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.

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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.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen

2013

Inside Llewyn Davis is a black comedy-drama about a struggling folk singer. Inside Llewyn Davis is a masterpiece. The cynicism occasionally grates, but the distress feels sincere. The music, the plot, and the writing are all nearly flawless; the film is deeply moving.

Must see.

The Intouchables

The Intouchables

Directed by Olivier Nakache and Éric Toledano

2011

Based loosely on real events, The Intouchables is a French-language film about the friendship between a wealthy white quadriplegic and his poor black live-in caregiver. The Intouchables is a textbook example of a film that preaches against racism but is itself deeply racist. The film’s flailing attempts at comedy fail to leaven the tin-eared melodrama.

Would not see.