Directed by Greta Gerwig
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.
The Meyerowitz Stories (New and Selected)
Directed by Noah Baumbach
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.
Directed by Leo McCarey
Duck Soup is a Marx Brothers comedy. It is the last film to feature Groucho, Harpo, Chico, and Zeppo Marx. Duck Soup is a hilarious, brilliant, and (perhaps unintentionally) trenchant satire of politics and war.
Directed by Maren Ade
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.
Directed by Steven Soderbergh
Logan Lucky is a heist film that follows three siblings who plan to rob the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The film’s ambitions are on a far smaller scale than the theft planned by its protagonists, but Steven Soderbergh shares their commitment and attention to detail; Logan Lucky has modest aims and a nearly flawless execution. It’s effortless fun to watch.
A Serious Man
Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
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.
Dazed and Confused
Directed by Richard Linklater
Dazed and Confused is a comedy about teenagers in Texas in 1976. Dazed and Confused, skillfully shot and directed, is specific in its evocation of time and place and is committed to its ambivalent nostalgia. The unmoored aimlessness of the characters, though, seems to have seeped, at times, into the production.
The Royal Tenenbaums
Directed by Wes Anderson
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.
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans
Directed by Werner Herzog
Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is a black comedy that shares a title, a producer (Edward R. Pressman), a corrupt police officer as the central character, and nothing else with Abel Ferrara’s 1992 film Bad Lieutenant. The film, though not the greatest movie ever, is a nearly sublime subversion of action movies and police procedurals. Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans is as weird as its ungainly title suggests (and as fantastic as a movie directed by Werner Herzog and starring Nicolas Cage promises to be). Herzog’s direction and Cage’s acting are fearless and original, and the film easily transcends its genre.
20th Century Women
Directed by Mike Mills
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.