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.

Café Society

Café Society

Directed by Woody Allen

2016

Café Society is a romantic comedy-drama set in 1930s Hollywood and New York City. The film has occasional glints of ambition, but seems mostly content to be good enough. Like many of his recent films, Café Society is filled with contrived situations, stilted dialogue, funny one liners, and a multitude of Woody Allen stand-ins rather than differentiated characters. Café Society is an entertaining and occasionally thoughtful look at an idealized past and the pain of time’s passage.

Would see.

Casablanca

Casablanca

Directed by Michael Curtiz

1942

Casablanca, based on the unproduced stage play Everybody Comes to Rick’s, is a romantic drama set during the Second World War in the eponymous Vichy-controlled city. Casablanca lives up admirably to its reputation. It’s a tightly paced and memorable film open about its patriotic and romantic sentiments. Casablanca occasionally strains credulity and threatens to fall into melodrama or slapstick, but the film is easily saved by its essential sincerity and the quality of its acting.

Would see.

Masaan

Masaan

Directed by Neeraj Ghaywan

2015

Masaan is a Hindi-language drama set in contemporary Varanasi, India. Masaan is well paced, if predictable, and often moving, though occasionally skirting melodrama.

Would see.