The Post

The Post

Directed by Steven Spielberg

2017

The Post is a dramatization of The Washington Post‘s publication of the Pentagon Papers. The Post is didactic, flat, and self-satisfied, but it’s still a fun film — and it’s too earnest a paean to its ideals to dislike very much.

Would see.

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Call Me By Your Name

Call Me By Your Name

Directed by Luca Guadagnino

2017

Call Me By Your Name is a romance set in Northern Italy in 1983. Call Me By Your Name is a good film, but it is too impressed with its own importance — this itself is fine, except that the film appears more motivated by the desire for importance than an urgency to speak. Call Me By Your Name likes the idea of intelligent characters, but is bored by the details of their interests. It is a romance populated exclusively by ideas of people — there are no actual lives. The scenery is pretty and the story is moving, but Call Me By Your Name is entirely submerged in an ethereal emptiness.

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.

The Shape of Water

The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo del Toro

2017

The Shape of Water is a fantasy romance about a woman and a human-like amphibian. A kitschy but moving Cold War fairytale, The Shape of Water evinces passion and individuality without pretension — a highly entertaining movie.

Would see.

Daughters of the Dust

Daughters of the Dust

Directed by Julie Dash

1991

Daughters of the Dust is a film about three generations of Gullah women on Saint Helena Island. A documentary-esque tapestry of impressionistic vignettes, the film’s narrative is hard to follow, but the emotional and cultural conflicts that the director wants to explore are always clear.

Would see.

A Fistful of Dollars

A Fistful of Dollars

Directed by Sergio Leone

1964

A Fistful of Dollars is a Spaghetti Western, and an unauthorized remake of Akira Kurosawa’s 1961 film, Yojimbo. What A Fistful of Dollars lacks in originality and thoughtfulness it easily makes up for with sheer verve. Clint Eastwood is every bit as good at playing the taciturn hero as Toshiro Mifune, Ennio Moricone’s score is even better than Masaru Sato’s, and Sergio Leone shoots high-noon showdowns almost as well as Akira Kurosawa. A Fistful of Dollars is easily one of the coolest movies ever made.

Must see.

Gentleman’s Agreement

Gentleman’s Agreement

Directed by Elia Kazan

1947

Gentleman’s Agreement, based on Laura Z. Hobson’s novel of the same name, is a drama about a non-Jewish journalist who poses as a Jew to research on exposé on antisemitism. The goal of the movie is to convince the viewer that discrimination against Jews in polite society is wrong. The film’s conceptions of politics, religion, and humanity, though, are all shallow and weak. Gentleman’s Agreement means well.

Would not see.

Seven Samurai

Seven Samurai

Directed by Akira Kurosawa

1954

Seven Samurai is a Japanese samurai film. Seven Samurai is about as great a samurai movie as has been made. Its endlessly entertaining. Almost every seen is simply cool. Seven Samurai is 207 minutes long, but it feels like a short film.

Must see.

 

 

 

Tokyo Story

Tokyo Story

Directed by Yasujirō Ozu

1953

Tokyo Story is a drama about intergenerational conflict. There is little plot to speak of. The camera moves only once. The runtime is 136 minutes, but it feels longer. Still, Tokyo Story is one of the best movies ever made. Tokyo Story has an unsurpassed attention to detail, character, and emotion. It is a profound film.

Must see.

 

The Jazz Singer

The Jazz Singer

Directed by Alan Crosland

1927

The Jazz Singer is a musical starring Al Jolson.  His character, Jack Robin (born Jakie Rabinowitz), is a Jazz singer and the son of a disapproving cantor. The plot is melodramatic and inane. The dialogue and music fail to impress. The social commentary is insipid pablum. The blackface scenes are racist. The film says a lot about Jewish Americans and American society in the 1920s. And The Jazz Singer is the first full-length movie with a synchronized music score and lip-synchronous singing and speech in a few scenes. These are the only two reasons to watch this film.

Would not see.