent cast (including a surprisingly good Adam Sandler) can’t lift up an uneven and stilted script past mediocrity. The Meyerowitz Stories is a dysfunctional film about a dysfunctional family.

Would not see.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

2017

The Shape of Water is a fantasy romance about a woman and a human-like amphibian. A kitschy but moving Cold War fairytale, The Shape of Water evinces passion and individuality without pretension — a highly entertaining movie.

Would see.

Daughters of the Dust

Daughters of the Dust

Directed by Julie Dash

1991

Daughters of the Dust is a film about three generations of Gullah women on Saint Helena Island. A documentary-esque tapestry of impressionistic vignettes, the film’s narrative is hard to follow, but the emotional and cultural conflicts that the director wants to explore are always clear.

Would see.

Jaws

Jaws

Directed by Steven Spielberg

1975

Jaws, based on Peter Benchley’s 1974 novel of the same name, is a thriller about a man-eating great white shark. Jaws is well-made schlock. The film has little ambition or purpose, but it’s well-paced, well-acted, and very entertaining.

Would see.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

1984

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, adapted from Miyazaki’s manga of the same name, is an animated epic fantasy film. Nausicaä has only a shadow of the impossibly beautiful animation of Miyazaki’s later and better financed films, and it wears its obvious narrative shortcomings on its sleeves, but none of its flaws distract from its immense charm, energy, depth, and urgency.

Would see.

2001: A Space Odyssey

2001: A Space Odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick

1968

2001: A Space Odyssey is an epic science fiction film. 2001 is self-indulgent and nihilistic. Cynicism is easy and it appears deep, but it is the opposite of meaning and the opposite of art. 2001’s impressive technical achievements are a shiny shell that covers an empty interior of pretension and half-baked philosophy.

Would not see.

A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars

Directed by Sergio Leone

1964

A Fistful of Dollars is a Spaghetti Western, and an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film, Yojimbo. What A Fistful of Dollars lacks in originality and thoughtfulness it easily makes up for with sheer verve. Clint Eastwood is every bit as good at playing the taciturn hero as Toshiro Mifune, Ennio Moricone’s score is even better than Masaru Sato’s, and Sergio Leone shoots high-noon showdowns almost as well as Akira Kurosawa. A Fistful of Dollars is easily one of the coolest movies ever made.

Must see.