Dunkirk

Dunkirk

Directed by Christopher Nolan

2017

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.

Would see.

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A Ghost Story

A Ghost Story

Directed by David Lowery

2017

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.

Would see.

Bound for Glory

Bound for Glory

Directed by Hal Ashby

1976

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.

Would see.

The Beguiled

The Beguiled

Directed by Sofia Coppola

2017

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.

Would see.

Baby Driver

Baby Driver

Directed by Edgar Wright

2017

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.

Would see.

Ils Sont Partout

Ils Sont Partout

Directed by Yvan Attal

2016

Ils Sont Partout [They Are Everywhere] is a French-language comedy composed of vignettes about Jews and antisemitism. Ils Sont Partout is very funny and intermittently incisive – Yvan Attal acts like a very French Woody Allen – but a handful of the sketches drag.

Would see.

Do the Right Thing

Do the Right Thing

Directed by Spike Lee

1989

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.

Would see.

Play Time

Play Time

Directed by Jacques Tati

1967

Play Time is a French comedy with minimal dialogue. It is almost entirely unlike other movies, which is more than can be said for most films. Most of the scenes are funny and some are even incisive, but a handful fall flat – and the film (at 124 minutes) feels longer than it is.

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.