The Wind Rises

The Wind Rises

2013

Directed by Hayao Miyazaki

The Wind Rises is an animated historical drama based on the life of Jiro Horikoshi and Tatsuo Hori’s 1937 novel, The Wind Has Risen. The Wind Rises is an exceptionally great film. The animation is stunning, the music is delightful, and the story is thoughtful and affecting. The film is devastatingly beautiful.

Must 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 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.

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.

La La Land

La La Land

Directed by Damien Chazelle

2016

La La Land is a romantic musical about a jazz musician and an aspiring actress who fall in love in Los Angeles. La La Land is a stirring defense of unjustified objects of condescension: musicals, nostalgia, and Jazz. The film is unreservedly romantic and unabashedly confident in the fragile, weak, transcendent power of art. La La Land, with ebullient bravura, basks in deep feeling and looks back with wistful longing.

Must see.

Moonrise Kingdom

Moonrise Kingdom

Directed by Wes Anderson

2012

Moonrise Kingdom is a coming-of-age film that follows a boy and girl who run away in 1965 New England. Moonrise Kingdom is an endlessly charming film. It ineffably captures the effervescent beauty of childhood. Wes Anderson’s style is mildly divisive, but it ought not be. Nothing in Moonrise Kingdom is frivolous affectation; the style invariably contributes to the substance. The film is meticulously crafted, but it is suffused with expansive feelings and casual insight.

Must see.

Her

Her

Directed by Spike Jonze

2013

Her is a romantic science-fiction drama about a man who falls in love with an intelligent computer operating system. Her is a first-rate film. The movie’s visions of the future, technology, and life are refreshingly free from cliché, deeply engaged, and moving. It is the rare science-fiction film that fully succeeds in using its premise to illuminate what it is to be human.

Must see.

Once

Once

Directed by John Carney

2007

Once is a musical romance film about two struggling musicians in Dublin, Ireland. The music is good, but not quite good enough to anchor a story about an unrecognized musical genius. The story is engaging, but a little slight.

Would see.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Directed by Michel Gondry

2004

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a science fiction film about a man, a woman, and a company that erases memories. The film’s eloquent, complicated writing and ambitious directing easily survive the uneven acting to result in a film that is both heartfelt and intelligent.

Would see.