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.
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.
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.
Directed by Christopher Nolan
Dunkirk is a war drama that portrays the eponymous World War II evacuation. Deftly paced and expertly shot, Dunkirk is easily Christopher Nolan’s best film. Nolan expresses himself through Dunkirk’s visuals with seeming effortlessness; the film, perhaps not coincidentally, has a maximum of Hans Zimmer’s score and a minimum of Nolan’s dialogue.
A Ghost Story
Directed by David Lowery
A Ghost Story is a supernatural drama; the title is literally fitting (the protagonist is a ghost), but misleading (A Ghost Story is never very scary and most ghost stories are actually better the less the ghost appears).Though little is said, the ghost is portrayed by a man wearing a sheet, and there is not much plot to speak of, A Ghost Story unfolds softly but powerfully. A Ghost Story is at times almost pretentious, but it is saved from this by its genuine emotional force, its skillful storytelling, and its (surprisingly) even keeled philosophizing.
Bound for Glory
Directed by Hal Ashby
Bound for Glory is a biopic that takes its name and main character (and little else) from Woody Guthrie’s 1943 autobiography. Bound for Glory intermittently understands Woody Guthrie’s greatness. His songs are well integrated, but there could be more of them. The film benefits by not covering his whole life, but it fulfills almost every other cliché of the genre.
Directed by Sofia Coppola
The Beguiled, an adaption of a novel of the same name by Thomas P. Cullinan, is a drama about a wounded Union soldier convalescing in a nearly abandoned girls school in Virginia. (A movie of the same name – directed by Don Siegel, starring Clint Eastwood, and also based on Cullinan’s novel – came out in 1971). The Beguiled is entertaining enough, and it’s very well-shot, but it feels hollow.
Directed by Edgar Wright
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.
Do the Right Thing
Directed by Spike Lee
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.
Directed by David Lynch
Mulholland Drive is a surreal neo-noir mystery film. The plot is dream-like but compelling. The film is strange but still affecting.