The Death of Stalin

The Death of Stalin

2017

Directed by Armando Iannucci

The Death of Stalin is a comedy that depicts the power struggle that followed Joseph Stalin’s death. The film is a funny and pointed political satire.

Would see.

Advertisements

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.

Isle of Dogs

Isle of Dogs

2018

Directed by Wes Anderson

Isle of Dogs is a stop-motion animated comedy about dogs banished to Trash Island by an evil mayor and a boy who flies to the island to find his dog. The animation is meticulous. The dogs’ communication is rendered in English. Most of the people speak in unsubtitled Japanese. Isle of Dogs fulfills the promise of the title; it is a love letter to dogs. The plot is slight, but the film is charming.

Would see.

Charade

Charade

1963

Directed by Stanley Donen

Charade is a romantic comedy and a screwball spy thriller. The film is densely plotted, well-paced, and highly entertaining. It is a movie, though, that is much more fun to watch than to think or talk about.

Would see.

Zelig

Zelig

1983

Directed by Woody Allen

Zelig is a mockumentary about an exceptionally nondescript man. At a swift seventy-nine minutes, Zelig is a light but thoughtful film. It is very funny.

Would see.

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.

Duck Soup

Duck Soup

Directed by Leo McCarey

1933

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.

Would 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.