Six Degrees of Separation

Six Degrees of Separation

1993

Directed by Fred Schepisi

Six Degrees of Separation is a comedy-drama adapted from the play of the same name. The theatrical origins show. The acting is stagey and the direction is flat—it would have been better just to tape a showing of the play; no use is made of the change in medium. Six Degrees of Separation is pretentious schlock. The overly broad comedy is unfunny, the unearned dramatic scenes land with a thud, and the film’s structure is complicated for complication’s sake. Six Degrees of Separation tries so hard to be clever, wry, and important that it ends up being none of those things; it is only insufferable.

Would not see.

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Bagdad Café

Bagdad Café

Directed by Percy Adlon

1987

Bagdad Café is a German comedy-drama set in the Mojave Desert. The film is boring, banal, and bizarre all at the same time—the American release is ninety-five minutes, but it feels much longer.

Would not 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.

Toni Erdmann

Toni Erdmann

Directed by Maren Ade

2016

Toni Erdmann is a film about a father and daughter that defies category. It’s a long, funny, melancholy film that changes register deftly and meanders with determined purpose.

Would see.

A Serious Man

A Serious Man

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

2009

A Serious Man is a comedy-drama about a Jewish man in Minnesota. A Serious Man is the Coen brothers at their funniest and most profound. The film succeeds both as comedy and moral drama. It is a rare achievement.

Must see.

 

The Royal Tenenbaums

The Royal Tenenbaums

Directed by Wes Anderson

2001

The Royal Tenenbaums is a comedy-drama about the fictional Tenenbaum family. The Royal Tenenbaums is deftly funny and deeply moving. Wes Anderson directs the film with all of his usual precision and detail – and with a sincerity and ambition not all of his other films match.

Must see.

20th Century Women

20th Century Women

Directed by Mike Mills

2016

20th Century Women is a comedy-drama about a 15-year-old boy, three women, and a man who live in Southern California in 1979. Every accusation of pretension and hollow style baselessly levied against Wes Anderson’s films would accurately describe 20th Century Women. 20th Century Women goes through all the motions of saying something meaningful without ever actually saying anything at all. It’s saccharine, unfocused, and painful to watch.

Would not see.

Baby Driver

Baby Driver

Directed by Edgar Wright

2017

Baby Driver is an action comedy about a young getaway driver who dislikes the life of crime and enjoys listening to music. Baby Driver is less comedic than Edgar Wright’s previous films (and than I expected it to be) and the plot drifts a bit in the middle, but it is a good action movie and it uses music well.

Would see.

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing

Directed by Spike Lee

1989

Do the Right Thing is a comedy-drama about race relations in Brooklyn. The film is paced well, directed with verve, and generally nuanced, but it is a little didactic at times.

Would see.