Your Name

Your Name

Directed by Makoto Shinkai

2016

Your Name is a Japanese-language animated film about a boy and a girl who swap bodies. The stakes of the movie are too uneven, and the plot becomes increasingly disconnected from the theme as the film drags on. Your Name is often entertaining but ultimately frustrating and easily forgotten.

Would see.

Inside Llewyn Davis

Inside Llewyn Davis

Directed by Joel Coen 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.

Germany Year Zero

Germany Year Zero

Directed by Roberto Rossellini

1948

Germany Year Zero is an Italian-language drama about a child in post-war Berlin. Germany Year Zero is a tiresome and trite exercise in manipulative sympathy. The film’s refusal to take seriously the stakes of politics and its ambivalence in condemning the Nazis are problematic.

Would not see.

Dodes’ka-den

Dodes’ka-den

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1970

Based on Shūgorō Yamamoto’s book, Kisetsu no nai machi (“The Town Without Seasons”), Dodes’ka-den follows a variety of characters who live in a shantytown. Dodes’ka-den is quite possibly one of Akira Kurosawa’s worst films. Kurosawa is a talented director and many of his films are masterpieces. Most are at least worth watching; Dodes’ka-den is not. The film alternates between the strange and the tragic, but it is neither entertaining nor affecting.

Would not see.

Rhapsody in August

Rhapsody in August

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1991

Rhapsody in August is a Japanese language drama about an elderly Japanese woman, caring for her four grandchildren for the summer, who learns of a long-lost brother who lives in Hawaii. Rhapsody in August is Kurosawa’s second-to-last film, and it is far from his best. The politics are questionable and the story is meandering, but the images are striking and the tone is thoughtful.

Would see.

The Salesman

The Salesman

Directed by Asghar Farhadi

2016

The Salesman is an Iranian drama about a husband and wife who perform Arthur Miller’s play Death of a Salesman, the assault of the wife, and its aftermath. The movie is well paced, nuanced, and bleak.

Would see.

Victoria

Victoria

Directed by Sebastian Schipper

2015

Victoria is a German drama about a young Spanish woman in Berlin. It was shot in a single continuous take. Victoria is boring, trite, and aimless. It is a pointless film paired with a meaningless gimmick.

Would not see.

The Red Turtle

The Red Turtle

Directed by Michaël Dudok de Wit

2016

The Red Turtle is an animated fantasy film. The film uses a blend of hand-drawn and computer animation and has no dialogue. The visuals are stunningly lavish, and the story is an enigmatic fairytale. The film, though, somehow, always appears on the verge of achieving something more than it does.

Would see.

Calvary

Calvary

Directed by John Michael McDonagh

2014

Calvary is a drama about an Irish priest. Calvary is thought-provoking, thoughtful, and profoundly moving. The script is clever and treads difficult territory carefully, but some of the characters are overly broad and the music is at times overwrought.

Would see.