1954. Japan. Dir: Akira Kurosawa. With Toshiro? Mifune. 207 min. 35mm print.
Kurosawa’s enduring classic depicts the methodical last stand of the masterless ronin hired to defend a village from a horde of robbers. The brisk, multifaceted narrative works a mix of tones, ranging from lighthearted gags to bitter cynicism to intense choreographed swordplay. Print courtesy of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
2017. USA. Dir: Malcolm D. Lee. With Regina Hall, Queen Latifah. 122 min.
A foursome of friends reconnect during a wild weekend at a music festival, filled with partying, hookups, and female empowerment. The first film with an all-black creative team to net over $100 million, GIRLS TRIP’s inspirational sisterhood and incisive commentary make it more than just another raunchy comedy.
1975. India. Dir: Ramesh Sippy. With Amitabh Bachchan, Dharmendra. 204 min.
A retired police chief enlists the help of two bandits to defeat a murderous crime lord, unleashing a campy current of action, melodrama, and – of course – musical numbers. At first considered a flop, Sholay has gained so much of a following that it may now be the highest grossing Hindi-language film of all time.
1997. Japan. Dir: Hayao Miyazaki. With Yoji Matsuda. Animation. 134 min.
After a prince is poisoned in a wild boar attack, he goes in search of a forest god to heal him. En route he encounters an ongoing war between a mining town and an army of spirits, among them a mysterious wolfgirl. Miyazaki utilizes breathtaking animation and a fantastical story to level commentary at industrialization and environmental destruction.
1991. USA. Dir: Ridley Scott. With Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis. 130 min.
A duo of kickass women murder an unapologetic rapist, jump-starting a cross-country run from the law in which they smash the patriarchy at every pit stop. Monumental in its radical femininity, the film continually exalts its protagonists’ righteous fury and even turns an objectifying gaze on a gloriously shirtless Brad Pitt. Speaker: author Becky Aikman.
2017. United States. Dir: Martin McDonagh. With Francis McDormand 115 min.
“Wielding righteous anger, fiery emotion, biting humor and an ornery manner right out of a Clint Eastwood Western, Frances McDormand unleashes 2017’s most indelible movie mom in the darkly comic crime drama.”
– Brian Truitt, USA Today
“Every performance in this movie acknowledges that while tragedy is what prompted the film’s events, its contours, characters, and conversations are pure, inky black comedy.”
– Alissa Wilkinson, Vox
“Not every speedbump given us by life teaches us tolerance. A daughter shouldn’t die at all, much less brutally. But what do we do with that knowledge? How do we channel our anger at an unjust world? “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” is one of those truly rare films that feels both profound and grounded; inspirational without ever manipulatively trying to be so.”
– Brian Tallerico, RogerEbert.com
2017. USA/Germany/Sweden. Dir: David Leitch. With Charlize Theron. 115 min.
When a British agent in East Germany is killed and another deep cover spy is put on the back foot, Theron’s titular specialist is sent in to regroup, recover a Stasi informant, and beat the tar out of an army of secret police. This stylish, spine-breaking spy flick revels in the chaos (and fashion and music) of the last days of the Cold War.
2016. Chile/Argentina. Dir: Pablo Larraín. With Gael García Bernal. 107 min.
Pursued by a fascist inspector for his public denunciations of the President, the Chilean Communist poet goes un- derground while leaving teasing traces to his whereabouts. Larraín’s buoyantly floating shots reimagine the Jean Valjean and the Javert of this lasting chase, as each of them find themselves inevitably drawn to the opposite advocacy.
2017. United States. Dir: Guillermo del Toro. With Sally Hemmings, Vanessa Taylor. 123 min.
“Yes, Del Toro’s latest flight of fancy sets out to liberally pastiche the postwar monster movie…But it’s warmer and richer than the films that came before. Beneath that glossy, scaly surface is a beating heart.”
– Xan Brooks, The Guardian
“A ravishing, eccentric auteur’s imagining, spilling artistry, empathy and sensuality from every open pore.”
-Guy Lodge, Variety
“The Shape of Water has a generosity of spirit, as if del Toro is extending a hand in comfort and understanding.”
-Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
1975. Italy. Dir: Dario Argento. With David Hemmings, Daria Nicolodi. 127 min.
A British jazz musician stumbles on the grisly murder of a famous psychic – a harbinger of more deadly things to come. Massive meat cleavers, cherry-red ooze, and childhood trauma lurk around every corner in this sadistic, candy-colored stomach-turner that’s as terrifying as it is aesthetically striking.