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.

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Logan Lucky

Logan Lucky

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

2017

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.

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.

 

Dazed and Confused

Dazed and Confused

Directed by Richard Linklater

1993

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.

Would 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.

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans

Directed by Werner Herzog

2009

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.

Would 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.

Ils Sont Partout

Ils Sont Partout

Directed by Yvan Attal

2016

Ils Sont Partout [They Are Everywhere] is a French-language comedy composed of vignettes about Jews and antisemitism. Ils Sont Partout is very funny and intermittently incisive – Yvan Attal acts like a very French Woody Allen – but a handful of the sketches drag.

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.

Play Time

Play Time

Directed by Jacques Tati

1967

Play Time is a French comedy with minimal dialogue. It is almost entirely unlike other movies, which is more than can be said for most films. Most of the scenes are funny and some are even incisive, but a handful fall flat – and the film (at 124 minutes) feels longer than it is.

Would see.